As punishment for a scathing report written about the concept of friendship and society, Hachiman is forced to join the service club where he is introduced to Yukino. The two of them are later joined by the vibrant Yui. Can the three successfully provide services to others when they can barely communicate with each other?
There’s something truly wonderful about Hikigaya Hachiman and his view on people and the world. It is scathing, hilarious, bordering on being too true, and yet an utterly self-defeatist way to live your life. It is through his warped lens we view the school and the service club and are forced to reconsider everything we accept about making friends and getting along with people, even as we realise that Hikigaya is himself an incredibly flawed character who needs to make some changes in his approach to solving problems.
That might be a weird way to start a review of a series but essentially this is a story about three characters who through various contrived circumstances end up working together despite their vastly different mindsets. The actual situations they are dealing with are more or less irrelevant to whether you will enjoy the show. What will make or break this show for you is how entertaining you find their various observations about their situations, their classmates, and each other.
Hikigaya is a loner. In some ways he has made this choice and is happy with the result, but there are enough tell-tale scenes, particularly flashbacks of middle-school that would point out that his alone status has been externally imposed as much as accepted and made a badge of honour by Hikigaya. As much as he claims a dislike of hypocrisy, he himself exhibits the trait quite a lot. He is also an excellent observer of overall trends and tones, a skill he is picked up from people watching from the outside of the social groups. What he isn’t good at is understanding individuals, mostly because he seldom deals with them. This allows him to understand mob mentality, and how to figure out who is causing social unrest within a group, but makes him completely oblivious to the girl who would really like to thank him for saving her dog’s life.
By himself he would be entertaining enough but I guess the story would have become pretty stagnant so we also have the two girls in the story who make up the rest of the service club. The cool, Yukino, and the bubbly crowd follower, Yui. These two characters couldn’t be more different as Yukino is smart, thinks and speaks deliberately, isn’t afraid to upset someone with an honest observation, and prioritizes results over social niceties. Yui on the other hand honestly admires Yukino but also realises she can’t be her. For Yui, it is too important that she doesn’t upset her friends or rock the boat.
What this means is that all three come at every job they are given from a very different perspective. Where Hikigaya looks for a low energy, underhanded solution, Yukino comes at the problem head on and tries to deal with it efficiently and with hard-work and dedication, while Yui seldom gets to put her view forward but that’s okay because she’d probably want to talk about the problem with others and would never get around to implementing a solution anyway.
There are other characters and events in this story. Mostly we go through all the usual high school shenanigans including festivals, bullying, class trips, giving a boy cookies, geeky guy writing a novel, effeminate looking guy wanting to play tennis, the cool group with their usual petty group dynamics, and so on and so forth. There isn’t anything we haven’t seen before but when Hikigaya and Yukino get involved they manage to turn even the most normal situation into a battleground of ideologies and the result is usually entertaining.
The unfortunate thing of course is that these three characters are connected by a ‘mystery’ revolving around the accident Hikigaya had before the series started. It isn’t much of a mystery but they keep coming back to it and dragging out the effect of it and I guess that is one way to string together the otherwise fairly disconnect series of events that befall the cast.
The other unfortunate part is that at the end of season 1, the characters have made some individual progress, though fortunately no complete 180’s – they are all very real characters in that progress is slow – but the story just kind of leaves them mid-character transformation. You would think maybe the second season would provide some closure but tragically that is not necessarily the case though it does continue the journey and I will get around to reviewing it eventually.
Still, this show is full of wonderful inner monologues, great one-liners, some biting commentary and thought-provoking moments. The support cast all serve their needed roles, the pace moves well enough, and visually it is fun to look at. The only real issue is the overall plot but the characters more than make up for it, provided you find them entertaining. So, if you haven’t, give the first five minutes of episode 1 a go. If Hikigaya makes you smile, watch the series. If not, well, you’ll still have listened to an interesting opening monologue.
I’d love to know your thoughts on the series.
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