Hachiman Hikigaya (who also goes by the nicknames Hikky and Gay-Kun) is the latest example of an anime mate-less wonder. Unlike some other socially inept animated characters, Hikigaya’s solitary existence is however one of his own choosing. After being rejected countless times, by members of the opposite sex, Hikigaya has opted to avoid further emotional pain by vowing off friendships. Hikigaya’s loner lifestyle isn’t something that his teacher approves of though. Under the threat of a punch to the gut, Miss Shizuka Hiratsuka (a thirty year old educator, who cannot attract a husband despite possessing supermodel looks) forces Hikigaya to join their school’s Service Club. Will volunteering for a group, which specializes in aiding students with their troubles, improve the gloomy teen’s interpersonal skills? Based on the contents of this DVD… probably not.
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU is a thirteen-episode anime distributed in the UK by Animatsu Entertainment. Based on Wataru Watari’s novels the series follows Hikigaya’s after school activities, which are predominately spent with the Service Club’s two other members. Yukino Yukinoshita, an equally unpopular student who is disliked by folks due to her insensitive candour, leads the club. Joining the ostracized pair in their adventures is Yui Yuigahama, a bubbly gal who is cursed with maladroit culinary skills (her homemade biscuits are so dire that even the Cookie Monster would refrain from tasting them.) Over the course of season one, the teenage trio tackle various requests in their own unique unconventional style. Whether it’s organizing a cultural festival or critiquing a geek’s work of fiction, nothing is beyond the abilities of the Service Club.
What differentiates My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU from other shows is Hikigaya’s cynical approach to problem solving. Should we win this year’s sports day through teamwork? Nah, let’s resort to subterfuge instead. When acquaintances bicker shall we settle the squabble via diplomacy? Nope. It’s more efficient for Hikigaya to antagonize the party in question, so the former rivals can unite against a common foe. Adding to the unorthodox storytelling is a quirky support cast, which includes an obese chuunibyou and a bespectacled lass that is passionate about homosexual romance. Other characters of note include the effeminate tennis captain that the protagonist has a crush on and Hikigaya’s cheerful sister. She supports her oni-chan by cooking him meals… yeah SNAFU is one of those shows were all parents have inexplicably gone absent.
Three and a half stars is the score that I am awarding My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU. Worth checking out for anyone who enjoys amusing shows mixed with a smidgen of drama. Although the series isn’t dubbed I have no complaints, as the Japanese voice cast is competent and those involved with subtitling have done a fine job. In a similar vein, Kamisama Dolls animators Brain’s Base can be proud of the show’s visuals. The highlight of the series has to be Hachiman Hikigaya, whose combination of smarts and dry humour make him more interesting than your typical plain anime protagonist. Comedy is subjective though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some viewers didn’t share my enthusiasm for this series. Audiences who favour slapstick over sarcastic banter may find the script dull and the narrative’s pessimistic outlook on society may not resonate with everybody.
One thing worth mentioning is that SNAFU’s title is a little deceptive, as the episodes I watched were deficient in romance. Hikigaya and Yukino could make a compatible couple, but their relationship has not developed beyond trading slurs due to Yukino’s deep seeded trust issues. Meanwhile Yui clearly has feelings for Hikigaya, although a lack of courage has prevented her from asking him out. Complicating matters is Hikigaya misconstruing Yui’s affections. Thus far he is under the impression that she is merely expressing gratitude, after he saved her beloved pooch from becoming road kill. I wonder who will win his heart in season two? My money is on Hikigaya rejecting both girls and hooking up with tennis club president Saika Totsuka. He is so cute that I am sure Hikigaya could easily overlook the racket and two tennis balls located between his legs.