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My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (Season 1)

The happiness of youth is nothing but an illusion. A falsehood meant to disguise the ugliness and constant failures of hypocrites, or at least that is what Hachiman Hikigaya has come to believe. After years of being the social outcast in middle school now carrying over to high school there has been little reason for him to change his mind on this issue. Frustrated with his pessimistic attitude and lack of motivation to anything school related, Hachiman's school adviser forces the teen to become a member of the school's Service Club. A club dedicated to helping fellow classmates with various issues both on and off campus. The club's founder, the enigmatic Yukino Yukinoshita, is an equally pragmatic young woman who believes it is her duty to use her talents to aid others in order to better themselves. They, along with Hachiman's cheerful classmate Yui Yuigihama, will have to learn to work together in order to help their school's student body and find something in each other that they never realised they needed.

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Season 1 is a 13 episode anime adaptation of the light novel series of the same name. This season in particular was directed by Ai Yoshimura and animated by Brain Base. The season ran from April 4, 2013 to June 2013 before a second season was announced almost a year later.

As far as a first season goes, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU is a bit of a mixed bag. It was one of those shows that left a lasting impression on me and made me interested in the story and characters enough to want to watch the next season. Though if I'm being honest, there truly isn't a whole heck of a lot going on in this show (not on the surface at least). For those of you who are familiar with the slice of life genre, this series is very true to that genre, keeping the plot small to just high school students going about their day to day lives with no higher stakes than what their relationships are with their other main and side characters.

Much like the title suggests, this is a romantic comedy...or at least it is supposed to be. With a main character that seems to know every romantic comedy cliché in the book, providing a cynical deconstruction of said cliches, it is hard to believe that any romantic tension is capable between Hachiman and the show's leading ladies. That isn't to say that this show is devoid of the possibility of romance, it just seems to building very, very slowly. Starting with the three going through the paces starting as acquaintances to friends to maybe eventually something more (with who we can only speculate at this point). The comedy is good but subdued, leaning more towards intellectual humor instead of zany gangs and cartoon animation than I'm used to seeing in this genre.

The animation is about average with both the settings and character designs, Hachiman at least looks the part of a high school social outcast though the emphasis on his “dead fish” eyes that are supposed to be his trade mark set him a little bit too much apart from the rest of the cast who look relatively generic. The side characters while not terrible, do fit the typical romantic comedy cliches: the popular nice guy, the mean girl, the yaoi fan girl, the otaku, etc (though I wonder if that was done on purpose) but at the very least they provide a good parallel to the main cast and add some interesting interactions. One of my personal favorite running gags is Hachiman's friendship/possible attraction with one very bishonen male classmate. Still, with only 13 episodes consisting of mainly hijinx and Hachiman's inner monologues there isn't a whole lot of time to really become attached to anyone rather than the main characters.

Now, with all that being said, this series still managed to touch me in a way that I have a difficult time putting into words. The best I can do to describe this experience was an evaluation, re-evaluation in my case, of the high school experience. A lot of the issues which Hachiman talks about in his internal monologues in regards to certain aspects of the various clicks and social dynamics that exist in high school really struck me as authentic. Something that I recognized from my own high school experience to the point it made my gut twist and flip from both the good and bad memories it brought up. Not sure if I would go so far as to call this the “Breakfast Club” of anime (it's still way too soon to tell for that), but it is certainly building towards something of that nature.

After connecting with the main characters on such a personal level, it is easy to get hooked and want to see how the story of these characters is going to end or what kind of issues are they going to attempt to tackle in later seasons. Definitely plenty of room for improvement but overall My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU is on its way to being a standout series of the genre.

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Season 1 is available for streaming on Crunchyroll and Animax UK.