What do you get when you take a typical high school, slice of life, romantic comedy anime and put a cynical spin on it?
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (“Snafu“) is an anime series based on a manga and light novel of the same name. Whilst set in a typical Japanese high school, this particular anime series doesn’t conform to the stylistic norm of teenage romantic comedy anime. Instead it takes a rather pragmatic look into the lives of high school students and the psychology behind their actions.
Snafu follows Hachiman Hikigaya, a rather sour puss of a character, who is the King of anti-social behaviour and dislikes other people, particularly girls. This is mostly due to the rather harsh treatment he had received from fellow students in the past, causing him to realise that he is better off alone. Not only does he revel in being alone, he believes himself to be far more superior to his peers due to his perceived realistic view on life and a dislike of the games that people play in order to get ahead. As a result Hachiman is the opitome of a bitter human being.
Things take a turn for the worst, in Hachiman’s case, when he is coerced into joining his school’s service club by the only teacher that seems to exist in this anime, Shizuka Hiratsuka, and is forced to work alongside the beautiful, intelligent and all around perfect student, Yukino Yukinoshita, who also is a loner due to others ‘fearing’ and distrusting her perfect nature. It’s interesting to watch the dynamic between both Hachiman and Yukino as they attempt to help the people that turn to the service club for assistance. Despite neither character showing much interest or desire to help others, it can be seen rather early on that both characters have a good and gentle heart and would do anything to help others. In Hachiman’s case, his idea of helping often lands him into a great deal of trouble and contempt from his peers.
Whilst Snafu shows us a different take on life as a high school student, where the main characters aren’t popular or even liked, we are provided with comedic relief and a stereotypical nice girl in the form of Yui Yuigahama, a fellow high school student who is in with the ‘it’ crowd. Yui balances out the pessimism and cynicism of Hachiman and Yukino upon joining the service club.
Spending every other afternoon in a club together, Yui instantly takes a liking to both her fellow club members and together they form a rather interesting bond. As a romantic comedy wouldn’t be much without aspects of romance, Yui once again plays the role of stereotypical high school girl as she eventually develops a crush on Hachiman. To add to the stereotypical genre, we also see Yukino developing some sort of a liking to Hachiman as well, though this is more subtly shown. While appearing as a typical high school love triangle, what I enjoyed was the way Snafu managed to steer the focus away from the love triangle aspect and transform it into somewhat of a distraction that Hachiman refuses to get involved in (or rather is oblivious to).
The anime deals with several hard hitting aspects about life and the motivations behind the actions of teenagers. I enjoyed the way that Snafu forces you to think rather than deliver a narrative that you’re able to sit back and watch without contemplating the deeper messages being conveyed. I also enjoyed the way that Snafu’s plot and story development follows a chronological order, utilising flashbacks appropriately and only when necessary. This allowed for a much easier transition from idea to idea without detracting much from the main storyline and characters. Yes, Snafu does include a myriad of supporting characters, all of whom play a vital role in the story’s progression.
The art style was brilliant. I loved the artist’s renditions of each character and it made for much easier understanding of each character’s personality and flaws. Yukino was absolutely perfect from head to toe whilst Yui looked simply like an average teenage girl and Hachiman is depicted as rather unkempt and not bothered to look his best (once again not conforming to societal norms).
Despite Snafu being a very interesting high school, slice of life, romantic comedy anime series, I definitely had moments of reservation as I debated with myself whether to keep watching each episode. This is mostly due to the deep cynicism felt by Hachiman. At times, I simply wanted something positive to happen or for either of the three main characters to just be happy. This was given to me by rather humourous moments which had me chuckling and therefore wanting to keep watching. Thank goodness for light hearted humour and comedic pauses.
Snafu may not be a huge hit like other more notable anime series, but it certainly is enjoyable to watch as you discover and learn more about the realities of the world through three teenagers’ eyes. Personally, I would highly recommended picking up a copy of the complete series here and giving it a watch. I enjoyed it so much that I even scoured the internet to find that a second season is available.
Let me know what your thoughts are about this particular anime by leaving a comment below.