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The Spring 2015 Anime Preview Guide
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO!

How would you rate episode 1 of
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO! ?
Community score: 4.5

Nick Creamer

Rating: 5

SNAFU is back! We pick up right where the first season left off, with Yui and Yukino rocking out on stage while Hachiman does his antisocial thing and self-immolates to keep the school festival going smoothly. From there, we moved straight into a new problem for the volunteer service club, with Hayato's jerk friend Tobe admitting he wants to ask out Hina, but isn't sure how. Hachiman, Yukino, and Yui debate ways to frame Tobe's obnoxious personality in a positive light (“he's loud and annoying… he's… lively?”), before Yui settles on them using the upcoming class trip to bring the two together. And then the whole class is off to Kyoto, with Tobe's romantic fumblings forming the ostensible centerpiece of an episode filled with far more dynamic-shifting and bubbling relationship drama.

It is wonderful to see this show again. The first season of SNAFU stood as a rare icon of smart writing and strong characterization in a sea of mediocre high school dramas. Characters like Hachiman and Yukino are precocious, but also deeply flawed and narrow-minded, and SNAFU always threads an engaging line of demonstrating the superficial acuity of Hachiman's social engineering while both understanding he's still basically a child and empathizing with his self-assigned unhappiness. This new season starts off in strong fashion, with the vividly animated replacement for last season's finale concert acting as something of a statement of purpose. The first season had excellent writing, but at best inoffensive aesthetics - here, we get actual animation and constantly purposeful body language and expression work. This is SNAFU done right.

The rest of the episode served as a fine demonstration of SNAFU's classic strengths and consistent weaknesses. SNAFU understands the push and pull of young social dynamics, something it makes clear both in the contrived plans of its protagonists and simply the way characters shift and orient themselves towards each other throughout a scene. Yui's excitement over helping out with this Tobe-Hina problem is both perfectly appropriate for her character and also a mirror of her own feelings - a great deal of the subtext this week is Yui attempting to do with Hachiman what she hopes will work for Tobe, while Hachiman remains steadfast in his refusal to see her feelings. Yukino can't simply offer Hachiman tea - instead, she pours it, walks away, and announces “your tea's getting cold,” which he answers with a characteristic “I don't like hot stuff” of thanks. Yukino dances between insecurity and pride, Hachiman blames society and protests way too much. These characters are alive.

Right near the end, Sensei steals one of the episode's best lines, with her “being scolded isn't a bad thing. It means someone is looking out for you” acting as almost a mission statement of SNAFU itself. This show laughs at the funny quirks of its characters, but the laughter is reflective of a deep empathy. The humor is at its best in the simple banter of the characters talking - some of the show's actual jokes fall flat (the Totsuka and fujoshi gags feel like relics of a much dumber show), but the basic conversations possess a friendly grace and wit that keep laughs rolling as the characters simply do their best to exist in the same space.

SNAFU was a low-key classic, and this sequel appears to be following in its footsteps while naturally progressing the character relationships and sweetening the deal with some excellent character animation. The weakness of the trying-too-hard light novel jokes remains, but the character writing is so strong that that feels like a fairly insignificant complaint. It is good to have this show back.

This series is available streaming at Crunchyroll.

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