My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO!
by Nick Creamer,
The drama got a little less personal this week, as SNAFU played out the predictable consequences of Hachiman's student council “solution.” With Iroha now established as president, Yukino is no longer obligated to sacrifice herself for the school… until Iroha immediately stomps back to the Service Club, demanding help with her first presidential assignment. Determined to at least make the one action he was able to take stick, Hikki denies her request officially and then offers to help by himself off the record. And so begins Hikki's synergy-happy, terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.
This episode's best material came right at the beginning, when Hikki and Yui shared a couple scenes before heading to the club. As Hikki idly thinks about his classmates, Yui confronts about him watching her group too much, which says something about both their shifting perspectives. On Hikki's side, it's clear his place within the class is changing over time - though he later frames his interest as “hoping they'd teach me to mend something that's fallen apart,” the first half of this season has positioned Hachiman in a place where he's at least somewhat invested in the fate of their friendships. And on Yui's side, Hikki's counter that she was watching him too closely strikes home - Yui has become very conscious of Hikki's actions for her own reasons.
This early sequence ended with the two of them sharing their walk to the club room, which once again was full of small, unspoken moments of characterization. Hachiman left the room early, to avoid the “scandal” of leaving with Yui, and though Yui initially confronted him about not waiting for her, her concern was completely limited to the worry that he was backing out on walking with her. Seeing the ways each of their individual insecurities result in these tiny moments of unspoken friction is always a treat, and the scene's ending, where Yui took a breath to steel herself before facing Yukino, once again demonstrated how much the relative distance between Yui and Hikki has changed. They're both hiding elements of their feelings, but the two have gotten much closer over time.
That about ended this episode's rich emotional segment, as the majority of this week's content was dedicated to Hachiman attacking a problem much like those that populated the first season, except without the counterbalance of Yui and Yukino. Trapped helping Iroha negotiate with another school about a Christmas event, Hachiman fell into his old habits of monologuing bitter jokes to himself as the world laughed. This was far from SNAFU at its best (it felt like a retreat into gag-friendly familiarity, which I suppose is appropriate for this moment in Hikki's journey), but there were still some laughs to be had in Hachiman being bewildered by Taihin General High School's buzzword-happy student council. And though the shot framing was pretty neutral, the animation stepped up again, with the Taihin president's wild gestures and irritating finger snaps really bringing his empty business-speak to life.
Overall, this episode was a step down from the last several, but it'd likely be impossible for the show to maintain their level of drama anyway. Stuck with Iroha, someone who tends to confirm Hachiman's most cynical thoughts, Hikki is regressing even as he tries to push forward, attacking challenges by himself in a way that avoids the most natural solutions to his real problems. Hachiman mentioned near the start of this episode that it was likely Sensei's prodding that resulted in Iroha returning to the club, but his thinking ended there - he didn't stop to consider why she might be bothering them again. This Christmas event issue could have been just the project to help smooth over the cracks in the Service Club, but Hikki can't think in terms of letting things go (both his solution last week and obstinance this week demonstrate how nearsighted he tends to be), and can't back down on his prior decisions. He shoots himself in the foot, makes a cynical comment about to it to no-one, and then does it again.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
discuss this in the forum (106 posts) |