Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU: Episode 2

Episode 2 features two fairly separate stories in its two halves. The first half features Yui facing her group of friends, who all seem to be sort of a “popular” group; Hachiman describes them as a group of carnivorous animals in which an alpha takes charge and the rest must endure stress from being subordinates.

Like a pack of wolves that prey on sandwiches.
In this case, the alpha is Yumiko, a blond beauty and definitely the center of attention among a larger group of both guys and girls, amongst whom Yui finds herself in. Yumiko is not exactly a pleasant person to be around; she has a very bossy attitude that isn’t afraid of tearing people like Yui down, though in a much more malicious way than Yukino does. For reasons best described as “he’d feel bad about it otherwise”, Hachiman attempts to stand up for her… and gets shot down instantly.

Thankfully, Yukino arrives at this point to show that there’s only room in the school for one human critic, and after amusingly declaring Yumiko to simply be “an ape trying to intimidate [her]”, she proceeds to put her in her place. However, this isn’t the end of this story, and noticing that Yui has something she wants to do, Yukino allows her to go do just that.
Turns out, Yui wanted to say to Yumiko that she still want to be friends with her, despite her uncomfortableness in trying to go with the flow of their group making it seem like she doesn't like them. One might wonder why Yui would want to be friends with someone like Yumiko, but hey, not everyone’s perfect, and there’s probably far more to Yumiko than the show’s shown us so far.
There’s also a moment where Yui thanks Hachiman for his rather feeble attempt to stand up for her, something that she nevertheless takes to heart. A small moment for something that many would probably not notice, but for Yui to notice it, it does show that the two are slowly starting to grow closer to each other.
Because of my adolescent delusions of grandeur, I want to be a writer!
The second half of the show features a character whose name is so awesome, a standard set of Scrabble titles can't spell it: Yoshiteru Zaimokuza. Reality is a bit less awesome than his name, as he's a full-fledged chuunibyou, thinking he's a historical shogun and acting appropriately. (Though being voiced by Nobuyuki Hiyama at least makes him sound awesome.) At this point, the show also reveals that Hachiman himself had his chuunibyou moments, confirming that we have three seasons in a row with a former-chuunibyou male lead. Though unlike our Dark Flame Master and Burning Fighting Fighter, Hachiman views his chuuni past not so much with shame or regret as with just pure, "yeah, I was stupid back then" contempt.

Not that that's going to stop me from screencapping his past for all posterity.
That said, Yoshiteru has somewhat greater ambitions for his delusions of grandeur, as he plans to submit a manuscript for a light novel to a contest. Now, I personally think these chuunibyou characters can be great writers; at the very least, they have the imaginations to write some epic works.
Of course, having the imaginative power for a story is not equivalent to having the technical skill for a story, and Yoshiteru learns this the hard way when he asks the service club member to critique his novel. He says he doesn't want to ask for critiques online because the people there are ruthless, but he soon finds out that Yukino is just as ruthless, if not moreso, and it's not like the others are full of praise for his work, either. (Though Hachiman assures him that when it comes to light novels, all that really matters are the illustrations... right?)

I think it's understandable why he wanted critiques from actual people he can see face-to-face. If a random person online says "Your story is boring", it just feels like some stranger is just spouting off steam at you. When someone you can see face-to-face says it, it can feel more like someone honestly trying to help you improve. (Not that you can't get good criticism from the Internet, but it does help even then to have it from someone you're already familiar with.)

This part is pretty low-key, otherwise; just the group helping out a random person in the school. However, it's also the source of a lot of amusement thanks to Yui. First of all, there's her amusing facial expressions while she stands in the background and hears about Hachiman's explanation of chuunibyou, ranging from disgust to confusion over Yoshiteru's chosen setting.

"Maybe I should have paid more attention during Japanese history..."
Then, while Hachiman and Yukino are shown to be spending the night poring over Yoshiteru's novel, Yui... completely forgets about it. Then, while Yukino is tearing Yoshiteru's novel apart, Yui is trying to read the novel... and falling asleep.

Sometimes, it's these little details that make a show.

Overall Thoughts

The first half of the show featured an interesting moment regarding Yui's friends, while the second half was a low-key, though still interesting, side-story-ish story with some amusing moments, mostly from Yui.

Which is all to say, Yui pretty much stole this episode.

She really is an amusing character, though, and a good foil to both Yukino and Hachiman, who had plenty of good moments themselves. Yukino's "I thought you were an ape trying to intimidate me" line in particular was golden.


All subtitles on screencaps are by Crunchyroll.

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