My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU was an anime that really impressed me in spite of its seemingly cliche-ridden premise, and whenever I talk to others who were skeptical of the show, I recount to them my surprise that I had found something worth watching.
On one occasion, I was chatting with some friends online and explaining how I really liked the fact that the series can get a little serious at times when it comes to criticizing elements of social interaction people take for granted and that the main character has a “loser” perspective that feels different from other similar light novel protagonists. One friend responded that this was exactly the sort of thing he hated about the show, and because it had been a while since I had seen SNAFU I wondered if my own experience was colored by my biases or some other factor.
Since then, a sequel series has started coming out for the Spring 2015 season. While I haven’t had the time to watch as much as I would like, re-visiting this anime through this second season (which by the way is for some reason animated by a completely different studio) has helped me to clarify why, in fact, I enjoy the surly adventures of Hikigaya Hachiman.
Hachiman has a very cynical personality, and his self-described strength is that his particular world view allows him to see problems and find solutions that the popular kids can’t. On the surface it appears as if Hachiman is the rebel who’s too cool for school written by someone who resented the popular students growing up (whether justified or not), but I believe that SNAFU portrays his character with far more consideration. For example, in the first two episodes, Hachiman clashes with a number of other characters, who basically criticize him for his methods, and I think it’s very important that he appears to be affected by their words. Hachiman isn’t the invincible outcast, and he at times unwillingly questions his own mindset. His cynicism is as much a weakness as it is a strength, and it leaves open the opportunity for him to grow and change, or at least acknowledge when he needs the help of others who simply see things differently.
The fact that the series premise is that Hachiman, Yui, and Yukino solve other students’ problems lends itself to also reflecting and showcasing the issues of the main characters themselves. As the series goes along, I think that this quality in SNAFU will become even more important.
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