Original Story: Wataru Watari
Art: Naomichi Ito
Character Design: Ponkan8
Translation: Jennifer Ward
Lettering: Bianca Pistillo
What They Say
Hachiman Hikigaya is a cynic. He believes “youth” is a crock-a sucker’s game, an illusion woven from failure and hypocrisy. Unsurprisingly, he’s not the most popular guy. Meanwhile, there’s Yukino Yukinoshita-brilliant, beautiful, and chillier than winter in Antarctica. Would you believe she’s not exactly beloved by her classmates either? The unlikely pair gets forced into a club dedicated to helping solve their fellow students’ problems. But will an ice queen and a screwup really be able to help anybody?
My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected @ comic volume 1 takes a wholly minimalistic approach to its front cover, with the majority of it being of main girl Yukinoshita—Hachiman trudging into the bottom of the front cover. More interesting is its back cover, which holds a more traditional layout—each of the volume’s major characters posing in a warmly colored classroom.
Art for the series is interesting in that it isn’t afraid to deviate off-model for characters, especially during its more comical or emotionally intense scenes. Character designs for those scenes feel like less exaggerated versions of Hajime Ueda’s (the FLCL manga and various Monogatari ending themes) in that people tend to be lanky and angular, with special attention given to the eyes. While the art is fairly standard manga-fare otherwise, there are a few moments where panel layout could have been clearer, with some bubbles being awkwardly placed, and in another point, a flashback being unnecessarily used to break up the momentum of the story.
It should also be noted that translation notes also feel a bit awkward. In addition to the standard notes on honorifics, the section takes the time to explain a few pop culture references tossed around within the volume. This is fine, however, there are a noticeable amount of references not included in the section at all (of note, an Evangelion A.T. field mentioning, as well as a line referencing Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone). For something surprisingly ripe with references, it’s nice that an attempt was made at compiling a section explaining them all, but it doesn’t amount to much when not all the references are included.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected @ comic (or “comigairu” as the author refers to it as) is an interesting beast in that the series has already been adapted in anime form, with the light novel source material getting an English release later this year. That said, is there really a place for the comic adaptation at all?
For being a rather text-heavy series (in part due to main character Hachiman’s overly accurate observations of his fellow peers which soon devolve into hateful-yet-still-enjoyable rants), artist Naomichi Io does an excellent job of keeping panels varied. Text never feels like an insurmountable wall, and everyone’s dialogue is broken up into enough panels without making scenes feel unnatural. If anything, the manga excels in comparison to the anime in this case because it’s simply able to get away with more lines of dialogue—something that the series really relishes in.
From the start, you’re introduced to Hikigaya Hachiman—an incredibly jaded high schooler that refuses to partake in the “experience” that is having a fulfilling high school life. He loathes his classmates, referring to them as “normies,” and addresses such with little to no hesitation if only because he knows he’s low enough on the totem pole of school cliques that nobody would care about his opinion anyways. His distaste for anyone even remotely romanticizing teenage life is palpable, wholly enjoyable, and a series featuring solely him grumbling around campus would have been fine with me.
His snarky teacher, on the other hand, has different plans for him. As Hiratsuka-sensei berates him on his latest essay, she ultimately decides that forcing him into a club activity would be the best solution for the troubled teen. Once Hachiman is dumped into the Service Club—consisting of sole other member Yukino Yukinoshita, a sudden shift in power occurs. Yukinoshita is a different type of loner than Hachiman, being ostracized due to her cold personality and good looks (ie: people actually value her opinions!). Rather than the lone wolf lifestyle he has accepted, Hachiman is suddenly part of a duo, to the glee of neither party involved.
Now with this new odd-couple pairing established, the club goes forth carrying out any and all requests from members of the student body willing to make the venture to their club room. This is where the true heart of the series resides in that you really get to explore and pick apart what on the surface appear to be very stereotypical teenage students. The people the Service Club helps don’t necessarily deviate from their stereotype, but you do get a more in-depth look as to the intricacies of why they stick to certain cliques and why they act certain ways in a manner you’d expect more from an essay than a manga. And as Hachiman and Yukinoshita aid every new student, you slowly feel what their help has done ripple into the rest of the student body… or at least their classmates, making for the interesting read.
As solid as Comigairu is, I can’t help but be reminded that the light novels for the series will be released in English starting this September, making recommendation kinda iffy. Slight hiccups in art aside, the dialogue for characters is a legitimate joy to read, and seeing the relations between each character slowly unfold into something far more intricate than initially thought is equally enticing. However, with the light novels on the way, and an anime already existing for those too lazy to read, Comigairu is in limbo as this awkward in-between adaptation with an audience I’m not sure exists.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: Teen
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: May 31, 2016