What They Say:
The stampede of recent events may have herded the awkward members of the Service Club into something closer to a real bonding, but the upcoming field trip to Kyoto threatens to reverse those tiny steps forward. Alongside a list of attractions to see, they’ll also be taking along a lot of emotional baggage, and helping others with their personal and romantic issues may just cause the entire luggage rack to collapse.
Between Hachiman’s growing realization of how much he can manipulate others, Yukino’s underlying battles with responsibility, and Yui’s shifting needs and insecurities, the tenuous thread that holds their relationship together is more fragile than ever.
Even as the path ahead is strewn with psychological traps, the feelings that each of them refuse to acknowledge may end up being the true pitfall in MY TEEN ROMANTIC COMEDY SNAFU TOO!
Just like its first season, SNAFU comes to us in pure Japanese audio without an English dub treatment. It sports typical Dolby Digital 2.0 audio that is pretty much synonymous with DVD releases and does not have any dropouts throughout all three discs. While the audio quality is not as crisp and clear as its blu-ray counterpart, it still does not detract from the overall viewing experience.
Broadcast in 480i with an aspect ratio of 16×9, SNAFU looks pretty much as good as a DVD release is able to. The coloring is a bit faded and the overall aesthetic is diluted but the series looks good enough on its own to not make these changes unbearable in any way. I will say that the studio-switch from season one to season two worked highly in the series’ favor and that this particular version looks quite better than its predecessor.
The complete series release of SNAFU is actually one of the better-looking DVDs I’ve seen in recent years. The front cover clearly and neatly displays the primary three girls as well as good ole’ 8-man in all his glory. Its color palate mirrors the graphics normally seen in the anime itself and goes on to paint the rear cover a vibrant pink. Instead of throwing thumbnails at us in horizontal lines like we’d normally see in Sentai releases, SNAFU wraps its thumbnails in a circle around the series’ synopsis and an illustration of Yuigahama. The entire set looks very well organized and is truly one of the better Sentai releases in that aspect.
Despite being yet another example of how DVD menus (Specifically Sentai’s) are always boring now, SNAFU is equipped with original character designs that change with each disk. You can expect a heavy dose of the series’ opening theme as it accompanies each menu but considering how darn good that song is, this is not a problem in any way, shape, or form. Just like the packaging, the menus are very well organized and somehow seem a bit more exciting than the usual lifeless afterthoughts they are.
Don’t get your hopes up for anything cool in the special features department. As per usual, this standard DVD set comes with nothing more than textless opening and ending themes as well as a few trailers from other Sentai shows. The trailers in this particular collection are Rin-Ne, When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun, and Wolf Girl & The Black Prince.
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Following an extensive delay and a change of studios, Oregairu’s second season seemed like it was going to be rather bleak in terms of quality. Well, at least that’s what everyone thought before its pilot aired back in April of 2015. Once it did, however, the audience was quickly reminded of its prior bonds with the characters and, despite several small changes in character design, they were all exactly the same as they were when we left them.
The series picks up shortly after the events of season one. Hachiman has [sort of] assimilated into the service club alongside Yui and Yukino. And even though the group is still a ragtag jumble of misfits, their chemistry with one another works wonders in carrying the show. Oregairu relies heavily on not only social philosophy and commentary but on the idea of relationships in all their different forms. If you were a fan of the first season’s attempt at deconstructing societal norms, this season will hammer that home even more. From artwork to writing, Zoku (Or “Too” if we’re working off the English title) is leaps and bounds ahead of the 2013 release.
While the first season centered heavily around the plotlines and character development for both Yukino and Yui, Zoku actually uses a new character (Iroha Isshiki) as the primary focal plot in terms of subplot. Iroha, while not necessarily being a love interest for Hachiman, quickly develops a bond with him as he gets roped into helping her with a unique slew of problems. The interesting part of this relationship really lies in the fact that these two characters could not be further apart in terms of personality. Iroha is extremely outgoing, overly-flirtatious and surprisingly manipulative. And, despite seeing through all of this, Hachiman is almost incapable of separating himself from her. She is literally the embodiment of all of the things he hates, so when the two become inadvertently connected, our protagonist’s overly cynical disposition toward literally everything starts breaking down one step at a time.
Of course, Oregairu would not be Oregairu if it focused only on Iroha. Yukino and Yui still have their respective character arcs. For the most part, Yui’s relationship does not go through the same dramatic changes it did in season one. This time around, it’s actually Yukino who begins to bump heads with Hachiman. Yes, yes- I know what you’re thinking. They bumped heads for thirteen whole episodes back in 2013, but that was more attributed to a personality clash than anything else. This time around, their clashing seems to come as a result of both characters subconsciously realized that they’re not as different from one another as they originally thought they were. It’s clear that each of them wants to develop a relationship with the other but, considering how naturally antisocial they are, this winds up pushing them even further apart. Through a sheer cinematographic standpoint, this distance is illustrated beautifully. There are a plethora of wide shots in this season that show them on opposite sides of the screen while still remaining almost symmetrical. It’s the perfect example of emphasizing similarities and separation simultaneously.
What’s even more beautiful about this is that the series composition and cinematography mimics the actual themes of the series. None of this would be possible without near flawless direction.
Oregairu’s second season, while still spending a large chunk of its time fine-tuning romantic subplots, isn’t all just drama, however. As always, there is plenty of comedy and witty banter that creates the same realistically toxic high school environment that most of us dealt with in real life. And while this may seem taxing to some, having a school so realistically portrayed is a glorious change of pace from the typical school-based slice-of-life series we’re used to seeing in the world of anime. Everything about this series is pretty much a cynically supercharged iteration of something we’ve already seen before, but the way that all of these things are presented is so calculated and so well-written that comparing Oregairu to a normal slice of life show just isn’t fair. And just like I did with the first season, I’d recommend this installment to pretty much anyone. There’s a little bit of all of us in SNAFU. Finding those parallels is what makes the series so special.
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: B-
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen