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My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Complete Collection (S1/S2) Blu-ray Anime Review

16 min read
There’s something to be said for being that loner guy who knows it and revels in it.

There’s something to be said for being that loner guy who knows it and revels in it.

What They Say:
When Hachiman Hikigaya, who has no friends and believes that anyone who likes high school is either deluded or a liar, is coerced into joining the “Services Club” run by Yukino Yukinoshita, who’s smart, attractive and considers everyone to be her complete inferior, it’s a catastrophe just waiting to happen. But it’s not until the THIRD ingredient… Yui Yuigahama, who’s cute, bright, cheerful, and needs help baking cookies… is added to the combustible mix that the sparks really start to fly. Is this a recipe for romance or a prelude to a nuclear meltdown? Get ready for rom-com gone totally wrong as the barrage a trois of the Service Club is unleashed on an unsuspecting student body!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language in stereo along with the newly created English language, both of which are encoded with the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. As we saw with previous releases, the show has a fairly standard school-oriented design to it where it’s all about the dialogue in the classroom and some exterior events that doesn’t have much of an opportunity to go big. It does do it a couple of times towards the end as we get the school culture festival, but by and large it’s a dialogue-driven piece that keeps it casual and simple if not with some internal dialogue that’s kept at an even conversational tone. The show handles all of this well with a decent bit of directionality to it when needed and it gives us a clean and decent presentation that doesn’t stand out much overall. The opening and closing sequences add a bit more warmth to the events and it’s certainly noticeable, though not a game-changer. We didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in the spring of 2013, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes are for each season are spread across two discs in a nine/four format. Animated by Brain’s Base, I really love the look of the show here once again, especially having gone originally from an HD simulcast to a DVD release and then to Blu-ray. The colors have some great pop to it in many scenes where they’re rich throughout with some great shades moving across various areas and detail is well managed with clean linework and more. The show doesn’t go for a lot of high action moments, but when it does it comes across very well here with no noise or breakup associated with it. The color design work on the series in a number of key scenes works to really ramp up the mood and atmosphere and capturing that right with a great encode is critical, which is what we get with this set. It looks fantastic.

Packaging:
The packaging design for this release essentially mirrors what we had before on the DVD, but adjusts it to fit in the slightly smaller and wide Blu-ray case. The front cover goes with some familiar artwork as we get the main trio of characters with a heavy focus on the girls in the foreground while Hachiman is in the background and pretty small in comparison. It feels like Yukino gets more of a nod for style overall and a shot of her legs while Yui is all about her popping out of her uniform since it’s not button up, and she’s all full of smiles in contrast to the flat look that Yukino gives. There’s some nice colors to be had here with the background as we get blues and pinks with white to make it pop while also tying into the color scheme of the dialogue bubble for the logo. All of this figures into the case itself in a way that really ties it together in a great way. The back cover uses the same color scheme to good effect as the center has another large dialogue bubble where we get the premise covered nicely while surrounding it is a series of shots from the show itself. We also get a small bubble that breaks down the disc’s extras. The bottom section brings out the production credits in decent form and the technical grid covers everything smoothly and accurately with no issues. The show doesn’t have any inserts nor does it have a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for this release takes things in a calmer way than the busy menus of prior releases as we get a standard split-screen approach. The right side is either mostly blank or uses some light color tons with the white where we get the navigation strip. This keeps to the blue, purple, ad white color design with black text so it’s colorful and busy – especially on the nine-episode discs. The left side uses various pieces of Japanese release artwork for the characters which has a great feel about it with the depth of color quality. Submenus are few and far between as it’s basically just for the extras but the release as a whole is quick and easy to navigate with no problems in getting done what you need to do.

Extras:
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences for both seasons.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series by Wataru Watari that began in 2011 and finishes up in November 2019, My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected ran for fourteen volumes and had a couple of spinoffs plus the manga adaptation. With a third season coming up for the series that will get a simulcast pickup, the desire to dub it as well grew for the streaming side and that meant going back and dubbing the past two seasons, resulting in this well-priced collection that gives us a proper bilingual release. This release marks the fourth time I’ve seen the first season and the second time for the second season and I’ll say that my feelings overall haven’t changed on it. But taking it in with the dub this time around was definitely enjoyable as it worked well since the cast had a lot of material to work with and get comfortable for, which should make the third season feel very natural.

I don’t get a chance to listen to too many dubs but when one is made for a series that I’ve seen a few times it’s an easy choice. One of the things I do is to remove the visual experience from it with a second listen for a bit and just have the headphones on like it’s a limited audiobook without the descriptive factor. Just listening to the performance while not watching and dealing with lip flap and all the other external stimuli really lets you hear the performance. With three main distinctive characters here and a solid comedy relief one, the team did a great job with this and got their own slight spin on it. Adam Gibbs has the most work to do with dialogue and the thoughts for Hachiman but I thought he did a really great job in capturing what he sounds like with a kind of slight disaffected nature that’s being kept up as a mask and pretense.

Melissa Molano had a similar job in playing Yukino because of how her character was designed but without the internal dialogue for us to really follow in the same way. While a lot is said through body language for her more than her words, Molano’s performance keeps her cool and distant while stepping on the harsher moments just right. And both of them are well-contrasted with Cat Thomas as Yui. With the highly outgoing member of the group being like she is, Thomas gets to be a lot more noticeable but it’s balanced really well when she has those quiet and introspective moments that draws in Hachiman. She’s not super cheery all the time and Thomas worked that balance and her own particular mask that Yui wears perfectly.

They’re also all complemented by Andrew Love as Zaimokuza. Love’s career is one that is quite well defined and he did great previously for me with My Love story. Here, he gets to dial up things for the comedic effect and as this character gets to dress up, be silly, inspirational, and more and it’s definitely a welcome piece of the show that Love embraces right. There are a good number of supporting characters beyond this, such as teaches and siblings as well as other classmates, and the dub for this handles it all very well. With it being a straightforward school show without any real over-acting moments for the bulk of the cast as it’s real world project, the end result is something that feels authentic, well-directed, and well-acted.

The series revolves around a high school student named Hachiman, a young man who has absolutely no love or interest in high school and sees the whole thing as just one big trial to get through in order to get to something better. He has a certain disdain for others that makes him seem superior in a way, but you get the feeling that it’s not quite a superiority he feels over everyone else but rather just a complete disinterest in playing the game that is high school to him. Unfortunately, he crosses the wrong teacher with an essay that he’s written and she forces him into a club in order to try and socialize him a bit. This brings him into contact with Yukino, a somewhat solitary student herself who runs the Service Club as its only member. She’s definitely an attractive young woman, but it’s made clear that she has a cold personality that keeps others at bay. It certainly makes the two a difficult pair to get along with each other.

Amusingly, Hachiman does his best to ensure that he’s not falling into a rom-com trap by being aggressive with her in a way that sets him as an alpha, but she’s just as harsh as he is and pushes back easily, enough so that she actually manages to dominate him for a bit through her personality. There’s some interesting interplay between the two as they spend time together, but it gets more complicated when another student is sent there named Yui. She’s a bit more outgoing than Hachiman and Yukino but as she watches the way those two interact, she finds herself intrigued by this club. The group has an odd feeling to it, a real mishmash of students when you get down to it, and that’s something we’ve seen in other series. But there’s something a little different here with how they come together and their personalities in that it doesn’t feel quite so cookie cutter. At least not yet.

While there are similarities between Hachiman and Yukino in the way they look at the world, though there are different level at work here for her, bringing Yui in certainly adds something different as you see she’s certainly interested in him but is doing her best to play it right. Yui gets some decent time here early on that’s not focused on Hachiman but rather her social life in general as she’s doing her best to try and fit in with the popular girls, but she’s continually given some push back on because of the way she handles herself. It’s interesting to see that kind of bullying being shown as it is here, and how Yui is handling it, but also the way that Hachiman wants to get involved but is so easily kowtowed by the way the Yumiko snaps at him. Seeing Yukino come to Yui’s aid isn’t a surprise, but seeing how Yukino handles the situation is what makes it interesting since she’s forceful without being aggressive and is capable of making inroads not only with Yumiko, at least superficially, but more so when it comes to Yui and Hachiman as they see how she operates.

Where the show goes a bit off the rails for me is the introduction of Ashikaga, a white haired young man who knows Hachiman and has weird delusions of being an incarnation of the man that his name is from the past, a shogun from ages ago. He essentially lives his fantasy in a way and just runs with it, much to the annoyance of everyone else – myself included. What helps is that as Hachiman goes on, noting his own name connection, we get a look at his own past and things he’s pushed himself away from over the years, which is pretty damning in its own way. The show feels like it kind of spirals out of control here, going in unusual and not altogether clear directions as everyone deals with this new arrival and it ends up going more for some wordplay and bits of history that, while interesting to some, doesn’t do much for me.

Thankfully, Ashikaga is used sparingly in the show, though he does show up at some key times to be useful. What the show wants to do is to focus on the relationship that exists between the main trio though as they try and find their place while coping with the structure of school. The events that impact them over the course of it are a little familiar as we get a few episodes that deals with the culture festival and an episode that deals with field day. We also get a small arc where the trio are sent off during summer by their advisor to work at a camp with younger kids alongside some of the more popular students. It works the familiar story arcs but it does some interesting things in them because of the characters themselves, and that’s often what helps to set it apart. A lot of this comes down to Hachiman and some of his internal dialogue because he makes it clear that he’s just not that interested in most of this.

But by being placed with Yui and Yukino, and the three of them sharing a moment from before the show started that’s sort of an unknown between most of them, it has a larger idea it wants to work with that comes into play towards the end. I like the hidden connection that they have and the kind of innocence that’s behind it, removing a malicious intent, so that it doesn’t become forced in a bad way but it does force the kids to struggle with it and understand themselves and each other. But this can only happen towards the end of the season after they really get to know each other well and how they interact with each other. And with the kind of sort of but not completely triangle that’s forming here as we know Yui likes Hachiman and that there’s something going on inside of Yukino’s head all while Hachiman is kind of oblivious to it all and is just struggling with having friends at all after becoming such a social outcast.

What works for me the most here, exaggerated a bit as it may be at times, is that while we get our core trio, they are not the whole of the series. They exist, interact and help out a few others as part of being in the Service Club, but they’re also regularly forced to interact with the popular kids in the show and deal with the kinds of social class issues that comes from it. Yukino could easily rank higher due to her family and her sister’s own time there and you have Yui desperately wanting to be a part of the cool kid club. And you have Hachiman who just wants to ignore it all but is finding it harder to do so because he now knows Yui and Yukino and gets drawn into helping, defending or working with them for whatever they get into. His forced socialization is amusing when you consider his darker angle at times, but it helps to show how these difficult days and experiences does shape him and add to a larger and more positive experience overall that’s making him a better person without even realizing.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the second season, I found that it largely works the same as the first one did in that we get a couple of arcs and a whole lot of character material to deal with. Hachiman is still front and center here but there feels like there’s been such a reduction of his inner monologue that he skewed view of things in looking at the world is sorely missed. Of course, if you spend as much time as you do with Yukinon and Yui as he does, you may end up not being quite so cynical and aloof as you once were. Hachiman still is essentially that same guy, one that also pushes himself into difficult situations to help save others from being hurt, but it felt like he wasn’t quite as special this time around because of his monologues. There’s also the simple thing of his being involved in so many situations now and connecting with so many others that his aloofness begins to get a little more frustrating than it was before since everyone is getting a lot more comfortable with each other.

While the group has several service jobs to handle over the course of the season it also focuses on the relationship dynamic between them all. Events have been nudging toward some sort of confession or revelation along the way as you can see how both Yui and Yukinon are affected by Hachiman and his ways. It’s hard to really say that he gets it and realizes it, but it comes to an interesting head in the final episode that almost feels too anticlimactic when you get down to it. Relationships and friendships are incredibly tricky things no matter the age but even more so when you’re young and haven’t been involved in many or any, depending on the case. I can totally get why feelings develop among these characters since they know each other better than anyone else, but you can also understand the desire on almost all their parts to keep things as problem free as possible.

Some of this is made more complicated by the service jobs that involve helping with relationships and confessions. There are interesting moments in there as it deals with Hayato and his interests with Ebina in the like – what a beautiful place for a confession – but these are often far too unsubtle pieces of foreshadowing for our main trio that will run into Hachiman’s own self sacrifice desire. The service jobs largely didn’t make much an impression this time around but they did often bring him into contact with more people that are more comfortable with his particular presence and style at this point so there was less tension going on. The small evolutions like that are interesting but at the same time it kind of pulls a bit away from what makes Hachiman who he is. Some of the supporting characters from the first season largely disappear as well, though they make a few very small appearances along the way, and it comes with an increase in Komachi’s time as Hachiman’s younger sister. She definitely needles him the right way and I find their entire relationship to be charming and all too familiar with my own kids.

The biggest change with this season for me was the larger role for Iroha. She gets help with the whole student council thing early on after being pushed into it and then accepting the idea. It’s a kind of convoluted sequence that doesn’t do anyone any favors but it keeps her coming back to Hachiman and the club for help in dealing with council activities. What I like about her as it progresses is that she’s the one that I think has real chemistry with Hachiman whereas Yui and Yukino end up feeling more forced because of their simply being in the same club together. The course of the season puts them together in interesting ways, though it avoids her being in the key sequences at the end, and the more time she spent on screen the more I liked her than any of the other girls at this point. Something about her just clicks for me and has me ready to roll on to some fanfic that might be more interesting.

In Summary:
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU with its two seasons that have come out over the years is one that clicked well for me and proved to be a delight pretty much each time I’ve seen it. With a third season coming up I wasn’t surprised by the show getting a dub and the first two seasons making out like this. It’s definitely been worth the wait for dub fans to get a solid one like that. When it comes to the show itself, I like some of the expansions but I know the real focus is on the core trio so it’s hard to become too invested in anyone else as they’re mostly props to motivate the leads. This release definitely looks great and hits the right notes on the presentation, making it a fun and engaging experience as a view. I had hoped for this dub years ago and for a third season as well and it’s wonderful to see it all coming together like this. For fans who’ve wanted this, it’s definitely worth adding to the collection.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: November 5th, 2019
MSRP: $89.98
Running Time: 675 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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