It’s ok. I get it. Oregairu is NOT for everybody. It’s not the type of slice of life that makes you want to turn your brain off, or the type of romantic comedy that probably ends in a ‘happily ever after’. Oregairu is a reserved experience for you, the viewer, to identify yourself with Hikigaya Hachiman, or with whatever pretentious slipslop he says. Everything else is just a bonus. But at which point is that forgiveable?
The story spins around Hikigaya Hachiman - an absurdly nihilistic, depressingly hopeless, and abnormally apathic teenager. Yes, a teenager - that goes to highschool. The entire script doesn’t mind being defined as an eternal monologue inside Hikigaya’s head. After all, the point is to make the viewer, one way or another, identify itself with this abnormal protagonist.
Here’s the problem – if you, the viewer, doesn’t have or had a problematic high school like Hikigaya has – without friends, full of rejections, hated by the majority of your colleagues – you’re probably not going to identify yourself with him. Each episode is only going to make you wanna die.
Full of pretentious and absurd monologues – of course at the courtesy of Hikigayas edgy mentality – Oregairu initially locks you into the thought that youth is rubbish, that making friends is useless, and that being sociable is a waste of time. If that isn’t enough, Hikigaya is an incomparably stubborn character, who rejects abandoning these depressing ideals even after being proven wrong so many times throughout the show.
Hikigaya avoids, at all costs, the work of maintaining a relationship. If one day there was a saying – “a relationship is like a plant that needs to be watered”, Hikigaya responds with – “when this plant dies, I’ll just buy another one like it”. This kind of egoistic behaviour does NOT match one of a teenager with a ‘tragic backstory’ that consists of a leg-breaking accident and some romantic dumps here and there.
Even if Hikigaya is part of a helping group, it’s difficult to understand how far he can be described as a good person. The majority of the problems he solves, although efficiently, HAVE to cause the most chaos and conflicts possible. In the words of Hayama Hayato – “Why do you always act this way?” (as a piece of shit?). In fact, this problematic highschool Hikigaya experiences is, at minimum, consequence of Hikigayas own actions.
Yuigahama Yui has her little moments at the spotlight, mainly at Hikigayas side. Maybe these moments could be described as pathetic simulations of romance – but at least there WAS romance. When Hikigaya is put at Yukinoshita Yukinos side, however, it’s like Hikigaya was put in front of a mirror. The passive-aggressive dialogue, although entertaining, show how incredibly frustrating it is when there’s little to no development between these two apathic characters – both that avoid, at all costs, talking about their mutual problems and watering their relationships.
After everything Hikigaya and Yukino went through together, they can’t even accept the idea they’re friends - and that is a damn shame because this relationship is, by far, the highest point of the show.
Oregairu disguises itself as a romantic comedy, but the truth is – in this first season, romance is casually brushed off to give space to many character introductions and standalone clichéd scenarios.
Oregairu is not innovative, but it’s certainly different. It has a few stand-out moments, but nothing incredible. It’s mainly just another rom-com – this time, without romance, and with a strangely particular protagonist. For this reason and the ones described befored, I just can’t identify myself or like Hikigaya – and this removes all the entertaining value this show could ever offer me.