Hikigaya Hachiman, with his unique thought processes, seemed to be glorifying the life of a loner when his guidance counselor, Hiratsuka Shizuka, talked him into joining the Service Club. Together with the other members, the breathtaking, flawless Yukinoshita Yukino and the cute, popular Yuigahama Yui, he spent his days solving all kinds of problems for his classmates, from relationship worries to running the cultural festival committee. The seasons have given way to fall, and now Hachiman, Yukino, and Yui are preparing for a field trip to Kyoto. What request has been brought to the Service Club this time?
In my opinion is this season much better as the first season. The first season is just your average romcom with the exception the main guy is very cynical. It lacked in romance and the humour was lacking, it gave me a few smiles but no laughs. In the second season the comedy has almost disappeared and has been replaced by drama. But this gave the story a lot more dept. For a second I was afraid this would end as a harem with new girls going for Hikky but it turned out much better as expected. It was the story and the characters which were special in this season. As previously said this show started as a typical romcom but the second season focussed mainly on the struggling relationship between the three social misfit persona's. As you know the three had social problems and were put together in the school club in order to become friends so they would be open for other social contacts. However the three remained in their usual routine, especially Hikky who's self destruction created a clash between himself and Yui/Yukino. He remained closed and on his own unwilling to open up. Hikky received most screentime and was the center of this all and carried this entire season on his own, but Yui is great as the love-able optomist trying to keep the group together. And while Yukino got shoved to the side by Yui she made a great comeback towards the end. Not everyone might be pleased about the ending, but this way it fit more into the rest of the story as Hikky as trust issues. This way it wont be a typical romcom as well. This second season also gave the secondary characters, Hayato and Haruno more attention. We still don't know much about these two their motivations but I believe there is much more ongoing as so far has been told. How this story will continue and what the motivations for Hayato and Haruno are must wait till the third season will be made. As for the animation, it was above average and the music was good... good but nothing special drew my attention from the music or animation. At least both remained at the same level of the first season. So if you watched the first season and wasn't impressed I would recommend you continue anyways with this second season. Even though the atmosphere was heavy and dramatic.
Characters with distinct and plausible personalities? A coherent plot? Limited melodrama and no gratuitous fan-service? Excuse me, I thought this was an anime drama set in high school. Studio Feel delivers a surprisingly strong performance considering the garbage that tends to get shoveled out under the "High School Drama" label- and my own lingering skepticism from what I thought was a mediocre first season.STORY The actual progression of events is pretty basic, as it follows our cast through a typical Japanese school year. In this character driven story the plot serves its purpose by creating situations for them to react to. Alas, the ending is not conclusive. Not an unbearable cliffhanger, but the story could clearly go farther. Oh well, maybe this show will get a third season (although I'm skeptical)ANIMATION The fluidity and shot composition is about as standard as it gets, but I love the excellent use of lighting and color. Character designs were strong as well, particularly for the two female leads, making them obviously cute and attractive without resorting to any blatant sexualization or appealing to fetishes (they even have breasts of normal size that don't bounce like jell-o. What is anime coming to?) SOUND I wish I had more to say here. The OP and ED are nice, with a light and sweet sound that fits the mood well, but not something that will stick with me long term. I'm not competent enough with the Japanese language to make definitive statements on how well the voice actors did, but all the voices seemed to fit. CHARACTERS The driving force of this show. The three mains form a very strong trio, one of the best teams 3-person teams I've ever seen. Hachiman, Yui, and Yukino play off each other beautifully. I personally enjoy Hachiman's snarky, no-nonsense dissections of social situations, but Yui took top honors by clearly establishing herself as the group's emotional center and being a likeable airhead (not always easy). Unfortunately, this top-notch main cast is dragged down by some much weaker secondary characters. Thankfully, the most annoying ones aren't around as much as they were in the first season- where I thought they had entirely too much screen time and dragged that show down like cement shoes. The story is character-driven, set into motion by Hachiman beginning to question his effective but self-destructive methods of solving problems (what's this, referencing things established in the first season to create a coherent, continuous narrative? Holy cow, this could revolutionize writing!) and branches out from there as other dominoes begin to fall.OVERALL Not a masterpiece, but a very strong showing. I tried this show more out of boredom than anything and was pleasantly surprised. Maybe it's simply a beneficiary of low expectations (I came in 'Toradora' and 'The Pet Girl of Sakura Hall' hoping for big things and came away disappointed, while the first season of SNAFU set my bar lower), but SNAFU TOO! impressed me with a well-written main cast and lovely visuals. Hoping for more, even if I'm not holding my breath given how the anime industry tends to operate. Go check it out on Hulu, as I give this show a strong "Worth A Watch".
If you’re anything like me, the title of this show is enough make you think twice about even giving it a chance. Your skepticism is welcome and warranted, but I beg that you read on, and ultimately give this title a chance. My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (SNAFU henceforth) struck me as a very pleasant surprise in the world of modern anime. This rings especially true hailing from a genre that is very often filled with implausible love polygons, self-inserts, slapstick, and obscene amounts of fan service. The show has its abuses of some of the above follies, but they are kept to a bare minimum, and instead maintains its focus on theme exploration, and character development. Before I delve any further, I think it is important that I first disclaim that I am lumping the first and second seasons together into this review. I watched them back-to-back, and while there are some noteworthy differences, they largely share the same qualities, and the second season does pick up where the first one left off. There seems to remain a lot of speculation as to whether or not there will be a third season (or some sort of conclusive OVA); but for the sake of objectivity, I’ll write with the assumption that this series is over – even though I believe it ought have another season. Art: 9/10 – I say this in all of my reviews and it’s imperative I reiterate: I am not at all finicky when it comes to a show’s visuals. Characters > Story > Sound > Art, that’s just my simple matter of preference. In my self-admitted lack of criticality in this domain, I have no major complaints regarding this show’s art. The character figures were fantastic, they were unique, well-proportioned, and seemed to carry personality even in their visual expressions. This show seemed to masterfully identify the visuals of each character without having to rely on neon anti-gravity hair styles or (for the most part) ridiculous accessories. The backgrounds were extremely detailed and fit the scenes very well. The visual effects were nothing spectacular; but this is not the type of show that demands such. The animation will find itself being my only criticism of this show’s art, where it seems honestly substandard at points for a 2013 – 2015 show. I can remember a scene where a character lazily wobbled rather than walked and it seemed purely out of laziness on the part of the creators. Sound: 8/10 – Watching the show subbed, (I don’t think there are dubs for it), I should start by asserting that the voice acting was spot-on. I cannot recall a single character or scene, where I felt like the voice acting was at all sub-par. And perhaps better yet, none of the characters had exceedingly high-pitched (and irritating) voices. The voice acting was also solid, and well acted to suit the emotion of each given scene. The show’s OT’s didn’t do much for me. The ET’s were better, but still not remarkable. I recall liking the BGM a lot more (especially the piano tracks), but they seemed to be relatively far and few in between. I would criticize this show for underusing its score more so than for having a bad one. There’s not much to remark on for this show’s sound effects, but they still seemed fine when needed. Much like the visual effects, this show’s demands here were mundane – but I don’t see that as a reason to penalize it. Story: 7/10 – The premise of this story is entirely unremarkable. It uses the done-to-death-and-done-some-more school setting, and completely and utterly contrives its initial interaction between two of the three main characters (nosey/bossy teacher lumps them together). Still, I’m not going to beat this show up too much for its lame premise, or for some of the overly contrived situations (of which there were a few). But for slice of live / romance shows, I think what’s more important is the way the show develops. And this show fares much better there (more on this later). The pacing of this show was largely fine, and never sluggish. Some stuff felt kind of “filler-y”, but then again, such was the nature of this story. The scenarios rarely involved the main characters; rather it involved their patrons. The way it worked therefore centered on the way the main characters interacted together in trying to figure out the issues presented to them. Their clashes of methodologies in this sense was a pleasure to watch. I would argue the show’s pacing (among other things) took a real dive on the exorbitant amount of time the second season wasted on Iroha. That character (and her arc) was toxic to many aspects of this story. But in this section I’ll just accuse her as being a time waster and distraction from the more interesting love triangle between the show’s three leads. Despite some minor screw-ups *cough* Iroha *cough* this show gets a well-deserved full score in its “complexity” section. The social commentary was fascinatingly deep; and sometimes even smart. Having just finished it, I actually want to watch it again with the intent of mining (and saving somewhere) some of the better quotes. With no ability to recite some of my favorites, I can only be certain that I had thought more than once through this 26 episode journey “holy sh*t that’s actually really profound”. Perhaps I’ll update this review to share if I do undertake the task. Smart/interesting dialogue/monologue aside, the show also does what most anime love stories fails to do; it explores its themes. Unlike the grossly overrated Clannad, the male lead is not some boring self-insert. And also unlike Clannad, the female of choice is not obvious to the point of making the entire story feel trite, boring, and pointless. There is a real struggle in SNAFU, and the blunders, the decisions, and non-decisions made by the characters in the face of the situation resonates much more strongly for that reason. Sure, the nature of their club did feel like an easy plot device to get this show’s trio meddling in damn near everything, but that’s not to say it lacked plausibility. The teacher (who created this contrived setting) did seem to have a genuine interest in her particular students (Hachiman and Yukino), and it could easily be argued that grouping them was her ploy to help them. Within the show’s conext (and the premise of their club), the nature of their involvement in their various situations actually felt a lot more organic than it might without that plot device. The development of the relationships between the cast feels organic and real, and no characters exist simply to be loved or hated (all characters are likable/contemptible in their own ways). Even characters who started off appearing as “hate fodder” (Yumiko) grow to develop in their own right in this show. This grayness is not often found in shows like this, and it is a very welcome breath of fresh air to see such dynamics. Again, I’m forced to complain about the damage Iroha did to the show’s plausibility, because unlike our two female leads (Yukino and Yui), her attachment for the less-than-likable Hachiman comes rapidly, and out of complete nowhere. The love triangle begged to become a harem; though I allowed this show to redeem this category, as it seemed to reel it in at the end; and do what had to be done: cut this b*tch out of the love polygon. :) I’m not sure if episode 13 of season 2 is the end of this series. Assuming it is; it’s one hell of an open ending, and things are left completely unresolved. On one hand, it’s definitely unsatisfying. Somehow, even the jaded me wants to see if the writers can devise some smart way of resolving the mess the characters had created. But then the jaded me doubts that is possible. The jaded me also fears that a continuation of the story (and attempt at resolution) will somehow result in botching the whole thing. Enough with the speculation, the ending was ok. It certainly wasn’t weak, and while it was open, it felt rightly open. The characters didn’t know how to resolve the situation. SNAFU comes at the love triangle at a better formula than many other shows; yet that formula is somehow inexplicable. Put simply, the viewer is left as confused as the characters are. And that effect seems intentional. No one knows the right answer to the situation the three leads end up in; and the show (and the characters) are self-aware to that fact. Characters: 8/10 – Being almost an entirely character driven show, I must apologize for having talked so much about the show’s characters outside this section. I do not believe it could have been avoided. I personally prefer character driven stories over plot driven ones; and this show had a terrific cast for the undertaking. I touched above; but will reiterate that my favorite aspect of this show’s characters is that almost all of them end up becoming colorized and three dimensional. The majority of the cast has a lot of personality, and aren’t defined purely by some singular characteristic. They are (almost) all capable of being mean, pleasant, dumb, smart, and profound. And what’s better, is that they achieve this level of depth without actually losing their character or integrity. Hachiman never loses his pragmatism, for instance, he just maintains it in ways can be very unpleasant, or charming, as the situation dictates. This effect can be seen by Yui’s bubbly assertiveness (where she can turn selfish), and Yukino’s cold stoicism (where she can break down and become weak). And this effect extends well into the secondary characters (such as Yumiko or Hayato). There is little to say of characters’ backdrop; other than Hachiman failing with women, and Yukino living in the shadow of her older sister. There’s some, and it has its relevancies; so I give the show a partial score in this category. It could be richer for sure (especially over all the time we wasted on Iroha), but I also believe that story/character development is more important than backdrop for a story like this. The character development in this show was largely solid. The characters do seem to change as the story progresses, and their feelings towards one another certainly develop. If I were to criticize anything of the character development, it would be that the feelings a certain character develops for another (without spoiling anything) seems to come abruptly and rigidly. I can only argue that the development was a little choppy and rigid; not that it wasn’t strong or present, so I still grant the show a full score in this category. The characters’ catharsis was only partial; and intentionally withheld. Essentially, they resolved to not resolve their problem. I don’t love this outcome, but I definitely don’t hate it either. Because I am writing this review with the tentative assumption that the show is over, I grant partial credit on the catharsis bit, because it was absent; but intentionally so. And the reasoning for such was smart, and fitting with the flow of the story. Overall: 8/10 – Modern anime can be a real straw-grab (as I’ve iterated in past reviews) so I always find myself pleased when I can say with a straight face “I recommend it!”. And I do. Look, you might be like me, and no great fan of this particular genre. But this show does well to not overly abuse the factors that make this genre such a cesspool to begin with. It’s smart, and really cares more about its themes and character developments than it does making a quick buck off of affection-deprived otakus. But don’t take my word for it; give it a watch and see for yourself. Excused scorings: (Thanks to Roriconfan for the template). ART SECTION: 9/10 General Artwork 2/2 (fine)Character Figures 2/2 (unique and well drawn)Backgrounds 2/2 (outstanding)Animation 1/2 (sometimes lazy)Visual Effects 2/2 (fine for this type of show) SOUND SECTION: 8/10 Voice Acting 4/4 (great)Music Themes 2/4 (cheesy OT’s, ok BGM, but limited variety) Sound Effects 2/2 (fine)STORY SECTION: 7/10 Premise 1/2 (basic)Pacing 1/2 (ok pacing, but does have unnecessary filler)Complexity 2/2 (explores its themes, interesting social commentary)Plausibility 2/2 (minor issues, but fine)Conclusion 1/2 (open, but deep and self-aware)CHARACTER SECTION: 8/10 Presence 2/2 (strong)Personality 2/2 (interesting and dynamic)Backdrop 1/2 (some)Development 2/2 (rigid, but strong)Catharsis 1/2 (intentionally withheld)VALUE SECTION: 7/10 Historical Value 1/3 (nothing spectacular but stands out in its genre)Rewatchability 2/3 (good commentary, but excessive fluff and filler)Memorability 4/4 (pensive and attentive enough to its themes to the point of forever remembering it)ENJOYMENT SECTION: 8/10 Art 1/1 (good) Sound 1/2 (ok)Story 2/3 (basic premise, fantastic theme exploration)Characters 4/4 (lively and dynamic with powerful commentary)VERDICT: 8/10
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