Sunday, March 26, 2017

My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong As I Expected Vol. #04 Manga Review

There is no place for you here.

Creative Staff:
Original Story: Wataru Watari
Art: Naomichi Io
Character Design: Ponkan8
Translation: Jennifer Ward
Lettering: Bianca Pistillo
Cover Design: Hiroyuki Kawasome

What They Say:
Despite his best efforts, Hachiman Hikigaya is still a member of the Service Club. Whether it's resolving a spat between gamers by stripping (!) or saving the Judo Club using the power of sweat (?!). Hachiman, Yukino, and Yui can help their fellow students get a clue. However, it just might Hachiman's turn to learn a lesson. Can he mend the frayed bonds between himself and Yui, or will Hachiman's cynicism be his own worst enemy?

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
After Zaimokuza decides to ruin the heartfelt Yui x Yukino scene from the last volume, the Service Club is tossed right back into the fray as they encounter a brand new issue to tackle. Zaimokuza has given up on his dream of being a light novel author and instead wants to become a game developer. Unfortunately for him, a couple of the guys in his group of friends have started to make fun of him, saying he'll never be able to make a game and that he doesn't have what it takes. Stricken with grief, the (un)lovable otaku wants to teach them a lesson. That's where Hachiman and friends come in. Oh, and in the middle of all of this, Yuigahama finds out that Hachiman and Yukino aren't actually dating. I guess we can mark that issue down as 'resolved'.

When the Service Club pays a visit to the Gamers United Club or whatever the hell they call themselves, they are challenged to a good old-fashioned game of Millionaire (Some card game that we don't play in America). The twist thrown onto this game is that the loser of each round has to strip. Yay! Fanservice! What can possibly go wrong? Answer: Everything. The only people that wind up stripped are Hachiman and Zaimokuza after being hustled by the gamer-duo. And just as Yukino is finally about to [reluctantly] join in on the fun, Hachiman has another one of his revelations and ultimately ends up winning the game. However, he isn't the one that teaches anyone a lesson this time around -- that credit goes to Zaimokuza himself. Not afraid of letting out his feelings, the master swordsman states that he knows there isn't much hope for him in the field of game development, but that the idea of backing down on doing what he loves because of that is ludicrous. This moment actually resonates with me personally, albeit to a significantly less embarrassing margin, and is actually one of the heavier lessons in the series as a whole.

The next problem for the Service Club comes from the school's Judo team. Apparently, the former president of the team keeps coming back to their practices after graduating and is scaring away many of the new team members through harsh, verbal harassment. As is standard procedure for SNAFU, the Service Club devises a plan dedicated to having the former president stop showing up altogether. That plan: a judo tournament not limited to just the club but everyone willing to participate. This event, labelled as a fun and friendly way of uncovering the best three-man team in the school, actually goes down pretty well thanks to Yuigahama's idea of having Hayama come. Honestly, Hayama is so damn popular that the entire high school would probably join the math team if he so much as showed his face there.

There's a quick reference to the issue Hayama brought up a few volumes ago when his friends weren't exactly getting along together thrown into the mixture here. Now, all three of them have become such good friends that Hayama has rotated out of their three-man team and is competing alongside Hachiman and Zaimokuza. Thanks to Hayama's ability to be the best at anything and Zaimokuza's ungodly amount of sweat, their team makes it all the way to the final round. However, Zaimokuza loses in the first round and Hayama is forced to return to soccer practice (Via Iroha's first appearance of the manga thus far). There is nothing to worry about, however, as Yukino is apparently good at judo and Hachiman uses his spoiled outlook on society during his match with the former captain. In the end, Hachiman's team loses but accomplishes their mission in ridding the Judo team of their former president. As it turns out, the only reason he had been showing up in the first place was that he was afraid of the actual hardships out there in the real world.

Before the volume comes to a close, the awkward distance between Yuigahama and Hikigaya must be addressed. It is finally revealed that Yukino only summoned Yui to the club room to wish her a happy birthday. Of course, this gives our two recluses time to give Yui the presents they bought for her at the mall. After another monologue about how Yui shouldn't feel indebted to him, Hachiman gives the rambunxious redhead his gift and pretty much renews their 'friendship' or whatever the hell their relationship is at this point in time. In a moment of utter cuteness, Yuigahama mistakes the dog collar as a choker and puts it onto her neck, asking how it looks before finding out what it really is. This moment isn't all that important but it's so frickin' adorable that it needed to be mentioned.

One more thing to note before we round up this review is that the artwork in this volume is several steps up from the rest of the series. I'm not sure where the sudden change came from, but with more detailed character designs and heavier outlining during certain scenes, volume four was very visually impressive. Another touch added in that I absolutely loved was during one of the final chapters when Yuigahama is having a bit of an emotional breakdown. The dialogue bubbles for her speech during this scene begin to look shaky and imperfect, signalling a tremor in her voice. It was a small detail that worked wonders for the scene in the grand scheme of things. Kudos to the mangaka for this.

In Summary:
While I don't recall any of this volume happening in the anime, I can't help but feel like the two issues resolved in this instalment were some of the best thus far. The pacing was excellent and several of the loose ends from previous volumes were tied up. As I mentioned in the last paragraph, the artwork has immensely stepped up and a few minor touches made to speech bubbles and outlines have worked wonders for the series. It's great seeing that the manga is clearly headed in the same direction the anime did while taking more of a scenic route there. OreGairu remains one of the best romantic-comedies to date while maintaining a deep understanding of philosophy throughout.

Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: March 21, 2017
MSRP: $12.99

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