Wednesday, August 23, 2017

My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong As I Expected Vol. #05 Manga Review

No one in this world fits the classic mold of the villain.

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:
A summer break without anyone around is the perfect scenario for loner Hachiman Hikigaya, but Hiratsuka-sensei knows just how to shatter his dreams. Instead of a quiet vacation, the members of the Service Club (as well as Hayama's circle of popular students) are helping out at a children's day camp. While elementary school is a distant memory for these teenagers, Hachiman ends up meeting a young kindred spirit a loner named Rumi Tsurumi!

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Summer break is perhaps the most pivotal point of each school year. Despite being stripped from the bulk of who you'd normally associate (Which is a whopping...four people for Hachiman?), you still have time to improve upon your relationships with those you care about -- or, in this case, those you are forced to care about. This summer was supposed to be easy for Hachiman. He planned on lounging around, avoiding contact with anyone other than Komachi for the next two months or so. In a calculated turn of events, however, Komachi winds up forcing her big brother to participate in good ole' Shiratsuka-sensei's summer 'training camp' along with all of the other rejects...and the popular kids?

Shortly after arriving at their temporary summer-retreat, it becomes evident that neither Hachiman nor Yukinoshita plan on using this time to assimilate with the popular kids. However, in an incredibly roundabout way, this man-made wall is torn down. This camping trip isn't just for high-school kids. In fact, Hachiman and the others have only been brought along to supervise a group of elementary school students. But amongst the children they are told to watch walks a girl that directly mimics both Yukino and Hachiman -- her name is Rumi Tsurumi. From this point on, the mission of the service club becomes apparent. Hayama, who obviously volunteered for an outing like this along with his clique, has his own idea of how this should be done. But in the words of our protagonist, "Only a loner knows how to deal with a loner."

It becomes inherently clear early on that Rumi hasn't intentionally distanced herself from everyone. And despite her overwhelmingly cynical (And almost malicious) outlook on the personalities of her classmates, she still wants to fit in. But elementary school is vicious and elementary school-girls are even worse.  As it turns out, these girls have started to sort-of cycle people out of their social circle. Now, in this G-Rated rendition of "Another," Rumi has been chosen as the scapegoat -- meaning no one is willing to talk to her or spend time with her. And while this doesn't seem anymore heartbreaking than any other bullying scenario you'd find in anime or manga, it becomes a bit more...personal when Rumi begins to talk about her mother. You see, before Rumi left, her mother had given her a camera and asked her to take pictures of all the fun times she had. The idea of a little girl returning home with no pictures whatsoever is what got to me as well as the service club.

After some group-brainstorming, Hachiman devises yet another idea that goes on to smooth things over...for the most part. Of course, this comes in the form of a summer favorite -- the test of courage. Rumi's group, deliberately chosen to go last, heads out behind all of the other kids only to be cut short by Hayama and his gang. Working alongside the service club, the popular kids gang up on the elementary-schoolers, forcing them into a position in which they need to leave behind half of their group to avoid everyone getting beat up or killed or something. That being said, Rumi is obviously chosen as the first one to get left behind. But after her, the other girls begin turning against each other, giving them a taste of what it feels like to be left alone. But just when things are starting to get interesting, Rumi uses the flash from her camera to create an opening for everyone to escape -- making her the hero. And while no one really acknowledges this (At least on-screen), she feels like she sort of fits in again, if at least for a moment. This is reinforced through a panel several pages later where she's seen with one of the other girls that were chosen to be left behind.

At the end of the day, Hachiman finds a way dissolve this issue and potentially revitalize Rumi's social life. In a way, though, he also kind of revitalizes his and Yukino's as well. It's clear that these two have been making connections with Rumi, albeit not verbally, so seeing her pushed back on to the right path provides a glimmer of hope for each of them -- whether they want to admit that or not. Eventually, the camping trip comes to an end and, of course, Yukino's sister shows up and abducts her. After throwing out some typical, "Hachiman is off limits to everyone except my sister!" the Yukinoshita's disappear and aren't seen again for the rest of the summer.

In Summary:
In terms of both content and quality, this volume is one of the best and most memorable we've seen from SNAFU thus far. Not only do we learn more about Hachiman and Yukino through a new, younger character, but we finally see the gap between the popular kids and the less-popular kids beginning to fade. And even though it will take some time before this actually happens, the seeds have been planted and we can now sit back and watch them grow. Mix that with amazing attention-to-detail in the art department and some of the most unique and fleshed-out characters to ever fumble into a rom-com and you have a series that transcends its genre with a realistic take on societal norms and how completely BS they are.

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

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: June 20, 2017
MSRP: $12.99

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