Publisher: Yen Press
Publication Date: September 27, 2016
My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected is a great light novel series with a fantastic name. This series started back in 2011 and spawned three manga adaptations, two anthology volumes, and an anime series. The PlaySation Vita saw two games for this series, in 2013 and again in 2016. If that doesn’t school you on the popularity of this franchise, I don’t know what will.
The title is amazing because it perfectly summarizes what’s going on within the pages. We’re following a rom-com that’s not quite right and we’re about to find out why.
The plot follows two high school loners, Hachiman Hikigaya and Yukino Yukinoshita, who are forced into human interaction through their membership in the ‘Service Club.’ When Hikigaya’s writes a very negative essay about youth for his teacher, Hiratsuka-sensei, she sentences him to work in the Service Club. It’s an organization that provides assistance with various problems. The goal of the club is to help students through their issues. Unfortunately, there is only one official member of the club – Yukino Yukinoshita, who is a loner of a different league than Hikigaya.
The situation is traumatizing and further confirms the skepticism of youth that Hikigaya wrote about in his essay. Fortunately for him, even though he doesn’t think he gets much out of being a member of the Service Club, he actually does learn how to interact with others and becomes a more active member of the school community. In volume 1, we see the evolution of Hikigaya’s personality and we learn a lot about the cliques at his school. He doesn’t end up with any girlfriends or love prospects in this volume, but remember – this is a rom com gone wrong so Hiki’s not getting a babe any time soon.
Hachiman Hikigaya is the protagonist of this series. He is cynical and thinks youth is filled with failure and hypocrisy. As a result, he seldom interacts with others, eats his lunch alone, and tries to avoid friendship. He’s always picked last for team sports and doesn’t even bother talking to girls. By the end of the volume, Hikigaya shows off his newfound Tennis prowess, can handle interacting with the other sex, and has a few friends… even if he doesn’t want to consider them friends. Although he still remains cynical and alone, he definitely develops into a more well-rounded individual.
Yukino Yukinoshita is the ice queen of this light novel. Hiki inconsistently refers to her as a tsundere, knowing full-well that she isn’t really a tsundere type. Why? Because unlike Hiki, she doesn’t develop in this volume. From beginning to end, she remains the same. She is a good student, attractive, and talented. She learns things quickly and can easily solve problems. Despite all of this, she’s a huge loner because she can’t find a better way to convey her feelings and opinions to others. She needlessly insults Hiki and just about anyone who enters the club room, including school staff. She speaks what is on her mind and never tells a lie. This is a redeeming quality, but it is far from helpful if you’re trying to make friends. This is why Hiki asserts throughout the story that this is not a rom-com and if it is, it’s wrong. He’s forced to work with this ice cold girl who has no intention of being friendly with him because she’s convinced herself that everybody, including teachers, are below her. I suppose you could argue this is her weakness; therefore, she isn’t as perfect as she thinks she is. I’d be interested in seeing if her ability to make friends levels up at some point.
Yui Yugahama is the first client of the Service Club since Hiki was forced to join. Her problem is getting a guy to notice her. She asks the service club for help with making cookies – something she is absolutely terrible at. What we learn from this experience is that the ice queen Yukino does have one major flaw – she is unable to teach others her skills. Yui does not come out of this encounter a better cook, but throughout the volume she does discover the meaning of friendship versus being a follower who is willing to sacrifice autonomy for false company. She declares herself a member of the service club even though Yukino reminds her she is not a member.
Yoshiteru Zaimokuza visits the service club to get opinions on his light novel. His writing is torn apart by Yukino but for some reason this experience doesn’t deter him. He is extremely stubborn and strong willed, but you need to be if you’re cringey and embarrassing. This is another character who we see little improvement with. He talks awkwardly, misinterprets acquaintances as friends, and dresses strangely. Even Hiki doesn’t want to be associated with him.
Despite major differences between these four characters, they all seem closer to each other by the end of the volume. You can almost sense that this series is going to have them turn into a clique of sorts. Are you still a loner if you are in a clique with other loners? I have a feeling that’s what is being explored in My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong As I Expected.
At first glance I wasn’t sure if I would like this series. I wasn’t familiar with it and had to do some research. I also didn’t get pulled in by the cover. Despite this I plunged in and felt gripped from the very first page. The writing is well done and doesn’t skimp on a wide range of vocabulary. The translation notes are especially well done as they provide key information to understanding references from video games, manga, and Japanese culture. I would only suggest that a more careful copyedit take place because there were a few sentences that caused me to pause and question the words. Other times I came across distracting typos. Both instances occurred in the early chapters of the book.
I really enjoyed the story and characters. Hiki’s thoughts are frighteningly accurate – he perceives the world differently than many teenagers and gets punished by the institution(his teacher) for expressing a different opinion. When he is forced into the Service Club he is essentially exiled for refusing to conform to societal expectations. Although the Service Club has to deal with insignificant issues like crushes and terrible fiction, Hiki can accurately assess their client’s real insecurities. I earnestly suggest that fans of intelligent writing and slice of life read this volume and give My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected a try.
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**This item was provided for review.