In many high school anime series you see the hardworking class representatives or committee members working hard through stacks of paper. The students are prepared for a bureaucratic society life.
Oregairu focuses a lot on the’ fitting in society’ morality. Letting students fill in future career forms, formally working out events within strict regulations. It’s almost heartbreaking to see that young adolescents are being forced into a roll that is more befitting for a civil servant.
Hikigaya, our main character, is a lonely student who wishes to spend the rest of his days as an outcast. Unwilling to conform to the rules of society which otherwise place him in the stream of mediocrity. This corresponds with the Japanese proverb ‘the nail that sticks out gets hammered down.’ You shall conform to society or you will be corrected.
To prepare the students for society, they must formally create a club and maintain it. Through paperwork they must show the added value of the club and maintain a flow of members to keep the club ongoing. Oregairu builds its story on the Volunteer Service Club.
While in the club Hikigaya learns to fulfill tasks for fellow students. He has to learn how to work together and be more socially active. Of course the club members are also an interesting bunch, especially with Yukino, the girl who never lies.
Along the way they take requests, setting aside personal preference and put everything in motion to help fellow students. Not all requests are as interesting, but considering the setting, there is no need for extravagant storytelling.
A great portion of the dialogue and storytelling are filled by Hikigaya’s inner thoughts, which give a great impression of him as a character, but also on the atmosphere throughout the series. He described certain events in his own low energy tone, creating sympathy for his cause.
The setup for this series isn’t anything spectacular. It uses stereotypes from outcasts like Hikigaya to the identity searching Yui. They are placed within the familiar high school club setting and face familiar struggles. Oregairu has to build its appeal through its characters.
Oregairu did a great job in building a story around its characters. This is mostly achieved by the terrifically portrayed Yukino, whose character traits mold the story into something out of the ordinary. Her shy yet dominant character is yet conflicting but also intriguing to watch. She makes a great development throughout the series.
On the other hand Oregairu probably has one of the most annoying characters I’ve seen, namely Yoshiteru. A chuunibyou character who’s totally submerged in his own fantasies. I don’t mind characters that struggle to blend into society, but Yoshiteru was mostly ruining the whole seriousness of the show. His hyper active screaming pulled me out of the show, making me annoyed and hoping he would make room for Yukino and Hikigaya’s little arguments.
Oregairu also suffered from a few pacing issues. I briefly said that not all events were as interesting to watch, which made the show a bit sluggish. On the flipside, Oregairu showed great emotional progression along the way, compensating for the lesser moments.
There are no really impressive visuals in Oregairu and sometimes the studio could have done a little better. The voice cast did a great job in portraying their characters. They give the main cast a human touch, making them credible throughout the show.
The main cast makes a great development, which is the strongpoint of this show. On the other hand there are a lot of characters that annoy me and pull me out of the show.
Yukino and Hikigaya are both great characters. They are emotionally well developed throughout the series and portray certain conflicts that many students face along their school career.
Despite the strong main cast, Oregairu failed to grip me all the way. There were many moments in which the show lost track or slowed its pace. Hikigaya’s witty remarks and observations compensated for dull moments, but couldn’t save the pace throughout the show.
Therefore I rate Oregairu a 7 out of 10, because this show had a lot of potential and showed great character development. Still it didn’t grab all its chances to make this a very good show to prevent it from feeling sluggish from start to finish.