Oregairu 2 – 01 (First Impressions)

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Here’s what I said about Oregairu back in June 2013: “After this season brought the three misfits together and threw challenges at them to strengthen their bonds, we’d like to see a second season in which they, now firmly established as their own little posse, face more challenges, such as the romantic tension between Hikigaya and the girls, while continuing their service work, perhaps with a fourth freshman member? But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.”

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Not the best constructed sentence, but I feel it got the point across in terms of what I was looking for if and when a second season came around. Well, here it is! And what do you know, right off the bat we those challenges start to take shape, some nicely presented romantic tension between Hikky and his two comely club-mates, and a fresh mission involving what else, bringing two people together. The only thing missing is a fourth freshman member, but hey, it’s early!

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I won’t deny I’ve been both spoiled by the crackling good dialogue of Saekano and periodically put off by the overly advanced and pretentious dialogue of Violin Girl. But I never thought I’d be so happy to hear Hikky’s snarky inner monologue again. Hikky’s less wide-eyed than Tomoya and less feckless than Kousei, yet remains unjaded enough to allow himself to be surprised now and again, particularly by the two very different girls in his life right now.

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Oregairu is also playful and efficient when it comes to weaving two service missions into one, with the backdrop of a fun school trip to Kyoto. Tobe likes Hina and wants to get closer to her, which requires them being alone. But Hina wants to strengthen the bonds between her circle of friends, which requires her to not be alone with Tobe.

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Then there’s the fact that Hina is a fujoshi who likes to imagine her male classmates in exciting, complicated relationships, which compliments Hikky’s long-standing, not  necessarily one-sided crush on the very feminine Saika, though I wouldn’t go so far as to say Hikky’s bi; it’s more of an “if only he was a girl” situation.

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As for girls, Hikky’s relationships with both Yui and Yukina remain healthy and stong, if a smidge hamstrung by said romantic tension. Hikky’s discomfort with Yui being so close and friendly and touchy with him underlines the fact he sees her as more than just a friend, and there’s still unresolved things between these two that should provide nice fodder for the season as they work together to tackle missions.

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On the other end of the spectrum, Hikky also can’t deny the appeal of Yukino, nor Yukino Hikky. When talk in the girls’ hotel room turns to her, she escapes and finds refuge in his company. Fortune also favor them this week as their teacher brings them along for some not altogether kosher reason and bribes them with dinner, leaving them to walk home together.

Considering what drew her to Hikky tonight, Yukino is weary of being seen to close with him lest more rumors spiral, but it’s clear at the same time she doesn’t particularly mind Hikky’s company one bit.

My first impression of Oregairu 2 is that I’m glad I asked for and got a second season, and I’m looking forward to watching this intriguing triangle’s dynamics develop further, especially if and when the club is graced with a new member, representing yet another personality type.

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Author: sesameacrylic

Zane Kalish is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

4 thoughts on “Oregairu 2 – 01 (First Impressions)”

  1. Personally, OreGairu is one of my favorite series due to how well it fits within its own niche. By the title alone, we already know that the series is trying to give a unique spin on classic romcoms. 8man is also one of my favorite male protagonists as he seems to be more unique and complex than most male protagonists in romcoms that have a cookie cutter personality. Also, I like the type of humor that is derived off of 8man’s monologues and his banter with Yukino which can be said to be more witty than silly. I hope you enjoy the second season as much as I enjoyed the first.

  2. 1 I prefer the old character design. The new facial curves are lovely because they make everyone’s faces seem soft and young. But the old style is more beautiful to me. Especially, the eyes are more interesting with the old design. I really don’t like Yukino’s and Shizuka’s new eyes compared to the old. :(

    At least the new style here doesn’t jar as YUKI-CHAN’s does. I still don’t know whether I will even watch that one. :(

    2 OREGAIRU is one of my favorite animes also.The playful and romantically tense relationship between the three main characters keep the story fresh. Hopefully, the new girl will enhance or interestingly complicate things and not ruin them.

    1. Yuki-chan’s design is a lot different than the original Haruhi, or even the Disappearance film. But I’m so many years and shows removed from that, the transition wasn’t as jarring.

      The design differences in Oregairu and Oregairu 2 was too subtle for me to notice, and I had to go back to my first season reviews (when I was taking a lot fewer screencaps) to see that the design was in fact tweaked. Pics of the trio below:

      First Season | Second Season

      Your eye design comment reminded me of something I thought about in EVERY episode of Saekano but never brought up in Stray Observations: the fact that the girls’ eyelashes weren’t just black, but had a burst of brownish-red color to them.

      This had the optical effect of making the girls’ eyes “blaze” with warmth and vitality. I really liked that.

  3. 1 tl;dr: If you liked Kyoani’s design work on HARUHI, then NAGATO-CHAN’s designs probably will feel inferior.

    I really didn’t care for anime/manga until about ten years ago. One reason is because, with few exceptions, I just disliked how characters looked. There are many reasons why I eventually fell in love with the Japanese cartooning style. But the number 1 reason I even gave it a chance was because of the Cambrian revolution that began during the anime bubble years in how the Japanese design eyes and noses for animated characters.

    I would argue that three of the most influential designers in Japan actually worked on HARUHI: Itou Noizi, Ikeda Shoko, and Horiguchi Yukiko. Anime lovers probably already know Itou and Horiguchi. Ikeda is the Kyoani animator who adapted the style of the other two to come up with the HARUHI look for Kyoani. Ikeda took Itou’s original designs and came up with her own look for HARUHI in 2006. There is an entire generation of anime fans that adores that look.

    For HARUHI in 2009 and SHOUSHITSU, Ikeda abandoned her own much admired original designs and adapted the Horiguchi style. This was controversial. There was severe displeasure when Ikeda did this because anime fans preferred Ikeda’s original style for HARUHI. Ikeda’s 2006 Haruhi has a hard face and fierce eyes. She looks aggressive and devious. But Horiguchi’s style works better for softer, meeker personalities because they seem to carry a bit of baby fat on their face. Plus, there was a bit of resistance in seeing K-ON faces outside of the context of K-ON.

    But with the exception of NICHIJOU, Kyoani has basically adapted the Horiguchi style for its own use. In fact, it has greatly expanded the vocabulary of that style by inventing complementary male designs and introducing variations in the female designs. This is why you couldn’t swap Nibutani and Gou; stylistically they belong to different animes.

    And this is why even though SHOUSHITSU was released 4-5 years ago and 2006 is distant memory, the HARUHI designs are not so far removed for me. I am watching that style live on, evolve, and even significantly improve through new works out of Kyoani. You too must have noticed this even if you are consciously unaware. Even as you blog NAGATO-CHAN, you are also blogging EUPHONIUM. The characters in EUPHONIUM are based on the Horiguchi style. The designer is Ikeda Shoko. There is no way I would prefer the NAGATO-CHAN designs over Ikeda’s. For me, EUPHONIUM will be a constant reminder of what a HARUHI anime should look like.

    2 The coloring of the lashes in SAEKANO is a welcome artifact of the fact that original designs are by Misaki Kurehito. That lacquered-red-finish-gleaming-in-the-angled-sunlight look is a thing he does. It’s a gorgeous way to stylistically mimic both 1 the effect of individual lashes being backlit under certain lighting conditions and 2 the effect of showing the eyelid showing between the lashes. What’s interesting is that while the edges are red, the central dark region can be a different color for different characters so as to draw out the color of her eyes.

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