When you watch a high school club romcom adapted from a light novel with an elephantine title, you can just expect it to be an archetypal story played ad nauseam. It can be a bit of a shock then, if the show manages to pleasantly surprise you. While Yahari largely sticks to its guns with a generic streamlined foundation, it does exactly this in ways that distinguish the show from others of its formula.
Take for example the first half of the episode, which deals with Yui shuffling between the Service club and her normal popular group. Yui wants to leave her “friends” and stick with the Service club, but like the teenybopper she is, she struggles to outright state this. This leads to an awkward standoff between her and the group’s de facto leader, lasting for quite the while. Eventually, Yukino comes to the rescue and verbally bitch-slaps the queen bee, which finally gives Yui the confidence to speak her desires.
Now aside from the overdone plot, the show holds an awfully blase attitude with its pacing, running us straight into Yui’s conflict without making for any decent setup. Further, it plunders the story with excessively dramatic overtones and just causes the whole thing to be an insipid snorefest.
However, there are remnants of greater depth here. On a subtler level, we notice how Yukino lends a hand into the situation but never spoonfeeds Yui. It fits perfectly with the club’s—and more accurately Yukino’s—philosophy, but without downright stating it. Moreover, while Hikigaya’s own ‘forever alone’ attitude is generic as well, the story handles it with a Hyouka-esque flair—topping the mundane portions with a measured inner-narrative style. His thoughts and reactions to the story’s events keep the show rolling onto a sequence of witty banters. These commentaries make for an added flavor—a fine dessert among the gargantuan meals of drab storytelling.
Sadly, I can’t really say the same about the second half. Like most anime, it utterly romanticizes the whole chuunibyou notion and fails to go any deeper beyond trite comedy. The overarching story is so streamlined that I have little to say about it. The guy’s just a blathering Daru clone fed with a chuunibyou twist instead of otaku perversions. And while Yahari‘s second half doesn’t muck about with as much needless melodrama as the first, it handles poorer comedy and generally fails to take anything seriously. In other words, it ‘s so light-hearted in its messages that the end with Zaimokuza going home—having understood the problems with his writing—just feels half-baked.
All in all, this show is a pretty mixed bag. But unlike the OreShura debacle or deriving a mass of fan pandering as in Haganai, Yahari does manage to do some things right. And these are the elements that make me look forward to watching the show.