For general information on this novel: My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected entry
This review is for the second volume of My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected, AKA Oregairu. This series is written by Wataru Watari and features illustrations by Ponkan8. So far there are three volumes available in English, with the next set to release January 2018. There are 12 volumes in Japan at the moment, plus three side story volumes.
It’s been about three years since I reviewed the first volume of Oregairu. At the time, only fan translations were available for the series, and it seemed somewhat unlikely that it would be licensed for English release. (Oregairu is published in Japan under a label owned by Shogakukan, while most of Yen On’s titles have come through ASCII MediaWorks labels [e.g. Dengeki Bunko].) Yen Press announced the license in summer 2015 however, and after a couple delays it looks like we’re now getting volumes released at a regular schedule’s pace.
Oregairu tells the story of Hachiman Hikigaya, a pessimistic boy in high school who likes to grumble about everything and glories in his self-proclaimed loner lifestyle. As an outsider to all the cliques in school, he has a unique viewpoint on his classmates and their interactions with one another. In volume 1 he was forced to join a school club that exists simply to assist students with whatever issues they are having trouble dealing with. In volume 2 he continues to begrudgingly help people out, generally accompanied by the stern and commanding Yukino and happy-go-lucky Yui, both of whom make great foils for him in very different ways.
Volume 2 is not a particularly plot-driven book. It mostly just tells a few short stories about how the service club helps out a couple classmates–the first dilemma involving some hateful chain mail circulating in class, the second involving a student who is working a job all night after school. Oregairu is about all we have in English for light novels set in the real world without any fantasy or sci-fi elements, and is probably the closest thing we have to slice-of-life. For those reasons I found this volume a refreshing read, and I also found myself amused by much of the story’s humor. I think it takes some time to get used to the style of Oregairu‘s prose–but once you know what to expect, it becomes more entertaining to see what unpleasant (yet often on-the-nose) remarks Hachiman will make next… and in turn, what holes he will dig for himself to fall into.
I don’t think I’d be quick to recommend Oregairu to everybody, but I do think it’s well-worth trying if you’re looking for something a little more “down-to-earth.” If you can’t relate to Hachiman, there’s still a chance you can at least be entertained by him and his peers.
Cho’s Rating: Recommended