My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong As I Expected, Vol. 4

By Wataru Watari and Ponkan 8. Released in Japan as “Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabukome wa Machigatte Iru” by Shogakukan. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jennifer Ward.

I think I have to come to terms with the fact that the pacing of this series is going to be glacial at best. Much as I have been clamoring for a bit less isekai and a bit more real world in my light novels, I’m pretty sure that other slice of life books must have plots that move faster than the main one in OreGairu. That said, the author is clearly settling in for the long haul, and I’m not sure if I’m just used to him or if he was less appalling, but Hachiman was not nearly as punchable this time around. He’s still a cynic and misanthrope of the worst order, but his analysis of group dynamics, once unpacked from his own mindset, is very clever and not entirely wrong. He works best when paired off with Yukino, who is very similar to him though I think they’d both rather not admit that. As for Yui… I want to give her a hug and send her to a different series.

Despite Komachi starring on the cover, she’s more of a supporting character this time around. The premise, which is actually quite a good one, is that over summer break the teacher gets the Service Club and its auxiliaries, as well as the Cool Kids group, to help supervise an elementary school camping trip. While they’re there, they notice, as often happens with a class of students, that one girl is being shunned by all the others. Hachiman sees her attempts to power through it and be cool and uncaring as Yukino; Yukino sees her desire to be one of the gang but awkward failures as Yui; Yui just sees a sad young girl she wants to help. That said, the attempts to try to fix the group dynamics are somewhat terrible, and it’s only after Hachiman comes up with a clever but incredibly cruel plan that things are even vaguely helped. And even then you aren’t sure if it did any good.

We get a bit more development of Hayama and his group here, and see he has a past with Yukino that I think makes him a bit jealous of Hachiman. And yes, Saika is here as well and we get endless accounts of how attracted to him Hachiman is, which I’ve come to accept is simply never going to go away. But as always, the best reasons to read the book are the prose, particularly Hachiman’s twisted narration, which can be utterly hilarious, brutally on point, or just plain pathetic – sometimes all three at once. In particular, his strange desire to tell stories of his incredibly pathetic childhood, with only the occasional “this happened to someone else” attempt at a cover up, borders on the needy. But it’s what makes this series compulsively readable, and it’s another good, solid volume for this series. That said, the only major plot development happens on the last two pages. Perhaps that bodes well for the next book.

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