My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong As I Expected, Vol. 5

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.

If I said that the pacing of the series had become glacial by the last volume, here it comes to a complete stop, as this is a selection of short stories designed to show off the cast and pad out the time before the new semester begins in Book 6 and the author is forced to actually advance the plot. From what I understand, the majority of this book was jettisoned from the first anime season except for the longest, most plot-relevant story, whi9ch makes sense. These are good character portraits, and show off Hachiman’s cynical yet on point analysis very well, but they aren’t really essential. They’re a meandering tale of a hot summer break. That said, we do finally have Hachiman connect the dots upon seeing the Yukinoshita limousine once more, so now all the participants know about his accident at the start of school. Getting Yukino to open up, though, will likely be another story.

Saika is featured on the cover as if he’s a heroine, which makes sense given that his short story basically involves asking Hachiman on a date. This allows the author do do his usual schtick, though fortunately Hachiman is not quite as bad as usual this time around. We also see Hachiman and his sister agree to babysit Yui’s dog while she’s on vacation, which allows us to see that Hachiman is actually quite a pet person. In fact, a lot of the se stories are good at pointing out that Hachiman has the ability to be kind and considerate, he just constantly undercuts it with everything he says. Indeed, Yui spells his personality right out to us, in another scene that makes the reader realize that she’s totally fallen for him, and is absolutely going to get her heart broken.

The story that did get adapted for the anime involves Yui inviting Hachiman to a fireworks festival (Komachi tricks him into accepting), and the evening that follows, which alternates between cute and awkward as Hachiman is constantly thinking of what normal people would do in a situation like this. I think it’s important to Hachiman that he disconnect himself from others like this – the ongoing use of (LOL) every time he says “normies” reads more like a verbal tic than a conscious choice. That said, the meat of this book is the scene at the fireworks with Yukino’s sister, who is in VIP seats, of course. Her scathing chat with Hachiman and Yui reminds us that Yukino was dragged home at the end of the previous book, and is almost completely absent from this one. The whole novel feels like it’s setting things up for an explosion once school starts.

Which is fine, though if the 6th book turns out to be marking time as well, I may throw my hands in the air. Sometimes you really do need forward development. It doesn’t help that the next book is not out till November, meaning a longer wait to find out if anything blows up. Still, fans of the series will want to get this to see what parts the anime left out, and as always reading Hachiman’s narration is an experience.

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