My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong As I Expected, Vol. 6.5

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

The origins of this volume are rather tortured. Around the time that Season 1 of the anime was coming out, they had the author do an episode about the athletics festival, that was not in the novels. This was Episode 13 of Season 1. At the same time, he was asked to do exclusive stories for the BD/DVD releases, and decided to greatly expand this episode into one big novel (yes, despite the .5 in the title, this is NOT a short story volume). The story came out cut into thirds, one per release. It’s now being collected as this volume, which takes place between Vol. 6 and 7 (hence the numbering)… except for the bonus story, based on a CD drama, which takes place right after Volume 9. What does this all add up to? Well, a mixed bag, primarily because (as the author admits in the afterword) he really wanted to bring back a character that no one else really wanted back. (The anime was fine with having her disappear.)

No, I’m not talking about Kawasaki – she gets the cover, but is a minor presence in the book. The “star” of this book is Sagami, the sort-of villain from the 6th novel, who is still dealing with the fallout from the cultural festival. Miura is annoyed that Sagami’s drama is ruining the atmosphere of the classroom. Meanwhile, student council president Megumi wants someone (meaning our trio of heroes) to help her on the Athletic Festival Committee. Combining the two problems, they decide to have Sagami chair the committee, giving her a chance to get things right this time. Unfortunately, things do not go as well as hoped, this time due to two of Sagami’s friends, who are making it clear they are unhappy that the clubs are having to be part of this. Can Hachiman and company find a way to resolve this without sacrificing Sagami entirely? And can they find a way to make the athletics festival fun and interesting?

I’m gonna be honest here: a lot of this book is a retread of the sixth volume. This is deliberate, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Some might say that Oregairu is at its best when wallowing in teenagers being painfully abrasive at each other, and if so, they’ll love the first half of this book, which feels like fingernails on a blackboard. The payoff (Sagami finally doing her job and standing up against her friends) is not really worth the long painful slog we had to read to get there. Unsurprisingly, the best part of that section is the part that was animated – the festival itself. Fortunately, the adaptation of the CD drama works much better, and features Hachiman, Yukino and Yui at their closest. It’s a Christmas party that manages to be free of drama, and I will even forgive its heaping helping of “ha ha, our teacher is old and desperate” jokes because the ending was really sweet.

I guess I’m happy this is a .5 volume – if it had come right after Book 6 I might have thrown it against a wall. This series continues to have rewarding climaxes to excruciating journeys.

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