What started as a promising journey to bring a morose teenager out of his self-imposed slump through a school club designed to untangle the lives of busy high schoolers has stumbled and fallen back into the mire. My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected comes with a hard sell: Hikigaya, the main character who harbors a grudge against his classmates, is pretty unlikable. His misplaced anger has to do with getting hit by a car, causing him to miss the first four months of high school. In his mind, this has turned him into a pariah and unable to make friends. He bears this misplaced cross with pride, but it’s more obnoxious than endearing. However, his interactions with the other students through the Service Club, as well as its cold-as-ice president Yukino, looks to melt Hikigaya’s cold heart. And just when you think Hikigaya might be coming out of his self-imposed shell, he goes and screws it all up for no real reason.
But that’s jumping ahead a little bit. In this third volume, Hikigaya and Yukino continue the mission that was left hanging at the end of volume two. The Service Club has been approached by a young man inquiring after his sister, who stays out late at night and comes home with lots of cash, causing her brother to question her purity. Hikigaya, Yukino, and Yui, the first student served by the Service Club and a hanger-on to Hikigaya, scour the city of Chiba, following various leads to the woman’s whereabouts. To spare the details, the Service Club is victorious once again, uncovering that the older woman’s behavior is a front for more benevolent activities. That’s usually how things work with the Service Club: they are confronted with a problem, face it, and realize that everything can be chalked up to a misunderstanding or not seeing things from a different perspective. After the mission is complete, things get a little strange.
We come now to the story of Hikigaya and Yui, who have known each other since the fateful traffic accident that knocked Hikigaya out of commission. Through a series of overly dramatic camera angles, Hikigaya confronts Yui and tells her to stop being nice to him, which he believes she is doing because she feels bad about the accident. Yui storms off, letting Hikigaya brew in his stew. I fail to see any reason or rationale for Hikigaya undoing all the goodwill he’s cultivated in the last two books. The exchange forms a massive wedge between the characters and all I can wonder is—why? There is nothing special about Hikigaya; there is nothing he has to protect people from by pushing them away. He’s just a dumb kid with delusions of grandeur and a conflated sense of self-importance. The more I read this manga, the angrier I get.
The rest of the volume shifts gears away from the actions of the Service Club. With Yui out of the spotlight, Hikigaya and his little sister join Yukino for a day at the mall. The shopping center is huge, looking like a Japanese equivalent of the Mall of America. During the afternoon, the three students partake in crane games, shopping, and Hikigaya gets roped into an “is it or is it not” date with Yukino. Hikigaya does run into Yui at one point and the two share a glance before going their separate ways. I’m sure there was a significant reason for everyone to be in one place, but at this point, I really didn’t care.
My Youth Romantic Comedy began with an interesting idea but the story doesn’t capitalize on it in a way that makes for an entertaining read. What good is reading through a story if the character is an insufferable whiner? As a side note, I showed an episode of the anime adaptation of my Anime Club and no one seemed all that interested. It was certainly the weakest response of the afternoon. Watching a teen sabotage his relationships for no satisfactory reason just isn’t very fun. And the thing of it all is, Hikigaya isn’t the only problem. Neither Yui or Yukino, or the kids they pick up in the Service Club have lives I really care about.
My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected, vol. 3
by Wataru Watari
Art by Naomichi Io, Ponkan 8
Yen Press, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: 14+