One of many Oregairu pics by Cr-R
The second volume of Oregairu (originally published in 2011) was released recently in English, so I couldn’t miss the opportunity to buy and read it. And write a few words on it, so here goes.
As I’ve written before on Twitter, it’s a typical second volume. The author didn’t have to put as much effort into it as he would have to if he was a debutante. As a writer, he’s already beyond that initial step of trying to get a foot in the door of success.
What happens in this second volume? Unfortunately – not much. The novel is 180 pages long, but it can be easily summarized like this: Hachiman and the Service Club are visited by two people in need of help. The first case to deal with is Hayama Hayato’s friends squabbling between each other, while the other is convincing a new character, Kawasaki Saki, to quit her part-time job. Sadly, both of those storylines are mundane and low-stakes. And the way Hachiman solves his requesters’ problems is even less impressive – a very slight change gets the job done in both cases.
That description might make you think that book is ignorable. Don’t cross out Oregairu v2 from you wishlist just yet, though. Who cares if the plot is inconsequential? Even though it isn’t half as impressive as the first volume, time goes by fast when you’re reading it – it’s still pure pleasure to consume. Although this volume is uneventful, Hikigaya Hachiman is still his usual self. This series is all about the humor of the protag making transparent excuses about being a loser. Or making painful observations about his resigned personality. And obscure intertextual references. Oh, and Chiba prefecture trivia. Those novels are character studies written in first person, so the border between “how it’s written” and “what the protagonist’s personality is like” is vague. However you call it, Hachiman’s hilarious, ranty inner monologues are the reason to read Oregairu. Even though it’s a second volume, this book is still better than most light novels.
Oregairu is the best thing Watari Wataru has written and will ever write. Probably because it’s such a personal, true-to-life work. Maybe he should stop forcing himself to be a “writer” and producing stuff like Qualidea Code…