After five long years and a seasonal delay due to the pandemic, the third and final season of My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU or OreGairu aired in Japan this past summer, with its English dub not too far behind. These last 12 episodes cemented the show not just as one of my favorite slice-of-life anime, but as one of my favorite anime of all time. Spoilers for the entirety of My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU ahead.
Based on the light novel My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected by Wataru Watari, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Climax adapts the 14th and final volume of the light novel, beginning just moments after the end of the second season. Yukino Yukinoshita has finally broken the barrier she had built between herself and friends Hachiman Hikigaya and Yui Yuigahama. Hachiman attempts to figure out how to progress the relationship between the three so that it will feel genuine.
This contemplation is interrupted when Iroha Isshiki requests that the Service Club help her hold a prom for the future graduates. Thinking that she needs to learn to not rely so much on Hachiman and Yui, Yukino takes on the task all by herself. After a large roadblock is placed in her path, Hachiman quickly rushes to help her, forcing Yui to slowly let him go despite her tremendous love for him.
This theme of letting go is incredibly important throughout this season, as both Yui and Yukino believe that they have lost Hachiman to the other. Due to Yukino being involved with the prom, Hachiman has been spending less time with her and more time with Yui. However, during her time with Hachiman, Yui slowly realizes how much he and Yukino love each other. Yui notices how quickly Hachiman will run to help Yukino when she needs it, and while he is not unwilling to do the same for her, she knows that it is not the same. Yukino, while finding it hard to understand the feelings of others, is genuine about her own feelings, a quality Yui does not have. Yui was already my favorite character in the show before this season, but her arc of learning to let go was extremely well done.
Sadly, for much of the first two quarters of the season, it feels like Yukino is sidelined to favor scenes with Yui. This is likely due to a combination of Yui’s arc being more complicated than Yukino’s as well as the bias of the show’s staff towards Yui. With that said, the romantic moments between Hachiman and Yukino are some of the best scenes in the whole show. My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Climax made me love their relationship, while simultaneously filling me with sadness and sympathy for Yui.
This dramatic and layered writing is not limited to the main three characters either. The secondary cast, particularly Iroha, Saki Kawasaki and Hayato Hayama, receive some surprisingly fantastic character development. Each of them have a dramatic effect on Hachiman’s character and without them, the ending likely would not have played out the way it did.
Much of this characterization is due to the amazing voice acting. The main three members of the Japanese voice cast, Takuya Eguchi, Saori Hayami and Nao Toyama, were fantastic as their respective characters. However, as I mentioned in my last article about OreGairu, I often missed the subtext of the show when watching in Japanese with English subtitles. This led me to watch Sentai Filmworks’ English dub for the show, which, while not the same as the original broadcast, is still an incredible feat that it was able to make me cry as much as it did.
The entire voice cast for the English dub is fantastic. Despite most of them being new to English dubbing at the time the first season was dubbed, the cast manages to bring out so much emotion with their performances. Adam Gibbs (Hachiman), Cat Thomas (Yui) and Melissa Molano (Yukino) do a brilliant job bringing these characters to life in English. Cat Thomas particularly brought me to tears multiple times during her emotional scenes as Yui, even upon re-watch. Other standout members of the cast are Luci Christian as Iroha, Teresa Zimmerman as Saki Kawasaki, Scott Gibbs as Hayato Hayama, Heidi Hinkel as Shizuka Hiratsuka and Mike Haimoto as Tamanawa. The automated dialogue replacement (ADR) direction and script writing were on point this season, with director John Swasey and writer Marta Bechtol pulling a true miracle with the rap-battle between Hachiman and Tamanawa in episode seven.
With that said, the English dub had one glaring issue and that was the home recording studios. Due to the pandemic, the entirety of the third season’s dub was recorded in home studios, causing some of the audio engineering to be a little lacking compared to previous seasons. This is most obvious in Cat Thomas’s voice, as her voice for Yuigahama is obviously different than it was for the first two seasons. I’m hoping this is fixed for the Blu-ray release, but this is only a minor complaint and it did not noticeably affect my enjoyment of the English dub.
The animation and art direction from Studio feel was breathtaking once again. There were some moments such as the prom photoshoot that felt a little cheap, reminding me just how spoiled I am by shows like Mob Psycho 100 and Fruits Basket (2019). However, feel more than made up for it with the dynamic and intricate hand animation used throughout later episodes of the season, particularly during that rap-battle I mentioned earlier.
Overall, the final season of My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU was a real tear-jerker with a fulfilling ending. While not perfect, the English dub made me feel many emotions that will stick with me for a long time. I’m sad to see the show go, but I am grateful for the emotional journey it took me on.