Light Novel Kindling: Happy Birthday to our Hero-gaya

Hachiman Hikigaya is many things: a smart-mouth, kind soul, teen philosopher, and of course, loner of epic proportions. He’s one of anime’s great modern characters and perhaps the best reason to read the early volumes of My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong as I Expected.

With volume one serving as the current selection for our light novel club, we’ve jumped right into Hikigaya’s school life and misfit mind. Although initial volumes seem to the stuff of which romantic comedies are based, despite the title, the groundwork is laid right from the beginning for something far more significant and authentic, and the series absolutely does get there. But early on, things seem pretty regular: school life, pretty girls, and interesting side characters. Well, pretty typical in all ways except for Hikigaya. Though many anime and light novel protagonists are compared to him (character type: intelligent, lazy, less-than-popular guy who is really incredibly special), few if any meet this new protagonist type so well.

Oh yeah, and today is his birthday. Happy birthday, Hikitani Hikigaya! He would secretly cry for joy to know that someone remembers and celebrated his big day.

art by ぽりごん。 (reprinted w/permission)

So let’s do that here with a smattering of quotes from volume one (written from Hiki’s perspective) to give you a sense of how this quirky guy thinks. I hope you enjoy them and that they encourage you to pick up the novel and join us for our club session on August 23rd!

Well, Yukinoshita and I are completely different individuals, so I wouldn’t understand what she was feeling, not in the slightest. Even if she were to tell me, I’m sure it would be difficult to grasp. No matter how far you go, in the end, people can never really understand one another.

Life is bitter, so coffee at least should be sweet.

My loner radar pinged, detecting a public shaming on the horizon. Fear not. I keep a secret plan in my back pocket precisely for situations such as this.

Hachiman is a fairly rare name, so I had a phase where I thought I might be special in some way. Having liked anime and manga since I was little, it was inevitable that I’d fall prey to such delusions. Everyone, at one point or another, lies in sleeping at night and imagines they have some kind of hidden powers and one day those powers will suddenly awaken—entangling them in a battle to determine the fate of the world—and keeps a Diary of the Celestial Realm in preparation for the time that will come, and writes a quarterly report for the government about it, right? You don’t?

Enjoying yourself among some tepid community is basically just stroking your own ego. It’s deceit. The worst sort of evil.

I wondered why I was going along with them. At the end of the day, all this community known as the Service Club did was scrape together a bunch of weaklings, and all these weaklings were doing was doze off inside that little walled garden. The teacher had just gathered together this group of losers and given them a temporary comfortable shelter. And how is that any different from the classic teen experience that I hated so much?

Being the butt of her jokes, I wasn’t enjoying myself at all. I mean, like, isn’t talking with a girl supposed to be more titter titter hee-hee flirt flirt smooch smooch? This was just weird.

I wondered what could I say at a time like this in order to bring our relationship back to normal. Unfortunately, I was lacking in EXP, so I didn’t know. But I did feel a little bit sad. It was because I felt like maybe he and I had some kind of understanding, and maybe one day we could laugh about it and accept each other or something.

Please pick up volume one and read it in the next couple of weeks so that you can and join us for our club session on August 23rd!


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