Teenage angst isn’t anything new. Everyone’s dealt with it, and most of us will deal with it again when our own children reach that age of existence. Yahari doesn’t exactly blaze any trails by placing its protagonist at this stage, and then showing why life sucks around him. He has no friends, no prospective future, and in short, no hope. This is the outlying factors to examine, and most individuals will stop at this point, happy with their discovery. Yet, there is so much more to glean than simple high-school romance.
Each character in this series is onset with uniquely human attributes. One might be searching for social acceptance, another to appear most superior, and another just to have fun. They’re human beings, which makes the characters both entertaining and attractive. Unfortunately though, being human doesn’t mean all fun and games. Being human means having vulnerability, and one which is all too-often exploited in this anime. This is where the series truly grows into more than just the typical boy-meets-girl tale.
You see, each character might appear superficially happy, but underneath it all, the rough, jostling reality is leaving its mark. Characters come to resent and hate one another, try to escape their fears and responsibilities, or simply run themselves ragged. There’s no end to this negative spiraling, and no one seems to be trying to combat it. That is, except for our foremost protagonist, who, as it turns out, is a true hero.
While casually disguising himself as an anti-hero because of his depression and jaded nature, the main character is actually far more of a messiah figure than uncaring sadist. His solutions to other’s problems may at first seem harsh, yet their effectiveness can hardly be questioned, and more often than not all negative consequences fall back on our hero. He is, in a word, sacrificial. He sees all that is wrong in the world, and because of this he can help others. Yet at the same time, he cannot seem to help himself.
It is a vivid reality of depression victims that while they may be motivated to help others, finding self motivation is another matter entirely. It can feel far easier to lift up someone from the depth of despair than it is to pull yourself up. So, like the protagonist of Yahari, they wind up sinking lower rather than rising up. This is why social and community efforts are so necessary to combating mental illnesses. An individual alone feels safe within their darkness. They don’t want to escape, and will do everything they can do convince themselves that the pain will never end. At least then things are consistent. Only through outside forces can the realization come that life can become better, and there is indeed hope. This revelation doesn’t come easy, but it can come with efforts from both without and within those suffering from these kinds of struggles.
In the end, all of our lives are messed up. To think otherwise is giving the world way too little credit. Nothing goes perfectly, and frankly, we all have to struggle with something. It’ll take time. It’ll be hard. And boy oh boy will it hurt, some more than others. But we can get through it by helping one another. Giving yourself hope might be out of the question, but giving another person hope can always be a noble goal. Perhaps someday, someone else will return the favor.