Without any context, I stumbled upon this scene from “When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace”, where the character Hatoko, played by Hayami Saori, finally breaks and shows what they truly think of the MC’s chuuni tendencies. I hadn’t even watched the show this scene was from at the time. I just gauged that generic male MC was just a generic asshole chuuni, like usual, and I was right on the money. I did NOT expect the best voice acting in anime I’ve ever seen in a while to come from a show such as this.
What impressed me even more was that this was done in a single, glorious take. How do I know this for sure? Because the mangaka of the show happened to be in the recording booth that day and saw it all happen, then drew it as a fun omake in his manga. The entire staff was so shocked and amazed that they were just in awe the whole time.
Today, I’ll be breaking down the three reasons why I think this scene managed to captivate me so much despite having no context for it.
The first thing is the surprise factor. Nothing about the episode beforehand had implied anything this heavy would happen. The conversation before it seemed typical and light, so the suddenness of Hatoko’s outburst was very shocking, but it wasn’t too far out yet. Even the beginning still had silly text on the screen, and it was funny and satisfying seeing the MC get called out so savagely for his shitty behavior, but we’ll get to why it ended up not being so funny later.
Now, seguing into my second reason of why this scene was so strong, is the deconstruction of the chuuni archetype in anime. I was always amazed how anime characters can stand to be around chuunis, because in real life, they are genuinely uncomfortable to be around. Most of them aren’t nearly as attractive as Rika is either, not that it matters what they look so, but it does feed into their narcissism and escapist tendencies to think they’re also attractive.
In general, chuunis are obnoxious and hard to befriend because of how weird and elitist they are. When I actually watched the show the rant is from after, they sugarcoat it as just comedy as well, up until the rant itself happens. Of course, MC being MC, he somehow has cute girls crushing on him, but they deconstructed him wonderfully.
In the rant, they point out just how self-absorbed and delusional being a chuuni really is, pointing out how they say things they don’t really understand to sound better than they are, use unnecessary mannerisms and speech, obsess over blood and darkness to seem “mature”, and so on and so forth in grand fashion. This deconstruction of the chuuni archetype would have been a comedic rant, if not for one thing.
The third reason I loved this scene is much was the emotional intensity of the voice acting by the amazing Hayami Saori. Despite the silly nature of what she’s upset about at first glance, it’s actually much deeper than that. Here, we have a girl, who has been friends with this guy for a long time, and trying to understand him as as a person. This person, consciously or not, pushes her away at every instance. This is despite the fact that we see her try so hard to understand. She may not get it, but she remembers every word he says in her attempts to get through to him.
This wasn’t just about him being a chuuni. This is about how much of a shitty person he has been to his long time friend. It’s a completely one-sided relationship, and he takes advantage of her understanding nature by barraging her with half-assed explanations and excuses for his behavior. To her, it must feel like she’s not even talking to her friend anymore, she’s basically talking to a character, made even more frustrating when her honest attempts at connecting with him are brushed off as “you just don’t get it.”
All of that is projected by Hayami Saori with her performance. The frustration, the bitterness, and the anger, is call captured by the way her loud voice that is close to cracking from stress. I was legitimately uncomfortable watching this scene, and really started to feel for her.
With my own family and friends, I’ve had people who I know I like, but I’m always so frustrated to be around because I can’t understand the way they act sometimes. It’s even more frustrating to know you can’t reach out to a friend than it is to not understand an enemy.
This scene was a diamond in the rough, because the rest of the show was sadly so bland. I went and watched the show after seeing this scene, expecting the same quality writing, but alas, it was not to be. Inexcusably, they even make Hatoko APOLOGIZE to the MC after this scene, in its fear of shaking up the status quo too much by actually developing a male harem MC.
However, I’m still glad it exists if only because of this amazing scene. With this under her belt, as well as her other stellar performance as Shouko in Koe no Katachi, Hayami Saori has found a new fan with me.
That’s all for today folks. Leave a like if you enjoyed, and tell me down in the comments below what some of your favorite voice acting performances in anime are!