In this current anime season and this year in general, we’ve been graced with the returns of several popular series. Shokugeki no Souma (Food Wars!), Re:Zero, Sword Art Online, and many more! We’re going to zoom in on Yahari Ore no Seishun RomCom ga Machigatteiru (My Teenage Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected), or Oregairu for short. The series had a 5-year long absence after the second season dropped in the Spring of 2015, so fans have definitely been pining for a continuation of the Slice of Life series. This brings us to our question: is it better to simply pick up from where you left off after a long absence; or should series bring out short recaps at the beginning of the new season to bring viewers back up to speed?
How Did Oregairu Handle It?
This current season of Oregairu is the third of the series and picked up right from where the second season left off without recapping any of the events that got us to this point. Basically, if you’re here watching the third season, you know why you’re here and there isn’t much need for you to be reminded. Above that, Oregairu’s third season hits the ground running, giving us some emotional character moments, realisations, conversations, and drama that quickly immerse us in the present situation, regardless of how long its been since you’ve seen these characters. The third season also creates the desire to go and watch the first two seasons again anyway.
What Works Best?
With a series like Oregairu, it’s clear that a long time passing between seasons isn’t as big a break in the narrative as it would be with another, so throwing viewers right back into the mix without a recap works in the series’ favour. At times taking the time to recap or, goodness forbid, making a recap episode serves to bog down the momentum that the series has developed in the mind of the viewer and can be more of a nuisance than a saving grace. There are definitely series that bear narrative styles that would require a recap, especially after being gone for about two years; however, this is also an aspect of an anime series that depends on how the previous season has ended. Endings that feel inconclusive or openly posit that the story will go on perhaps require the type of “run-on” continuation that we’ve seen in Oregairu’s third season. Other continuations find themselves catching the tails of stories that were thought to be told to their conclusion; so sometimes the new season requires an intimate understanding of the events that led to this point.
Titles like re:Zero for example, had a similar leave of absence from our screens after the first season dropped in 2016; however, 2019 saw the release of the Director’s Cut of the first season in anticipation of the currently-airing second season. A lot happened in that first season and given its rather unfulfilling ending, a second season seemed pre-ordained but the Director’s Cut built up the hype that fans of the series may have lost a little after waiting for four years.
There may not be a one-size-fits-all way to continue an anime split into several seasons because each show has its own feel and the experience of that feel is a big factor in determining how continuing one way affects the overall feel of future seasons of a particular series. Many people dislike recaps because they slow down the watch and can feel like a waste of precious minutes that the series could commit to furthering the current narrative; however, these things are down to preference. We will admit, though, there’s nothing quite like watching a favourite series through from start to finish a second or third time, so if an anime just gets the show on the road, it’s not always the worst thing in the world.
What do you think about how series should continue? Drop a comment below and tell us your thoughts!