The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Hachiman Hikigaya

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru Kan: Whole-Series Review and Reflection

“Keep learning; don’t be arrogant by assuming that you know it all, that you have a monopoly on the truth; always assume that you can learn something from someone else.” –Jack Welch

While reception to the prom is positive, Yukino’s mother and older sister object, saying such an event may speak poorly to their reputation as members of the PTO. Hachiman responds by creating a false event to divert attention from the prom in a bet with Yukino, since Yukino is determined to handle things on her own without Hachiman’s help. Preparations begin proceeding in earnest, and Yukino realises that Hachiman’s plan had worked, although he concedes, promising to fulfil one of her wishes, which includes helping Yui to realise her wishes. Yui comes to terms with her feelings for Hachiman and expresses a desire for the status quo to last a bit longer, and later, Hachiman speaks with Shizuka, who helps him to understand his own conflicted feelings about the Service Club: while it’s clear that he’s fallen in love with Yukino, he hesitates to act on his feelings, knowing that he’ll inevitably hurt Yui in the process. Shizuka encourages him to be more forwards, and entering the graduation prom, Hachiman does his best to help out. In the process, he shares a dance with Yui, and ultimately, the event is a success. However, lingering feelings of hollowness remain, and both Yukino and Hachiman find themselves unable to properly express themselves. Hachiman ends up organising a second event that Yukino’s mother and sister openly oppose. In spite of this, Hachiman presses forwards, and the event is successful, acting as a final part of sorts for Shizuka before she transfers to a different school. After the party draws to a close, Yukino confesses her feelings for Hachiman, and Yui comes to the Service Club with a request for them. This brings Oregairu‘s third season (Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru Kan, or Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru Climax) to a close, yielding the answers to a question that has remained in the viewers’ mind for five years. In its ending, Oregairu pushes Hachiman and Yukino into a future together, one where they will continue to support one another in their pursuit of happiness and fulfilment.

The outcome of Oregairu is par the course for what was expected of this series, which, true to its title, ended up being a romantic comedy of sorts – despite lacking the features of a conventional romance comedy, Oregairu‘s humour stems from the social ineptitude that Hachiman and Yukino demonstrate towards common, everyday situations. The roundabout solutions the pair take towards dealing with their tasks is ludicrous, unorthodox, and so, when it came time to turn inwards, there is a certain ridiculousness towards how they handle their feelings: the social awkwardness that each of Hachiman and Yukino create results in uncommonly complex situations that viewers cannot help but find amusing, bringing a certain life to their dynamic, and consequently, this is what drove Oregairu down a path of romance. By forcing the unlikely pair to work together, Shizuka helps Hachiman and Yukino to realise that they’re more alike than they’d imagined, complementing one another to solve the various problems their classmates face. In this way, cooperation fosters familiarity, and familiarity blossoms into romance. Across its three seasons, Oregairu suggests that it is the most primordial of emotions, that brings about change in people. For Hachiman, he comes to view youth in a different manner and sees the worth of socialising with others to make the most of his halcyon days – when Shizuka brings up his old essay following the last prom, Hachiman responds with embarrassment, saying he’s moved past that mode of thinking. Similarly, Yukino no longer holds herself above others, and spurred on by Hachiman (however indirectly), she strives to better herself and readily interacts with the people she once thought herself superior to. These changes organically occur over the course of three seasons, and culminate in one of the most long-awaited kokuhaku in a romance series: watching Yukino openly express her feelings for Hachiman represents the sum of the pair’s experiences together, being a rewarding and decisive conclusion to a relationship that was hinted at seven years earlier.

Hachiman and Yukino receive their happy ending, but this outcome also leaves Yui with the short end of the stick. Oregairu‘s third season forces Yui to come to terms with this: having spent the past two seasons taking her days at the Service Club for granted, Yui struggled to accept the possibility that Hachiman does not return her feelings. This was the final challenge that Oregairu had to deal with – Hachiman had become aware of this love triangle that had formed, and out of a desire to not hurt anyone’s feelings, deliberately chose to feign ignorance of Yukino and Yui’s feelings. By the third season, Yukino’s wish is for Hachiman to help ease Yui out of this pain, and although this does help Yui, she finds herself continually wishing the old status quo would keep going. In the end, once it becomes clear that Yukino would claim Hachiman, Yui decides to work hard in her own way and see what comes out of it. This is about as much closure for her story as one could hope for; dealing with unrequited feelings is an immeasurably difficult task, and writing for Yui would not have been an easy task. Having her accept what is, and doing her best to turn the tides while maintaining her friendship is to give Yui an optimistic ending, to make the most of what she has. The old Yui may have simply consigned herself to defeat, but the Service Club has also changed her to be more forward. The interactions between the Service Club’s members and their classmates, are written with the narrative in mind – the outcome of the story was intended to convey a particular message, and as such, anticipating how Oregairu would progress was always driven by what would help it to achieve a clear theme. However, because Oregairu brought concepts from sociology and pædatric psychology to the table, some individuals believed that real-world models would apply to Oregairu and attempted to discuss the perspective from a clinical or academic perspective. Consequently, discussions surrounding Oregairu can venture into the realm of the arcane. Unsurprisingly, these speculations proved incorrect, because rationale from these conversations failed to account for the fact that Oregairu is a work of fiction. Characters will act in a way that suits the story, rather than according to any outcomes described by psychological and social models. This is another reminder that while real-world disciplines might have some relevance in fiction, it is not always productive to set too much store in them, since stories unfold based on what the author’s intentions are, even if they contradict research findings.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Last I wrote about Oregairu would’ve been precisely two months ago: as it turns out, my speculations turned out to be fairly close to the actual outcome. As Oregairu continued to push into the romance segment of its story, it was interesting to see how things would unfold – I’ve never been a wielder of the “predictable” criticism, since the outcomes in fiction are usually such that they facilitate the message a work intends to convey, and for Oregairu, it became evident that Yui was going to lose out to Yukino. In spite of this, what made the series worth watching was how things would proceed as a consequence of this destination.

  • When Yukino’s mother and Haruno appear to express their concerns about the prom, Hachiman seemingly finds himself out-manoeuvred. I’ve long found that while Hachiman seemingly has a grasp of what other people are thinking and can act accordingly, his methods fail when his opponent anticipates his next move; Hachiman’s limited understanding of social convention means that he has no suitable counter for when his bluff is called. To deal with the likes of Haruno and their mother, one would need to take a leaf from Lucius Fox’s playbook: the key to being a good negotiator is to listen, since talking reveals all of one’s cards to their opponent. During The Dark Knight, Reese approaches Fox with the goal of extorting him to keep Bruce Wayne’s identity secret, and while he had a solid negotiation strategy, he also framed his demands as a threat. Since Fox chose to listen to Reese, the ball was in Fox’s court, allowing him to propose a counteroffer that shuts down Reese.

  • The hardest part to watch in Oregairu is seeing the pain Yui experiences as she resigns herself to the inevitable: knowing something is coming does not diminish the sincerity or force of these emotions, and it becomes clear that as Oregairu wore on, Yui was forcing a smile for her friends’ sake. I personally felt that Yui was more suited for Hachiman given that her outgoing personality could complement Hachiman’s more introverted traits, but a handful of armchair psychologists have turned this into a rabbit hole of sorts, arguing that because it is not known whether or not Yui’s personality is genuine, the show may not present Yui as she actually is – in this case, it is unknowable as to whether or not such an outcome would work. However, because Oregairu is a fiction with an intended goal, attempting to fit a real world model here is folly, and I’ve largely avoided discussions about this series because they are cyclic, unproductive arguments about semantics.

  • Instead of opening with his demands, Reese would have found more success had he allowed silence to fill some of the gaps, and then follow that up with a solution in place of his demand. Advanced negotiation techniques are not in Hachiman’s playbook; Hachiman clearly is actively trying to adapt as he takes in information, rather than listening to the end before making a solution, and so, he resorts to his usual approach in order to sort out the prom: he suggests to Yukino that he will create a separate event in parallel to spur her on, all the while constructing an event of unrealistic parameters that will push the PTO to accept Yukino’s event on the basis that it is more reasonable by comparison.

  • To this end, Hachiman recruits some old faces: Yoshiteru Zaimokuza, Saika Totsuka and Saki Kawasaki. It’s been a while since I last saw them, and Hachiman had been involved in helping them out earlier. Divergent schedules mean that Saika and Saki decline Hachiman’s request, but Yoshiteru accepts, bringing a few of his friends to assist. Yoshiteru, while possessing traits that would be off-putting in reality, is a kind person at heart and respects Hachiman. For viewers, his bombastic personality means that he is seen as more of an amusing character, someone who brings a different vibe to Oregairu and lighten things up, as well as being a dependable source of help for Hachiman.

  • While the community will likely disagree, I find that Yui’s commitment and determination to help Hachiman see things through, as well as her general understanding of him, shows that her feelings and intents are as genuine as Yukino’s. It suddenly strikes me that Oregairu‘s lead characters are voiced by familiar names. Saori Hayami plays Yukino, and I know Hayami as Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?‘s Aoyama Blue Mountain, Sawa Okita from Tari Tari and Yuzuki Shiraishi from A Place Further Than The Universe. Similarly, Nao Tōyama is Yui, and I know her best as Kiniro Mosaic‘s Karen Kujō, as well as Yuru Camp△‘s very own Shimarin. Finally, Ayane Sakura voices Iroha: I’d recognise Cocoa’s voice from anywhere in the world. I’ve never noticed this before, but with this revelation, Oregairu suddenly feels like a fun all-star cast as Shimarin, Cocoa and Blue Mountain chill in a completely different setting, a world apart from the fluffy slice-of-life series I’m partial to.

  • In a hilarious turn of events, Hachiman is voiced by Takuya Eguchi, who plays YU-NO‘s Hideo Toyotomi. Back in Oregairu, despite being a sham event, Hachiman has his crew brainstorm ideas for a prom that could seem real enough to work, while simultaneously being outlandish enough as to be rejected. This is indeed a roundabout way of doing things, requiring additional effort to be expended. In a real-world setting, Hachiman’s method would be counterproductive, consuming time and manpower to implement. This is why conflict management and resolution exists; to deal with the disapproval that Yukino’s mother and Haruno express, meeting with the PTO and hearing them out would allow for the source of the issue to be addressed, and listening to said concerns would then allow one to negotiate to reach a compromise. It would require fewer resources and be faster to execute, but if Hachiman thought in these terms, we likely would have no show.

  • With the clock counting down before the prom, Hachiman decides to ask for help from Kaori Orimoto, with the intent of attaining mock support from another high school to give his plan credence; in the last season, he had helped their high school to some capacity, although their meetings were filled with corporate jargon. Here in the third season, Hachiman’s request turns into a freestyle showdown between himself and Tamanawa: I’ve not seen something this amusing since the days of the Auralnauts’ “Freestyle Bane”. While Hachiman holds his own, Tamanawa turns down the request. He ends up choosing another approach to help present the idea that his event could become a reality, by hosting a small photo shoot at the proposed venue.

  • One aspect that appears to have been lost amongst viewers is how Hachiman is able to recruit even Yumiko: in the earlier seasons, she regards Hachiman as little more than an inconsequential character who lives in a world far removed from her own. However, Hachiman’s actions with the Service Club has far reaching impacts on his classmates, and even Yumiko reluctantly acknowledges Hachiman: by the third season, she is seen lending a hand with the photoshoot. Subtle details like these speak volumes to the growth Hachiman has accrued over the past seasons, and even though it’s been a few years since I last watched this series, memories of what had happened earlier remain quite vivid.

  • Despite having limited resources, things begin progressing for Hachiman after Yoshiteru’s friends deploy a phoney prom website. This is the turning point for Hachiman – his gambit pays off, and the right people take notice, deciding that the original event would have been reasonable and feasible. At this point in time, I remark that in order to recall what had happened in earlier seasons, I resorted to use of Wikipedia and its episode summaries. However, each of the entries for the first and second season are potholed with links to sociology articles that are irrelevant or only tangentially related to the episode. It is apparent that the editors there have an inadequate knowledge of interpersonal relationships and social theory – Oregairu only uses these principals sparingly to set up the scenario for Hachiman to deal with, and knowing a few definitions won’t enhance one’s enjoyment of Oregairu in any way. Consequently,  I am tempted to register an account and remove all of those links myself, as well as simplifying all of the summaries so they do not reference things like “transparent persona” or “social judgement theory”.

  • While the interactions between Yukino, Hachiman and Yui are solid, I particularly dislike Haruno because she seems to bring that sort of mentality (i.e. that a substantial background in social theory and psychology is vital to the anime) with her. She posits that Yui, Hachiman and Yukino have formed a codependent relationship with one another. To avoid fancy undergraduate jargon, codependency is a relationship where one individual enables negative behaviours in another, causing the latter to become dependent on the former. It should become clear that the Service Club does not exhibit these traits, and I find that Haruno represents a part of the community I do not see eye-to-eye with: she’s someone who’s certain of herself, but despite her talents, she is woefully lacking in other areas.

  • For folks looking to see what a codependent relationship looks like, I recommend checking out Rick and Morty: Beth and Jerry are mentioned as having such a relationship by characters rather more reliable than Haruno, and this is the last I will say of the matter. When word of Hachiman’s plot gets out, Yukino’s mother appears and learns that Hachiman had been the one who had been injured in a collision with their vehicle some time earlier. Seeing his determination and spirits, she decides that the PTO might need some persuasion and consents to the prom that Yukino had been working towards. This is the outcome that Hachiman had sought, and with the prom no longer threatened, he hastens to tell Yukino.

  • In the end, both Yukino and Hachiman simultaneously concede: Yukino feels Hachiman has won because his plan allowed her work to continue, and the prom will proceed as planned, while Hachiman feels that Yukino’s original plans for the prom were well-done enough to shake off his plans for a separate event. The two eventually settle on a resolution: Hachiman is to fulfil Yukino’s wish of looking after Yui. This wish is quite selfless and also serves to indicate that Yukino is aware of the fact that Yui also has feelings for Hachiman. The use of lighting in this scene creates a sense of melancholy and wistfulness.

  • Yui’s wishes end up being all related to being able to spend time with Hachiman, a reflection of her own desire to keep the status quo: it is understandable that she wouldn’t want things to change, given her own feelings for Hachiman. However, because Yui is also considerate of those around her, these wishes can also be seen as Yui steeling herself for the inevitable and making a few more memories before Hachiman is whisked away. Among my favourite activity Yui asks Hachiman to help her with is the baking of fruit tarts to celebrate Komachi’s successful admission to their high school.

  • On the day of the prom, events go without a hitch thanks to Yukino’s meticulous organisation. Hachiman handles the audio and lighting elements. There was never any doubt that the main event would be successful, since I had supposed that in order for Yukino to grow, she would need to see things through to the end. Oregairu might’ve been full of surprises earlier, but by the second season, the series is very clear about where it intends to head.

  • Yui and Hachiman share a dance during a break from the latter’s duties on the evening of the dance. Whether or not there was ever a love triangle in Oregairu was the subject of no small discussion in the episodes leading up to the finale. However, because the discussion involved the individual’s own expectations that social models could be applied to Oregairu, at the expense of the author’s intentions, said discussion ended up missing the point. This is one of the problems with the phenomenon known as fan guessing: if the creator’s goals are ignored (i.e. “death of the author”), speculated outcomes become wildly inaccurate.

  • In the end, Yukino’s mother expresses that she is impressed with how things progress and departs, while Haruno continues to be a wet blanket, stating that a successful event doesn’t mean anything for Yukino, and that she, Hachiman and Yui are still codependent. I believe that Haruno’s character was deliberately written to be aggravating because she is the force that pushes Yukino and Hachiman to mature: her intentions are never truly known, and she doesn’t appear to act in accordance with what the models of reciprocity describe (i.e. messing with people in her surroundings does not offer a social or financial payoff of appreciable or apparent value to her).

  • In the aftermath of the prom, Hachiman speaks to Yui: having long been aware about how she feels about him, Hachiman clarifies that he’s fallen in love with Yukino (albeit indirectly). At this point in time, Hachiman still doesn’t put things directly, but it’s clear enough that Yui will have to be rejected in order for Hachiman to pursue a future with Yukino. While doubtlessly a painful moment, this was a necessary step, and it was good to see Hachiman be forwards about things, even if his wording isn’t direct. It speaks volumes to how well Yui knows Hachiman, that she’s able to pick this up underneath his roundabout way of saying things.

  • Away from Hachiman, Yui no longer needs to put on a brave face and can allow herself to cry things out in her mother’s arms. For me, it was important that this scene was presented; it shows that in spite of the great hurt Yui experienced, she’s still got support, and someone is still there for her to walk her through this difficult time. Consequently, for Yui, being rejected by Hachiman as he pursues Yukino won’t be the worst thing that she experiences, and viewers are assured that she will pick herself up again in the future.

  • The penultimate episode has both Hachiman and Yukino attempt to express their feelings for one another, but completely failing to do so out of awkwardness and embarrassment. It’s clear that their feelings are reciprocated, even if the pair cannot properly just come out and say 好き, so a part of the humour in this scene comes from the two beating around the bush. This one conversation succinctly describes the whole of Oregairu: behind all of the seemingly complex social commentary is a simple, but focused story about a student who comes to appreciate youth more as he is made to participate, and moreover, the social theory used in the series really just a red herring, appearing important when it is not.

  • Hachiman had actually planned another event as a follow up to the prom: his “dissatisfaction” had stemmed from Haruno’s remarks, and in order to show up Haruno, he’s gone to the lengths of setting up another event. The final episode to Oregairu has been about five years in the waiting: it is here that lingering questions from the second season are answered, and as it turns out, the wait was one that was worthwhile. I had entered the third season skeptical that I would be moved. Since a half-decade had elapsed, I’d forgotten most of what had happened during the earlier seasons.

  • While Oregairu‘s third season started off slowly, it also was able to reestablish what had been at stake. Thus, the prom arc ended up being a chance for the series to remind viewers of what had previously occurred; in between preparations, in which Hachiman had applied his own dogged style of problem-solving, he also needed to deal with the impending challenge of choosing between Yui or Yukino. Spacing things out over the season ended up allowing me to follow things quite well even though I cannot vividly recall minutae of the second season, so I don’t see the prom arc as being unnecessarily protracted.

  • In the end, to make his event a reality, Hachiman scouts out a location with Yukino as a date in all but name, and with the location set, the pair are able to rally classmates to help out. For better or worse, Hachiman has come to be an integral part of his classmates’ lives, as well; he’s come a very long way from being an outcast, and if memory serves, he had only become this way because of a rejection from Kaori back in middle school. Much as how a failed romance sent him on a path of loneliness, rekindled feelings as a result of being with Yukino returns him down a path where he accepts social convention, even if he does find some facets of it troublesome.

  • I will concede that the finale did feel a little rushed, and the leadup to the second event may have done better to occupy at least an extra half episode.: the second event proceeds without any sort of trouble, and I can only assume that it is because Yukino and Hachiman are finally in sync with one another, working together as a proper team to yield results. As we near the end of this post, I’ll briefly consider the soundtrack, which was never too noticeable: my favourite tracks throughout the course of Oregairu is from the second season: 3人でいる時間 (Hepburn Sannin de Iru Jikan, “Time among three people”), 結衣の決意 (Hepburn Yui no Ketsui, “Yui’s determination”) and 不合理な感情 (Hepburn Fugouri na Kanjou, “Unreasonable emotions”). These three tracks convey an incredible sadness about them that really bring the feelings of insecurity, doubt and longing that Yukino and Yui experience, and by comparison, nothiing during Oregairu‘s third season particularly stands out.

  • It does feel a little strange to see Komachi in the same uniform as Yui and Iroha. Caring deeply about Hachiman, Komachi had often played matchmaker, trying to get Yui or Yukino closer to Hachiman. With the writing on the wall, and having formed a friendship with Yui, Komachi gives advice to Yui on how to handle things from here. In a hilarious turn of events, Komachi and Iroha seem to get off on the wrong foot and verbally spar with one another; Komachi’s deduced that Iroha probably also has feelings for Hachiman, as well.

  • The second event is also a success: as it winds down, Hachiman shares one final dance with Shizuka, thanking her for all she’d done for him. The dynamic between Shizuka and Hachiman had always been an amusing one to watch, and I imagine that the reason why Shizuka is so fond of Hachiman is because she sees her own youth in him. Consequently, insistent that Hachiman not waste his potential, she strove to bring out his best by putting him in situations that would lead him to socialise more with others through the Service Club, whether it be teamwork and cooperation amongst members of the Service Club, or learning how to listen and empathise with others through the club activities. Oregairu shows that her efforts were successful in the most rewarding way possible: Hachiman no longer subscribes to his old views and begrudgingly admits that his youth has been rather enjoyable in its own right.

  • I’ve been waiting for this moment since Oregairu‘s second season ended: Yukino’s kokuhaku brings to an end a five-year-long wait, and it was immensely cathartic to see this moment. In four words, Yukino demonstrates beyond any doubt that her time with Hachiman has led her to mature and improve: from being able to empathise with others and viewing her peers as equals, to being more open about her desires and feelings, Hachiman and their shared experiences in the Service Club leaves a tangible positive impact on Yukino. Her declaration of love is the culmination of their journey, showing that after everything that has happened, she’s come to not only respect, but also love Hachiman. It

  • This is what matters for me, and Oregairu absolutely succeeds in capturing the summary of learnings throughout the series in this one scene. Opinions of Oregairu‘s ending are mixed, and I’ve found that those expecting an outcome consistent with what social theory predicts were the most disappointed, when their speculations did not come to pass. Oregairu had never been a series that demanded a scholarly background from viewers, and this is what motivates the page quote: instead of assuming that one knows better than the author, keeping an open mind would yield a more complete experience when it comes to series like Oregairu.

  • As a new school year arrives, Hachiman and Yukino find that the Service Club has been commandeered: Komachi has every intent of continuing their activities, alongside Iroha. Their first client is Yui, who has come with a request to handle a rather rowdy situation where she’s fallen in love with someone who loves someone else. Oregairu‘s finale brings a seven year journey to a close, and overall, I find the anime series to have earned a B+ grade (3.3 of 4.0, or 8 of 10): Oregairu excelled in creating tension and anticipation surrounding events that people don’t ordinarily think too much of. With (generally) likeable characters to rally around, Oregairu is compelling and fun in its own right, although there are also numerous moments that can be frustrating: Hachiman typically prefers unorthodox methods to shooting straight, and while this drives the series, it creates instances that can come across as superfluous.

  • I appreciate that these superfluous moments are for the sake of the story, and ultimately, Oregairu does work things out in a satisfactory, decisive manner. With this, my Oregairu post comes to a close: I expect that this is the last time I’ll write about Oregairu for the foreseeable future. It’s been a fun few years, and it was nice to see the series pique my curiosity for a group of characters I’d not considered for quite some time; with the outcomes in Oregairu, I rescind my last about how I preferred Aobuta over Oregairu. Instead, I leave Oregairu with the position that both series have their own merits and strong points, and further to this, both Oregairu and Aobuta are worthwhile.

With the whole of Oregairu now in the books, a nine year journey comes to an end. I’d originally picked up Oregairu out of a vain curiosity to see what all of the commotion surrounding the series, and its portrayal of social dynamics in youth, was about. The first season left me impressed, and left me with the distinct impression that I would not need to draw too much upon my coursework to appreciate: the DSM-5-TR is thankfully, not required reading to properly enjoy Oregairu. Progressing through the series, my main praise is that it slowly shifts from Hachiman employing unusual means of achieving the Service Club’s objectives with a large number of people, towards helping himself. Seeing what happens amongst other people helped Hachiman to understand his own challenges, and by the end of Oregairu, Hachiman is aware of his weaknesses in being unable to express himself directly. Being made aware of one’s limitations is the first step in correcting them, and in the end, Shizuka’s decision to forcibly recruit Hachiman turned out to have unexpected, but important consequences for him. As a whole, Oregairu may similarly make detours and turns, but its final message is a rewarding one to see: the second and third seasons respectively establish Hachiman’s being made aware of his flaws and attempting to correct them. For his troubles, his youth, while not exactly a rose-coloured time, is a period where he nonetheless matures as an individual. By understanding his flaws, he is left in a position where he is able to begin correcting them, and this is ultimately the happy ending of Oregairu: Hachiman is better prepared to pursue his future. It is straightforward to see how Oregairu became acclaimed, and the anime adaptation has done a satisfactory job of conveying its themes to viewers. Having said this, Occam’s Razor is certainly at play here – the best way to enjoy Oregairu is to leave one’s sociology 201 notes at the door and enjoy the series for what it is: a youth romance comedy that doesn’t go quite as one would expect.

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru Kan: Review and Reflection After Three

“The content of most textbooks is perishable, but the tools of self-directedness serve one well over time.” –Albert Bandura

Yukino’s request to the Service Club ends up being as thus: she wants Hachiman and Yui to support her, to the best of their ability, in being a more independent and competent individual. Yukino plans on moving back home to make amends with her family. Meanwhile, Komachi is worried about her entance examinations into high school, and after a practise interview, plans to meet Hachiman at a nearby shopping centre. Hachiman runs into Saki Kawasaki and her younger sister, Keika, here. Komachi soon joins them. After parting ways with Saki and Keika, Komachi and Hachiman shop for groceries before heading home, where Komachi expresses her appreciation for his support. Yukino begins preparations to return home, and at the Service Club, Iroha Isshiki arrives with a request: to help her coordinate and plan a high school dance event in her duties as the student council president. It turns out Iroha was hoping to surpass expectations set for her, but worried about the logistics, decides to approach the Service Club; she reasons that starting now gives them the best fighting chance. When Hachiman learns that Komachi passed the entrance exam, he is ecstatic. He also learns that Saki’s younger brother had passed as well. Ahead of preparations for the dance, Iroha speaks with Hachiman and deduces that he views most of the women in his life as siblings, which makes it hard for him to be honest about his feelings. Back at the Service Club, Iroha is hard at work with the others in the planning and logistics phases for the dance. In order to raise interest, Yukino decides to shoot a video that outlines what the dance will feel like. Hachiman ends up being assigned to dance with Yui, and as the students participating in the video have a good time, Hachiman remarks that, while he now understands why Iroha was intent on organising one, it’s not his thing. This is Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru Kan (Oregairu Kan for brevity) after three episodes: the third season of Oregairu was originally set to air during the spring of this year, but was delayed on account of the ongoing global pandemic.

With nearly five years separating Oregairu Zoku and Oregairu Kan, the immediate impression is that one would need to refamiliarise themselves with the events of the second season to appreciate where the Service Club is headed: season two ended with Yukino steeling herself to make a request of the Service Club as a client, but in that time, specifics behind what led up to this may not be easily recalled. Having looked through my older posts on Oregairu Zoku, the second season was about Hachiman being more honest with himself and his desire to be with Yui and Yukino without hurting them, even as Yukino struggles to understand her sense of self. Oregairu Kan puts this in the open, and having seen two seasons of Hachiman coming to understand his own desires through helping his classmates via the Service Club, the third season is plainly focused on the two closest to Hachiman. However, the outcome of this journey appears to already have a foregone conclusion: while helping Yukino out, Yui finds a photo of Yukino and Hachiman tucked away in an envelope. As each of Hachiman, Yukino and Yui become more honest with themselves, the inevitable conflict will come into the open, and this is likely to be central to Oregairu Kan‘s main story. Having done his best to avoid hurting those around him, Hachiman will need to mature and accept that, in order for things to continue, he will have to make a decision to consciously hurt someone in order to move forwards with the other. For the time being, though, the Service Club’s focus is on making Iroha’s dance a success, and the process will likely facilitate making this process a little easier to bear for Hachiman.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • When Oregairu Zoku finished, I noted that the anime ended on the same note as Halo 2 did. This means that Oregairu Kan is equivalent to Halo 3 in that the series will need to finish the fight. At the time of the second season’s ending, I had no idea when a continuation would have occurred. I do remember that I enjoyed the second season, but was a little disappointed by the cliffhanger. Upon resuming the story now, Oregairu Kan opens with a very melancholy feeling, likely foreshadowing what is to come during the season.

  • Because of the unknowns Oregairu Zoku had left, I elected not to speculate on what would go down; instead, it made sense to wait for news of a third season. I thus busied myself with my thesis work for the thesis defense that was set for eleven months later. As months turned to years, however, Oregairu began falling from my mind: I admit that by the time of my graduate defense, I’d more or less forgotten about the series.

  • On the flipside, Oregairu Kan wastes no time in reestablishing the character dynamics: Hachiman is as amusing to watch as I recall, but it wasn’t always this way. In Oregairu‘s first season, I found his personality and methods objectionable, and it was only through the second season where he begins changing. By Oregairu Kan, Hachiman comes across as a sardonic but well-meaning individual who genuinely cares for those around him, a character viewers can get behind.

  • When Aobuta was announced, I recalled Oregairu owing to Mai’s similarities with Yukino, both in appearance and manner. Out of the gates, Sakuta is also quite similar to Hachiman, having both a sharp tongue and a younger sister they dote on. However, Sakuta seemed much more honest with his feelings. Both Oregairu and Aobuta also resulted in out-of-scope discussions: sociology dominated the former, and in the latter, discussions saw participants take a brave stab at trying to tie quantum theory with Sakuta’s experiences. In the end, I found that quantum theory is completely irrelevant to Aobuta, and in Oregairu, it is not necessary to have a background in sociology to understand or appreciate Hachiman’s actions.

  • The first episode to Oregairu Kan was well-structured, continuing immediately where Oregairu Zoku had left off: Yukino’s request is now in the open and the why is touched upon. Along the way, the changes in Hachiman are also reiterated. When Komachi thanks him for supporting her after all this time, Hachiman begins crying unexpectedly. While Hachiman typically distanced himself from everyone, content to watch from the corners, he begins to care for their well-being, as well. Most of his solutions previously entailed him taking on the burden of the fallout, allowing those around him to maintain their status quo.

  • While this had typically worked, since Hachiman had not been particularly close to the more popular and sociable classmates in his year, when the series switches its focus over to Yukino and Yui, things become more challenging for Hachiman. Oregairu Zoku only began touching on this, and so, I imagined that Oregairu Kan would logically deal with this, as it represented a new challenge. After returning to Yukino’s apartment, the group finds Haruno, her sister, there.

  • Despite her appearances, Haruno rather dislikes Yukino. Her actions and unwelcome interventions in previous seasons left viewers constantly guessing what was to come next, as well as what social theory Haruno’s actions could be described by. This is what motivates the page quote: while social dynamics amongst youth are multi-faceted and complex in their own right, Oregairu as a whole uses abstractions to drive its story. In general, this is why I don’t take heed to those who attempt to fit the events of anime like Oregairu to models described in a sociology or psychology textbook: the story exists not as a case study of interpersonal relationships in Japanese youth, but rather, to convey a specific journey.

  • The persistent belief that one requires a post-secondary education to fully appreciate some anime is a load of hogwash: a good anime is able to create enjoyment in viewers through its storytelling and characters. In the case of Oregairu, what the characters learn during the course of the series, matters more than what social constructs are presented: viewers who are not familiar with constructs like a dominance hierarchy, group cohesion, personas, and social judgement theory can still enjoy the series to the fullest extent possible without ever needing to pick up a textbook.

  • Yanagi Nagi returns to provide the opening theme for Oregairu Kan: I am rather fond of her music, having first heard her singing in Ano Natsu de Matteru‘s ending. The soundtrack in Oregairu is of a similarly high quality, and I am especially fond of the piano version of the first season’s opening theme: it conveys a sense of loneliness and sadness that each of Yui, Hachiman and Yukino felt prior to coming together as members of the Service Club, and how the inevitability of life means that nothing can really stay the same for anyone.

  • Iroha Isshi was introduced in Oregairu Zoku, being voiced by Ayane Sakura. Her original story entails finding a way to lose the student council president position gracefully after it was foisted on her as a result of peer pressure, but the Service Club managed to convince her to keep the role and use it as a learning experience. She constantly assumes Hachiman is interested in her, but beyond this, is observant and outgoing. Whenever I hear Iroha speak, I cannot help but think of Cocoa: Sakura does an excellent job of presenting Iroha’s character, and Iroha even acts a little like Cocoa in places: both Chino and Yukino resort to shoving Cocoa and Iroha away in their respective series.

  • For me, the hardest-hitting point in Oregairu Kan thus far occurs when Yui finds an envelope containing a photo of Yukino and Hachiman together. Yui’s expression conveys a sense of reluctant resignation, accepting that Hachiman might not reciprocate her feelings, and that his heart lies with Yukino. While there isn’t anything more direct to prove or disprove this at present, I imagine that as Oregairu Kan enters its final quarter, this is something that is going to need a resolution.

  • Instructor Shizuka Hiratsuka is Hachiman’s homeroom instructor who helms a Japanese literature class and also was responsible for strong-arming Hachiman into the Service Club. Despite her immature tendencies and insecurity over her relationship status, Shizuka is reliable, knowledgable and kind-hearted, doing her best to look after her students. Because of these traits, Hachiman actively wishes that he’d been ten years older such that he could’ve asked Shizuka out. In Oregairu Kan, Shizuka’s remarks to Hachiman suggests that she might be transferring schools.

  • A recurring joke throughout Oregairu is that whenever Saika is around, Hachiman is flustered. Sakai was among the first to talk to Hachiman of his own accord, and initially, had sought out the Service Club’s assistance in helping him out with the Tennis Club. His interactions with Hachiman are cordial, and over time, Hachiman would come to learn how to carry out conversations more naturally. By Oregairu Kan, Hachiman is no longer an outcast, and although he still prefers his quiet, is on at least cordial terms with his classmates.

  • Komachi is overjoyed to have passed her entrance exams and tearfully embraces Yui. While I like to think of my youth as a simpler time characterised by studying and playing World of Warcraft on a private server, I admit that my time as a secondary student was marked by a series of similarly difficult-to-navigate moments: I oversaw the graduation committee and yearbook team back in my day, efforts that saw their share of drama. I’ve never really respected social hierarchies formed on the basis of popularity and so, refused giving concessions to these students. This had all sorts of repercussions, which resulted in a popular student taking credit for finishing the projects when they and their friends left in solidarity.

  • For me, since the work was done, I saw myself as having fulfilled my responsibilities, popularity be damned. Getting things done is something I respect, and it was curious to see Hachiman navigate a similar field. This is one of the reasons I ended up sticking with Oregairu, whose portrayal of social dynamics in youth is quite plausible; the interpersonal dynamics among high school students are every bit as intricate as those of adults. Oregairu isn’t likely to cover what happens after the final light novel volume, and I note that long after high school ended, the folks I’d run afoul of for not respecting their popularity remain on poor terms with me to this day.

  • Organising the school dance is something that spans the duration of Oregairu‘s twelfth and thirteenth volumes, meaning that Oregairu Kan is likely to be an adaptation of the final stories for the series and represent the conclusion to things. As preparations are under way, Yukino uses her newfound social media skills to promote the event and suggests shooting an introductory video to help their classmates understand what sort of event this is.

  • Yukino and Iroha thus gather some classmates and provide them with instructions on what to do. The school’s gymnasium has already been decorated for the occasion, and Yukino plays a male student. Other classmates have similarly paired off so they can show up in the slow-dance segments of the video, before transitioning over to a party-like atmosphere. It’s an upbeat event that everyone gets into, and at least for me, I find that showing the footage they’ve got here should be sufficient to convince other classmates of attending the dance.

  • I admit that I’ve never been a big fan of social dancing despite possessing the bare minimum of motor coordination needed to have fun at these events: having attended dances for both middle and secondary school, I can dance well enough, but I choose not to where the option is available. Last year, during F8, I attended a dance during one of the evening parties, marking the first time I’d been to such an event since my time as a student.

  • Its surprising as to how quickly time flies, and a quick glance at the calendar finds that today marks the one-year mark to Otafest’s volunteer celebration event. Fun as it was to enjoy barbeque and outdoors activities, as well as board games with other volunteers, a part of me felt wistful: there’d been a young lady helping me on one of my shifts with a dazzling smile, that I’d wished to see again. At present day, it’s set to be the hottest day of 2020 so far – a heat warning was issued earlier, and there isn’t a cloud in the sky at the time of writing. After sitting down to an English muffin and hash browns for lunch, I’ve glanced at the forecast, and the thermometer is set to rise as the day wears on.

  • In previous years, I’ve felt such days to simultaneously be beautiful, but also creating a sense of wistfulness that saps me of the will to write: I’m glad to have finished this post before temperatures peak. Because of the indicators that Hachiman is going to end up with Yukino, one cannot help but feel bad for Yui, who is going to have to do her best. Knowing this sets Oregairu Kan with a feeling of melancholy, and I am looking forwards to seeing what learnings each of Hachiman, Yukino and Yui pick up en route to the series’ ending, which, hopefully, will be a little more decisive than that of Halo 3‘s – I’d prefer that Oregairu finish conclusively and not leave viewers with an anime equivalent of the Legendary Planet.

If memory serves, when I last wrote about Oregairu, it was a shade more than five years ago. I imagine that Oregairu Kan was released after the light novel series had ended, and with all source material available, it is likely that the series is headed for the big finish during its run. Oregairu is a series known for bringing sociology principles into its narrative, and fans immediately latched onto entry-level sociology textbooks to interpret and speculate on Hachiman’s actions during the first season of Oregairu. However, with the third season, principles that find themselves at home in a university lecture have been set aside as Hachiman comes to terms with his own feelings: the series has ventured into territory that cannot be so readily compartmentalised and described by textbooks. It is here that Oregairu Kan really has a chance to shine. Having been with Hachiman, Yui and Yukino for two seasons, it is excellent to see the characters open up to one another and act much more naturally in one another’s presence. Rather than depicting case studies in the fundamentals of social theory, Oregairu Kan looks to present its characters in a more human fashion; I look forwards to seeing how things progress Hachiman, Yukino and Yui, who have come together from a rough start to be as close as any friends can be. Their friendship will be put to the test, and I do not anticipate that there will be any easy outs that Hachiman can take: instead, he will need to appreciate what Yui and Yukino mean to him, before making a final decision for himself as to what he truly wishes for.

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru Zoku: Final Reflection and Review

“Faith is a state of openness or trust.” —Alan Watts

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru Zoku, or OreGairu Zoku for brevity, has finally come to a close. Since the second episode, Hikigaya has assisted Isshiki Iroha with various duties associated with being the head of the student council, including a Christmas event, and in the process, learns of his own desires to share a straightforward, more honest relationship with Yui and Yukino. His character undergoes a more noticeable shift relative to the first season, and by the series’ end, it appears that Hikigaya’s outlook has shifted dramatically from what it was when the first season first started: he truly wishes to be friends with Yui and Yukino, but also realises that what they had done thus far might not be genuine. Whereas the Hikigaya of season one was perfectly okay with operating alone, there is no denying that the Service Club has grown quite close through their shared experiences, whether it be pulling through and helping Isshiki with a Christmas event, accompanying both Yui and Yukino to an amusement park, and coordinating a Valentines’ Day event to help Hayato’s friends out without forcing Hayato into an uncomfortable position.

While social factors, such as belonging, self-image and denial, do make an appearance in OreGairu Zoku, this anime is not a commentary about the present state of interpersonal dynamics amongst high school-aged students in general. The changes in Hikigaya’s beliefs and character illustrate the underlying strengths that can form amongst a group of individuals who have worked together, sharing experiences that allow them to learn far more about one another than might be otherwise possible through standard interactions. This forms the core message in OreGairu: after Hikigaya directs his attention towards helping Isshiki, a conversation with Shizuka helps him realise that distancing himself from Yui and Yukino will achieve the opposite of what he had intended. Far from helping them, he’s hurt them instead, and this leads him to understand that, despite Yukino’s outward appearances, she and Yui care for him as a friend. Similarly, Haruno’s dialogue implies that Yukino lacks a strong sense of self, despite her outward appearances, leading Hikigaya to wonder whether or not their interactions thus far have been a sham. While his reasoning might lead to this conclusion, I note that Hikigaya’s time spent with both Yui and Yukino (such as their visit of an amusement park and making Valentines’ Day chocolate together) provides subtle hints about Yui and Yukino’s true selves. It is this glimpse that leads Hikigaya towards wanting more honesty and openness from both Yui and Yukino.

  • A year and then some might have passed, along with an entirely new season, but I’m still of the mind that Yui and Hikigaya are the most suited for one another; while Yukino gradually opens up to Hikigaya more (with Haruno’s meddling), if what Yui mentions is true, then the true self that she’s concealing might be better counteracted by Hikigaya’s kindness. I think this and Hibike! Euphonium mean that I’ve watched two anime based off a light novel this season.

  • I’ll cut straight to the point and outright say that I absolutely hate marketing and management jargon: these words do little more than signify pretension and hold very little intrinsic meaning. Apparently, corporate jargon originates from the 1960s-1970s, when major corporations were trying to find a means of making employees feel closer to their work. What it actually does is obfuscate any real work, as Hikigaya finds out when meeting with the Kaihin students when he’s tasked with helping plan a Christmas event.

  • I’ll probably either be a sought-after person or utterly despised for my capacity to get straight to the point and convey what’s important without wasting time on jargon. What matters to me is getting the job done, rather than trying to look/sound smart. Rumi makes a return, and as with the previous season, Hikigaya gets along with her just fine.

  • One of the more touching moments in OreGairu Zoku was Hikigaya remarking to himself that he might’ve fallen madly in love with Shizuka had he been ten years older. One sympathises.

  • Compared to Brain Base’s Komachi, I think I find the aesthetic of Feels’ Komachi to be more refined. Komachi plays a slightly larger role this season, giving Hikigaya advice and help whenever he seems down. In return, he often helps her pick up household items, as well, and makes an effort to fulfill some of the items on the wishlists she gives him during the holidays.

  • After his conversation with Shizuka, Hikigaya gives into his emotions and asks for help from the service club. When they see that Hikigaya is being honest about how he feels, they decide to help him and gain a firsthand experience of Kaihin’s incompetence. Shizuka suggests that they take a step back, and with Hayato’s friends, Hikigaya, Yui, Yukino and Isshiki visit the regional amusement park to gain some ideas of what their own Christmas event might encompass.

  • This image was not modified, and unfortunately reflects on how Hikigaya is still somewhat of an outcast despite having made so much progress since season one. In spite of this, the day at the amusement park proves to be fruitful for both Christmas event planning and also helps Hikigaya learn a little more about Yukino: Shizuka is of the mind that of everyone, he’s the one most suited for helping her open up.

  • Yui is more down-to-earth compared to the likes of Yukino and Hikigaya, and consequently, has quite an impact on both Yukino and Hikigaya. I’ve noticed that numerous discussions out there that OreGairu is supposed to be a social commentary, but the second season seems to emphasis Hikigaya’s personal growth more strongly. This invariably happens with light novels: because they’re organically written, they might feel less cohesive and focused compared to traditional novels.

  • Watching Yui’s dynamics with Hikigaya suggest that her feelings for him have endured after all this time. Watching subtle hints of a dawning relationship in OreGairu was always a little painful for me, not because they were poorly done, but because the pacing is quite convincing. One can empathise with how Yui feels, and perhaps in part out of frustration at the series’ end, she outright states that her facade conceals a fervent desire to achieve her aims through any means necessary.

  • At the same time, Yui’s friendship with Yukino might act as something of an impediment, and consequently, Yui finds herself conflicted, knowing that outright asking out Hikigaya would probably devastate the Service Club’s status quo. Naturally, such actions may also indicate that Yui is aware (at least to a limited extent) of Yukino’s feelings, as well, and all of this was accomplished without any explicit dialogue.

  • Yukino’s background is only explored in brief through dialogue between herself and Haruno, or in some cases, with Hikigaya. Despite her demeanor and mannerisms, Yukino is said to lack a definitive personality, instead, striving towards an unrealistic ideal to impress her family and all the while resenting her position. Shizuka was astute enough to surmise that out of everyone, Hikigaya would be able to help her open up and find her true self, and by the time the season concludes, it appears they are taking a step down that path.

  • Isshiki is turned down after asking Hayato out. Hayato holds (presently) unrequited feelings for Yukino and also holds a small grudge concerning people’s expectations for him, even amongst his friends. Despite outwardly excelling at academics and athletics, he’s unwilling to disrupt the status quo for fear of causing heartbreak somewhere.

  • Thanks to Hikigaya, Isshiki buckles down and the Christmas event proceeds without a hitch. Throughout OreGairu Zoku, the pasts of the various characters are only hinted at. There’s no complete picture, but contrasting Hibike! Euphonium, where the main theme was music, in OreGairu, the focus is on people. To really help the audience understand each character’s motivation (especially in Yukino and Hayato’s cases), it becomes necessary to delve into their pasts.

  • Failing this, Yukino and Hayato merely appear to be paperweights throughout this season. Speaking freely, this second season lacks the same spirited as the first: as matters of acceptance and honesty come into play, OreGairu Zoku only presents a partial picture of the emotional burdens that they carry.

  • I would suppose that this is something that would necessitate a third season to explore, and consequently, how OreGairu Zoku ends is in fact quite similar to the ending of Halo 2‘s ending in impact: the audience is now left waiting for a resolution that may or may not occur.

  • Saki and Yumiko spar here over Valentine’s Day chocolates; the latter hasn’t had much of a presence throughout this season. After Yumiko comes to the Service Club to figure out how to best give chocolates to Hayato, Hikigaya decides that a joint cooking event might be able to keep everyone happy without violating Hayato’s wish of not accepting any chocolates from anyone.

  • The Valentine’s Day event provides further hints about how Yukino and Yui really feel about Hikigaya. The events do signify Hikigaya’s growth as a person, as Shizuka remarks, but the episode’s ending has Haruno throw a wrench into things, claiming that the entire event was a sham, and that Yukino is completely lacking in personality.

  • While I typically disagree with or find inadequate explanations elsewhere about anime, I did find a particularly good account of Haruno’s character out there. Said discussion surmises that Haruno’s intervention may very well prove to be the most substantial impediment that Yukino faces. Their justification, that Haruno’s role as a puppeteer of sorts, and the fact that she’s still an unknown as far as characterisation and motivation goes, provides a compelling argument for how Yukino and Hikigaya will ultimately need to find the strength to find themselves in spite of her words in the upcoming story.

  • The final episode of OreGairu Zoku does not feel like a finale at all, concluding on a somewhat anti-climatic note as Yukino, Yui and Hikigaya visit the aquarium and share a heart-to-heart talk, with Yukino finally appearing to open up to Hikigaya and Yui.

  • This post was surprisingly difficult to write, and with due respect, I’m glad to be finished. The verdict on OreGairu Zoku is that, while it’s a reasonably entertaining ride, isn’t as polished as the first season. It merits watching, but the ending may come off as abrupt. With the last of the Spring 2015 anime done, I turn my attention to the summer 2015 anime: I’ll be following Non Non Biyori Repeat and Sore ga Seiyuu on a weekly basis. The former will be given a first episode impressions post, and both will be given an ‘after-three’ post this month. Outside of anime, I’ll be putting out a talk on Wolfenstein: The Old Blood at some point before episode three of Non Non Biyori comes out.

OreGairu Zoku ends on a rather sudden note: after thirteen episodes, the season closes off. While cliffhangers are usually detrimental as a story-telling device, from what I’ve heard, OreGairu has caught up with the source material. Given that this is still going, it’s not unreasonable to suppose that a a continuation is in the works. OreGairu Zoku concluded with Yukino opening up to Hikigaya and Yui, and traces of Yukino’s personality (or lack thereof) began making an appearance. Thus, it is logical that a third season would deal with Yukino learning to stand for herself. This is the reason why I have opted not to discuss Yukino in further detail: to do so would be to make inferences purely based on speculation, and in the end, it is what OreGairu‘s author, Wataru Watari, considers as important that makes the difference (as opposed to fan opinion). Thus, rather than assume Yukino’s backgrounds and motives, it would make more sense to allow a third season to yield a more complete picture.

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru Too: A review and reflection after two

“There’s a point far out there, when the structures fail you. When the rules aren’t weapons anymore, they’re shackles, letting the bad guy get ahead…maybe one day, you may face such a moment of crisis, and in that moment, I hope you have a friend like I did! To plunge their hands into the filth, so that you can keep yours clean!” —Jim Gordon, The Dark Knight Rises

Whereas the official title is Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru Zoku, I’ve taken the liberty of capitalising on the uniqueness of the review and the English translation of the title to provide a short talk two episodes into this anime, which will hereafter be referred to as OreGairu Zoku. This is a rather unusual decision, since I was originally intending to do a full-series talk, but two factors precipitated this post’s writing: the first is the knowledge that readers have expressed an interest in seeing how this here blog may write about OreGairu Zoku, and the second is the fact that the first two episodes deal with something that, curiously enough, I’ve experienced quite recently. Both motivating factors may preclude a truly objective outlook on the matter, or it could lead to an interesting take on love confessions and dating that other blogs may not have had the opportunity to explore. The first two episodes deal with the Service Club’s recruitment to help Kakeru Tobe begin a relationship with Hina Ebina as their year is set to go on a class trip to Kyoto. Realising that the odds are stacked against Kakeru, Hachiman intervenes with his typical uncanny methods and manages to spare both Hina and Kakeru’s present relationship to preserve their group’s status quo, but as with the previous season, at an expense to himself.

Kakeru’s predicament is a familiar one, and while it might seem otherwise, the difficulty he encounters in trying to ask Hina out stems from a multitude of possibilities; were he successful, he would spend less time with his other friends. Failing would naturally mean introducing a degree of awkwardness amongst his group of friends. Doing nothing would mean failing to be honest with one’s feelings. Barring the Service Club’s presence, this is a fair challenge to address because there is no winning move, and regardless of which decision Kakeru took, the consequences would have very much disrupted the group dynamics with his friends. With his resolve to keep trying, and his intent to confess his feelings to Hina, let’s suppose that Hachiman had not intervened. Then, Hina would have rejected him the same way as she did when Hachiman stepped in. However, the fallout does not end here: my experiences attest to the awkwardness that results after a botched love confession/effort to ask someone out. Communication becomes difficult as both parties comprehend what’d just happened, and friends can become more distant, to the extent where it’s as though one’d lost a friend altogether. Quite simply, it sucks, and there is no denying that things get dicey after that. Consequently, in OreGairu Zoku, it is quite understandable that Hayato is concerned for his friends. Thus, in turning to Hachiman, Hayato knows that he will be forced to do a deal with the devil: in the end, Hachiman takes the rejection in Kakeru’s stead and preserve the status quo amongst Hayato’s friends.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • According to the site archives, the last OreGairu post I did was nearly a year ago. I’d picked up the series out of curiosity and began watching at around this time last year, finishing early in May. At the time, I hadn’t even learnt Unity yet: the Giant Walkthrough Brain was little more than a set of requirements, and I was just getting my university matters sorted out as I was beginning my transition into graduate studies.

  • I won’t bother reintroducing all of the characters again, since I imagine most individuals are already familiar with OreGairu, and if they are not, swinging by here and here will rectify that on short order. The first season was thrilling to watch, and can be completed reasonably quickly, given that there are only thirteen episodes.

  • This post may not be up to my usual standards because it was written on a short notice: I’d just finished watching the second episode a few hours ago, and spent most of today reviewing concepts involving multi-agent systems for an oral exam. With a group, I’d just handed in a project, and the team paper is due in two days: I’m honestly as unnerved as Hachiman when Yui decides to get a little closer, since I still need to look over the paper to ensure that what is being said is consistent with our implementation (two other teammates were handling said paper since myself and another teammate were responsible for the actual implementation and testing of said project).

  • Hachiman coldly mentions that a class trip is a simulation for figuring out how well different individuals can tolerate one another in close quarters: it’s a rather brutal comparison that strangely seems to hold some merit, although unlike Hachiman, I argue that it’s a fine way to figure out how to be accepting of different individual’s eccentricities during such occasions.

  • I’ve heard that the art style in OreGairu Zoku is slightly different: official documentation shows that the first season was done by Brain’s Base, and the second season is done by Feel (who had previously done Locodol). I myself could hardly tell the difference upon first glance, but upon closer inspection with screenshots from my older post, the differences are definitely present.

  • The change in studios have not led to a compromise in the animation and artwork’s quality as far as I can tell: and the characters still retain their appearances from the previous season. Here, Hina and Kakeru draw fortunes at a shrine, with Hachiman mentioning that everyone seems to be doing love-related fortunes.

  • Yukino and Hachiman totally bust Shizuka trying to sneak out at night for some drinks. As the instructor who forced Hachiman into the Service Club previously, her presence has been quite limited so far, and I’m wondering if she’ll play a bigger role as the season progresses.

  • Yukino still has not accepted Hachiman as a friend, whereas Yui had done so after she’d reconciled with Hachiman. Yukino’s cold nature is rather similar to SaeKano‘s Utaha, although the key difference here is that Yukino is rather indifferent towards Hachiman, while Utaha is a lot friendlier with Tomoya than might be considered standard of friendship.

  • After seeing little progress between Kakeru and Hina, Yukino suggests a list of romantic places where the atmospherics might be appropriate for Kakeru to make his love confession known. Curiously enough, it’s only in anime that I typically see the phrase “[love] confession” used: where I come from, it’s called “asking [someone] out”.

  • Yumiko advises Hachiman to stand down and stop interfering with her friends’ lives. As one of the most popular people in Hayato’s group, Yumiko conveys the sort of personality that I am most incompatible with; I can nominally get along with these type of people when there is a shared goal, such as a project, but otherwise, would not trust them to the same extent as I would my friends.

  • While Kyoto was chosen as the location for the class trip, ultimately, there is less emphasis on the locale and more on the individuals’ own dynamics in said locale. A year may have passed since OreGairu last graced my 1080p screens, and romance may or may not be a central aspect in OreGairu Zoku, but given that Yui shares the most meaningful interactions with Hachiman and serves as his foil, I still stand by my claim that if romance is going to be a part of OreGairu Zoku, then Yui and Hachiman probably would be best for one another.

  • I do not doubt Fate’s ability to deliver their side of OreGairu: the visuals are quite stunning. However, I do doubt my ability to differentiate between different anime: though done by separate studios and possessing highly unique stories, I was watching OreGairu and was wondering whether it was a younger or older sister that Hachiman has. Both Hachiman and Hyouka‘s Houtarou share a highly apathetic personality, and as such, for the briefest of moments, I forgot the difference.

  • The page quote is related to OreGairu for the fact that many seem to consider Hachiman to be the anime equivalent of the Dark Knight, taking on and shouldering responsibilities for other’s sake with the aim of preventing things from going south. However, while there is intrinsic value to what Bruce Wayne does as the Batman, I do not see Hachiman’s actions as being particularly noble.

  • Yui enjoys a croquette and meat bun simultaneously, and Hachiman hesitates to share, viewing the act as an indirect kiss. Returning to my point immediately above, my assertion stems from the fact that dynamics amongst high school students are not permanent. A few friendships dissolving at the high school is by no means an indicator of one’s own temperament, and individuals can continue on to enrich their lives and social connections beyond high school.

  • As such, though Hayato is interested in maintaining the status quo with his group of friends, Hachiman’s actions in helping the former might actually be detrimental. By intervening and figuring out solutions, this preventing Hayato and his friends from learning about conflicts and potential resolution strategies, both of which are absolutely essential in the real world. Without the necessary skills to handle adversity, one cannot mature.

  • Kakeru’s determination in asking Hina out is admirable, but ultimately, futile. I can verify that summoning the courage to ask someone out (well, love confessions, for those sticking with the translated terminology) is remarkably difficult; the decision to do so shares properties with undecidable problems, since there is no one method that can yield a ‘correct’ result. Of course, for the pessimist, every move leads to a loss of some sort, but despite my experiences, I’m not quite ready to believe that (yet).

  • After Hachiman steps in to spare Kakeru the pain of rejection, I note that Hina’s immediate response is the same one I was met with a ways back: “not ready for a relationship yet”. A bit of reading suggests that what this actually means is unknowable, so it’s not too productive to worry about what this means. While I’m not sure how Kakeru would’ve dealt with it had he taken Hina’s rejection directly, I recovered within a week and was back on my feet, doing what I do best.

  • Pained at seeing Hachiman take yet another one, Yui reprimands him tearfully. Such gestures further lead me to suggest that out of everyone, Yui has grown to genuinely care for Hachiman and his well-being, even where he himself is unwilling to or unable to do so. This represents a vast potential for character development, and it’s going to be interesting to see how Hachiman develops as this season wears on.

  • OreGairu‘s first season suggested that the fallout from some of Hachiman’s actions did have something of an impact, but because his biggest stunt was near the series’ conclusion, the precise impact was never really seen. As such, going into the future, I also will look forwards to seeing whether or not OreGairu Zoku will bring to the table the matter of whether or not Hachiman’s methods can have consequences that are significantly more far-reaching than anything he’d experienced in the first season.

OreGairu Zoku immediately dispenses with the exposition and appears to be shifting towards notions of courtship and dating: previously, I had speculated that it would not be unreasonable for any sort of continuation to deal with the most tricky of all human emotions. The justification for this prediction lies in the anime’s title itself, and the fact that Hachiman’s interactions with Yui and Yukino in the first season gradually led to a shift in their dynamics. Back then, Hachiman distanced himself from Yui after learning he’d saved her dog and believed that her friendship with him was out of obligation, and that took a bit of manoeuvring to repair. It was logical that once friendship (or at least, a degree of cordiality) was present in the Service Club, a continuation of OreGairu would likely deal with love itself (otherwise, the group would’ve just had more male members). Insofar, viewers return to just this: OreGairu Zoku brings back the elements that made the first season so entertaining, and with the way that OreGairu had kept each episode interesting and difficult to predict, I cannot ascertain for certain whether or not romance will really be the second season’s focus. What is known is that OreGairu Zoku is very likely to deliver an immensely satisfactory anime that is worth following for its combination of comedy and drama.

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru Final Reflection

This is the greatest anti-socialising of all time.

A year ago, I mentioned that Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabu Kome wa Machigatteiru (“My youth romantic comedy is wrong as I expected”, referred to as OreGairu for brevity from here on out) was on the list of things I would watch for Spring 2013, although for one reason or another, I kept putting it off until it was nearly a year later. The focus is on one Hikigaya Hachiman, a high school student with a distorted view on life and no friends or girlfriend. Out of concern for his well being, his instructor, Shizuka Hiratsuka, gets Hikigaya to join the Volunteer club, which happens to have the school’s prettiest girl, Yukino Yukinoshita. So begins a rather unusual, but excellent series about high school life from an unusual perspective. When the series concluded, I saw a series that was able to portray the kind of interactions and sociology surrounding high school students, as well as Hachiman’s dogged persistence in following his own beliefs, even if it came at a severe cost to himself. While it may be an anime, various aspects from adolescent sociology make it into OreGairu, whether it be status-building or conformity: Hachiman views these as farces, believing that youth is an illusion people create to give their lives more meaning even where there is none. Throughout the series, as Hikigaya is assigned to help various people, even though he maintains his original beliefs, he becomes closer to Yukino and Yui Yuigahama, and despite his beliefs about change, gradually changes himself and gaining a better understanding of cooperation and friendship.

  • The three members of the volunteer club are, from left to right, Yui Yuigahama, Yukino Yukinoshita and Hikigaya Hachiman. Initially, Shizuka forces Hikigaya to join the Volunteers club in an effort to open his eyes and make him less cynical, following a poor paper that he submits. It’s now been a very long time (I’m not saying when, since that leaves me open to extortion) since I was a high school student. During those days, despite being known around the school for being among the top five students and participating in a number of extra-curricular events (most notably, the yearbook club), I didn’t socialise that much and preferred the company of a small group of friends.

  • Here are the members of the more popular clique at the school: from left to right, either Yamato or Ouoka (I can’t quite recall who’s who), Hayato Hayama, Yumiko Miura and Hina Ebina. While Yumiko is presented as a little arrogant, Hayato is the opposite, and in fact, bears resemblance to one of my friends in that they are easy-going and friendly, being quite willing to help people where the need arises. The page quote is inspired by Cr1t1kal’s YouTube videos’ video descriptions, which usually take the format “This is the Greatest [something] of all time”.

  • Komachi is Hikigaya’s younger sister who cares deeply for him despite his personality. She is his polar opposite and enjoys trying to get either Yui or Yukino together with him, cleverly asking Hikigaya to help her with shopping. After inviting either Yui or Yukino, she then makes an exit, saying something has come up, leaving Hikigaya alone. Carefully note that most of the characters have alliterative names where characters from their given name are a subset of the characters for their family names (e.g.{Yui}  {Yuigahama}, {Yukino}  {Yukinoshita} and {Saki}  {Kawasaki}, to name a few, and for tropers reading this, too bad if you can’t understand set notation).

  • Early on in the series, Yui’s interactions with Hikigaya subtly hint at her interest in him. Quite personally, I think Yui is a better match for Hikigaya, and although romance takes a backseat in this series, it does serve as a driving point that eventually leads Hikigaya to understand what kindness is.

  • Saika represents the traditional “guy who looks like a girl” and approaches the Volunteer club early on for help with tennis. Whenever he smiles, sparkles permeate the air, and Hikigaya is filled with an unusual feeling that is humourously passed off as love.

  • Hikigaya chuckles at Hayato’s fate after his attempts to talk to Saki fail. Earlier, Shizuka gets shot down when she attempts to talk to Saki about the latter’s night activities, but is promptly countered and defeated when Saki mentions that Shizuka is single. Relationships are covered as a secondary element in good enough detail such that OreGairu could justify having “romance comedy” in its title, and Hikigaya wonders if girls who are nice to everyone are more than is initially apparent.

  • The Volunteer Club ‘s ventures include helping out Taishi Kawasaki, Saki’s younger brother, who raises concern after the latter begins showing up later. After figuring out where Saki is going (and donning more formal attire), the club figures out that she’s working the night shifts at a bar to help finance her university tuition without straining her parents. Thanks to Hikigaya’s suggestion, Saki later decides to apply for scholarships instead.

  • Haruno is Yukino’s older sister and surpasses Yukino in all fields, while having a more sociable personality. She constantly tries to set him up with Yukino, much to Yui’s chagrin. With respect to the point raised earlier, I would tend to agree with Hikigaya’s thoughts about relationships, given that various circumstances (read “someone else gets there first”) have imparted a rather bitter understanding of how they work for me. With that said, kindness is not an option, and I disagree with Hikigaya’s beliefs about effort and benevolence.

  • If I were to post this somewhere where anime was relatively unknown, I imagine that most people would imagine these two to be a couple, and indeed, on a shopping trip to get Yui a birthday gift, Yui does encounter the two and assume that they’re dating. It takes a bit of maneuvering after to convince her that this is not the case.

  • During the summer, the volunteer club is assigned to supervise a camp for elementary aged children. The dynamics seen here are surprisingly similar to the sort of bullying students in elementary school may encounter, and back in my day, such behaviour usually was not punished. As a teaching assistant for kindergarten students, I step in to resolve things quickly enough and encourage peaceful, effective solutions. As an elementary school students years and years ago, the bullies eventually subsided after I began helping people understand schoolwork, and eventually became friends with more people after that.

Despite bearing “romantic comedy” in its title, OreGairu is driven by sociological themes pertaining to high school life. Through his interactions with Yukino and Yui in the Volunteer club, Hikigaya is drawn into socialising far more than he is wont as he helps the Volunteer club solve problems experienced by their classmates. One of their earliest assignments is to help Saika Totsuka with tennis; after this passes, Saika and Hikigaya speak with one another more frequently, hanging out with Hikigaya on occasions. Another noteworthy assignment is when Hayato Hayama requests the Volunteer club get to the bottom of a chain letter scandalising his friends. Hikigaya realises that Hayato’s friends do not get along particularly well in his absence, and so, decides that his friends must learn to become friends with one another as well, achieving this by setting them in the same group on a careers field trip without Hayato. Hikigaya’s methods, though unorthodox, are remarkably effective: he claims that he is a master of non-verbal communication and is quick to figure out effective solutions for social problems the various individuals in the series encounters. Hikigaya succeeds because his solutions depend on his cynical views of society, counting on obscurity to dampen the effects of his actions. During the Cultural Festival, Hikigaya selects an array of hurtful words to motivate Minami Sagami into doing her role, drawing fire away from her to ensure the Cultural Festival ends on a positive note even if he must become the most hated person on campus. I’ve seen comparisons drawn between this and the Batman’s choice to take the blame for Harvey Dent’s murders in The Dark Knight to ensure that the mob is beaten. This comparison stands to some extent because in both cases, the protagonist takes the fall for someone else so that something bigger than themselves can continue forward. However, whereas Bruce Wayne does what he does out of his unwavering belief that he can save Gotham, Hikigaya initially acts to spare people of the suffering he experienced back in middle school. Hikigaya believes that to change is to give in, but time with Yui and Yukino gradually opens his heart up. Bruce Wayne’s determination to do good and resolute belief that Rachel was going to wait for him, on the other hand, means he is unable to move on following Rachel’s death in The Dark Knight, until The Dark Knight Rises sets him a new series of trials that allow Bruce Wayne to move beyond the cowl. This occurs over a much longer period than OreGairu, where Hikigaya slowly realises that there are people who stand in his corner, and by the end of the series, Hikigaya decides that youth is something that can be enjoyed, after all.

  • As I’ve seen during my time as a teaching assistant, trying to mediate disputes between children can be challenging because, aside from the scope of conflicts, the nature and motivations are essentially the same as conflicts that adults experience. People tend to dismiss conflicts amongst children because it appears that the only thing at stake are friendships, whereas with adults, projects, collaborations and other elements might be at stake. Nonetheless, when we strip away the additional elements, and factor in the idea that children are impressionable, it is important to teach children good conflict resolution skills so they are familiar with it for the future.

  • This scene proves that Yui is hotter than Yukino, although as I have noted and will note again later, the reason that I prefer Yui with Hikigaya is for her personality, rather than assets; then again, practically everyone has Yukino beat in that department anyways.

  • Thanks to some clever maneuvering from Komachi, Yui and Hikigaya wind up going to a summer festival on a date together of sorts. After watching fireworks together, Yui tries to confess her feelings to Hikigaya again, but is interrupted by a phone call. Hikigaya is astute enough to pick this up, although he feels that he isn’t worthy of dating someone and notes that rejection is a part of most relationships anyways. In the recently announced second season, it is quite possible that the focus will be on romance rather than social issues.

  • The last major arc in Oregairu is the cultural festival: Hikigaya is drafted onto the committee and, through his methods, unites the committee against him after suggesting that the motto should be “hito” (人), since one stroke is leaning off the other, rather like how some members of the committee are not pulling their weight and letting others take on the extra work. This clever observation is appreciated doubly so when one has extensive background in Chinese or Japanese: the Hanzi 人 was actually derived off the human posture for walking.

  • Hikigaya invokes the entire school’s wrath (and even tests Hayato’s patience) after he uses choice words to force Minami to accept her duty as the committee leader and speak at the closing ceremonies, claiming that she took up the position to further her own social status and attain self-actualisation in the hopes of doing something meaningful with her hitherto meaningless high school career. Whether or not Hikigaya believes this is irrelevant, but the fact is that it produced results, meaning that the time the others bought was not in vain, and the Culture Festival can end properly.

  • Ever since K-On!, a lot of anime with high school students have had a light music band of some kind and put on performances worthy of being performed at full-on concerts. Yui and Yukino have excellent singing voices, while Shizuka and Haruno retain their skills from long ago.

  • Despite pummeling Hikigaya with her fists every now and then for bringing up sensitive topics, Shizuka cares deeply for him and tells Hachiman that helping others should not be a reason for Hachiman to hurt himself, as there are others who would feel pain seeing Hachiman hurt. Shizuka reminds me somewhat of my old high school instructors (especially my old art instructor), who taught classes with enthusiasm and made the subjects fun: despite only taking art for a semester, my art instructor also happened to be my yearbook advisor. When the year picked up in March, other yearbook members started disappearing, but I alone of the entire team stuck around and got things done, prompting a similar scene after we got the yearbooks rolled out.

  • I am similar to Hikigaya in that I don’t like celebrating extravagantly after something major is over, instead, preferring to hang out with the people that matter most to me. At the series’ end, Hikigaya notes that after everything that has happened, he will regret that these times will have to end at some point in the future, illustrating how he’s changed since the series began. Even if he does not show it visibly, Hikigaya is not as cynical or apathetic, participating in things to ensure they get done. Yukino realises that she doesn’t know much about him, and expresses the desire to get to know him better even if the two don’t consider one another as friends.

  • Strictly speaking, I consider the episode after as an OVA rather than the proper ending because the mood feels a little different: it seems that everyone has forgotten Hikigaya’s antics during the culture festival, and most people are on reasonable terms with him again. Here, Shizuka agrees with Hikigaya’s statement that despite higher-ups working their staff harder, the benefits (and wages) never increase correspondingly after Hikigaya suggests outsourcing the theme of the special activity they are to plan out. About a year ago, when OreGairu was airing, one member of AnimeSuki used Shizuka’s image in an avatar and adopted the title “熱血青春先生” (nekketsu seishun sensei, or “hot-blooded youthful teacher”); Shizuka is indeed thus, and this is, curiously enough, what caught my eye and got me into watching OreGairu.

  • Yukino and Yui wonder about the ludicrious nature of their costume pieces for the special event during the sports festival: the idea for a historical battle came about from Hina and Yoshiteru’s machinations, while the costumes themselves were designed by Saki. By all definitions, they look quite nice and are appropriate, even if they are out of place in a Japanese historical battle. Thanks to the Volunteer club’s efforts, the sports festival is successful (even if Hikigaya’s tricks end up disqualifying his team), and the episode demonstrates how far things have come for everyone since their first meeting, with Hikigaya resolving to make the most of his time as a high school student.

The “romantic comedy” elements come in subtly throughout the series: based on the setup, either Yui or Yukino will become closer to Hikigaya. On one end of the spectrum, Yui is very energetic and optimistic, offsetting the gloomy air that surrounds Hikigaya, while on the other end, Yukino, who shares Hikigaya’s world views but exercises more finesse when dealing with people. While Yui is likely to try and cheer up Hikigawa or storm off when he says the wrong thing, Yukino prefers dueling him with words. After Yui tries to make her feelings known to Hikigaya early on, the latter replies that it is likely that the former likes him out of a misplaced sense of gratitude (i.e. for saving her dog). This sense of bitterness stems from his past failures, and rather than experience false hope, he prefers to ignore all signs of romance, leading him to turn down Yui. Similarly, when Yukino and Hikigaya are left on their own to find Yui a birthday gift after Komachi (who’d set this up) leaves, Yukino’s older sister wonders if the two are dating. Both girls have interesting interactions with Hikigaya; it is no understatement to say that both of them uniquely contribute to Hikigaya’s growth throughout the series, helping him re-learn what benevolence is by experiencing the tougher times with him and coming out a little stronger. For better or worse, Hikigaya’s experiences with the Volunteer club do wind up changing him, and as it stands, OreGairu winds up being a highly entertaining series. This anime can fire up the viewer’s thought centers while watching Hikigaya’s rationale for his actions while simutaneously leading to damn good comedy elsewhere. The high school setting may be done to death, although OreGairu manages to keep things refreshing through taking a bold step by using novel characters. I believe there is a second season that is set to come out somewhere in the future. Now, first seasons of shows like these (think OreImo and Haganai) have always been brilliant works that hit all of the right points, while subsequent seasons have always delved deeper into the romantic elements: if this trend follows, while I’m not too sure how OreGairu will turn out, I will watch it with an open mind and brace myself for romance. Naturally, I’ll be rooting for Yui, since she seems to balance out Hikigaya and is a better fit for him as far as personalities go, pulling him from cynicism with her own cheerfulness.