The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Yui Yuigahama

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.