Returning was Never an Option: Oregairu Kan – Episode 2

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Another week has passed and yet another episode of Oregairu has come and gone, this time taking a part of me with it. Somehow even heavier than the last, this week featured the return of a few fan favorites as well as some important steps forward for Yukino and several steps backward for one very important other. There is much to be covered in this week’s episode so let’s jump right into things.

“Do you feel like a weight got lifted off of your shoulders?”, Hayato asks an to unprepared Hachiman not four lines into the episode. For Hayato’s first reappearance this season, this was one hell of a line. It served as something like a segue into the episode proper but with Hayato’s history of general uselessness in regards to the Yukinoshita sisters, his apparent relief at the news of Yukino’s decision, and his projection of that relief onto Hachiman made a lot of sense. His words here also turned out to be a bit of a preview of the conversation to come between Haruno and Hachiman but first came the aftermath of Yukino’s confrontation with said sister.

Starting right where we left off at the midpoint of episode one, Yukino tells Haruno that she had something important to talk to her about. Haruno’s purposeful glance to Hachiman and Yui said a lot about what she expected this conversation to entail, but to her surprise, Yukino said nothing about what would happen between the three and instead told her of her plans to speak to their parents about her future. With a rare smile, Yukino Yukinoshita declared that she would make herself and her desires clear so that she could accept whatever outcome that may lay before her chosen path. The implications of her words here contextualized by Haruno’s previous assumptions about the conversation were, judging by the surprised expressions of Yui and Hachiman, clear to everyone but herself. And this, once again, left their relationship in the same ambiguous state as before. A point that would certainly be touched upon again sometime soon.

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What followed was Haruno’s instructions on what Yukino needed to do now that her mind was made, with her move back home as the most pressing item on the list. Yui’s desire to help her organize her stuff as the “only thing” she’d be able to help her with reiterated just how removed the two would be from Yukino’s journey. Hachiman departs and is greeted by Haruno who simply had to have the final word with our dear protagonist.

Haruno and Hachiman’s conversation here really shed a light on just how much Haruno had given up on having any choice in her life. Her monologue about Yukino’s decision not mattering in the end alongside her complaints about needing to stay out with company she didn’t care for painted a picture of a person that saw life as nothing but a series of compromises. Her description of herself as someone who “can’t get drunk” felt like a dismissal of the idea that she could have anyone that she felt comfortable enough to be vulnerable with or even just people that she didn’t need to always stay alert around. It was, in so many words, her version of this “genuine thing” that Hachiman had been looking for. And much like Hayato, she projected this image of herself and her miserable present onto Hachiman and his future. Perhaps you too will never find this genuine thing, her words seemed to imply.

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The regular school day followed with Yui catching up to Hachiman for the umpteenth time before walking together to the clubroom, but with nary a ‘Yahallo’ in earshot. Their conversation was colored by some of the lingering awkwardness of the day before but was largely ordinary. A normal meetup outside the classroom and a normal walk to the clubroom – for the second episode of the new season, this return to the usual felt somewhat nostalgic and fitting to the time, at least until the pair discovered that the clubroom was still locked. It was a small but disconcerting change from their normal.

Yukino turned out to be just fine though and the three quickly returned to sipping tea quietly in the clubroom. That is until a certain kouhai decided to grace them with her presence. Iroha’s glorious return this season felt as true to her character as could be. Muscling her way into the clubroom with little explanation or consideration, she presented her idea for a prom as part of the upcoming graduation ceremony. It was an incredibly self-serving plan on the surface, but it was something she wanted to do and something that she would try her hardest to make happen. Long gone was the Iroha that was afraid of being ridiculed for trying and failing. The girl before us now wanted nothing more than to experiment with something early so that the groundwork would be laid for future successes. Perhaps even so that her beloved senpais would have a graduation ceremony that they’d never forget – though you’d never catch her admitting it. It was a joy to see her join in again and her subtle moves to close the gap between her and the service club members were heartwarming, to say the least. Somewhere along the lines, she became an important fourth member in the service club and everyone is better off because of it, now serving as a catalyst for action for the group with Yukino as the most recent beneficiary of this. Yukino’s desire to try and help make this event happen was yet another small but important step forward for her in her sure-to-be-long journey.

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The final act turned the spotlight on the final cornerstone of the service club: Yui. Here lay the explanation to her unusual reactions in the clubroom and her odd preoccupation with the uncertain future of their club activities. What she unintentionally found hidden away in Yukino’s room was physical confirmation of her unspoken answer. Proof of that place that she could only ever peek into; the place that she had always wanted to go was laid bare before her, immortalized in the polaroid of the pair’s adventure alone together in a place in which they all shared fond memories. It’s hard not to see this monologue of hers in the context of a traditional relationship with Hachiman but her numerous attempts at getting closer to Yukino leads me to think that at least some of her frustration is with her failure to close the gap with Yukino in the same way.

This genuine thing that she never wanted to see was, in all likelihood, this connection of closeness and mutual dependence that Yukino and Hachiman were well on the road to getting to. It would become a place that she couldn’t belong, so this position of nothing being clarified, this present of pretend-sameness, was much more preferred.

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And that does it for this week’s episode. Sure was nice of Wataru and the production team to stick in such a gut-wrenching scene two episodes into the series. I am very much hoping that everything will eventually work out for our lovely trio but the exact path to that point is still very uncertain. The kids of Oregairu have a lot to work out but fortunately, they’ve got plenty of time to get there.

My hopes for a happy ending aside, I continue to be impressed by how well every line or action builds upon everything that the series has shown about its characters. Nothing ever feels like something said or done simply for the sake of moving the story along and that’s a feat that not just any show can claim to be able to do. Anyways, that will do it for this write-up. These things are somehow getting longer and longer so I’ll cut myself off here. Hope to see you all again next week.

Thanks for reading,

Carriage


Extra notes:

  1. I wonder when we’ll get the season’s first official ‘Yahallo’?
  2. Ayane Sakura’s delivery of the「それがなんと!」line destroyed me. Oregairu just has such an excellent cast.
  3. Yui deserves the world and nothing you can say will change my mind.

2 thoughts on “Returning was Never an Option: Oregairu Kan – Episode 2

  1. “Sure was nice of Wataru and the production team to stick in such a gut-wrenching scene two episodes into the series.”

    Two episodes in… or twenty eight episodes in? (Not counting the OVAs.) I mean, I get what you’re saying – but they’ve spent a lot of airtime getting to this point. To me, it’s all part of a single structure. Pretty much everything that’s happening now rests on foundations built in the previous two seasons.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh absolutely. That’s not to discount everything that the series has built up over the seasons and if anything I’ve been writing to try and touch on and contextual scenes based on all that’s been building in each and every character in the series.

      But you have to admit that it was quite the heavy thing to drop 2 eps into a new season 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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