Now and Forever: Oregairu Kan – Episode 4

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As expected, last week’s relatively fun episode was just a momentary breather before all that was to come with the complications of this final season. This week’s one started with a harmless visit to not-Ikea and rolled into an ending quite similar to that of episode two’s. Which is to say, it hurt a lot to watch.

The early episodes of this season and the finale of the last had left quite a few hanging threads coming into this episode and almost all of these were touched on in some form this week. First was the issue of the service club’s relationship. Yui, Yukino, and Hachiman’s relationship was first called in question by Haruno in the latter half of the second season and this led directly into the conflict of the finale of season two. Despite all this though, nothing had ever really been defined or clearly discussed between the three except for a very implicit answer by Yukino, and only if it was taken in the context of their relationship.

The second was the “genuine thing” that Hachiman was looking for. His search for a connection of this kind had been running in the background throughout this season, including things like his casual invitation to Totsuka to hang out. Likely at least somewhat spurred on by Komachi’s distancing from the first episode, he’s been actively reaching out to the people close to him now to maybe reach the same kind of platonic closeness that you might find in a “genuine” connection, similar to the one he most certainly has with his sibling.

Finally, the third would be that unusual cloud of consideration that had been hanging over Oregairu’s main cast, throughout this season but largely concentrated in the previous episode. This atmosphere is most certainly the leading cause of much of the words-left-unspoken from the first point but would extend to much more in this episode.

Now, with that primer out of the way we can finally get started. This episode was quite a bit denser than last week’s and there’s a lot to be covered so let’s dive in.

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The episode starts right off the back of the last one with the service club plus Iroha taking care of final pieces of leftover business from the prom shoot. Things were going smoothly and with how well-received the video was over social media there was little left to do for our temp-helpers in Yui and Hachiman. And so, after a confident assurance from Yukino that the two would eventually be called again if needed, Yui took the lead to depart alongside Hachiman.

What followed was a three-step dance of Yui wanting to hang out a bit longer, Hachiman taking notice and making up a reason, and Yui excitedly accepting. Just when I thought Hachiman was done with using Komachi as an excuse, he just had to squeeze out one more for this impromptu shopping trip with Yui. This little interaction showed just how much and how little the pair have changed since their early days together.

The trip itself was inundated with fun and cute little moments like Hachiman geeking-out over the fancy new Maxis Coffee vending machine while striking a pose stolen straight from Yui and Yui inviting Hachiman to sit next to her and talk about their childhood dreams. It was a trip that was all at once normal, with how their time alone together usually was, and significant, with just how much Yui pushed to get even the slightest bit closer to Hachiman. Perhaps the most unusual thing about it was Hachiman’s positive responses to Yui’s signals: him asking for the picture she took of the two together, his invitation to test out sweets together, and so on and so forth.

With Hachiman’s trajectory in the series, his attempts at reaching out and deepening his now close-ish connections made a lot of sense and it was nice to see that he’s gotten to the point of inviting people out to do things together without being afraid of anything. Though evidently, he’s been doing this while taking things in a relatively comfortable context for him. And in the meanwhile, these moments certainly rang differently for Yui.

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The emergency meeting of the Yukinoshitas was what followed this delightfully light trip, and it was, in a few words, a doozy. Mrs. Yukinoshita was every bit as formidable as Haruno promised. Immovable and dismissive of any and all arguments, she came for one thing and one thing only – a mutual understanding that their prom would be canceled.

The very act of shutting down Haruno’s unsolicited comment and her “kind” reminder to Yukino to not stay out too late was her way of reaffirming her position in the conversation. And the fact that she could interrupt Iroha without Iroha being able to do the same, told the same story. Her position of power over Yukino and Haruno in the situation, as well as being an important, older person requiring respect made any sort of negotiation impossible between her and the kids. Thankfully though, they had Hiratsuka sensei, the only person with a similar standing, who could step in and delay the negotiations to another day.

With the departure of Mrs. Yukinoshita, our main crew plus Haruno and Hiratsuka were left to plan for the next fight. This conversation was a particularly messy one as it brought to light a lot of the simmering pain points of the characters thus far. Hiratsuka’s imminent departure is unexpectedly revealed, Yukino’s painfully low self-confidence is put to words with her plea to Hachiman to not step in, and finally, Yui and Hachiman’s helplessness in the situation is, once again, made very clear.

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The grayish tones of the opening episodes colored the scene that followed as Hachiman reflected on the conversation he had with Haruno immediately after the student council meeting. Haruno asked Hachiman about his opinion on the trio’s relationship and Hachiman responded in a way that only this show ever could. Even as a non-serious response, this really showed off how much the series plays with the idea of seeing scenes and character actions from a romantic context versus not – and how mistaken assumptions can be made from either of these perspectives at any point.

Co-dependence, she replied as the “correct” answer to their relationship, something that was now over as of that afternoon’s events. Her announcement of this as the definition of their relationship before even Yukino’s proper answer felt incredibly unwelcome. It was yet another projection of Haruno’s experiences onto her only slightly younger underclassmen who have plenty of time to figure things out themselves. Theirs wasn’t and didn’t have to be a toxic codependency nor a cold non-relationship. There is a halfway point and all they need to do is find it.

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The final scene of the episode was marked once again by the setting sun. Another after-school had come and so had another opportunity for Yui and Hachiman to walk home together. Here, they continued their conversation from the last time they hung out, with Yui excitedly suggesting a place to work on Komachi’s present together – a topic and tone completely removed from all that was going on before.

This was really odd behavior for Yui who had anyways found a reason to loop back and talk about Yukino when she needed help, especially in moments alone together like this. And then, as if on cue, a message arrived from Iroha: prom might just be canceled after all. This prompted Hachiman to call Hiratsuka who informed him that he was explicitly not told about its cancellation per Yukino’s wishes. And that if he wanted to know more, that he needed to clearly explain his reason for helping out.

Hachiman struggles as expected, especially as he, in the first moment of internal monologue in a long while, couldn’t bear how hypocritical Hiratsuka was being. But after some time, he found the words; a quiet reminder of the very moment captured within the hidden picture in Yukino’s bedframe.

Having this answer accepted by Hiratsuka, Hachiman departed, only hesitating for a moment after seeing Yui’s tearful affirmation that everything would work out as long as he was there. Her incessant assurances that she was just fine led the two to separate leaving Yui, alone once again at the end of yet another episode.

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Yui is a girl of many contradictions. She had wants and frustrations and expectations and hopes, all for herself and for the people she cares about. The majority of this episode was her taking the chance to try and get a little closer to that place she could never get into, by being a little more selfish, a little less considerate. And yet despite this, nothing went her way as if she was in the wrong the whole time – karmic retribution for her own selfishness. It’s easy in moments like these to take the fault onto yourself for wanting something, and for giving yourself the hope that things will finally go your way. It’s in these moments when all the feelings of self-hatred come flooding in for even thinking of acting in your own self-interest.

Yui’s monologue here isn’t to let the audience know what led her to this point or even her own thoughts at that moment. It’s all pretty clear from all that’s happened up until now. It was targeted at herself, an indictment for the steps she took and regrets for the ones she didn’t.

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And that does it for this week’s episode. This one was… long. And dense. Apologies for all the excessive words but there was a lot to dig through and it was personally a lot of fun to think about and write. Let’s hope that I can trim the proverbial fat of next week’s write-up but that might just be up to the content of the next one.

Thanks for reading,

Carriage


Extra notes:

  1. Something that I wanted to touch on but couldn’t quite get to for this one was the whole thing about the various social/emotional/intellectual qualifications for being someone that even be truly involved with Yukino and her family. Yui and Hachiman aren’t this for a lot of reasons and probably shouldn’t be but it’s a position that’s been brought up again and again throughout the series.
  2. There’s a thing about Hachiman and Iroha’s little sister gag-conversation that feels very applicable to all that’s been going on with Yui and Yukino and I super do not appreciate Watari making that joke such an important thing. What the hell, dude.
  3. This week’s post is a lot more summary versus analysis/reactions than the last one and I’m actually leaning towards last week’s structure over this one. Really not sure which is better but I’ll probably keep mixing things up over the next couple write-ups.

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