The Long Road to Yukino: Oregairu Kan – Episode 5

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Oh, how quickly the days pass in times like these. Hello and welcome back once again to another one of my weekly write-ups. This week’s episode was a rather condensed one as it was a continuation from the events of last week and thankfully this meant a shorter post on my end. This episode solidified the trajectory of the kids of the service club this week as they barrel towards yet another inevitable conflict between the main trio. However short in comparison this episode may have been though, there is much still to cover, so let’s talk Oregairu.

This week’s episode started off like many others with a brief flash to the events of the last one with Hachiman dashing off to meet Hiratsuka to get the details on the prom’s cancellation. It was pretty evident from the beginning of this one, with both the omission of Yui’s solitary scene and the return of his internal monologue, that this week started us in the shoes of Hachiman. His chat with Hiratsuka sensei laid out the details of the situation and included some contemplation on his end on the possible solutions but this narratively necessary segment was thankfully sped through before the cut to the opening, after which we could finally get to the meat of the episode: the answer to the question of how Hachiman was to approach Yukino.

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The second half of their conversation turned to this question and all else that surrounded it. I was personally interested to see just where Hiratsuka sensei fell when it came to dealing with the situation that the trio of the service club had found themselves in and as it turned out, even our ever-dependable advisor wasn’t sure what the right call was. This was something like a rite of passage for Yukino, as sensei described. Even if their relationship wasn’t the kind of toxic dependency that Haruno defined it to be, this self-imposed challenge of hers was one that she needed to face. It was something important to her, and so “simply helping” her would be far more damaging.

Hiratsuka’s question to Hachiman on whether he thought that Yukino was blowing things out of proportion was, I thought, a pretty important one here. Self-reflection and the personal crossroads we arrive at are not meaningless things, even at a time as frivolous in retrospect as high school. They’re important decisions and periods of growth that come with being a person into adulthood and beyond and the show’s long since shown a penchant for taking these moments and its characters seriously.

Nearing the end of their conversation, Hiratsuka tells Hachiman that, wherever their conversation goes and whatever he decided to do, the important part was the how. How he saw her, how he talked to her, and how he conveyed his feelings to her. And that despite his uncertainty, he already had all tools and experiences that he needed to get through to her. This was all that Hiratsuka sensei could give to him, to help him along before their short time together came to a close.

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What would naturally come next would be Hachiman’s confrontation with Yukino but before this stood the gatekeeper of the student council room and our ever nosy kouhai, Iroha. Iroha has, since her introduction, been the most observant and involved person beyond the main trio in the service club drama. This made her role here, as the second person to make Hachiman spell out his intentions clearly, mean a lot, especially when considering her own personal journey in season two.

Using the words that Iroha asked of him the night of her impulsive confession to Hayato, Hachiman told her that all the complications in this whole mess as well as the ‘dependency’ problem was his fault and so he wanted to do anything he could to set things right. He wanted to take responsibility. These were simple and admittedly very cliched words, but ones filled with the implications of so much more and this was very clear to Iroha. Whether or not this would get through to Yukino though, was another question. And so, with Iroha’s approval, Hachiman set out to finally talk things through with Yukino.

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The pair’s conversation here was as rough as expected given the circumstances. Starting right off on the wrong foot, Hachiman mentioned that he heard the news about the cancellation from Yui, as they had been together right before his appearance at the student council room. What followed was a series of pointed questions from Hachiman and unassured answers from Yukino regarding the prom situation, all culminating in Hachiman directly asking to help with the prom. Though only as a helper with the same role as Iroha, nothing more and nothing different from their usual.

But this was precisely what Yukino wanted to avoid. To be put in the same positions that they’ve always been in, which would inevitably lead her to depend on Hachiman to pick up the pieces again at the very end, or so she believed. With the same sad smile that Yukino had been wearing throughout this season, she closed out her answer to him by asking him if he truly understood what this would all mean to her.

His answer to this was an affirmative yes. Followed by the words that he promised to Iroha he would say to Yukino. This ‘inevitable’ ending of hers was his responsibility: to figure out a way to do things right if their old methods couldn’t, to go about their plans, to interact, and to connect differently so that they could find a way to move forward while keeping themselves in each other’s lives. And if all that failed, to take care of things for her at the very end. He wanted to save her in her time of need, as she requested all those months ago.

To this Yukino answered with a polite denial of his request. His intentions were surely conveyed but those weren’t the words that would change Yukino’s mind. And so, with this avenue removed, Hachiman took Hiratsuka’s final advice to heart and challenged her to a fight – he would save the prom his own way without her help and certainly without her approval.

This would be a return to the very first day of their meeting, the time in which they both appeared to each other at their strongest. It was a gamble but with the atmosphere having completely flipped from the one of intense consideration from moments before, Yukino surprisingly accepted. Though only on the premise that, like with their service club competition, the loser would have to do one thing that the winner requested.

It was shockingly simple, as Iroha would later note but made a lot of sense given the pair’s history. They had long since been each other’s strengths, pretending to be better and stronger people than they felt themselves to be, never wanting to lose in front of one another for stupid and petty reasons, but reasons, nonetheless. If this was enough fuel to push Yukino to find a solution for herself while allowing Hachiman’s support in his own hands-off way, then maybe things would work out just fine. Or at least, that was the hope.

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The final lines spoken by a tearful Yukino in the post ED scene seem to indicate that things won’t be wrapping up so easily, but it remains to be seen what she might be referring to with this competition being the one to end it all.

And that just about does it for the episode. Yukino’s monologue at the end here as well as Yui’s complete non-presence in the episode does not inspire very much in hope in me that things will ever be properly clarified in the upcoming episodes but I’m still holding out on that hope. Like I mentioned at the start, we’re very quickly moving towards yet another head-on conflict between the trio much like season two’s finale. Here’s hoping that this time will be the one where they can finally talk it all out.

Thanks for reading,

Carriage


Extra notes:

  1. Iroha’s monologue during Hachiman and Yukino’s casual chat had pretty heavy implications on a certain someone that had been in her position since almost the start of the pair in question’s odd friendship. If I had to guess, Iroha verbalizing her annoyance here might just be foreshadowing something to come from Yui later in the series.
  2. I’m still not terribly happy about the structure of this one and I have /thoughts/ about the weekly write-up format that I think I might save for a mid-season sort of post, so maybe look forward to that if it ever exists

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