Coming off the back of last week’s heavy episode, this week’s one was surprisingly light. Or, at least on the surface. I came out of my first viewing of the episode expecting the writing for this one to be pretty quick but contextualized against the events of the last one, this week’s scenes were surprisingly barbed. Yukino had made her decision to shut down the relationship she had with Hachiman and Hachiman now had a goal in mind that he needed to achieve: to grant Yui’s wish and by proxy, grant Yukino’s. Of course, he first needed to figure what exactly Yui’s wish was and this is around where we would start.
The episode opened with a rather dejected Hachiman mulling over the events of the previous day while sipping his uncharacteristically sugar-less coffee. This alongside his rather gloomy mug were the first signs that something serious had happened to him and, never one to miss a beat, Komachi picked up on this immediately. She asked him if something had happened and he answered honestly. He had a lot going on and it was complicated, but he would tell her the whole story once it was all over.
Hachiman’s answer here re-iterated a lot of what we’ve seen in him throughout this season thus far. He’s a lot more honest with his feelings for the people that are close to him and even more than that, because they are close, he doesn’t want to actively involve them in something that is his responsibility. Komachi’s the primary beneficiary of this for a lot of reasons but the biggest one was probably because he wanted to assure his sister that he’d be fine without her.
Komachi’s response was a reassurance that they’d be celebrating together regardless of whether or not he was able to resolve the issues he was dealing with and this was very sweet of her. It was a reflection of her trust in him to be able to get through his situation with Yui and Yukino as well as a promise to be there if it all went south. Their sibling dynamic was always a favorite one of mine and this season has done nothing but solidify that position for me.
Coming out of the opening, we find Hachiman in the classroom alone, glancing over to Yui for the umpteenth time. He’s still remarkably bad at casually approaching Yui and this fact was only exacerbated by his need to confront her about a rather uncomfortable topic. The two planned to meet after school for their usual walk home together and this took us to the playground scene: the setting for their conversation about Yui’s wish.
The introduction to this scene had a few elements that shouted out to me as the start of a very bad time. Yui entered the scene by describing the feeling of getting on swings again as an adult as ‘scary’ but in the context of the conversation they were about to have, this dialogue felt closer to a description of her feelings coming into it all. Moreover, this was yet another appearance of the sugar-free Hachiman in his decidedly non-Max choice of coffee.
The conversation itself started out with Hachiman’s straightforward question to Yui about what she wished for. Yui mentioned a lot of things, mostly related to fixing Hachiman’s bad habits, and this led to their usual routine of joking around and enjoying each other’s company. But this wasn’t what Hachiman came here to do. Chatting about nothing of importance and avoiding the big question would be comfortable but that was something that he’d no longer allow himself to do. And so, he pressed and Yui answered.
Yui truly wanted a lot of things. Nothing that she could concretely call a wish but small visible pieces of happiness that she could hold on to. She knew that Hachiman was the type to try and grant even the biggest and most impossible request, so she kept her answer to tiny, simple things – at least until she figured out what she truly wanted. And beyond that, in the time that they could spend granting her wish, she wanted to do the same for him. To grant his wish in return for hers.
After all was said and done, Yui’s wish ended up simply being time with Hachiman. From what we’ve seen of Yui thus far, the fact that she had more than one wish fit just right. She wanted to be with Hachiman, but at the same time she wanted to maintain what they had: those very meaningless conversations that Hachiman wanted to move beyond. It was clear from the framing of the scene that these two weren’t on the same page, being visibly separated and never quite making eye-contact until the very end. It was a scene that set the stage for the events of the rest of the episode and, in the end, a rather foreboding one at that.
The next day rolled around and Yui and Hachiman found themselves once again meeting up on the way to class. This was where they would meet Yukino and Iroha and find themselves in a conversation regarding the status of the prom preparations. This would normally be a rather unremarkable scene but the somber background music that so heavily contrasted the light dialogue highlighted just how awkward and uncomfortable Hachiman and Yukino’s relationship now was. Hachiman’s final words in the scene exuded a kind of loneliness of a person left behind. Yukino would be just fine by herself, Hachiman thought. She’d soon find another group to acclimatize to and find new friends and it would all work out for her. Something that she could do now, all because their relationship was “over”.
These thoughts of his trailed behind her shrinking silhouette for a while, only interrupted once Yui spoke up with an invitation to Hachiman to come over and bake something for Komachi. This was in the cards from their trip together all those episodes ago, and the time had finally come. This would also be the start of the relatively lighter half the episode.
Hachiman’s trip to the Yuigahama household came with a multitude of highlights and cute moments but perhaps the most prominent was the existence of the charming and eccentric Yuigahama-mama. Yui’s mom was one half loving parental figure and one half intensely harsh teaser of the two awkward teens in Hachiman and Yui and it was a lot of fun to watch. She also had a peculiar standout line that was noticeably important with the cut of the background music and panning close-up shot of her delivery.
It was a line that was a little hard to parse outside of its context in the scene, but it does seem tied to the idea of passing seasons that’s been hanging around the series thus far. Perhaps the purpose of it was to highlight how choices made during particular times of our lives will be ones that we will remember for years to come, had they been ones made for someone else. Though I suppose we’ll just have to see later on if this would turn out to be true or not.
The end of the pair’s afternoon together would come with a final walk back to the station. The two talked for a while about how much fun cooking together was before Hachiman gave a gift to Yui – desserts that he made during the day for her – as a “thank you” for the cookies that she had given to him in the second season’s finale. Her cookies then were supposed to be the closure to her feelings for him, a line called friendship drawn in the snow through these baked goods of hers. This surprise return alongside his tease of a secret ingredient looked to be so much more than what was on the surface, but it was anything but. Hachiman’s closing lines spoke of “an impossible fantasy” of spending his days granting Yui’s wishes. This was likely a reiteration of his discomfort with maintaining their “normal”. It seems all but certain that this pair too will find their “end” and some time soon.
The final scene in the episode was the graduation assembly of Shiromeguri and the other 3rd years. Hachiman’s emotional response to the whole ordeal seemed a little out of left field but it was fun to see yet another unexpected side to Hachiman. I dug it a lot. This graduation scene also felt to me like a substitute for what would eventually come in the future for our leads – a graduation that we’d likely never see given the impending end of this season and the series. And for that reason, the melancholic feelings of the graduates and rest of the cast came through to me. There’s still time for our beloved trio to have a great time together as Shiromeguri says, as close as the goodbyes may seem. The words were directed at Hachiman and Yui in text but they were certainly for us in the audience as well.
And that does it for this week. This one turned out to be way longer than expected given the contents but what can you do. We’re rolling into the last few weeks of the season now and the climax is sure to be coming soon. Here’s hoping it’s a good one.
Thanks for reading,
- Not much to add here as I’ve tangent-ed plenty in the post already but Yui’s cute bun tapping was an unexpected highlight of her nervous invitation to Hachiman.