Every couple episodes or so of Oregairu, I almost always feel the need to sit down and re-evaluate all that’s happened thus far in the season. It’s a problem that I’ve almost only ever had with this series in particular and it’s probably the case for a couple reasons. There’s a lot that goes on in the show despite the slow pace of the actual chronology and there’s just so much left unsaid. On top of this, the sheer amount of content that’s being adapted from episode to episode (according to a stat I saw on twitter) even outpaced SAO’s currently airing season. So given all that, I wanted to start this week with a little bit of a recap on where everyone was at coming into this week’s episode.
Last week found Hachiman jumping through more than a couple hoops to carry out his duty to grant Yui’s wish and while the cute moments were plentiful, Hachiman’s clear discomfort with it all and internal justification made it hard not to feel conflicted watching it all happen. Yui and Hachiman were now closer than ever, on the surface, and this was precisely what Yukino wanted. Or so she claimed. The sheer amount of qualifiers that I needed to add to even describe their situation says a lot about the sort of play that they were putting on for themselves. This was a far cry from that genuine thing that Hachiman wanted all those episodes ago and as we approach the end of the season, the time they have to untangle the mess that is their connection is growing short. However there still is time and with Iroha’s request for Yui and Hachiman’s assistance at the end of the last episode, this would be the perfect place to start.
This week’s episode opened with the student council plus three carrying out the final preparations for the prom. Hachiman, having zero skills in any other areas, was assigned the role of sound assistant. It was a role that he was certainly familiar with, and also one that would mean working closely with Yukino again – a fact that definitely didn’t go unnoticed by Yukino from her pointed glance away before the cut to the opening.
What followed was the first normal conversation between the pair since their grand confrontation two episode ago. They reminisced about the school festival, Iroha’s habits were joked about, apologies were made, and their various odd observations were reaffirmed. The contents of the conversation were perhaps less important than usual here with the very act of having any sort of conversation being the critical bit. Hachiman simply and honestly wanted to talk to Yukino again, even if that meant reaching out for even the stupidest reasons. There’s a sort of wordless comfort that he evidently finds in talking with her and this was sorely missing for him in the recent weeks.
This conversation aside, the majority of this opening half was dedicated to preparation and commencement of the prom celebration with only one other important highlight. Iroha’s conversation with Hachiman ended off with her suggestion of using herself as a possible excuse for bringing the trio back together in the student council. It was a choice that she gave to Hachiman as an opportunity to fix things, all in the knowledge that he’d certainly go along with it if she simply asked him to. Presenting it this way told Hachiman that there was an easy way out if he wanted but pushed him towards the alternative: a resolution that was made by his own means and for no one else. This was her brand of dishonest kindness and the very thing that made her an incredible friend to all her beloved senpai.
From here, the prom was officially a go and the night was all for a very pretty Shiromeguri and her fellow classmates to enjoy.
The events of the prom itself were largely compressed into a montage except for a small moment that Hachiman and Yui shared at the back of the auditorium nearing the end of the night. It was a scene that started with casual catchup over the events of the night before moving into conversation about their wishes again as the lights dimmed and an instrumental Hello Alone played in the background.
It was an atmosphere reminiscent of the prom rehearsal from so many episodes ago and the memories of that day were likely what prompted Yui to make her request to Hachiman. She wanted to have another dance together, presenting it as mostly a joke but it was accepted nonetheless by Hachiman with the kind of straightforward seriousness that we’d come to expect from him now. This dance together was much like their first one in just how uncomfortable Hachiman looked but was so very different with where Yui was now. This wasn’t the same kind of quiet joyful occasion for her but instead one of the last few moments that she’d allow herself to enjoy before she too brought things to a close.
The latter half of the episode was largely dedicated to the wrap up of the prom and the post prom celebrations. Yukino’s conversation with her mother here about her future plans was one that was uncomfortably public, and this fact was in all likelihood a large reason for her mother’s enthusiastically neutral response. These were far from the ideal conditions for this important conversation, and it was all intentionally created by Haruno. What Haruno wanted was to show Yukino that this path of hers wouldn’t be so easy, and especially if she was still very much in the running for the position. This threat of hers would then lead us to the real meat of the episode: the return to the discussion of the state of our main trio’s relationship.
The three shared a moment reminiscing over the year they’ve spent together before Yukino told the two that this would be the perfect time to have it all end – while they’re all still happy and satisfied with the time that they’ve spent together. Yui agreed and the two looked to Hachiman for his answer but for him, something still wasn’t quite right, and it was far beyond him to be able to put that vague uncertainty to words. And so, he ran.
Yukino followed and tried to stop him, but only to say the words that she had told him time and time again since the start of the season. She thanked him for the work he put in for the prom and for all that he had ever done for her. She wanted to assure him that she would be fine without him and that’s why he can just happily accept this end. Yukino here went a long way to just to give him her gratitude and it’s clear that she wanted to say so much more. She wanted to tell him just how much he had really done for her and to convey those feelings of hers that were far beyond simple thanks, while at the same time keeping her emotions vague enough to allow him to accept the girls’ proposal. But Yukino couldn’t quite let go of Hachiman, literally. Much like Yui in episodes past, her actions and expressions betrayed her words in her most vulnerable moment.
Hachiman response to this was, yet again, an assurance of his understanding and a resolution to walk away – to let the decision fall to another day, with or without him. And where his legs took him was straight to Haruno.
Haruno and Hachiman’s ensuing conversation revealed some of what was expected from her end, like her disinterest in succeeding her father, but it also finally answered the question of what Haruno was expecting from the three. Haruno had long since been forced to play a specific role and this meant drifting along as she made the best choices for her future and her relationships. The thing that she was looking for was probably some diversion from the inevitable path of least resistance – that place of regrets and nothing being resolved and the very thing that the trio were now sailing directly towards. If anyone was able to move beyond the expected result of everyone settling for what was “for the best” and find a relationship that could feel genuine without hurting everyone along the way, these three would be the ones to do it.
And that just about wraps up this week. Hiratsuka’s return for another night of consultation with Hachiman will undoubtedly help recenter Hachiman as it had before and here’s hoping that her assistance will go a long way to in making Haruno’s impossible desire a reality for the kids of the service club.
Thanks for reading,
- I didn’t realize this earlier but the last scene of the OP has been changing slightly over the season’s runtime with the latest iteration having Yukino look up to the clear skies and falling sakura petals. Though it’s hard to see much more from this other than the series’ progression toward ‘spring’ (or Yukino’s next beginning/end).