These past eleven weeks have felt both extremely long and unexpectedly short and before I realized it, we had arrived at this, the penultimate episode of Oregairu. The experience of it all with this writing experiment of mine has been both fun and extremely exhausting and so the soon-to-be arrival of the finale brings me some very mixed feelings. Though, it is still way too early to reminisce over it all with two whole episodes left to go. This week’s one was, as expected, a doozy with all that was left over from the end of the last one. As you might expect then, there was a lot to cover so let’s get started.
This week’s episode opened with the continuation of Hiratsuka-sensei and Hachiman’s conversation about the service club regarding his feelings for its very important members. One word can’t possibly encapsulate all that a person felt for another, Hiratsuka told Hachiman. Sometimes it may require many more and sometimes even words wouldn’t be enough. But as long as he continued to try, she told him, he’d surely find the way to properly convey his feelings. Her counselling of our ever-troubled Hachiman has always been a delight to see but Hiratsuka role here was especially important in delivering the words that he needed to hear to finally take a step in the right direction.
What followed was the first of two very important scenes in this episode. Hachiman’s departure from the classroom at the end of the school day signaled the start of yet another sunset-lit walk home. And as customary with his recent departures from school, he encountered Yui, as she had lately always been: waiting for Hachiman, framed against the setting sun, and basking in that period of the day that she loved so much.
The two took a walk to the local park and chatted for a while about meaningless things, the same as usual, until Yui started the conversation on what Hachiman wanted to do about their situation. She wanted to know if he was okay with all that was happening and if so, she wanted to tell him about her final wish. Either way, something was going to end here. She was determined to force something to end here.
Hachiman’s response was that he thought that the club’s ending was a good thing, a suggestion that he was fine with the current trajectory of the group’s direction and a future without Yukino. This was all that Yui needed to hear before she decided to close the distance and finally convey the feelings that she had left unsaid this whole time. But before she could, Hachiman interrupted her. He told her that he felt that there was still something very wrong with the situation. Yukino gave up on something she really wanted as compensation for all that she was given, and he was the reason for it. Rather than just feeling responsible for it all, Hachiman told her that he simply didn’t want to stop “associating” with Yukino. A plain confession of his vested interest in the girl.
This was all it took for Yui to realize that which Hachiman would never put to words for himself and a distanced shot reminded us of the visible gap between the two. Yui’s every movement and expression in this scene spoke to the blows that she felt at each and every one of his honest words. Hachiman here was just telling his closest friend about the troubles he was having overcoming this idea of not wanting to leave Yukino’s life. Him speaking aloud the problems with even just conveying his vague, illogical feelings and complaining about how it won’t work out with a vulnerable honesty painted a picture of a person simply looking for advice from a close friend.
This was plain to see, especially for Yui, and so she decided to set him straight. She told him that he was just scared of trying and that he simply needed to tell her. Yukino would, like herself, try and understand even if those feelings were seemed too unclear or unfathomable at first. And then she sealed the deal by telling Hachiman that, all this time, her wish of “wanting everything” included the company of Yukino in their afternoons of nothingness. She wanted to be there by their side wherever they went. And so, to grant this final wish of hers, she needed him to tell Yukino about his feelings.
Was this the wish that she had been looking to tell him this whole time? Unlikely. This was the very picture of the Yui from the end of season two. The one that discarded her own feelings for the sake of the two that she cared so much about – a return to the past, through that wish that she had “already decided a long time ago”.
Hachiman closed out the conversation by apologizing to Yui for all the trouble that he’d given her and told her that maybe, sometime in the future, he would become the sort of person that was able to properly convey his feelings of love and gratitude to the people he cared about and without all the extra qualifiers and justifications. But right now, he still wasn’t there yet. And because of this, he told her that she shouldn’t wait for him.
Yui’s reaction to this was the saddest expression that I had ever seen from her in the series thus far. This final message from Hachiman meant so many things. This was Hachiman telling her that he wasn’t the kind of person that could reciprocate her feelings right now – a quiet rejection of her unspoken feelings. This was him telling Yui that the person he was right now wasn’t worthy of her feelings – yet another frustrating devaluing of his current self. And lastly, he was telling her that he would surely be that sort of person someday, a person finally able to thank her for all that she had done for him and the feelings she had felt for him: a promise for the future.
She swallowed all of her feelings here and called it a day, something to resolve within herself when she could muster the courage to. The two departed and Yui arrived home to unexpected tears. Now that she was alone, those feelings overflowed. What she felt couldn’t have ever summarized as something as simple as love, it was something far beyond that, she tells us. It’s a complicated thing being in between feelings of romantic love and platonic desires for companionship. Her meeting with Hachiman gave her the sadness of a lost future, the happiness of a promised one, and so, so much more.
The scenes that followed were mostly just a set up for Hachiman’s grand plan to reconnect with Yukino again. The short of it was that he planned to run the dummy prom to completion to both catch the attention of the PTO and to rope Yukino into yet another mess to resolve with himself at the center. One of the most important bits of their conversation here was actually Haruno’s question to Hachiman of whether or not he knew what it meant to get involved with the Yukinoshita family matters. It’s been hinted at for most of the series that being close with Yukino in the way that Hachiman had been meant so much more in the scope of her family’s social standing and business. It was a real commitment to be so heavily involved with the Yukinoshita’s and supporting Yukino meant always being there and always being capable of doing things right. Though needless to say, Hachiman had all but made up his mind about this already.
The final scene of the episode was the matching second of the two important ones – the Yukino side, you might call it. This scene was the culmination of three whole seasons of cherished experiences, unmatched chemistry, and feelings that were never quite put to words. True to his trajectory this entire season, Hachiman here told Yukino exactly what he promised to Yui he would say. He told her that he wanted to keep being associated with Yukino’s, and intentionally. Every other way simply wouldn’t suffice. This was a Hachiman that no longer wanted to idly watch as her silhouette disappeared in the distance – that person he was only two episodes ago had become a person that is now willing to reach out and take her hand. Dropping all pretenses and excuses, he finally told her that he simply wanted to keep being involved in her life. And perhaps in the most Hachiman-like way possible, I might add.
It was a confession. And one that slotted perfectly within the shared language and comfort of the pair – an irreplicable thing that existed only in this place only for the pair. These two dorks could have never confessed to one another in the traditional romcom ways and having this final confrontation – yet another one of their back and forths except now fueled by their genuine feelings for each other – was the perfect way to do it. Perhaps the only complaint I had was that Yukino didn’t hit Hachiman hard enough for belittling himself constantly in their conversation. She cared about him just as much as he did her and so undervaluing his own life and future was frustrating to say the least. But it was precisely this frustration she showed that spoke to just how strong her feelings for him were. The scene closed with Yukino’s formal reciprocation of his feelings in the most stilted and awkward way possible. And I honestly wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
This final scene was seriously a long time coming. Since that very first episode of season one, it was so clear that these two lifted each other up whenever they were around one another. The became each other’s strengths and there was no doubt in my mind that if they walked the path forward together, that they’d only grow stronger. All that being said though, I left the episode and every subsequent re-watch with a resounding sadness for one girl in particular. Yui’s arc in the series had taken quite a few turns in this last season with her two conflicting desires. At the end of this one, she had returned to that position from the end of season two with what felt like little in the way of catharsis or concrete closure. I want so much for the final episode to give Yui at least one dedicated moment to grieve for her lost love and move forward from it. And so, as we move into the finale, you could say that this is my final wish for the series.
Just one more to go people. It’s been a long and emotionally draining journey but we’re almost at the finish line. I have a lot of feelings for this series and I know that the finale’s going to give me many more of at least one kind of those feelings. Here’s hoping we finish strong.
Thanks for reading,