Happily Ever After. Oregairu Kan – Episode 12

I never quite know what to say whenever the shows that I watch come to an end. And I mean a proper end here, none of that “to be continued, except in the manga” sort of thing. Across seven long years and forty some-odd episodes, Oregairu had finally come to a close with this week’s episode and I found myself once again having trouble coming to terms with it all. Part of it came from my feelings for the finale itself but it having been a show that started at the end of a clear period of my life and ending in the middle of another was something special in itself.

This week’s write-up is going to be a bit of a weird one. Partially because of the format of the episode itself and partially because of all that I wanted to say before we closed up shop here in these weekly posts. I’ve still got another one planned as a sort of post-mortem, meta-review afterwards but archived here for the foreseeable future will be my thoughts on this, the final episode of a much beloved series of mine. Let’s get started.

After the end of last week’s episode, there was almost no doubt in my mind that this final episode would be a sort of ‘victory lap’ for the series. As much as I wanted it, there was basically no time left to deal with any dramatic leftovers. And so, with the joint prom preparations, the actual event, all the remaining loose ends to wrap up character-wise, in addition to wrapping up the series, there was going to be some things left to the wayside. This final episode ended up being exactly that, and in that order, with a speedy, almost montage-like compilation of key moments before a final wrap-up with our main trio.

The episode opened with the new couple in Yukino and Hachiman meeting at the entrance of the service club to work together on the joint prom preparations. This job was going to be a tough one with little in the way of money or resources and moreover, the missing presence of a very important third hand was glaringly obvious to both the audience and the two. This, however, was something that Yukino would fix, she told Hachiman. She would talk to Yui and properly explain everything that was going on and then ask for her help again – the very thing that she promised that she’d do all those episodes ago. With that out of the way, all that was left was to figure out the location for the prom and this made for an excellent excuse for a trip out together. But purely for location scouting purposes, of course.

Hachiman and Yukino’s spontaneous “not-date” was the exact sort of cute fluff that I expected for this final episode. A personal highlight of mine was Hachiman’s pointing out of Yukino’s failing vocabulary due to stress which was immediately followed up his own inability to describe her with a word other than “cute”. This scene felt like the two were just trying out the normal couple thing in earnest and it was really nice to see just how far they’ve come since their early days of mocking this exact kind of behaviour.

The scene that followed was a gathering of pretty much the whole secondary cast of the series. Everyone was coming together to help out with the prom prep and by the time they had all gathered, there was only one person left. With the light steps and heavy breath of a girl rushing to the aid of her closest friends, Yui entered the service club with a cheerful fervor that we’ve come to know her for. It was a surprisingly dramatic affair despite knowing that there was no way that Yui wouldn’t be here for the finale, but I found myself smiling way more than expected after hearing her signature line.

What came next was the rampant prom preparations as well as an oddly placed sauna scene in which Hachiman was indirectly grilled for his obvious new relationship with Yukino. This aside though, the post-sauna scene was the important one featuring a quiet gathering of the core service club members followed by a focused moment between Hachiman and Yukino. Hachiman at this point had acknowledged that Yukino was a person that was well and truly able to stand on her own now and so extending a hand to her here was a conscious choice on his end to keep on supporting the person he cared about. The strings of responsibility and dependency were all but cut down now and what was left was his honest feelings for the girl.

From here, the episode cut to the day of the prom and everyone and everything was as hectic as expected. Iroha met Komachi for the first time and in the midst of their chaotic conversation, Iroha suggested to Yui that her continued feelings for Hachiman were something that she didn’t need to give up. It was “a privilege that girls had”, she called it and as dubious as her suggestions sounded, this gave Yui a kind of reassurance that she evidently needed with the position she found herself in now. Yui decided something very important during this quick interlude and it would be something that would be touched on only at the very end of this episode.

The event then started in earnest with a very quick visit from Haruno and her mother followed by a montage of the prom plus one small moment of encouragement from Yui to Hachiman. Almost as soon as the event began, it ended and what followed was the final farewell for our beloved sensei.

It was a scene that was both a fitting goodbye to Hachiman’s greatest mentor as well as some wrap-up on a very important idea in the series. This was where the specifics of Hachiman “genuine thing” was finally revealed. In their conversation, Hiratsuka mused about Hachiman’s various feelings for Yukino and how that multitude of conflicting emotions brought about their inseparability. This mutual desire of theirs to continue to connect above anything else could very well have been that genuine thing he’d been looking for all this time. It was a possibility, Hachiman admitted, but one that was still very hard to believe the way he was now. Though much like his promise to Yui, this too may change in the future.

With the prom all over now, Yukino and Hachiman met one more time to deal with the post-event clean up. There was a million tasks left to do and most of this was thrown onto Hachiman but this turned out to be a bit of a smokescreen for Yukino as she dealt her final sucker punch to mark the beginning of the end of the episode. Always one to get the upper hand, Yukino told him in plain words that she loved him and then raced off in embarrassment, leaving a stunned Hachiman in her wake.

The very first opening of the series made way for a time skip to the start of the next school year where our main crew were now starting their final year of high school. Komachi and Iroha arrived at the service club room to announce the club’s official reestablishment and a very familiar girl walked in to give her formal request for help. Yui wanted to remain friends with the person that she loved and her best friend who was now dating that person. It was a bold request and a very plan confession of her feelings to her closest friends. One that would also take a very long time to complete, as Yukino described, perhaps even forever. True to their ever-irregular ways of dealing with things, this was service-kids’ version of yet another promise. A promise to work through their feelings together as a trio and a promise to remain connected for long into the future.

And that was the end of Oregairu.

This ending was a bit far from what I’d hoped would happen with the end of Yui’s arc specifically but having watched this episode over more times than I can count, I’d finally come to terms with how it needed to end with the time that was remaining. As I mentioned in the end of the last post, Yui never really found any sort of ending for herself. Asides from the indirect confession at the end of this episode, she never decided to give voice to her feelings and, I felt that the series never really gave her the space to. I was really hoping for some dedicated time for her in this last episode but there was just too much that needed to happen before the series came to a close. Heck, even Haruno’s arc never saw its proper conclusion despite her relative importance in this season.

I came out of this finale with a fading sort of disappointment but looking back at the long arc of the series I have nothing but warm feelings for it still. This show brought me one of my favorite and most relatable characters alongside emotions that I would have never expected to feel given its introduction. It’s been a long ride but an unforgettable one and I’m glad that I was able to see this series through to its end. Thanks for the memories, Oregairu.

And as always, thank you for reading.

Carriage.

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