Oregairu 2 – 07

ore271

In shopping list she slipped into her brother’s bag, with whom she’s on good terms again, Komachi writes that what she wants most is his happiness (and detergent). But he’s increasingly unsure of how to get that happiness. All he knows is that saving people with his methods hasn’t quite done the trick.

Something is missing: “His responsibility…the answer” he needs. And as much as he doesn’t want to admit it, there may be no more answers in the Service Club, which he now attends increasingly for Yui’s sake, haunted by what would happen if he wouldn’t and Yukino’s “smile of giving up.”

ore272

He may not realize it yet, nor does she, but Hikky’s answer may lie in Iroha, and hers in him. He is someone she can be herself with, after all, and who insists on carrying her bag even though it’s not heavy. I initially thought Iroha’s presence on the show would lead to cliched conflict, but we’ve instead been blessed with a far more complex and satisfying dynamic as the two tentatively circle one another.

The way the camera stays on the other side of the street as they cross and make the bag hand-off had just as much power as past close-ups of said hand-offs, if not more. Hikky isn’t just settling for handling Iroha’s tough stuff; he wants to support her in the little things too.

ore273

If only it were that easy. Hikky hasn’t been this earnestly hands-on a “service client” like this before, nor has he faced quite as formidable and opaquely frustrating an opponent as the other school’s talky president, who continues to spew unproductive bullshit as the clock ticks on the Christmas event. Among the elementary kids they’ve recruited to assist is Tsurumi Rumi, whom I think I’ll call “Mini-Yukino” due to her not-at-all-not-coincidental resemblance to Hikky’s emotionally estranged club mate.

The council quagmire is the challenge he’s facing now, but Rumi is a symbol of someone he saved before with non-ideal, imperfect methods: sabotaging the bonds of the peers who bullied her so they’d no longer trust one another or level coordinated attacks on her, while leaving her just as alone in the end.

Later that night Hikky is treated to someone on the other end of the spectrum: Saika, who thinks it’s cool the way Hikky’s always working hard for others without complaint. Saika’s opinion is valid from his point of view, though he’s not in on the whole picture.

ore274

Someone else who doesn’t have the whole picture is Orimoto Kaori, who bumps into Hikky and Iroha on the streets and, perhaps due to her proximity to her classmates, her vague language about her past with Hikky pique Iroha’s interest. Is it just me, but it feels like Yukino and Yui fade out of focus whenever Hikky is with Iroha, and having Kaori around makes a triad—a new triad.

ore275

In fact, when Iroha very overtly puts her hand on Hikky, it looks every bit like a gesture of possession, not idle flirtation, in the presence of another girl Hikky may have had “dealings” with. “This is my man now,” so to speak. She seems happy that such a scenario may have occurred, though, because it reinforces the part of her that sees Hikky as a suitable mate. Whoa, sorry for gettin’ all Discovery Channel there!

ore276

Bag hand-offs and arm-touching aside, in semi-public Iroha still plays her rapid-rejection card when she senses Hikky is flirting with her, but like Hikky, she’s maintaining a facade that doesn’t express her true feelings about the way Hikky is treating her.

That facade always mentions some quality she believes Hikky doesn’t possess or never will, in the process painting the picture of an ideal guy she’s never met, and maybe never will. Meanwhile, here is Hikky, staunchly by her side, worried he may be carrying too much of Iroha’s load with regards to the event, but still feeling responsible for her being there to begin with.

I should also mention that Hikky reaches out to Rumi even though he doesn’t have too, simply sitting with her and helping with decorations so she won’t be alone, then encouraging her to go to the others. If Hikky were the guy his facade less and less convincingly attempts to assure us he is, he’d never bother, but he can’t help it, especially with someone he feels an obligation to be nicer to after providing only an imperfect solution to her problems.

ore277

Which brings us to an understated but ultimately pretty heartbreaking closing scene as Hikky bumps into Yukino. He’s been nothing but submissive, contrite, and polite to her since she’s been able to occupy the same room as him, but he only told her a half-truth about being busy with Komachi’s exams. In reality, he’s busy with Iroha, and enjoying it as well. Yukino knows this, and knows there’s little she could contribute.

She also believes Hikky is only still attending club out of obligation. For Shizuka, who brought them together, but tellingly has been nowhere to be seen of late—maybe the experiment is over, with mixed but still valuable results? For Yui, who not only wants to walk to the club with him, but wants to be seen walking with him by others.

But Yukino, without any hint of bitterness, tells him he doesn’t have to beg her pardon or ask her permission or force himself to attend. Yukino’s analysis may be right—Hikky is certainly deriving happiness from helping Iroha—but she also walks away before Hikky can at least attempt to respond to it. Maybe he just likes attending club. Or maybe it’s time to move on.

8_ses

Author: sesameacrylic

Zane Kalish is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

4 thoughts on “Oregairu 2 – 07”

  1. I honestly have no idea whats going to happen next. While 8man has realized that he doesn’t like the results of all of his temporary solutions, there are lots of ways the story can go from here. I’m hoping either 8man starts to change or he actually opens up to Yukino/ Yui.

  2. Hikki is not at all enjoying his latest assignment. It’s a near complete disaster both in his assistance of Iroha and–more important–for his relationship with Yukino. From S1, we know and he knows that this assignment is exactly the sort that requires Yukino to solve. He does not have all the skills to solve it himself; he might invent a solution but only if Yukino takes charge. But he cannot ask her for help because the assignment exists only because he maneuvered her away from any responsibility by manipulating Iroha, which he did for selfish, self-defeating reasons.

    In truth, he is desperate to keep his relationship with Yukino. But his actions have built up a tall wall between them. What he thought was his cynical heroism in S1 has turned out to be mere self-deception. His solutions were only pathological attempts to protect himself from his loneliness. But now that he has earned Yukino’s friendship–his most important–his spiny ways threaten to sever that relationship. Ironically, the quality in him that drew her to him is the very thing threatening to push her away.

    Fascinatingly, I think at the end of episode 7, he realizes something Yukino cannot, which is that he and Yukino are struggling with the exact same thoughts. She too has been self-deceptive and for the same reason. Though I am not clear as to whether he fully realizes it, Yukino desperately yearns to grow closer to him. They are both each other’s complements and foils. But more than that, she has come to adore him. When she tells him he need not return to the clubroom, it is her own spiny way of dealing with what she thinks is the threat of losing him. Hikki is able to see that he and Yukino are the same–drifting apart because as they yearn to grow closer their own protective defenses hurl them back.

    Obviously, the only way to save each other from accidental lifelong regret is for at least one to lower his or her guard. But in this case, it is Hikki who has been more wrong. It is Hikki who needs Yukino more than the other way around. And it is Hikki who has been surrendering his own pride all this time, which has been the cause of Yukino’s grief. I think the story is saying it is Hikki who needs to regain Yukino’s friendship. He may not need Yukino’s permission to take on independent assignments, but he needs Yukino’s blessing to end their mutual crisis and also to help Iroha as well as Rumi.

    1. Thanks again for your thoughtful viewpoints. There is a heroic path that both you and ANN’s reviewer seem to want Hikki to follow. He has the tools to do it, but does he have the will? I can imagine a happy ending in which he does all the things he should do to fix things with Yukino, but again, will he actually get to that place?

      I almost feel like if I believe that too soon, I’m setting myself up for more disappointment and heartache. So what do I do when watching him muddle through with Iroha and the Christmas even on his own? I enjoy the path he’s currently on, right here and now. I retreat from the ideal and explore the practical possibilities surrounding Hikki. Life is full of people being in over their heads and hating their jobs. But they still do them.

      It is true that this show can be at its most moving and beautiful when its characters are at their lowest, but there’s only so much suffering I can stand, so in the meantime, if my mind wanders and wonders what could be with Hikki and Iroha (even if I’m deluding myself, the way he did with Orimoto years back), so be it. Mind you, I’m not asking for anyone to subscribe to these delusions, I’m only attempting to explain where I was going with my review.

      Frankly, it’s not outside the realm of possibility for Iroha to resign, Yukino to run again, win, and run the hell out of the school flanked by Yui and Hikki. But the path to that outcome will be long and treacherous, and require quite a bit more growth on Hikki’s part. Then again, a lot can happen in six episodes…especially with this show!

  3. I apologize for leaving these walls of text. There is no need to read the following. They’re just rambling thoughts. I just want to record somewhere how much I love the final scene in episode 7 between Hachiman and Yukino. To me this is the finest scene I’ve seen so far among this current cours of anime.

    … … …

    I really enjoyed S1. But the way S2 reappraises and overthrows our understanding of S1 makes the entire story more delicious than I was expecting. Actually, I was expecting more of the same from S2: Hachiman being badass cynic hero. I would have enjoyed that. But doing so would have rendered Hachiman a mere almost absurdist cartoon hero. Instead, S2 rightfully punishes Hachiman for his S1 exploits in such a way that he has to grow more human or risk destroying his most important and most fragile friendship.

    And it is in this final scene of episode 7 that Hachiman is made fully aware of that danger. What’s moving about the scene is that the danger does not appear amid loud bitter threats and dueling recriminations but in the tender smile and rueful words of a young woman wishing to admit her complete admiration of–and complete defeat to–our hero.

    … … …

    Hachiman’s problem is that it is one thing for us to expect S2 to be more of the same and something else for Yukino herself to expect more of the same as well. This is because it is this very expectation of hers that drives the central conflict in S2.

    We know very little about the younger Yukinoshita sister. But the show gives us hints that she carries a sense of inadequacy because of who she is. She is the sister of Haruno and in comparison Yukino feels inferior. Yukino herself is resigned to being the spare. But Yukino does not carry this sense of inadequacy everywhere. She knows she is high spec–just not at her sister’s level.

    Then along came Hachiman. Both she and he quite clearly saw that he was a complete loser, lacking her social standing. And yet in the ability to understand and deal with other people, time after time, she saw him utterly outclass her. Even Shizuka, the referee in their clubhouse bet, had to admit that he was solving more problems than she. And it seems his uncanny competence came as a shock to her. She had been trying to measure up to Haruno but failed to measure up to the lowly Hachiman. She had been trying to keep Hachiman from getting too close to her and now she hurt because he wouldn’t let her get close to him.

    The run of what she thinks are defeats finally leads her to think dark thoughts. She comes to think of Hachiman as someone superior to her, like a second Haruno. And she resigns herself to being his spare also. Once she reaches this point, she begins to test whether she matters to him or to her own club. And in spirit she is no longer able to function as she did before. Interestingly, this is what she may have been like when she lived with Haruno and the reason why she had to live by herself. And this is why she probably began the move to disentangle him from her life culminating in this scene when she tells him not to return. His ability to assist Iroha independently only further confirms to her the inessential nature of her worth in her own club. Even without knowing the details, she thinks she knows he would fulfill Iroha’s request. After all, Yukino had seen him solve problems even when she had stood aside impotently.

    She admires him tremendously for his ability to solve the problems of other people. But this admiration is why she hurts deeply whenever he sacrifices his own pride to solve these problems. It hurts to see him intentionally build a reputation as an embarrassment, if not as douche-bag. This is contrary to the idealized image of him she is building in her head.

    … … …

    In some ways, Hachiman is in a more advanced level of understanding regarding their relationship. This is because he has already experienced with her exactly what Yukino is experiencing with him now. It didn’t take long for him to idealize her because unlike him she is obviously amazing. But he outgrew that phase when he discovered that she was not perfect–she committed lies of omission when it suited her. And so he was able to reach a point first in their relationship when he could accept her as flawed human.

    But she is only now forming an idealized version of him. She had to witness his extraordinary abilities first before making him out to be some sort of angelic savior who is always looking out for her and anyone who asks. She wants to grow closer to him but she feels more like an inconvenience to him than friend. He has his own decisive way of solving problems–ways that do not require her. In other words, she comes to doubt whether she matters to him in an essential way. She doesn’t want to be just some spare girl in some relationship because that would just make her and her relationship superficial. She really doesn’t want to be a spare.

    Perhaps she had thoughts of saving him from his way of doing things and perhaps she had hopes of rehabilitating his reputation and engendering a genuine respect in him for himself. But if she had such thoughts, the end of episode 7 suggests she is ready to move on. She is ready to move on from him because of how much she adores him.

    … … …

    I love this ending scene because it is a rare moment when Yukino actually reveals her vulnerable thoughts to him. She is a private person, but we almost get to see a big part of the landscape of her innermost thoughts here. And the art assists to this end. Her look, her eyes, and her smile so wonderfully capture the awful irony of the moment in which she offers a boy she obviously adores a clean way out from a relationship with her. In this way she has a conscience that is sort of the opposite of Esdeath’s.

    But just like Esdeath, Yukino has completely misread the hero, her relationship with him, and his abilities. What’s interesting here though is that she misunderstands him the same way we did. What makes Hachiman of S1 so endearing is the unexpected self-destructive solutions he comes up with to solve tricky social conflicts. And the solutions aren’t just general plans of action, there is often a performance aspect requiring precise use of language and timing to succeed. We admire his cleverness. And Yukino admired those qualities in the same way.

    The difference is that while Hachiman’s solutions and their consequences delight us, his friends suffer to see him tarnished. Moreover, S2 has proven that he isn’t as clever as he thinks he is. He hadn’t effectively helped Rumi or Iroha. He has only succeeded in barring Yukino from making any real contributions and thus making her feel inessential.

    It is one of the most effectively ominous lines of any anime this cours for me when in episode 5 Yukino tells Hachiman: “You thought you understood [me], didn’t you.”

    Hachiman privately freaks out as he realizes that Yukino is gradually checking out of the relationship with him and he cannot quite grasp why this has to be. He had gravely misread her. He had committed the same sin as Hayato, Miura, and Ebina, preferring to maintain a certain kind of dishonest and shallow relationship rather than risk losing it completely. He even tried to study them to learn how they do it even though in episode 2 he had shamed Hayato for desiring such superficial bonds. At any rate, Yukino isn’t the sort who would consider being in superficial friendships. Thusly Karma mauls his ass.

    Hachiman seems to run out of time at the very end of episode 7. Yukino gazes at Hachiman with tender affection causing Hachiman to recoil with apprehension. Then Yukino says, “You don’t have to force yourself to come anymore.” And then she departs. These aren’t the words of just any girl. Yukino is a demonstrably regally magnificent creature. When someone like her says you don’t have to come back, there is an uneasy threat of finality to it.

    … … …

    The story sets up an interesting conflict between Hachiman and Yukino. Hachiman is given two roads to take. One side seemingly provides only solutions with no drawbacks. The other road seemingly leads only to bad outcomes and lifelong regret.

    If Hachiman can accept strengthening his bonds with his small circle of friends, including with Yukino, he can experience something he had long desired. If he tells Yukino that she is essential to any solutions that would properly assist Iroha, then he may save the club from disintegration and actually help Iroha in the process. If he could admit to Yukino that he is scared of losing her, she wouldn’t draw away from him anymore. All he has to do to get everything he wants is accept what he actually wants, which is to admit to Yukino that he wants to get closer to her. To get her to recognize him as flawed human, he needs to admit his successes have actually been failures. He needs to subject himself to and provide others with honesty and sincerity if he is to ever experience something more than superficiality. But taking this route would mean having to abandon the self-destructive facade he has created for himself. The question is, if he takes this route, will he still be able to solve future problems in his characteristically interesting ways? At any rate, he would have to actively change something of himself if he wants to save himself.

    On the other hand–if he cannot do this–then at the least he would fail to help Iroha. More interestingly, OREGAIRU would turn into the anime version of REMAINS OF THE DAY, which would be fine too. As with Hachiman, Anthony Hopkins was a coward and fool who hid behind a facade–in this case as head butler–forcing him to stay with his Nazi-sympathizing boss rather than gathering up the courage to enter into a more meaningful relationship with the magnificent Emma Thompson. What a depressingly beautiful story. The story works because the obvious misjudgments derive from a comprehensible fear of rejection and the fear of setting aside pathological defenses while under emotional stress. We know Yukino adores Hachiman. But Hachiman doesn’t really believe it, especially after his experience with Orimoto, who he is forced to interact with and remember.

    I suppose the same could be said of Yukino, possibly the hottest and most famous girl in school. She could have any boy she wants. If she wants Hachiman to be with her she could make it so. But that is simply not something she does. Unfortunately for him, she has an eager preference to drop him than maintain superficial bonds with him. She admires him too much and would hurt too much to do otherwise.

Comments are closed.