Oregairu 3 – 09 – The Secret Ingredient

One morning over coffee Hikki is so honest and upfront with Komachi, she’s a little creeped out. It’s just not like him…only now, it kinda is. Bottom line: things happened. A lot of things. Komachi asks for details, and he promises to tell her everything “when it’s all over”. Until then, their celebration will be small and family-only, to avoid awkwardness.

Hikki’s awkwardness with Yui only lasts as long as she allows it, which is not long at all! She scolds Hikki for communicating through LINE messages rather than just talking. Her breaking the ice helps make Hikki more comfortable for when he takes her aside, by the swings, to ask her what her wish is.

Before that though, Hikki simply revels in being able to pleasantly chat with Yui like this, saying “nothing of importance” and pretending everything is normal…but considers simply going on doing that to be betraying himself. So he asks her something important, and Yui takes advantage of the request to basically stall, asking for a number of little things while she thinks about the main thing.

We’re already well aware of what Yui wants: she wants it all—And frankly, she deserves it! She wants Hikki, romantically. She wants to remain best friends with Yukino. And she wants the three of them to continue to be together. All of those things at once aren’t possible, and yet one cannot separate one part of that wish from the others and still have it be her wish…any more than you can pull the sugar and flour out of a baked cake.

Throughout the episode, Touyama Nao’s voice acting is phenomenal in its bittersweetness, and Yui’s face game is truly god-level. The next morning, at the shoe lockers, Hikki is confronted by Yumiko, who is direct in her intentions: Yui is a friend mine, so don’t be half-assed about this” or I’ll be royally pissed. Hikki is heartened by the gesture; Yumiko really is a good person!

Hikki also runs into Yukino and Iroha while he’s walking with Yui (a fact Iroha is quick to point out), and some extremely cordial chit-chat about how they’re doing ensues. Yukino labors to find the words for their situation, which is neither peachy nor dire, but waves off any attempts for Hikki to help; later Iroha tells him he’s free to do so whenever he wants as far as she’s concerned.

After that almost painfully diplomatic exchange, Yui takes Hikki aside and invites him to her house on Saturday…to make a cake for Komachi, like they’d planned earlier. Yui informs him her mom will be joining them to offer pointers.

Hikki expects the ensuing visit to be awkward, and it kinda is, especially when Yui’s mom isn’t around when he first arrives, and he and Yui simply sit close together while she looks over recipes. Then Yui’s mom pops up like a shinobi, the trio is off to the grocery store and from there, Hikki is in Yuigahama Heaven.

For one lovely evening the awkwardness generally melts away and Hikki and Yui go about making cute little fruit tarts with and without chocolate, one of which he feeds him by having him say “ahh”. When her mom brings up the absolutely crucial “secret ingredient” and asks Hikki to guess what it is, instead of saying the obvious “love” he says “devotion”…which is very on point for Hikki.

As Yui walks Hikki home, they both agree that making things together was and is a lot of fun. Hikki gives Yui the gift of cookies to repay her for those she made him (another Hikki trait: never taking a gift without offering renumeration) He again wishes he could continue living his days granting all of Yui’s wishes one by one, but dismisses that as “impossible fantasy”.

Speaking of awkward, with all the Hikki-and-Yui quality time this week, the shift to the seniors’ farewell ceremony, including emotional speeches from Iroha and Meguri-senpai, felt a little out of place, as if it was tacked on to the end of the episode because there was extra time left.

That said, Iroha uses the opportunity to tell Hikki she has a little job for him to “throw his back into” with his usual vim and vigor. Her impending request and some scenes from the preview suggest that despite Yukino’s insistence on it not being necessary, Hikki will be lending a hand with the prom after all.

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru – 10

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Club has become awkward between Hikigaya and Yukino, and with the school festival approaching, they decide to suspend activities. Hikigaya is named the boy’s class rep for the committee, while Sagami Hinami is chosen as the girl. She volunteers to be chairman after Yukino passes, but Yukino ends up doing all the work while Sagami slacks off. Hayama and class president Meguri believe she’s shouldering too much of the workload, and she reassesses the work assignments and accepts their help. The next day, she’s out sick, leaving a mountain of paperwork at her desk.

When we learned this would be yet another school festival episode, we pretty much made the same noise Hikigaya makes when he eases himself into the bath after a grueling day of committee paperwork. But this episode wasn’t so grueling, and it serves as a means to shake up the club status quo already shaken by Yukino and Hikigaya’s distance, and introduce new character dynamics. Sagami Hinami is a outwardly pleasant enough girl who likes to laugh at private jokes with her friends, and sees the festival as a chance to “grow as a person”. Yet she lacks confidence and drive to be chairman, a role far better-suited for Yukino, who’d once again be following in her perfect sister’s footsteps.

As her Haruno has mentioned before, Yukino can make insecure people hate her for her steadfast diligence and refusal to mince words or tell lies (the car accident thing notwithstanding). So the insecure Sagami, resentful of Yukino upstaging her, punishes her by giving her all the work, then ganging up on Yukino with Haruno when she shows up to volunteer. We can’t help but feel bad for Yukino in this scene, getting poked and prodded into fulfilling roles everyone else creates for her, be it classmates or family. Hikigaya doesn’t like what Sagami is doing to Yukino (or what Yukino is doing to herself), but his ability to act is limited by that cloud handing over their friendship. Regardless, it may be up to Hikigaya to come to her aid if and when everything comes crashing down.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Totsuka is going to play The Little Prince, because of course he is.
  • Hey, we’d nearly forgotten about Kawasaki…there she is!
  • Did Yukino get sick for real (from overwork or just chance), or did she call in sick to get away from the stress?
  • This series’ penchant for singsong names knows no bounds.