Oregairu S3 – Episode 5

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today we’ll be returning to Oregairu, where we most recently witnessed Yui once again martyring herself for the sake of her friends. Though she’s been attempting to pursue a relationship with Hachiman since the very beginning of the series, she also feels that Yukino actually needs Hachiman, and thus steps aside with a smile the moment her happiness inconveniences their relationship.

Yui’s actions aren’t really unexpected. She’s been sacrificing her happiness for her friends’ sake all series long, and one of Oregairu’s fundamental lessons is that personal growth doesn’t progress in a straight or orderly direction. Sometimes we take strange detours on the road to adulthood, and frequently we’ll find ourselves backsliding into habits we’d hoped to escape from. Hachiman himself has experienced this process a few times, but at least with Hachiman, there is generally the intent to improve. In contrast, it seems like Yui has fundamentally accepted that her needs will always come second to those she cares about, and has no plans to impose her desires on anyone. It’s a very Yui decision, but not a healthy one; kindness is a virtue, but everyone has the right to seek happiness, and Yui’s friends would ultimately want her to be happy as well.

Meanwhile, Yukino is busy locking horns with her mother, in what appears to be a proxy battle representing her overall quest for autonomy. I’m not sure how Hachiman plans to address this situation, but I’m content to watch the sparks fly as these battleships collide. Let’s return to the emotional battlefield of Oregairu!

Episode 5

“Shizuka Hiratsuka Deeply Longs for the Days Past.” Sensei plays an interesting role in this narrative. She’s the only adult who’s really invested in helping Hachiman and the others grow through this difficult period, and serves as a kind of emotional shepherd from the other side. But at the same time, she’s actually fairly childish in her own right, and seems to relate to their experience from a position of still being emotionally invested in the trials of high school. Gauging by the direction the story’s taking her, Wataru Watari seems to understand Sensei’s immaturity – but it could also be the case, and is the case in many other anime, that Sensei is simply embodying the greatest degree of maturity possible in a subculture-oriented light novel. The conventions of the field deviate from emotionally convincing character writing in ways that sometimes make it hard to interpret character actions in any way but “that’s just how characters act in these stories”

Nice incidental characterization detail of Hachiman playing it cool until Yui is out of view, then breaking into a run

The school is leaning towards canceling the prom, but would prefer for the students to voluntarily do so

“As long as a problem isn’t treated like a problem, it’s not really a problem.” Hachiman recognizes that the laws of social engagement he developed for high school can also be applied to the world at large. People like Yukino’s mother are manipulating a chessboard just like he’s learned to, but with the benefit of far more social and professional clout

“I’m used to girls not wanting my attention.” Hachiman has extracted the edge of earnest resentment from quips like this, which has substantially improved the quality of his jokes

“If you’re talking about dependency and such, I think you have the wrong idea about us.” I’m glad we hear this from Hachiman himself. Haruno’s jabs are cynical and mean-spirited, but her age and experience has in the past prompted Hikki to take her “wisdom” too seriously. With this statement, Hachiman indicates that he’s considered Haruno’s diagnosis, but ultimately disagrees

Sensei also understands that Yukino sees this as a rite of passage

“Eventually, you reach a part in life where you have to come face-to-face with yourself.” Sensei’s thoughts drift towards her own anxieties. The process of reinventing yourself certainly doesn’t end at high school – as she admits, she’s already tried out a variety of professional identities, and will surely try more

“You won’t save her simply by helping out with prom. What matters is how you act towards her.” Hachiman began this series with a fully results-oriented approach to problem-solving, frequently making himself a villain in order to resolve their cases. He’s since learned to value himself for the sake of his friends’ feelings, and at this point, that knowledge must inform his decisions here. Hachiman isn’t just trying to help Yukino with prom – he’s attempting to fundamentally change the nature of their relationship, and that requires behaving in such a way as to model a new dynamic for the two of them. He can’t “cheat his way” to victory this time

“You should all have a little more faith in the experience you’ve acquired for yourselves.” The baby birds are ready to leave the nest!

Iroha’s guarding the student council room. Some nice character acting as she stares Hikki down and blocks the door

“You’re so overprotective.” Iroha and Hachiman’s relationship is extremely charming. They’re essentially the only two leads with no emotional baggage regarding each other, and thus they can actually trade lines as honest friends. They’re also on similar emotional journeys, with both of them attempting to evolve out of their insincere, self-deprecating facades, and trading tips along the way

Iroha’s “did you just hit on me” performance now resolves on “let’s wait until all this drama is cleared up”

“Anyone in their right mind would avoid dealing with annoying stuff like this.” She’s still a fair bit more mercenary than Hachiman, admittedly

“You guys are a real pain, you know…” Aw, you know you’re fond of these idiots, Iroha. She’s reached the point of actually coaching Hachiman to make sure the situation doesn’t explode

Though Yukino greets Hachiman warmly, she also immediately spins the whiteboard of prom ideas away as he enters. The implication is clear: this is my project, you’re not welcome participating

Yukino seems full of tense energy. She clings to formality at times like this, politely serving drinks, but flinching when she hears that Hachiman was with Yui

Hachiman notes that because the school is requesting a voluntary cancelation from the students, they have at least a slight degree of power there, and could potentially refuse to do so

He walks over and flips the whiteboard himself

“If you’re more or less going to follow their demands, then they’ll approve, huh? In normal circumstances. However, things aren’t normal this time.” Hachiman understands that the PTO’s issue with the prom is not any specific unsavory detail. The problem is the prom’s base existence, as a representation of Yukino’s independence from her mother. As an extension of her mother’s power, the PTO will only be satisfied by the prom being cancelled, because the only outcome they’re actually seeking is Yukino’s total failure

Oof. Hachiman asks to help, but makes a critical blunder in his explanation. Hoping to avoid seeming like a savior or imposition, he states that his help will be no different from when they’ve collaborated before – but of course, Yukino sees their prior “collaborations” as a string of personal failures, wherein her lofty ideals and attempts to carry everyone’s burdens ultimately had to be bailed out by Hachiman again and again

“That’s exactly what I want to change”

“If there’s a problem with how we’ve been doing things, we’ll find a different way to do things, or a different way of thinking, or way to interact or something.” I deeply appreciate Hachiman pushing back against Yukino’s melodramatic framing here. He’s gained enough confidence that he doesn’t just seize up at her emotional ultimatums – there’s no reason to assume there’s no way forward for them, and he’s happy to talk out their current disagreements. Love to see my boy merging confidence and consideration like this

Rebuffed by Yukino, he announces they’ll be having an old-fashioned Service Club showdown, with each of them pursuing the objective in their own way. If she refuses to let him help, I suppose he’ll just work on the same project in parallel

“Whoever loses the showdown will have to do one thing the winner says.” Yukino’s competitive streak at last gets the best of her pride

Seeing the way Yukino and Hachiman flirt, a rapport that basically no one else in the series can equal, prompts Iroha to feel a slight flame of jealousy

And Done

Welp, it took the collective efforts of basically every other member of the cast, but it seems like Hachiman and Yukino are at last back on the same side. Not actually collaborating, of course, but these two are probably at their happiest when they’re competing anyway. The important thing is that Hachiman has been granted permission to save the prom in his own way, leaving me eager to see how he tackles the Service Club’s most challenging request. Is there truly a route to victory that somehow doesn’t undercut Yukino’s desire for independence? With their emotions stacked like a wavering house of cards, it seems we’re due for a painful collapse before the school year ends!

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