So, what did we have this episode? What did we really have this episode? First of all, we’ve had “someone acting strange.” Hachiman was speaking of Hayama not being his usual effusive and helpful self, and rather being unhelpful, but watching the episode you also have Ebina acting somewhat weird and giving off “sad vibes”, and Miura actually being aggressive for the sake of others. And you have Hachiman and Yukino hold onto the note they pass for too long.
That last one seems irrelevant, but that is the point. Everyone is acting “weird”, because everyone is trying to deal with the tension of desiring for the status quo to remain, because everything else is scary and you risk losing what you already have, and the constant desire to have something better, something more. In terms of a community, this struggle is a bit more complex, but still similar, and ranges the gamut from desiring your friends to be happy in the status quo, to them being happier if things change, to the risk that not only your friends will not be happier if things turn out badly, but that as a result everyone else will suffer as well.
And thus we have Hachiman’s answer, which is what he’s always going for: Maximizing everyone’s happiness, by giving more weight to people’s unhappiness – he will strive for a situation where the least amount of people are “extremely unhappy”, at the cost of a couple of people being very unhappy, and a thin patina of unhappiness and an awareness everyone’s living a lie, which runs counter to his professed beliefs of not believing in and propagating the social lie. And of course, he’ll also do it at the cost of his own happiness, which he lies and says doesn’t matter, just as he lies and says he doesn’t understand or care for how others feel, which allows him to crush both their feelings, and his. All lies, of course.
After everything went down, Ebina said this important sentence: “I like how things currently are, and that’s why I hate myself.” There’s an important corollary which is doubly apt for Hachiman, “I hate myself, and that’s why I like how things currently are.” Hachiman hates himself, which is why he keeps punishing himself, keeps consciously crushing his own feelings. Seeing his own actions, and seeing how he’s the one maintaining the lies – both that he doesn’t believe in how society works, and that he’s happy with his own situation, and that he’s the one actively making his own community keep on going while also hurting himself further, is why he keeps on hating himself, which leads to him punishing himself further, by just engaging in this more. A self-destructive cycle, made more self-destructive by the awareness of it, that Hachiman cannot truly ignore.
Regarding the “fake confession,” everyone acted as if Hachiman was super hurt by it, but I don’t really buy it. Everyone knew it was a fake confession, and Hachiman knew it was as well, so where was the hurt? This is actually an important question. Because there was hurt. There was hurt in Hachiman having to act for things he purports to not believe in. There was hurt in how Hachiman must act for others who will not act for him. There was hurt because everyone treats Hachiman as part of a community, and expect him to be hurt by the same things they’d be hurt by – by embarrassment, by rejection, even if “fake”. And Hachiman is hurt by these things, because as this write-up up to this point, and as my write-up last week explaining how the main trio think both show, Hachiman is just another boy.
But that’s not the main cause of hurt. Hayama apologized to Hachiman, which Hachiman rejected – Hayama was willing to cause others harm, to hurt them, to protect his lie, to protect his status quo. He can’t wish for something and then say he’s only sorry it caused hurt, when he knew the hurt will come. Yukino said she hates the way Hachiman does thing, something Hayama said to him more than once in the first season. Yui said she never wanted to see something like this, that no one wanted to see what Hachiman pulled. Yui further said that Hachiman doesn’t actually think of how his actions make others feel
So what is it that Yui did not wish to see? What is the great and harmful thing Hachiman has done, to maintain “maximum happiness”? Why, he just made every single person slightly unhappy, crushed their dreams. Tobe was mustering his courage to confess, only to be left unable to do so, while seeing someone else confess in front of him to the girl he likes. Ebina was embarrassed, forced to turn someone down, and unable to resolve her issues with Tobe one way or the other (and this is one of the things that Hachiman realizes he’s a hypocrite for – he’s helping maintain the lie instead of resolving things by stating the truth). Yukino and Yui have to see Hachiman confess, and even if he doesn’t understand their romantic feelings, he should realize they’re hurt by seeing him hurt.
And that’s really what Yukino, Yui, and Hayama are all talking about. Seeing Hachiman hurting people in order to make others around them happy? Seeing Hachiman hurting people in order to make them happy? Those are “small” things. What they can’t stand to see is Hachiman ignoring his feelings for the sake of others, of putting himself up there to be whipped, and then seeing him lying that he doesn’t hurt, even as tears stream down his face, metaphorically.
People hurt by seeing Hachiman’s self-flagellation, seeing his social suicide by saying he’s only helping others. This is why Sensei hugged him last season, because she knows he hurts, and that he only hurts himself further.
The fake confession wasn’t the point, but a symbol for everything that is wrong with Hachiman’s life. The disregard for his own feelings. “I don’t understand how others feel, which is why I can act the way I do.” – But his actions require him to understand intimately not just what he’s protecting, but why people feel it’s worth protecting. Hachiman hates not just himself, but everyone else, so while helping them, he can’t help but hurt them. Hurt is all that Hachiman carries within himself, and thus all he can share. Until he’ll admit he hurts. Admit his admittance. He does know it, and he knew he was a hypocrite. But he’s still not willing to go beyond and act on it, to let go of the status quo.
Speaking of lies and not wanting to admit it, Yui and Yukino said they’ll leave things to Hachiman, when he said there’s a way to make it work. Hayama admitted that he doesn’t want to rely on Hachiman, that he knew it’d turn out like this. The truth is, so did Yui and Yukinon, and like everyone else, they pushed the whole thing onto Hikki, knowing he’ll suffer. They blamed him for how he resolved things, but they also blamed themselves, because they knew it’d turn out like this. When did it not? Hayama hates himself, just like Yui and Yukino, because he’s willing to sacrifice others’ happiness for his own.
And just like everyone else, Hikki is lying to protect something. Hikki will hurt his current relationships to protect that lie, to protect that status quo. Hikki will hurt his relationships to remain alone, because it’s the loneliness he tells himself he likes, and that’s why he hates himself. He hates himself, and that’s why he tells himself that he likes this loneliness, that he’s earned it.
(I also wrote a semi-editorial, semi-notes write-up for this episode, which you can check here.)