OreGairu Season 2 Episode 2 – Protective Self-Loathing

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.

OreGairu S2 episode 2 anime - Hayato Hayama fears change

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.

OreGairu S2 episode 2 anime - Ebina Hina hate herself

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.

OreGairu S2 episode 2 anime - Yuigahama Yui suffers Hikki's pain

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.)

Return to the OreGairu S2 Episodic Notes page.

23 comments on “OreGairu Season 2 Episode 2 – Protective Self-Loathing

  1. Frog-kun says:

    Ugh… rationalising your own hurt and loneliness by pretending it doesn’t matter… I feel like we’ve all been here before.

    • Guy says:

      My immediate response was, “It’s easier than admitting you hurt.”

      And then I took a step back and thought to myself, “Huh?! Why would it hurt less?” At which point I realized why.

      It’s one thing to not hurt, and thus do nothing to better your position. It’s another to know you hurt, and yet do nothing about it. That realization is in itself a reason to hurt.

      Which Hikki knows, and thus he’s punishing himself. For being terrible. For not doing what he believes in. For not admitting things. He’s earned this pain, so he hurts himself further, which makes him hate himself even more.

      Rationalizing loneliness is easier, though. He’s rationalizing loneliness as a way to stop pain. Of course, it also causes him pain, which is where the rationalization and self-deceit must kick in.

  2. zeroreq011 says:

    To add on to this post, the LNs go into more explicit detail about the reasoning behind Hikki’s part in this whole affair stating how Hikki empathizes with Hayama and friends’ efforts toward resisting a change from their comfortable status quo, and well… Hikki’s all about keeping comfortable status quos to prevent himself from getting hurt, or at least hurt less.

    Hikki did this somewhat out of subconscious impulse, and with the they way he holds himself in his mind, the stars just happened to align.

    As an explanation anyway for why he decided to help Hayama and friends’ to the extent he does despite not being anywhere near close to them.

    • Guy says:

      Of course it’s not “merely the stars happened to align,” as this is a story, and things happen for a reason, even if it’s not in-verse.

      But yes, I think I spelled it out myself, especially in last week’s write-up – Hikki is too afraid to make any move himself, because he’s afraid the status quo will change. Hina’s words in the episode are reflective of Hikki – he likes how things are, and that’s why he hates himself. He hates himself, and that’s why he likes how things are. He’s deathly afraid to cast off.

      So, yes, that’s exactly what I was saying :P
      I guess it does add that Hikki helped them because he sees himself in them? I wonder. It is clear that he’s trying to help people reach the “optimum happiness,” but he also makes sure to exact his pound of flesh by making sure everyone he helps suffers. Is this because he wants to help them, or because he wants to think of himself as one who helps others, or is it also part of his self-flagellation? What Hikki himself says is of little value, because of how untrustworthy of a narrator he is, especially about himself.

      The whole, “They remind me of myself, so I helped them,” is very commonplace in anime, it’s true, but it feels weak. Especially for Hikki, who is quite self-centered, as he’s so trapped in his own suffering, which is the whole point of his character. And everyone else, in this show, and episode.

      Also, I’ve thought the same thing in the two times I’ve watched the first season, this show, the 4th most important character isn’t Sensei, but Hayama. Hayama is the one who understands Hachiman best, alongside Sensei. Unlike Sensei, he actually interacts with him and spells things out. Sensei is the subtle approach.

      • zeroreq011 says:

        What I mean by the stars happening to align is Hikki believing that him acting the way he did was the best possible outcome, given the circumstances and his temperament. He believed he had to do it, because he would cause the least offense, and he was the only one who knew and was willing to do what it took. The stars aligning would probably be a more elegant way for him to frame the event as a way to rationalize his actions. If only the circumstances didn’t tailor itself to my temperament so well…

      • zeroreq011 says:

        Well, what do you suppose the responses Hikki would give if someone like Yukino directly grilled him with “Why? Why help them and hurt yourself? What’s your personal stake behind it?” He’d probably start answering shiftily, espousing excuses of “optimum happiness” for Hayama and friends. It’s not like he cares about them enough to do it for them personally though. He doesn’t know them that well. He admits more than enough times to be proud of the fact that he’s a self-absorbed git without the sort of overarching worldview and discipline that drives Yukinon. What he does, he does for himself.

        And I think this scene translates as him doing something for himself, something to calm his own insecurities by catering to those insecurities. Hayama’s, Miura’s, and Ebina’s insecurities conflate with his own.

        • Guy says:

          That sounds like an explanation Hikki would give, which is exactly why I think it’s false :)

          I mean, Hikki said this episode, “Not knowing lets me do things others can’t”, but that’s bullshit. Hikki knows exactly how others feel, and why they feel it.

          Hikki is not self-absorbed at all. Being self-absorbed is what he wants to be. Being lonely means you aren’t close enough to others for them to hurt you.

          Those are all the things Hikki is not. What you outlined is what Hikki would finally tell himself. That doesn’t mean it’s true.

          Hikki is part of the group already, and Hikki cares about how others feel. That includes wanting to hurt them, to a degree.

          A large part of why Hikki helps others, besides caring, and wanting others to care about him, and wanting to be accepted into society, and wanting to help in a way that makes others hurt him as self-flagellation is because. Yes, those are plenty of reasons, but a large part of it is because. Because others expect it from him, and refusing is a hassle, and hurts his own social situation. And because Hikki isn’t just alone, he’s lonely, and this gives him means to interact with others.

          I am not really interested in what Hikki says, because he’s not trustworthy, as a narrator. He’s Hikki. He gives you cool-sounding and “perceptive” answers that only hide the truth.

      • zeroreq011 says:

        So I don’t think it’s about him martyring himself or punishing himself. It’s about him protecting himself. He just has to martyr himself and punish himself as a consequence, but he insists that those don’t matter. He’s not that generous, nor is he masochistic. He’s just self-absorbed.

        • Guy says:

          I think we’ll agree to disagree. Him being self-absorbed, or “self-reliant”, is the biggest lie of all. Unless we look at all his attempts to reach others so he won’t feel lonely as self-absorption.

          He’s self-serving, but he’s not at all self-absorbed, in my eyes. He wants to be, though.

      • zeroreq011 says:

        Right then. We can agree he’s a mess of contradictions.

      • sena says:

        “The whole, “They remind me of myself, so I helped them,” is very commonplace in anime, it’s true, but it feels weak.”

        I agree, almost anyone else I would buy this explanation but definitely not Hikki. Personally, I agree with you that he actually likes the status quo and his actions is done to preserve it – thus him calling himself the biggest liar of them all, as this stands in contrast to his usual philosophy. The thing is, I see it as not really being about Hayama’s group status quo, but the service club.

        My clue here is the episode title: His and HER confessions won’t reach anyone. His is obvious, it’s Tobe who can’t even get a word in. But who is Her? It’s definitely not Yukino or Miura, and Ebina is adamant that she’s not getting into any relationship anytime soon, so that leaves Yui. And yes, if you look back to S01E12, she did mention that she’ll wait for Yukinon, but “she won’t wait for someone who won’t do anything, no matter how long she waits” which strongly implies that she’s steeling herself to confess to Hikki sometime soon.

        When Yui says, “how can you be so stupid not to notice this when you’re usually so smart?”, I think part of it is due to her seeing Hikki self-flagellating as usual, yes. But maybe it’s also because she’s hurt to see the boy she likes confess to another girl in front of her? It doesn’t matter if it’s fake, you can’t convince your feelings that easy. However, does Hikki really not see that? Yui isn’t exactly being subtle in her approach, and Hikki is very sharp with these kind of things. What if he’s planning to kill two birds in one stone, and also decides to nip Yui’s confession in the bud by doing this (because no matter what his answer will be, the service club won’t return to how it currently is after Yui confesses).

        Yeah, all this is just wild speculation on my part, based on few flimsy evidence, but it does give a good explanation on why Hikki decides to help Hayama’s group. The whole ‘obligation as a club member’ doesn’t even fit here – they already do their best, and even an all-powerful genie can’t wish for true love. This might not be true, but at least it makes sense for him to do something like this.

        • Guy says:

          I don’t think Yui confessed in this episode more than she already did. I actually thought it was in reference to Ebina’s “confession” at the end of the episode.

          That one moment and Hikki just brushing it off are tied to what I wrote last week – unless Hikki will be told in no uncertain terms that someone likes him romantically, he’ll read anything as a misunderstanding, to not get his hopes up.

          Ebina wanting to date Hikki actually makes sense in more than way. Ebina can’t date anyone from within her group, because she cherishes the group as is. Hikki is considered an outsider, so she can pursue a romantic relationship with him without destroying her current group.

          Of course it’s a lie, as Tobe will be affected by it, say, and you can’t date someone outside the group at high school without it affecting the group at all, but it can fit the way they see things.

          It could be Yui, of course, but it just feels as if it’s no more of a confession than the ones she’s already made, and Hachiman chose to overlook.

          Speaking of Yui and Hachiman, the most significant moment in the episode that summed it all up was when Yui said, “This would be a great place to get confessed to at,” and Hikki went, “Why the passive voice?”

          Everyone wants to be confessed to, so there’d be no possibility of mistake. No one wants to do the confessing. Also because hurting someone else by turning them down is probably seen as less hurtful than being turned down. I mean, the girls who turned Hikki down in Junior High didn’t seem to suffer, while he’s still wearing the scars.

          That also answers your question, of, “However, does Hikki really not see that? Yui isn’t exactly being subtle in her approach.” I really recommend you read my write-up last week, which discusses that very topic.

  3. wellspokenman says:

    I think that there is more than bit of cockiness to how Hachiman does things. He takes the pain on himself, telling himslef that others can’t handle it like he can. He steps in and takes the worst of it to prove it can’t hurt him. I used to be like that. I still am a little, to be honest. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that. Each little trauma leaves a crack, though. Eventually those cracks will bring you down. Those sacrifices end up causing more pain to the people you are trying to spare then they would have felt otherwise, but then you don’t get to be the hero.

    • Guy says:

      That’d mean Hachiman is altruistic, that he’s willing to suffer to protect others. Why do you think that’s congruent with Hachiman’s character, if we put aside people likening him to Batman?

      If anything, it sounds as if he is like Batman, and he can’t be hurt by all those things not because he’s “strong”, or “doesn’t care”, but because he’s already been hurt so bad that there’s nothing but scar tissue.

      Of course, the show is showing us his naivete, that you can still be hurt after you’re lonely :P

      But still, let’s say he’s cocky, and altruistic, then why is he? While I don’t agree with zeroreq as to the answers provided as to why Hachiman is helping others, it’s still a question, of why he’d bother helping people?

      • wellspokenman says:

        I don’t think he’s altruistic, I think he’s condescending. He mocks their little fake friendship, and he shows his superiority by saving it for them. If he sees little value in their friendship then he isn’t missing anything by not having it. He doesn’t want a friendship because it isn’t real, but he does want something, because he knows he isn’t really happy.

        This is where I think he is at this point, but his reasons for helping people change after the fallout from this. The strong reactions that people have to his handling of this situation, coupled with the upcomming events, make him feel a bit more vulnerable than he’d like. I think he starts warming to the idea of being on equal terms with people, provided the relationship is genuine. ;)

  4. sena says:

    In response to your last reply to me, as I can’t reply to that post anymore:

    I don’t think Ebina really wants to confess to Hikki at that point. She’s just admiring how they’re both actually pretty similar in that they’re a bit messed up, but Hikki rightly points out that a relationship between 2 messed-up people would just be a messed up relationship, and not necessarily compatible. In any case, I’m pretty sure that she’s really not aiming for a relationship anytime soon.

    And it’s not like Yui is going to confess to him anytime soon, or even in Kyoto. Sure, everyone prefers to be confessed to, but Yui knows very well that Hikki will never do that. Like in your previous post, I agree that Hikki deliberately puts himself in denial over Yui’s feelings, rejecting the obvious to protect himself in his misery. But I feel like things are going to go the way of that scene early in the episode – Hikki offers Yui a helping hand without realizing the implications, and immediately draws it back when he catch on. And yet, Yui immediately grabs his hand back without hesitation – in short, no matter how hard he denies it and draws away, just like Tobe Yui will always keep hope and relentlessly pursue him.

  5. Anon says:

    I would say that Hachiman helping others is a direct externalization of his own belief of what helping others is, as opposed to actually helping others. For him, helping others is done in reflection of himself, in his fear of getting hurt, and thus he lies in his delusional idea that this will prevent people getting hurt. Of course, as you say, this in itself is a lie. And his reflections on his lies and the end, makes him realize that his whole philosophy is flawed and I’m pretty excited to see how Hachiman will mature in this series as he will constantly realize he will get hurt if he continues being like this.

  6. luigi herrera says:

    i wonder what he meant about “i was the biggest liar”

    • Guy says:

      If you’re aware you’re lying and still do so, you’re a bigger liar than those unaware. If you’re hypocritical, telling others off for their superficial relationships, while you have superficial relationship, you’re a bigger liar.

      If others lie to other people, but you lie to yourself, saying you don’t envy those other people, you’re a bigger liar.

      He probably meant these things, to a degree.

  7. XOZO says:

    man… u really take things into fine detail huh…

    me, being the airhead i am, am finding it a little tough to digest all of it…
    help me out a bit guy!
    1. why exactly is it that hayama is the one who best understands hachiman??
    well i dont think u only meant of this situation in which he wanted to maintain the status quo just like hachiman…
    there’s more to it than just that rit??
    2. i still don”t get hachiman’s reason for helping others…
    it doesn’t seem out of empathy to me…

    as u said in the beginning that he helps protect something that he believes to be an illusion
    i.e society, human relation such…thus hes is a hypocrite…
    then in the end he lies to himself when he says his feelings doesn’t matter and that hes fine being ‘alone’… again hes is lying to himself… he is definitely not okay…
    he may be even screaming for help inside( i not really sure about because even if hes lying about being lonely is fine, it doesn’t exactly mean hes is asking for help or have relationships…)
    coming back to the point, he is again a hypocrite…
    and if you look at the above two, it looks like hypocracy within a hypocracy
    so doesn’t mean that his actions though being counter to the lie he forces himself to believe(society is an illusion)
    but supports what he truly wants(to have people take away his loneliness)???
    and finally, it seems to me that is was in this episode that he 1st realized his own hypocracy…
    resulting in he hating himself…
    but he seems to be engaging in self-destructive cycle for quite some time now ( since season 1)

    lots of other stuff that i dnt understand upto the point i cant even express a question for it…

    please help!!
    as hard it is to understand this awesome show, i absolutely love and cant seem to rest my mind cause i cant figure out whats going on

  8. Brian says:

    There is something that has always bothered me. Why does Yukino get so pissed off at Hachiman for what he did on this episode, but during the school festival arc she was even happy after what he did? If it’s because he got hurt, it was waaay worse during the festival, if it was because he hurt others, same thing; still she has even flirting with Hachiman after the festival.

    It just doesn’t make sense, it’s not even like a lot of time passed between those 2 events, so why? Bad writting or am I missing something?

    Also, will you please explain those damn stickers on the classroom? It’s driving me nuts lol. It’s not for each mission they finish because there would be times where 3 or more stickers would appear at once, so I was thinking maybe each sticker represents a character, but I think there are more stickers than characters, so don’t know what to make out of it.

  9. […] I stole this image of Yui from Geekorner. […]

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