Well, last week’s episode sure was eventful, eventful enough I wrote my longest episodic write-up to date. What did we have and where are we going with it? Hayama walked a mile in Hachiman’s shoes, and extended empathy and pity to him that Hachiman rejected, because he’s not ready for such abrupt change, and to not being punished.
For all of her talk of not sacrificing oneself, Yukino is going to take it all on her and is going to run for presidency. Yui does not wish to be the only one to let her friends suffer, so her solution, as someone who understands taking the load is suffering and you don’t let friends suffer is to take the load on herself, so she could suffer. And now we are in a pickle, in a place where Hachiman has to choose how to get it so that only he would suffer, or the least amount of people will suffer. Is he going to run for Student Council President himself, with hopes of winning? How will you save your friends who are only trying to save you, dearest Hikki?
Thoughts and Notes:
1) For Sister and State!:
1) This is hard for Hikki. Hikki isn’t used to be the one to frankly reach out to the other, to fix relationships, to say he was wrong, to try and make things not just “optimum happiness for everyone while hating him,” but actually fixing them hating him. But this shows that to Hikki, his relationship with Komachi is just that important. As an aside, this is also why the “incest” romantic line in anime had replaced the robot girlfriend one, someone who’salways supposed to be there for you. So when she’s not, it means things are really that bad.
2) D’awww, dat smile! Also, how surprised Hikki was with how quickly Komachi gave in. Sometimes, all you need is to ask, and to speak plainly, rather than manipulate people, eh? Especially when they care for you.
“That’s okay.” – All everyone wants to hear, for someone else to take the burden off of their shoulders. Hachiman knows that best.
3) “But you’re only capable of being nice to me because I’m your sister, otherwise you’d keep as far away from me as possible.” – Last episode when Haruno reached out to him, her hand like a snake. When he said in his inside voice on the train in the first arc that Yui is too close. When he sat distant from Yukino as they discussed Tobe’s case. Last episode in the cinema. Yet here, he’s practically touching his sister. This is the hedgehog’s dilemma. Hikki accepts Komachi as “close” without having to think about it, or think of her motivations. He doesn’t ask “Why does Komachi like me? What does she have to gain from showing me pity?” – He just accepts it. Family as a logic-breaker, as a facet of reality that just is. Well, I can tell you it’s not always that simple, but hey, it’s not that sort of story. We only need one dose of misunderstanding and loneliness in this show.
2) Helping Hachiman:
1) And so, Sensei’s warning is dealt with, or at least the conundrum posed. Hachiman has been given a request to help his friends. He’s been given a request to help his friends by helping himself, and to help himself by helping his friends. Komachi’s request is one that cannot be solved by Hachiman sacrificing himself, because that won’t truly help Yui and Yukinon, and the club.
2) “To preserve that place, and the time we spend together there.” – And so, Hachiman must act in service to the ideas he’s always been speaking against, but always acting for – stopping change. Well, he’s always been afraid of change, but, stopping change because this is home, with others.
3) “How many times have you had to listen to my prattle?” – LOLOLOL. Seems this is the episode for side-characters to come and tell Hachiman he has who to turn to, that he has people he can confide in. Even if they can be a pain in the ass.
4) Kawasaki only suggested names of people she knows, people from her class and Yukinoshita, whom everyone knows. Makes sense – everyone picks the people they know, in such instances. Now it remains to be seen what route Hachiman is planning to take with Iroha, for whom this is all about the image.
3) No Problemo!:
1) I wonder, is the tactic to have so many people up for vote that not a single one will get enough votes to end up as Student Council President? Then again, Hikki at this point is looking to help Yui and Yuikino, rather than Iroha, so is his tactic to make sure no one can get 30 nominations to actually be at risk of being elected?
2) “Don’t worry, no one will get hurt.” – The best worst line, the worst best line, in the list of narrative “famous last lines.” Zaimokuza just told Hachiman that there are risks involved, but being a chuuni who likes to be overly dramatic and then speaking of “being caught,” it might be more about that sort of risk, of people being angry. Given what we know of Hachiman, he doesn’t seem to fully grasp what will get people hurt, so there might yet be risk of people being hurt – such as if he hurts himself.
And yet, this also shows some potential growth on Hikki’s part, as he’s not saying he’ll be hurt for someone else’s sake, nor will he hurt one person for their own benefit and those around them (scaring the girls so they’d reform as a group), but rather, trying to make it so so that no one will be hurt. It just remains to be seen if his flawed understanding of others, and himself, will suffice.
3) “A problem is not a problem if it’s not seen as one.” – This is a great line. It reminds me something I’ve heard a psychologist say before. If, for example, you don’t have a girlfriend and you find it to be something that makes your life not worth living, then it’s an issue that needs fixing. If you don’t consider it a problem, then it’s not something that you need to do anything about. The reverse for “good situations” is equally true – if you find being “popular” a “problem”, then it needs to be fixed. “Only things that people find problematic are problems” is the rephrase. Yes, there are obviously exceptions, but we’re mostly talking about specific people with personal issues, not “I don’t find this a problem, so it means no one else should,” about public concepts.
This of course also opens up Hachiman’s situation with those around him in an interesting manner – if he doesn’t see himself suffering as a problem, then why is it a problem? Is it his problem that others see it as a problem? Only if he’s troubled by what others see as one. Which is why I guess the subtitles’ exact phrasing is actually important in this case: “A problem is not a problem so long as no one sees it as one.” This is the social perspective. Growth.
4) Being a Role-Model is Hard:
1) “He seemed like a nice guy so I wanted to sed(uce)… hold his hand or something.” – Iroha going for “seemings”. This is something I always found a bit weird in anime, about the “confessions” from people who don’t know one another at all. Iroha also doesn’t seem like she wants to put in the effort, and is only interested in hanging by people. Which is why she doesn’t want to be the Student Council President. Unlike Minami who ran for Cultural Festival President, she at least doesn’t take up a role that’d harm others in order to seem successful – she knows she’s not willing to do the work.
2) So, just like with Minami, Hachiman is using reverse psychology, or is it that Iroha wanted to win? Iroha wants to be popular, and he’s dangling in front of her that others are more popular than she is, but that if she were to win, she’d end up the most popular, or at least she’d seem the most popular. And here is the other side of “popularity,” because Iroha is popular, why not just nominate her, everyone says, even if they don’t actually care enough to vote for her? And that’d crush her popularity, which she’s trying to avoid. Ah, school.
3) Hachiman, telling her how to use Student Council Presidency to avoid going to club, and club to avoid going to Student Council President is bad advice, it’d teach her how to fail at everything. But Iroha isn’t stupid, she knows it’d be hard work for both, rather than for neither. And now he dangles Hayama in front of her.
4) This is the nature of “No one will be hurt,” and “It’s only a problem if people see it as one.” This is Hikki’s plan. The plan is to get Iroha to want to win, and then the club members won’t need to oppose her, and all will go well.
5) And we go from least important to most important – “I can’t let down all my supporters,” (distant audience, not people we’re attached to. This is the “I have friends” route.), “It does sound like an attractive proposition,” (whom we like, and rationalization. This is the “Hachiman route” of doing things.) and finally, “Besides, I don’t want my classmates to make fun of me behind my back,” (the “I don’t want to be hurt,” route, the Hikki route, and the one dealing with the people in our immediate presence).
5) Yukino’s Inexplicable Rejection:
1) And here we are with the lie – those people aren’t really rooting for Iroha, it was just to edge her into wishing to run herself. But as Hachiman said, so long as no one has a problem with it, then there’s no problem. Which brings us to the million dollar question, what did Yukino mean with “And here I was sure you’d understand,” following, “So there’s no longer a problem, or a reason for me to act.” I’ll be honest, that I’m not sure myself. I’ll try to jot out what I think it could mean before we’re given more information, assuming we do:
First, she did want to run for Student Council President, outdo her sister, and just as Iroha needed an excuse, so did she. There’s also the alternative that she did want there to be a problem, and did want to get away from Hachiman, but I don’t think this latter is really the case. It’s also possible that like Yui, it was important for her to solve this case for her friends, this time. This deals with “A reason for me to run.”
Second, the other side of that sentence, “There’s no longer a problem.” – Yukino and Yui know how Hikki had cheated, and Yukino had said before that she does not approve of underhanded tactics, even if the solution is indeed one where everyone is happy. He once again did things his own way, and not as she wished for him to, not honestly.
Third, still going off of the above, even if it were honest, it’s Hikki resolving the problem by solving the root cause of Iroha not wanting to run, but not the underlying cause of that, of her quest for popularity, of her being played by those around her, and by not giving her the chance to fail and learn from it. Yui and Yukino’s methodsdid involve Iroha losing, after all, even if not getting crushed by a vote of no confidence.
Fourth, and final option, this is still about Hikki supposedly solving others’ issues, not speaking clearly of what he wants – not to fulfill someone else’s request, but to save their club.
2) “I’ll be fine by myself.” Ouch. This is saying the club is sort of dead. That’s an incredibly Hachiman-like line. Damn.
6) “You Did Your Best,” “I Did Nothing Amazing” – Indeed:
1) Hikki is flustered by being thanked, by being thanked as if he did it all for someone else. Well, he did, but he also did it for himself. For once.
2) Yui taking her seat from the other corner, from Yukino’s corner, and placing it next to Hikki is so very symbolic. It shows it’s not only Yukino who keeps the club alive, but Hikki’s contribution had been accepted as well.
3) “I didn’t do anything.” – “Not where we could see, but I bet you did something that’d make an unpleasant sight.” – There are two parts to this sentence that relate to what Yukino might have meant earlier, and the first is one I didn’t outline above – Hachiman didn’t turn to his friends for help. Well, he did, but they don’t know it, and if they knew, they might be hurt that he didn’t turn to them for aid. Then there’s the second part, where everyone assumes there’d been a sacrifice made somewhere, even if it’s to Hikki’s morality. Still sacrificing himself, by playing dirty.
“You probably can’t change your methods that easily.” – Yui isn’t telling Hachiman he did good, but that he didhis best. Yukino was saying “Your best isn’t good enough.” “And that guilt wouldn’t go away that easily.” – Meaning, everyone feels guilty over letting Hachiman “win”, because they know it means he sacrificed something, his morals? Perhaps, but his view of himself? For certain. And Hikki knows more than everyone else that he had to give up on his ideals, or on how others see him.
4) And now Hikki’s speaking up in support of Yukino reason #1 – Yukino being like him, who’s only helping others when they come to them for aid, when they make the request themselves. Except, unlike him, she does want to help others. She wants to be Student Council President for the same reason she started the club, she wants others to come to her so she could help them, and gain self-worth from the act of helping others. Unlike Hachiman though, she doesn’t hide that she gets her self-worth from that.
7) The Fresh View From Outside & The Insidious Resistance to Change:
1) Huh. Huh. With all of our thoughts of “solutions”, of “Will Yukino be the president, or Hayama, or Hikki? Will the club be disbanded, or will someone else win so the club could remain in place?” we’ve been bamboozled. That’s Meguri for you, giving an entirely new solution to the whole issue, that corresponds directly to my preceding paragraph. That’s what you expect from the Student Council President, who actually understands people and conflict resolution…
In case you missed it, the problem was how to keep “the club” in place, right? What made up their club? They solved other students’ issues, and spent time together. Their club activities is exactly in line with the Student Council’s role, and they could all be in the Student Council together. That one of them won did not have to mean the others lost. So Hikki went and did things the only way he knew how – make everybody lose. Yes, he maintained the status quo, which wasn’t bad, but he once more did what Yukino accused him of last episode – he rejected change.
2) Hikki is also somewhat flustered, that his little club is an atmosphere others want to partake it, people who see him as an ally, as a friend, or at least as a friendly acquaintance.
3) That scene with Meguri? The underlying subtext is that even she, popular and successful, and ready to embark on her life just wants some friends, wants to be able to return to the past, to a secure and welcoming place. Change is scary, and no one gets everything that they want. This might also explain Haruno, and also dovetails nicely into the next point.
4) “Would it change your life, if you could reload your life from save-data? The answer is a resounding no.” – The instinct is to reject this out of hand, that we’d all take different actions and try things over and over again if we could, right? So where does this rejection come from? There’s something to what Hikki is saying here, which is reflected once again in “Will you not change?” by Yukino – We all have the ability to change the course our lives take, and we keep on making the same decisions as the same situations come around – we just do it as those situations keep coming up one after the other, not the same situation repeatedly. We end up making the same decisions, because we are who we are. Hachiman is voicing here his belief that we won’t make different decisions, because we can only make the decisions that our natures dictate. He’s not entirely wrong, that’s why it’s our nature. The nature can change, gradually, but so long it doesn’t, it wouldn’t really matter.
Shorter Notes / Asides:
- Notice how the show keeps framing it by us looking at their backs. At any given time, one of them has their back turned to the other, or both of them have their backs turned to us, on us.
- “You’re such a piece of trash. I love it.” – Zaimokuza might be a caricature, but unlike Fujoshi Ebina, I alwayssmile when he’s around.
- Dat Falsetto from Hachiman >.>
- Hikki being pet as a dog. He really can’t tell Yui likes him. Amazing.
Next episode’s preview was filled with art from this episode, and told us nothing of the upcoming episode. Hm.
I actually plotted this section nicely. The best way to discuss this episode is in reverse order. How did it end? It ended with Hachiman saying, “No matter how many opportunities I’d have had, I’d have made the same decision.” This isn’t an ideological cry of triumph, but an admission of defeat, of awareness of what he is, and who he is. One who misses the not so-obvious optimum situation, while delving for far more complicated machinations that yield less favourable results. He’s sort of like Zaimokuza in that regard, where everything is needlessly overwrought, because simple honesty hurts.
Which brings us to Yukinoshita’s disappointment, and of how Hachiman sees himself as having failed her as well. Yukino knows Hachiman is close to her, so she expected him to see how she’s like him, and understand her, and that she wants to help others, but can’t approach them herself. Except, Yukino is so much like Hikki that she too can’t actually bring herself to simply tell the other side what she wants. Yukino was disappointed by someone being so similar to her that he couldn’t realize their similarity, and was disappointed by her own similarity that stopped her from outright asking for help, over her ideals and self-image.
Which brings us to the obvious solution, to Hikki with his friends in the cafe, and asking his sister for help and forgiveness after explaining the whole situation to her. All you need to do is to let yourself be vulnerable, to trust others to help you as you try to help them. All you need to do is simply say things as they are.
“All you need to do is…”, “Simply”, “obvious”, “just”. Except people have a hard time admitting to themselves what it is they wish for (see Iroha), let alone others. And that’s why they’ll make the same decision every time. The wrong one. Until they don’t. Until “they” are different people, who’ll make their own inevitable decisions.