After fielding a whole bunch of questions on my blog, and seeing the same questions pop up on reddit, MAL, Crunchyroll, and even a Russian forum that linked to my blog, I thought I’d try to tackle some questions about the scene in the second half of OreGairu season 2 episode 8. I’m not trying to convince you it’s “good”, or that the characters are “right”, but just try and explain the what and the why.
I haven’t read the Light Novel, so this is all based on my read of the show on its own. You can read my massive notes for episode 8 here if you so desire, or check here for all my writings on the second season.
1) You think Hachiman is miserable? But he’s the batman, and he’s cool, and society is wrong, isn’t it?
This question is more of a preamble into the mood of the entire FAQ. I’m not actually interested in giving value judgments on whether the characters are “right” or “wrong”. I’m trying to explain how they see the situation, and whythey are having problems with it. I mean, we sit here outside, some of us with years of experience more than the characters have. Whether I think Hachiman’s goal is right or wrong doesn’t mean much to answer the question, “Why does he try to change his methods?” And the answer is Hachiman is miserable, and was keeping this loner personality as an act to help him keep people, and his own emotions, at bay. He himself says he’s lonely and that his actions only isolated him further, while hurting those around him under the guise of it not mattering.
Is Hachiman right about society? To a degree. “All relationships are hurtful and contain some deceit” has truth to it. What this is missing is the other half which Hachiman is not yet ready for, which Yui and Sensei get, and is a sign of their being more mature: “And that’s alright, and that doesn’t make them fake.” Likewise his other actions. I’m not really interested in judging little Hikki and Yukino beyond this, merely explain their internal logic, even when it’s not logical.
2) Why did Yukino tell Yui she’s “playing dirty”?
This came about twice, in two different contexts that are related.
First, consider Yukino, who in many ways is similar to Hachiman, especially in thinking people’s thoughts and actions must follow one another logically, and also reflect their feelings. And so, Yukino expects people who are acting as if everything’s fine to actually think/feel that everything is fine, and if they’re unhappy, to tell her that they’re unhappy. And if they didn’t tell her?
Fine, but why blame her for not taking action when none was asked of her (and it’s important to remember she only takes action when people make outright requests), and when they took no action themselves? Yes, Yui didn’t do anything either, and now she’s putting the blame on Yukino, rather than take it on herself, as Hachiman has done.
Then there’s the second occurrence, which is related to the underlying cause of the first, but here it’s much more pronounced – the appeal to emotions. There are the tears, there’s the hug, and there’s “I don’t know understand either, but let’s try anyway!” Yukino is one of those who appeal to logic and rationality, who hide behind it, just as Hachiman has done, because facing other people’s feelings is too hard and scary.
Yui is forcing her own set of values, her goggles, on Yukino. Yukino now has two options, to give in, or to reject Yui, and what makes Yui into who she is. But Yukino is Yui’s friend, and as such can’t reject it. This is why Yui is playing dirty, as she’s moving the game to the emotional field and isn’t allowing Yukino to escape it. She’s also playing dirty by getting Yukino emotional as well.
3) Why did all of them start crying?
Why do people cry? Why do two young kids who fight one another not cry due to pain, but then might cry when an adult speaks to them about it? People cry because they are overwhelmed. Often by emotions, or by events.
Hachiman is crying because he has to say things that are very hard for him to say. He’s overcoming, and overcome, by his own feelings. Yukino is also being overwhelmed, see prior answer. She’s overwhelmed by her own feelings, how things are incongruent with her thoughts (see next answer), and by Hachiman’s actions. As for Yui, her friends are crying, why won’t she cry? Her friendships are falling apart.
Besides, seeing people in whose emotions we’re invested makes us cry. It can work on us watchers (yes, you might not have cried, but look around on fora and see people who did), so it can certainly work for characters. In short, people cry when emotions get too much to be contained, regardless of “positive” or “negative”.
4) Why did Yukino run away from the clubroom? And how does she see relationships?
Well, the last two questions should’ve provided most of the answer. Yukino is overwhelmed. She’s overwhelmed by her own emotions, she’s overwhelmed by the blame assigned to her by her friends for the situation in which the relationship currently is. She’s overwhelmed by having to settle between, “If this is what it takes to break down this relationship, then maybe it wasn’t all that much to begin with,” and what Sensei had told Hachiman. Yukino and Hachiman see a relationship that “hurts” them as being fake, as not worth having. But that’s where looking at their relationships with their siblings is important: Hachiman and Komachi are pretty close, and it’s easy to explain it away by “They’re siblings, of course they’re close.” Except Hachiman when he hurt Komachi took the time to apologize and be genuine. Yukino’s own relationship with her sister is there, in part, to show that it’s a choice, and you can choose to not be close, to your own sibling.
So here we are. Sensei’s message is one that relationships that hurt us are the only sort we’ll ever have, and relationships are worth it because we’re fighting for them. This is what Yui understands instinctively, and she won’t let her friends give up on the relationship. And now Yukino has to choose whether to fight or not, and being essentially told she can’t have but one relationship.
She’s having a crisis where she’ll lose something – her ideals or idealized self, or the sense of friendship and closeness she finally had. And she’s also having a hard time accepting herself as acting from emotions. As a result of these two things, she’s also deeply ashamed of breaking down in front of others, and especially Hachiman. So she runs away.
5) So, what does Hachiman want? Is it impossible, or not?
Hachiman wants to not be hurt. He said he wants to understand others, but that’s because he sees it as a way to stop being afraid. And he wants to stop being afraid of being hurt, and because being afraid is a hurtful experience in and of itself.
Hachiman “reads people” in order to not actually have to engage with them or ask them what they think. It’s basically a cynical viewpoint that serves to protect him from being hurt, because he’ll always assume the worst, and won’t fall again for “superficial niceness”. But as this show had shown us, he’s miserable.
So, what does he want? He wants to make the attempt to understand people as they see themselves, and even if he’s right about what they think and motivates them, he wants to consider their feelings. In other words, he still wants to understand people, and be understood, and have a relationship where he trusts people. They’ll hurt him, and they’ll sometimes be untruthful, but he wants to trust.
Now, there was all that mess in the discussion, “I want it, but it’s impossible, and I don’t deserve it, but I want it anyway!” – That’s what it boils down to, and when boiled down to this format it does make sense. He wants something he doesn’t think he deserve, but what of it? He still wants it. He wants something that is impossible – true understanding of someone else, and to avoid being hurt. But that it’s impossible does not mean it’s not meaningless. It is the striving that shows relationships are worth it (see “Why did Yukino run away?”). Yes, if all it took to break a relationship is one disagreement, it means neither side fought to keep it going. What Hachiman wants is a relationship worth fighting for, and that others will see him as worth fighting for. It is the wish itself that is the meaningful part, the effort and the striving.
Well, it’s a bit hard to choose whether Hachiman wants a relationship in order to gain understanding and thus be unafraid, or he wants to gain understanding/be unafraid in order to have a relationship, but they boil down to the same thing: Hachiman wants to stop being afraid, and he wants to have relationships.
6) What couldn’t Yukino understand?
This is down to what was said in the above two answers. Yukino can’t understand the appeal to emotions instead of logic, that feelings and actions may not match what we think, and how/why you can strive for something that is impossible or not internally consistent, that greed. What Yukino is missing is the chat with Sensei, basically.
More importantly than not understanding those people, Yukino can’t understand how she’s supposed to act, what she’s expected to do.
7) I found the episode melodramatic and unsubtle; I didn’t like it. What do you think about that?
This is a bit superfluous. When we deem something as “melodramatic”, it usually already means that we dislike it. “Melodramatic” as it’s often used means “Drama, that I didn’t like, because it went too far.”
As to what I think about it? I think that’s just fine. The place we draw the line on this is very subjective, and differs based on person, show, and even our mood on that particular day. The drama in this episode was indeed quite extreme, and it was an emotional peak. I personally liked it, and felt it worked because it was the conclusion of the entire show up to now, it made sense based on what the characters have been saying and not saying up to this point, everything they bottled together. This goes back to the second question, asking why they lied – they were all overwhelmed, and once the dam broke, it really did.
8) I found this unrealistic, people don’t act like that.
When relationships between close friends are falling apart, or when people have been holding things in for a long time and it all comes out at once, this is how it looks like. I’ve seen best friends in high school who had two whole dayslooking like that, several times, and I’ve seen (and been part of) romantic relationships that had bouts like this as well.
You say you find this unrealistic? That’s fine, it means the show didn’t work for you because it seems too incongruous with your own lived experience, but know there are quite a few people who find this realistic.
And finally, art/media often take things to extremes in order to make a point about the human experience, or just to heighten the impact. This feeds back into the “melodrama” angle, and it’s fine to dislike it.
Bonus Question A) Who do you think Hachiman should end up with?
I actually like how much of a Romantic Comedy this show has never been. Realistically and thematically? I wish Hachiman would end up alone. Having female friends whom he’s glad to have and not feeling as if he’s been “Friend-zoned” into “hating nice girls” would be a good sign of growth for Hachiman. Besides, many people go through high school without dating anyone, and Hachiman seems like a natural fit for that.
If he did end up with someone? I actually don’t really mind who. Just not Sensei, because that’d undermine everything that makes her character great – the mature point of view and empathy, and cheapen them to all come from romantic/physical attraction.
If we go into “DOHOHOHO!” territory, then Zaimokuza is a better fit than Totsuka. Totsuka is just being put on a pedestal, is the male equivalent to “nice girl” who’s nice to Hachiman. Zaimokuza and Hachiman though, they have a good banter of equals.
Bonus Question B) What does Yukinoshita Haruno want?
Yukinoshita Haruno wants three things. The first is to help her sister get out of her shell. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s the one who approached Sensei to help get it done.
The second thing she wants is to spend time in her old haunt, without moving on. Just as Shiromeguri, the previous Student Council President, told Hachiman, she wants to go back to a place with friends, where she felt safe before. It’s scary, having to move on.
The third thing she wants is to toy with the teenagers, to have fun at their expense, as she sees them struggling. It might be a tad bitter-sweet, and remind her of her own life, but there you have it, she’s not the nicest of people.
Bonus Question C) Why are cats better than dogs?
Cats have 9 souls. Do you know why cats have 9 souls? Because the dogs sold off all of theirs, making them soulless abominations. Checkmate, dog-atheists.