This whole show is about Hachiman coming to terms with his misery and growing up, and growing out of it. Episode 7 finally had Hachiman not just knowing this, but outright admitting it, that his actions don’t lead to desirable results, and that he’s maintaining a façade, rather than presenting his true face. Internal words are cheap though, so then we had episode 8, where Hikki had a long chat with Sensei, who explained to him how the world works, and how relationships work. Pain is a natural part of relationships, and people aren’t always rational agents, including Hikki and his friends.
And then we had the episode’s second half, which was less than clear for many people (see an explanation for various points here), where Hachiman and friends finally made the first step to a great friendship, where they’ve had a fight and told everyone how they feel, and what they want, and what they want is to have friends, and to be less afraidtogether. This isn’t “the end”, because as last episode told us, it’s all about constantly trying to overcome challenges together, about dealing with hurting your friends, and being hurt with them.
Let’s see how Yukino and Hachiman, far too used to “logic” and being resplendant in their loneliness, take to the new environment, but first, let us deal with Jazz Hands. I assume.
Post Episode Thoughts:
This episode was pretty light and enjoyable, especially in its first two-thirds. Everyone’s avoiding touching the real issues. Yes, it means we’re not really getting into it with jazz hands, but more importantly, the characters are dancing around what happened last episode. It’s still raw, and they need to find a new balancing point. It’s not “everything’s normal” as we’ve had it for most of the season, where everyone’s trying to act as if nothing has changed because if they fake it, they just might make it. No, here everything exists between them and they acknowledge it, but they’re too self-conscious to put it out there in words, lest it breaks apart, or they end up crying again. So they spend time together, not to hide away the past conflict, but to try and build up on it. It’s a fine difference that’s hard to put into words, but it’s meaningful. It’s genuine.
This is still a “breather” episode, where we avoid tackling some of our problems head on, and so we go to the amusement park. So what can be learned from the “light” first section of the episode, even so? Iroha has an easy manner with people. She’s self-centered, which came across both in her now internalized relationship with Hachiman, her popping into Sensei’s words, or the manner in which she invited Hayama to go with them. Iroha knows what she wants, and isn’t afraid to go for it. This contrasts her behaviour with the planning committee, but she’s better when it’s just her things, or with people she can feel comfortable with, when her only responsibility is herself. No expectations, no sweat.
This episode also had plenty of callbacks to earlier moments, actually using “memory fog” and “fade in/out” techniques to go with the flashbacks. The thematic point of “falling in love” being used alongside “falling down a waterfall” was also a nice touch. Things look up, so a success by Hachiman is brought up. But then we see said “success” contrasted with Iroha’s rejection by Hayama, of someone in front of Hachiman being allowed to make their own choice, get hurt, and perhaps grow up as a result. How this will turn out might be meaningful in retrospect as well, for us to see what it was Hachiman robbed others of by intervening on their behalf.
And finally, that little chat between Yukino and Hachiman. This scene is actually all about Yukino, who’s lagging behind Hachiman in terms of understanding. After Hachiman was able to tell her and Yui how he feels, what he’s motivated by, now it’s Yukino’s turn to share the inner workings of her mind, and turn to others in search for understanding and help. Yukino comes across as very human here, and on the precipice between maturity and immaturity in a manner similar to what Hachiman displayed recently – she doesn’t want to be exactly like others, but she still wants something like what they have.
Yukino is unsure of how she should act, so she doesn’t act until others tell her. Of course, as last episode’s final scene had shown, this falls apart if you accept people’s thoughts and feelings might not actually be in tune. So what Yukino wants are the methods to help others, the drive to do so, and the ability to pick herself up and not hide when things don’t go her way. Yukino wants the tools to not be alone, to be able to reach out to others or accept others reaching out to her.
Yukino telling Hachiman she’d like his help is the first step. A statement that contains multitudes of other statements: That she needs help and is willing to ask for it, but perhaps not yet ready for it, she trusts Hachiman, and that she wants and needs to change. Remember when Yukino asked-accused Hachiman of being unwilling to change? It’s something that sounds as if you yourself don’t need to change. But perhaps this is what Hachiman has that Yukino lacks, not the emotional motivation, or the ability to accept his true nature, but the willingness to change, that has always been there. This is Yukino coming as close as she ever did to admitting she wants to change. It’s not for her to have an emotional outburst though, not yet.
Thoughts and Notes:
1) Flopping on the couch. Well, it’s definitely been a long day. Another episode starting with Hikki alone, thinking of the last scene in the previous episode.Ha! Well, even if Hikki had been in a state where he fully accepted his feelings (he’s not, he’s making progress though), then an emotional outburst and crying in front of others might still be something he considers embarrassing. He’s got a lifetime of being a “strong loner”, and this outburst was the epitome of losing control. Regardless, he’s such a cute kid, and I guess the show-makers knew that after how last episode ended, it might be time for some comedy.
2) The poor put-upon Hikigaya Komachi, “People who keep talking about identities tend to be the ones without one of their own.” – The Hachiman voice, and the Hachiman face, she’s mocking him by throwing his own “cynic chuuni” lines back at him.
3) “It’s too late to fix your twisted personality.” If we accept Komachi knows best, and if we accept that this is right, then RIP Hachiman’s emotional progress. Of course, she’s not being serious. Silly Komachi.
2) Back Together:
1) Of course, Yukino is just as embarrassed by her emotional outbursts last episode as Hachiman is. They could also be embarrassed about the other’s emotional outburst, not knowing how to react to it, but right now they’re both far too focused on their own. That’s just their personality makeup.
2) Iroha and Hachiman have their sibling-like relation going on. Iroha hands Hachiman her bag without even thinking about it, and Yui and Yukino stare on, realizing how much they missed out on, if we keep looking at things in a lighter tone, or perhaps amazed Hachiman managed to make this sort of easy rapport with anyone.
3) “That was worse than I expected.” No one expects the Jazz Hands.”I got annoyed simply watching it.” It’s a hard thing, making comedy featuring annoying characters without the watchers being annoyed as well. I bet Yukino isn’t the biggest fan of comedies. And I’m joking, mostly, because to her it’s real life. The jazzy hands life.
4) Yui is excited, and Yukino has to turn away from her to try and turn her down. Yukino can’t say no to Yui, perhaps the ship is real. Well, Yui might be her first friend, or certainly the first one in a long while, coupled with embarrassment over last episode. ‘Sides, turning down people is hard.
3) Group Dynamics. Also, Truth and Lies in the non-moral sense:
1) “But if I’ll ask for permission, you won’t give in, so I won’t ask.” That’s a very twisted mentality there Yui, positively Iroha-like. But see what we have, Hachiman naturally gravitates to the edge of the group, not even appearing in the frame when pictures are taken, and Yui tries to make sure he and Yukino are having fun, and not left out. Unlike Iroha, she did come with them. Yui is the sort of person at a party who’ll try to talk to everyone. The introverts’ friend, and their best nightmare, who keeps engaging with them.
2) “Things are alright now, thanks to you.” This is a contrasting moment. In episode 7, we saw how Hachiman’s attempts to help others backfired, and led to more emotional harm. Now that he’s patched things up in the club, we’re seeing a moment where he managed to help others. It’s all about dramatic framing.
3) “Can’t you see she’s trying to make herself look cute by fawning over the panda?” – This is actually a very interesting moment, to me. This is Hachiman applying his old perspective to Iroha, of having ulterior motives to her actions. But, this isn’t really proof of Iroha’s relationship being fake, this is an outgrowth of her real feelings. It’s just that some of the lines she says may not be entirely honest.But that’s half of it, the other half is how obvious this is what Iroha is doing, and how she’s presenting herself as different from Miura, and as “innocent and cute.” If there’s anyone who embodies that Hachiman mindset in this show, it’s her, but she’s just so over the top with it, so easily readable, that you can see it comes off from an earnest place, even if the actions it leads to are not in and of themselves honest. In the end, it’s all about how you read the “dishonest action,” and whether it’s serving what you truly feel, or to obfuscate it. If anything, acting all embarrassed to hide your true feelings is the dishonest act, Hachiman.
4) Duo Dynamics:
1) “Talk to the hand, Panda.” The “Embarrassing” part is probably what got to Hikki the most. He’s so very self-conscious. A monster of self-consciousness, even.And then he’s asked about what he wants, and they both have a flashback (accompanied by the show using the visuals of a flash, cute) to that scene. Yes, they sort of “resolved matters”, but mostly in terms of “We’re all on the same page now,” it’s still unresolved in terms of how their relationship rebalances, reaches a new equilibrium, and as they’re all still too embarrassed and self-conscious, it’s still a tender spot, rather than something they can speak to one another about with a smile.
2) But thinking for a moment on Yui and Hikki, and the flashback to Yui saying she’ll make the moves herself, is he reading her as having made the move as best as she can, with saying she wants to go with him again to the amusement park, or is he trying to be someone worth waiting for? Or perhaps, speaking of his own wants, he’s acting on them a bit? Well, that flashback isn’t really the point, the point is that he does want, and he’s willing to act on it. And he’s also willing to act on what his friends want, but then again, Hayama already pointed out that Hikki can’t turn others down.
5) Falling Together:
1) “I wasn’t sure at first, but I was fine when I rode with Yuigahama earlier, so I could probably handle this as well.” Makes you wonder if what Yukino can’t handle are the rides themselves, or riding them with someone else, and not alone. Of course, one may merely be a metaphor for the other, the difference between experiencing life’s highs and lows on your own, and sharing them with another.Also, look how good Hikki is at giving advice he’s not good at using himself, “If you have an issue, you should’ve said so.” Of course, that was pre-confession Hikki. But then again, people don’t just switch like that all of a sudden.
3) This could be a good place to blame it all on adrenaline, where the sense of the physical fall after this heartfelt moment could be confused with falling in love, or perhaps that Yukino’s fear made her act overly emotional. But that sort of read would commit two sins. The first, it’d just explain away emotions, in a very Hachiman-like manner, rather than as treating them as genuine. The second, it’d forget that this is a story, and physical metaphors going alongside with the emotional ones usually serve to enhance them, rather than explain them away.”Help me, some day,” though, finally admitting she needs help too. She needs it now, but she’s not yet ready to accept the help. And she accepts Hikki as someone whom she trusts enough to lend her help. Him and Yui. There’s also Sensei, but Sensei’s helping whether you want it or not.
6) Content With My Lacking, Dissapointing Self:
1) “Do you still want to be like your sister?” – The emotional void around which Yukino circles. Sister adoration and rejection. “She has something I don’t. I don’t want it, but I wonder why I don’t, and disappoint myself.” A prime example of emotions not matching feelings, or just not being “logical”. Yukino is more or less fine with how she is, but she’s still disappointed by who she’s not. Doesn’t make sense? That’s life.Also, “I don’t know how to conduct myself.” To please others, and to please herself. Yukino feels that the manner in which she’s acting is the one that’s “proper”, yet the reactions she gets don’t match that. Because of whatever it is she’s missing. That’d be “people skills”, which also include the desire to interact with people, or seem to, alas. This also ties into why Yukino must have people make requests before she acts, because she’s afraid to make the wrong move otherwise.
2) “You too have something I don’t. We weren’t similar to begin with.” She’s wrong, but hey, Yukino and Hachiman not being perfect judges of character is sort of the point. What does she mean though? Does she mean the willingness to forego relationships in order to not be superficial? No, because this season Yukino kept pointing out how Hachiman is willing to be superficial. Is it the willingness to change, to accept his emotions, to keep fighting for other people?That’s part of it. Yukino is giving Hachiman both praise and criticism. Hachiman has something she doesn’t, and she’s disappointed with herself for not having it, but that doesn’t mean she wants to have it, or thinks it’s necessarily good to have. Yukino is saying that Hachiman has always had that “emotional capacity”, that part that is illogical, and somewhat superficial, but also so warm, and capable of affecting change. Of course, she does too, so she’s either still rejecting the same truth about herself, or talking about the ability to actually admit it and act on it. Or something else I’m not thinking of.
3) “I wanted something neither you or my sister had, so I could help.” Ok, I think it finally clicked for me. What Hachiman and Haruno have that Yukino doesn’t have? There are two things. First, the tools to help others, their willingness to meddle in others’ affairs is a big part of it. The other thing both of them have is accepting their wicked nature, their “true face”. Of course, that’s not really true for Hachiman, and perhaps not for Haruno either, because Hachiman’s “unsociable face” is a mask he uses to hide his true feelings.Regardless, what does Yukino want? Yukino wants to feel needed. She wants to help. Why does she want to be different than Haruno and Hikki though? Because she doesn’t want to feel useless, as an extra. She wants to help, but lacks the motivation to try and help even when she’s not asked to, when she feels unneeded. She has the desire, but not the drive, that Hikki and Haruno do. And she glorifies their facades, that too.
7) There’s no Escaping Heartbreak:
1) Speaking of people willing to make the move, here’s Iroha’s confession, and rejection. We know Hayama’s in love with someone that has “Y” as an initial, and that’s not Isshiki Iroha. He also said he’s not all that nice, but going with Iroha without caring for her would’ve been even worse.
2) But here it is, Hachiman seeing someone get emotionally hurt in front of his eyes, someone he likes (not romantically, you can like people in other ways too, jeez), and he didn’t stop it. Now we’ll need to see how it pans out, and compare and contrast it to the confession he stopped in episode 2.And look how lonely, how alone, Hayama looks. Does Hayama not care for Iroha? No, he does, but he’s the one closest to knowing what Sensei had to say last episode – caring for people means that sometimes you hurt them. And sometimes you have to make decisions that’d hurt people, and you have to feel like shit, even if it’s the right call. People would say Hachiman is the epitome of that realization, but he’s not. He’s the one who stops everyone else from actually growing by making these decisions themselves.
Shorter Notes / Asides:
- Last episode’s club’s stickers, and this episode’s. Eight new stickers! If we look at them as if they were Eagle Scouts’ badges for accomplishments, then Yui sure feels they’ve had much progress. Well, she’s excited, that’s for sure.
- “Uh, Yuigahama, could you give me some breathing room?” And just after I was going to comment on Yui x Yukino as a valid ship. Shot down ;_; Look at that sad Yui face. And yes, Yui’s so very excited.
- Iroha butting into Sensei’s words, cutting off her words of encouragement/advice? Who let her in? Who?! ಠ_ಠ
- “I have a season pass,” of course Yukino knows it’s the same year-round and is awfully well-informed ;-) It does mean she’s the sort of person who goes alone to the amusement park, repeatedly. A mini future-Sensei.
- “Oh, this person who’s part of the original group is coming too?” Well, at least Iroha keeps going for what she wants. Good for her.
- Man, the shot framing of that Tobe x Hayama moment. Ebina’s getting an early Christmas present.
- The many angry and Pan the Panda-loving faces of Yukinoshita Yukino indeed. Also, “cutie patootie“, it’s been August 11th, 2013, when Uchouten Kazoku (The Eccentric Family) episode 6 aired that I last heard this term. I wondered if the translator were trolling me back then.
- I’m sorry Yui, but cat ears > dog ears. It’s a universally accepted fact. You were the architect of your own downfall.
- And the two introverts get left behind. That suits them just fine, an entire day around others? They need their space now.