With each episode that passes, Oregairu continues to surprise me. In an episode that I thought started to drift towards anime melodrama, Oregairu instead turned toward something simple and profound. It showed us the definition of grace – and the necessity of it.
The catalyst for the final, transformative scene of episode 8 is the earlier talk that Hikigaya has with Hiratsuka. Among the many words of wisdom she gives during their speech is this line:
Sometimes people lose out on things because they’re looking out for each other.
This, of course, is what Hikigaya has been doing – trying to protect Yui and Yukino through his actions. But Hiratsuka is right when she expounds on this statement, saying that if you really care about each other, you will hurt each one another; in an ironic way, that hurt signals that you care. If you stand on eggshells doing everything possible to keep someone from being hurt, you fail to develop deep bonds – the person you care about is lifted higher than they deserve while you sink lower, and when you do fail that person, you find the distance between you and s/he grows even further.
Hikigaya, realizing this and armed now with wisdom and muster, goes to Yukino and Yui to build their relationships and bring healing to the club by tearfully offering words that at first surprised me, but which make sense. He says that what he wants is genuine relationship.
And genuine relationship can only happen by grace.
Hiki starts it off, pouring out his heart. And boy, when push comes to shove, does it get uncomfortable. With those “fish eyes,” he looks so unattractive while crying – it’s not a pretty scene like that of tearful shoujo heroine; it’s instead gross and ugly. But the sincerity that precedes grace needs to be just that – raw and sincere and ugly.
The others follow Hikigaya – Yukino blames Yui and Yui hints to Yukino that she, too, is wrong. And so it’s all out there – a club loosely held together now airs all it’s dirty, barely hidden laundry, claims and wrongs that should destroy their relationships. And when Yukino runs out – her second false start, mind you, having already basically told to Hikigaya to “shove it” – it could very well signal the club’s death knell.
But something happens – Yui forgives Yukino. She forgives her friend’s stubbornness. She forgives the only one of the three who is unable to let it all go. And Hikigaya does the same, as the two dash to dispense forgiveness for a third time during their conversation with Yukino.
And Yukino, confronted by real, genuine love – a love that hurts, sacrifices, and forgives – can’t help but give in, too, surrendering her pride to a way that doesn’t compute for the robotic girl. Because, you know what? Grace doesn’t make sense. It never makes sense.
But it is beautiful. In fact, there’s nothing more beautiful.
The beauty of grace is that it breaks the laws of nature and rationale. What’s up must come down, and what’s wronged must be righted. But grace says, no, even if you’re wrong, I’ll love you. And if you’re right, I’ll love you the same, too. You aren’t loved for what you do – you’re loved for you.
That’s the message of grace. And how appropriate that Oregairu expresses it as the series moves toward an event that celebrates the giver of grace, toward the birth of the one who loved us despite what we did to Him – toward Jesus Christ.