It’s rare that you get a proper conclusion to an anime, one that follows the original source to the end. Very few of my personal favorites have gone that route, and I’ve become used to it, which is why the third season of Oregairu is such a treat: I would be satisfied just having read the ending to the light novels, but getting to see it animated by a studio that knows what they’re doing? There’s nothing better.
And so the first episode of the final season of Oregairu begins right from the end of the last episode of season two, with Yukino making her own request. Those who aren’t super fans or haven’t revisited Oregairu in recent years may be confused—the climax of the last season, after all, wasn’t in the finale. It was several episodes before with the something genuine moment. But that speech by Hiki and the reaction by the entire club is what pushes forward the final arc of this saga (it feels like a saga!) and provides the theme of the series. Three characters are all dealing with what it means to be oneself, and who they really are. Now, it’s time to crack the hardest nut of all, the snow queen, Yukinon.
Constantly throughout previous episodes, there’s been a tension caused by Yukino’s sister, Haruno. She wants her little sister to find herself, to make her own decisions, and she dislikes that Yukino thinks she’s growing when she’s really becoming dependent (“co-dependence” is a buzzword for this series) on Hiki and Yui. But the truth of the matter is, Yukino absolutely needs them to grow, though ultimately, she is the one who must take the next steps. Yukino continues to seek the support of her club members and friends as she decides to move forward, to face herself, her mother, and first, her sister.
That’s only able to happen because of the comfort level she’s grown to have with the group. Think about the opening episodes of the show, which focused on the physical distance between her and Hiki in the clubroom. There’s a coldness there in how far apart they are, in how Yuki chooses to read instead of engaging him, and in how the wind blows through the clubroom’s window, which again emphasizes the distance. Yui closes that gap first, though it takes a lot of time and effort, and causes her hurt. But by now, she can hold Yukino’s hand and instead of getting a nervous chill from her, receives a grasp back. Hiki, of course, has closed the distance, too, with a big nail in that coffin being his speech.
But as Yui insinuates as they drop off Yukino, not all is solved, neither between Yukino and her family nor between the three of them. But that’s left for the later episodes.
In this one, much time is spent revisiting who our characters are, especially our primary ones. As if to say, “Remember, Yui is a main character, but not quite on the level of other two,” the first half of episode one focuses on Yukino’s decision and the second half on Hiki. I’m glad for that second half, as it provides some new lovely moments in the series. The MVPs of this episode are definitely sisters, with Keika (Saki’s sister) and Komachi getting to shine. The meeting with the Kawasaki sisters is humorous (and provides us a little more insight into the relationship between the older one and Hiki), while the latter provides a nice emotional moment for my favorite brother-sister relationship in anime.
But the entire second half is meant to demonstrate how much Hiki has grown. All the words that come from his mouth are the same as those earlier in the series, but he speaks now with self-confidence, love, and maturity. Part of his authenticity is that he doesn’t always mean what he says, and he knows that. Others around him do, too. And because of that, Hiki is letting go of the past and moving toward the future.
I can’t wait to see how it all bears out in the following episodes, especially since my memory of the light novels is a bit dim. We’ll just take it one episode and a time, with two apparently focusing on the number three girl, my personal favorite, Iroha, who gets the bulk of of the preview time (along with a close-up of Yui’s lips).
I can hardly wait. Oh yes, Hiki and Oregairu ARE BACK!
- Beautiful opening and closing, as usual (and was the case even with season one).
- I was worried about the animation quality but it was still very strong in this episode.
- KAWA-SOMETHING finally getting some quality screen time!
- Hiki is such a crybaby—it’s part of what makes him so endearing.
Oregairu season 3 (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU CLIMAX) can be streamed on HIDIVE.