The third season of Oregairu is a lot like Game of Thrones. As it heads toward its conclusion at what I feel is a breakneck speed, it’s leaving a trail of death in its path (death by heartache, at least). Some are very minor, like a small resolution for Kawa-something in episode one. Others are major route killers, like last week’s gruesome slaying of Yui. This week, it’s Iroha who falls victim. But as I alluded to, and also like the last season of GoT, it’s all happening too fast. There’s no time to enjoy the big moments, like Hikki saying this in the episode:
But let’s back up for a moment. Episode five begins moments before the last one ends, with Hikki running back toward the teacher’s offices to get the dish from Hiratsuka sensei on the school possibly canceling prom. It’s through this scene, finally, that Hiratsuka’s transfer is confirmed (though I’m not sure the reason for has been explained with any clarity in the anime), though only in passing as the conversation focuses instead on the idea of the school no longer backing the prom (they are requesting that the student council voluntarily decide to cancel it) and Hikki’s continued struggle to not swoop in and save Yukino by taking control:
Instead, Hikki has to save her in another way. This is all pivotal stuff, but I have to admit that I’m struggling with it a bit. The story needs to get Hikki closer to making a decision about romantic relationships and also toward “saving” Yukino by helping her help herself. It’s complicated and messy, and I’m not convinced that Hikki’s idea of running his own plan counter to hers (which he later propses) is really much better than just doing what he’s always done. She is still relying on him to push herself forward. It’s problematic. And you can’t really cover that up by having a plot point be that the school has decided to cancel prom (OH NO!)…maybe (huh?), and playing dramatic background music. I struggled with this part of the novel, and continue to do so with the anime.
But I’m willing to accept all of it because of the quality of the rest of the episode.
Iroha, functioning as a bridge between the problem explained by Hiratsuka and the solution that Hikki provides, gets a lot of screen time episode five. She provides counsel to Hikki and steers him in the proper direction when he’s still not sure what to do. In a sense, she even serves as “practice” for the quasi-confession that occurs (In addition to telling Yukino he wants to save her, he also says he wants to take responsibility). She is firmly in “little sister territory,” that which she stated she wanted to avoid in the previous episode. But by playing this role, Iroha helps Hikki in his support of Yukino in the way she needs (again, apparently). He says he’ll save her, he explains that he’ll do it through their battle of styles, they return to their normal banter, Yukino furiously goes back to work, and all is well with the world—for Hikki and Yukino at least. I mentioned the bloodbath they’ve left this season as they get closer to one another, and Iroha is the latest to die by heartbreak. And just as with Yui, we now get to peek inside her mind.
What’s really amazing is that by finally diving into the minds of some of our main characters (we get this through preludes in the light novels), we see how iron sharpens iron. The relationships that develop between these characters over the course of just one year have led to dramatic personal growth. Hikki goes from embracing being an outcast to becoming a vulnerable, brave, loving leader. Yukino lets her walls down and faces her fears and failures. Yui confronts and fights her own selfish desires. And even Iroha admits to herself that, hey, image isn’t all that, but more importantly, she should use her intelligence and other skills to accomplish something, rather than to just going with the flow and depending on others. It’s an underlying theme of the series that’s neglected.
And this episode, with the “save you” line bound to take all the headlines (even though it doesn’t get enough room to really simmer), what should really be emphasized is that these beloved characters are stepping forward—even if those steps are remain a little tangled and confused.
- The MVP of this episode is…Yui! The poor girl is bawling her eyes out, remember, even as Hikki makes his way to Hiratsuka.
- Has there ever been an episode where Yui didn’t show up? I think she gets a passing glance in episode one, even. And no, I don’t count the preview (but she’s even only that briefly).
- Hikki called Iroha, “Irohas,” so that’s a win.
- MAXIS Coffee took a little break this week after it’s awesome starring role in the last episode, though it did show up and play a part in the conversation between Hiratsuka sensei and Hikki.
- Tosuka and Kawa-something return next week along with, after too long of an absence, my man, Zaimokuza.
- Hikki bein’ Hikki:
Season three of Oregairu (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU CLIMAX) can be streamed on Crunchyroll.