OP: 「春擬き」 (Harumodoki) by やなぎ なぎ (Yanagi Nagi)
「静かに、雪ノ下雪乃は決意する。」 (Shizuka ni, Yukinoshita Yukino wa Ketsui Suru.)
“Quietly, Yukinoshita Yukino Makes a Decision.”
I was geared up to post this earlier to garner earlier discussion, but this episode thwarted those plans in a cruel fashion. Things like Hayama’s relation to the Yukinoshita family, Komachi’s somber tones, and the overarching bet that unites Yukino and Hachiman flew over my head my first watch through, mainly because my memory of the second season has been blurry. I thus took it upon myself to rewatch the entire first season in full as a refresher. Since today’s episode was mainly a setup to set the stage for Isshiki Iroha (Sakura Ayane), who we will discuss in greater detail next episode, today’s post will focus on the transitions we’ve seen between the first and second seasons.
Aside from the change in animation quality and art styles, it has been a treat to see Oregairu slowly deepen its conflicts from petty romantic comedy to a complex social web of lies and fears. We could go on about how each character has deepened yet remained remarkably static, but the key point is that Oregairu has a special knack for connecting our characters in meaningful ways, despite clashing ideals. Without being too overt, the characters notice these subtle and implied cues from each of the characters, often using that knowledge to influence their actions.
For instance, let’s consider Komachi. The greatest wingman if I ever saw one. Her perceptiveness combined with her initiative has moved the plot for quite the resilient cast, guiding them into scenarios they’d never initiate otherwise. Beyond that cheerful face of hers is someone who really cares about her brother and his ‘friends’, genuinely wishing the best for all of them. Consequently, when we see that cheerful cover lower itself, even for a brief moment, it’s a window into Komachi’s unfiltered feelings at that moment. Season one provided only brief glimpses, yet each revealed Komachi’s ability to see through Hachiman’s smoke and mirrors. Today’s episode marked a turning point and displayed her true colors in full force. For Komachi, all she’s wanted is Hachiman to have good memories and share them with her. The snacks, the souvenirs, all of it is a convenient front for cheering Hachiman on from behind the scenes. Thus, when Komachi’s one desire is denied–an explanation of what happened–she’s reasonably frustrated. All that work since season one for nothing. Without remembering season one the message would still be there, but taking into account how much Komachi has done for Hachiman thus far, the feeling intensifies; Hachiman is most likely aware of what he’s doing to her efforts as well, given how much he’s acknowledged the slyness of his own sister.
Another great example arises from the types of issues that the club started to tackle. Episode one of the first season started our characters off seemingly disconnected from each other, working on fairly simple and straightforward tasks. As the season progressed, there was your typical character development, but the bonds that connected three seemingly unrelated characters together revealed itself. With the second season in gear, these trends are beginning to change. With the connections firmly established between the characters, development is taking center stage, as perceived failures seem to take center stage. Hachiman can no longer just be Hachiman without hurting the people he cares about, while the people around him cannot stand by any longer and let him take the fall for everything. Hachiman’s own skills of perception from season one have become his own burden in season two, as he deals with more people who care about his wellbeing. Today’s episode featured so much of Hachiman’s suffering solely because he understood exactly what was going on, yet lets it affect him out of fear of change and a desire to protect himself from further shame. His wit may have got him through the easy trials, but now the real deal begins, where a tradeoff between fulfilling wishes and protecting feelings comes into play.
Only having gone through 3 episodes, we can already tell that Oregairu Zoku. is a keeper for now. It’s simply impossible to fit all of the subtleties that the show has fit in so far, as well as the growing dynamics between more of the characters. I hope that going forward, we can approach all of these issues collectively as blogger and commenters. I’ve been reading your guys’ posts from the past two episodes and I’m thoroughly impressed. I hope to see more of it in the future, and in return I hope to post earlier so you guys can share your thoughts in a fresher package as well!