Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. We return to Oregairu at a particularly improbable moment, as the show establishes a point of connection between two deeply incompatible people: Yukino and Iroha. Yukino is a brittle pillar of integrity, determined to embody her ethos by living as a righteous example – meanwhile, Iroha is an incorrigible gremlin, always eager to foist her work on others, and most comfortable hiding her feelings behind an insincere smile.
At least, that’s who they used to be. Over the course of Oregairu’s first two seasons, Yukino has learned to be far less judgmental, and gained a sense of humility and closeness among her friends that has disarmed her originally unapproachable nature. Meanwhile, Iroha has realized she’s genuinely good at a lot of things, learned to take pride in her efforts, and decided she too wants the genuine connections Hachiman is seeking. Through each of their journeys, they have arrived at a point where Yukino can recognize Iroha’s shared desire to assert her competency and independence, and want to help her achieve her dreams. Whether attempting to organize a prom while also renegotiating her familial duties is wise is another question entirely, but Yukino’s tendency to overexert herself isn’t likely to disappear overnight. Without further ado, let’s see what our crew get up to next!
After all this time, Hachiman still doesn’t have Yukino’s contact information. It makes perfect sense that he wouldn’t ask and she wouldn’t offer, but oh my god, you two
Hiratsuka seems to understand that they’re in a delicate moment now, and a push from her might not be what they need
“Stick to one hour of gaming per day!” My life would probably be in a better state if I heeded this sage advice
Hachiman actually asks Totsuka to hang out, which feels like the first time he’s asked to just casually share time with someone outside the club
Saki rushes out of the room, and Tobe unexpectedly runs out after her. “Want to follow? Are we followin’ her?” Oh my god, he’s basically a golden retriever
Both Komachi and Saki’s brother passed their entrance exams. Wonderful moments here, as the show embraces the snotty messiness of being this overjoyed and relieved. Oregairu’s character acting is consistently strong, but it’s strong in a way you don’t often see – the production works hard to capture the ugliness and clumsiness of people expressing their most carefully guarded feelings. Rather than seeking beauty of physical form, Oregairu seeks character acting that exhibits an honest, relatable vulnerability, and exemplifies the difficulty these characters have expressing their feelings
And Yui also shows up. Aoi Yuki always kills it as Komachi, but she’s going above and beyond this scene
Hah, even Komachi has Yukino’s contact information
Another way this show employs its careful character acting to strong effect: emphasizing the physical closeness of characters, and thereby placing us within the headspace of someone like Hachiman, who’s always painfully aware of Iroha’s touchy-feely presence. Like Haruno, Iroha is perfectly willing to use her ability to physically fluster people in order to steer conversations in her intended direction, and these closeup shots of Hachiman’s hip and elbow make it clear how preoccupied he is by her movements
Hachiman’s rambling jokes are hit or miss for me, but I like how his quiet mumbling responses here contrast against Iroha’s unflinching stern face
Incredible Iroha faces in general in this conversation
Hachiman’s keen understanding of Yukino’s character begins to annoy Iroha, and so she rallies back by asking him to define exactly why he’s so protective of his friends, a topic where he’s far less comfortable
Mentioning his actual younger sister kills the flirtatious mood, though, and so she shifts back to her own side of the steps
By reframing him as a dad rather than an older brother, Iroha forces Hachiman to recognize the paternal weirdness of referring to himself as an older brother to all his friends. His friendship with Iroha is pretty important at this point; she’s the only one who tends to be entirely frank with him, and who can call him out on his behavior without sending wider waves of emotional consequences rippling through the group. He needs a friend who can call him on his shit
At this point, Iroha’s “are you hitting on me” gag has progressed from “I could never in a million years” to “please try again when you get another chance,” but Hachiman doesn’t seem to have noticed. Having spent his middle school years repeatedly misinterpreting politeness as romantic interest, he’s now incapable of recognizing actual romantic interest, and assumes it’s all the same thing
“Help me out with this. After all, I’m not your little sister.” Goddamn, Iroha. She is flirting with him hard this season, having apparently accepted Haruto’s rejection. Well, if anyone can bounce back, it’d be Iroha
Welp, in spite of Yukino’s alleged desire to do this herself, it looks like Iroha has individually recruited all three service club members. That’s almost like working!
“Among the forms of media our generation has, this one tends to garner the most impressions.” Yukino dispassionately assessing the behavior patterns of Kids These Days is very good
“If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.” Yukino’s smile betrays how much she enjoys taking charge, as well as how much she enjoys swiping aside Hachiman’s objections. She actually appreciates having her ideas stress-tested by her friends at this point
They’re starting off with a video promo for the prom, to explain to the students what the heck a prom is, and why they should want one
“It’s true that I didn’t check the details of the job.” Hachiman has become so much more accommodating, and also more comfortable being accommodating. They’re not quite the same thing – early on, Hachiman didn’t want to help anyone, and said so loudly. Later, he actually did begin wanting to help his friends, but didn’t feel comfortable admitting to those vulnerable desires, and so generally helped through backhanded means. Now, he’s happy to help without a second thought, and even accepts some of the blame for not understanding his responsibilities. The casual confidence with which he now accepts requests from his friends would stun and disappoint his first-season self
Backstage, Iroha is actually harder on herself than Hachiman was willing to be. Though he laughed off the way she strong-armed him into this activity without truly asking him, she herself recognizes this behavior as exemplary of her old self, of the inconsiderate, manipulative, and lazy qualities she’s attempting to outgrow. It’s a tricky thing, personal growth; we have to actively act against our personal inclinations, and adopt behavior that we’d like to honestly, naturally embody, in order to teach ourselves new values and ways of behaving. Personal growth is a slow progress defined by consistent disappointment, as we fail to live up to the people we want to become – but as Hachiman says, the important thing is that Iroha is recognizing the behavior she wants to outgrow
Hachiman looks terrible in a tuxedo, while Yukino looks great. No surprises there
Yukino is also uncomfortable with Iroha’s constant body contact, which Iroha of course uses as an excuse to link arms entirely
Saki’s adjusting Yui’s dress. I like that they quietly followed up on Saki’s sewing proficiency
Hachiman is genuinely taken aback by Yui’s beauty, and when called on it, reverts to awkwardly asking how she could need more makeup. Old defense mechanisms die hard, and it’ll be years yet before Hachiman can honestly, offhandedly admit he thinks someone looks beautiful
The two of them are so adorable together! I’m already dreading whatever suffering this series’ ending might imply for any of our leads
Some equally cute looks of consternation from both of them, after Yukino asks them to dance
While Yui is reflecting on the fact that this might be the closest she gets to Hikki, Hikki himself is just worried he’s sweating too much while dancing. Forever stuck in their own heads
Jeez, it feels like that episode flew by in no time at all. This show has developed such a natural patter in its dialogue that every conversation flows without a hitch – though to be fair, that’s actually been one of Oregairu’s great strengths from the beginning, ever since Hachiman and Yukino first started riffing on each other. But at this point, the cast possess such strong mutual respect and understanding that all of their conversations feel like a celebration of their personal growth, and how hard they’ve fought to arrive at this level of comfort. This degree of honesty within a relationship is a rare and valuable thing; though our cast are understandably terrified by the end of high school, I hope they understand that friendships like these are worth protecting.