What a band.
Hachiman saves the day again in his usual signature way. You know, the good ‘ol “everybody hates Hachiman” approach. It’s worked wonders before, but after using it so many times, even Hachiman’s tried and true methodology starts to show some problems.
Public Enemy No. 1
As expected, Minami has one last trick up her sleave. She manages to hold the culture fair hostage by disappearing right before the closing ceremony in which she’s supposed to give a speech and announce the voting results for the awards. Now, I say this as though she’s the bad guy here, but really she’s not doing this with malicious intent. Obviously she realizes to a degree that her disappearance will be a problem, but she probably thinks she’s non-essential anyway so the committee will be able to patch things up without her. Even so, she simply doesn’t understand the magnitude of the problem she’s created, so she gets no sympathy from me. Even to the very end, she’s nothing but trouble. Don’t expect me to feel sorry just because you embarrassed yourself in front of the entire student body. But of course, comfort is exactly what Minami wants, so when Hachiman shows up as the first person to find her, she isn’t pleased in the least bit. It’s interesting to see that even in this moment, Hachiman is still thinking about preserving Yukino’s good word, but in the end he knows there are just some things he can’t do. After playing the bad guy all this time, it’s just not possible for him to comfort and reassure the distressed Minami. So it happens to be a stroke of luck that Hayato stumbles upon the two next.1 Being the resident nice guy, it’s all too easy for him to sweet talk Minami into returning. Except the troublesome girl evidently needs even more pampering to regain her self-confidence, and so remains hesitant. Time running short, Hachiman springs into action with his typical ways, bringing us to the matter at hand.
Hachiman is clearly capable of solving problems in his own way. But while the results may speak for themselves, it’s become all too obvious that he is a one trick pony. And that one trick he knows? It hinges upon degrading himself to get others to move on from the problem. I know some people might see this as cool. A guy is willing to sacrifice his own reputation to help others, without them realizing it? What an awesome and selfless person! But the problem is that it doesn’t involve only Hachiman. Hachiman himself may be able to take being alienated, as that very word is pretty much the story of his life. But what about those that care about him? Shizuka is one of these rare persons, for instance, and she voices her concerns to him in a surprisingly intimate moment. She may be a little gruff, but we are reminded yet again that she truly cares for the problem children she’s been tasked with overseeing. And it’s not just her. What about Yui and Yukino? Heck, what about Hayato? Every one of them knows Hachiman’s bad habit, and they’ve all also voiced their own concerns to varying degrees. Yukino seems to have let Hachiman do as he pleases, but Hayato notably disagrees with Hachiman’s ways. As the nice guy, he can’t bear to see his friend use such loathsome methods to solve problems. And while these two may appear an unlikely pair,2 it’s undeniable that they are in fact friends. Hayato’s violent actions might suggest otherwise, but I believe he isn’t really angry with Hachiman or has come to hate him. Rather, he is angry that his friend can only see degrading himself as the solution to every problem.
In the romance department, it seems Yukino has made leaps and bounds after only just making up with Hachiman last episode. But perhaps it only appears this way because she’s evidently opened up to others quite a bit? We see that she’s finally able to rely on others, even going so far as to rely on Haruno. Previously, it might have been unthinkable for this to happen, but now Yukino isn’t being shy about being indebted to others. Much less, to her sister. And remember Yui and Hachiman’s visit last episode? I know Yukino promised Yui she would rely on her one day, but I didn’t think that day would come so soon. In any case, Yukino and Hachiman are getting along smashingly well this episode. The two are at ease with each other again and have returned to their usual bickering, which Hachiman clearly enjoys and doesn’t make it a secret. But while they have made up and their relationship is stronger than it has ever been, there’s still a line between them that prevents them from being more than just “friends”.3 Their “friendship” works because the two are so different from, yet similar to, each other. It’s what makes their conversations so entertaining to both parties. If they tried to become more than that, it would probably just fall apart. So I would say that if there were a true romantic candidate for Hachiman, it would still be Yui. She may not be able to give him the same battle of wits that Yukino can, but she balances out his sharp pessimism in her own silly, simple-minded but honest way.
As much as I would like to see more, however, it seems SNAFU isn’t intent on giving us any more romance. The finale is labeled as “extra”, and supposedly deals with the athletic festival. Take that as you will, but I’m thinking it means any real development is essentially over, and the show will instead finish off with some fun, lighthearted conclusion that won’t really conclude anything. At least, not romantically. But maybe that’s fine. I get the feeling that Hachiman has indeed grown throughout the run of the show. And while we may not get to see him appreciate himself any better, his parting words this episode suggest that he’s at least considering the idea. If anything, that’s a step forward for him.
1Also notable are the very different methods Hachiman and Hayato use to locate Minami. Hachiman uses his intuition and advice from a fellow loner to guess where someone might hide when they want to be alone yet be found at the same time. Hayato, on the other hand, uses his influence and web of connections to hunt down Minami’s exact location. Hachiman’s methods involve understanding the mindset of the person in question, while Hayato’s relies on clout and pure manpower. And while Hachiman did come across Minami first, it was technically by luck that he guessed (to a degree) the right location on the first try.
2The resident fujoshi might beg to differ.
3Yukino may deny that they, but anyone observing the two bicker would easily conclude that they are in fact friends. And close ones, at that.