Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru – Episode 9

Alright. With the camping arc over, we now have five episodes left to develop our main characters. I’m told our current LN-eating trajectory is leading towards some kind of festival finale, and the show has been alluding to Yuki’s problems too often for her situation not to play a pivotal role in the episodes to come. That’s awesome – she’s a great character and clearly has the most strongly built defenses, and since the camera follows Hikki so closely, any development of her pretty much implies he’s going to learn more about her home situation. Over these past several episodes, they’ve clearly become something resembling friends, but I doubt Yuki will take his learning more about her hangups willingly – there is infinite potential for really awesome drama there. Let’s see it through.

Episode 9

3:10 – Oh man, that slanted half-acknowledging stance when you really don’t want to be added to the conversation but also don’t want to come across as entirely rude, so you split the difference and just look ridiculous.

4:08 – I love Hikki’s sister’s incredibly obvious schemes

5:09 – Jeez, Hikki uses that defensive sideways stance all the time. Adorable, and again indicative of how you can convey a lot of personality through subtle visual cues alone. This show isn’t visually ostentatious, but it’s pretty carefully directed

6:08 – “Trying to find meaning behind pure coincidences or random events is a bad habit unpopular guys have.” This is both true and possibly aimed at every other goddamn romantic comedy.

6:58 – Yui just waiting for him to haltingly act like a normal human being and suggest wandering around. All these characters bounce off each other so well

7:20 – A nice trick, contrasting Hikki’s verbal philosophizing of himself with Yui’s visual appreciation of the world around her. Again, solid direction

7:56 – Also amused by the thought that if he were with Yuki instead, they’d be in total agreement on analyzing and selecting the most temperature-appropriate activity for this juncture

9:25 – I could listen to Hikki monologue all day. It’s such a poignant stage of maturity – he’s confident in his total assessment of the little status games the people around him are playing, but he lacks the confidence, drive, or maturity to rise above them. He’s perfectly content just stating the rules aren’t fair and thus he doesn’t want to play – meanwhile, Yui might not be able to articulate the rules that well, but she’s perfectly capable of enjoying the evening on its own merits. Hikki’s confidence and sense of self are based on his ability to analyze the systems, but ultimately that’s just another way of being trapped by those systems

11:10 – “Can’t take honest complement without undercutting it.” Check check check

13:00 – Oh man, Yuki’s not gonna like this. Her sister’s giving out some pretty key info about their home life, and I’m guessing that in her mind, this will change the power dynamic between her and Hikki in a pretty intolerable way

13:19 – “That means Yuki’s not gonna be chosen again.” Jeez, so she knows about Yuki’s feelings… and she pitiesher. That’s gotta sting

14:27 – It’s kind of fitting that with a character as guarded as Yuki, we actually learn far more about her when she isn’t even there

15:18 – Silly of me to hope for an awkward response from Hikki. Of course he’s already rationalized a prepared deflection for a question as dangerous as “do you like her”

15:34 – Genre awareness is making me wonder when the scene where we finally see Yuki in her yukata is gonna happen, but they might actually omit that trope. I do like how this show doesn’t just blanket attack tropes, and instead has a knowing love-hate relationship with them

16:28 – “Not looking back at the past is sort of my policy.” Hikki, your whole life philosophy is based on idolizing the simplistic “lessons” you’ve learned from the past

18:10 – “The more you know, the more problems you have.” Can’t really deny that one

18:43 – They are foreshadowing some upcoming Yuki conflict really hard here. I can’t imagine Hikki’s heroic rescue going well for anyone

19:22 – It’s nice that they’re bookending this episode with Hikki’s declaration of disbelief in fate and Yui’s confidence that they were fated to meet someday. Writing!

And Done

Oh man, that ending was brutal! So much good stuff in this episode – even at the very end, there was the nice parallel where Hikki himself interrupted both Yui and Yuki as they were likely about to tell the truth and damage his cynical view of the world, drawing a nice portrait of how self-generated his system really is. Great, charming moments between Hikki and Yui, a whole lot of perspective on Yuki’s situation, and man, that last speech… gah, I can’t fucking wait for next week. This show.

-edit- Still thinking about that ending, and I didn’t really go deeply into it originally, so I might as well add an actual comment. The conflict they’re brewing here is pretty much perfect, not just because it pulls in all the actual dramatic strands they’ve established so far, but also because it acts as a direct attack on both Hikki and Yuki’s philosophies. Hikki himself admits the standards he was holding Yuki to are ridiculous – his ability to forgive her for betraying his illusions is going to require some kind of acknowledgment that his pessimism about human nature is unsustainable. And on the other side, the standards Yuki holds herself to are absurd, and yeah, she’s basically been betraying her own philosophy from the moment she pretended not to know Hikki. They both know their perspectives can’t last, but they’re both proud and defensive, and so the situation will probably only get worse. I think Yui’s going to have to break the ice on this conflict, and however it resolves, something’s going to have to change.

This is going to be a long week…