My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Climax
by Richard Eisenbeis,
How would you rate episode 4 of
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Climax (TV 3) ?
After a week of smooth sailing, things finally hit the fan in this episode. The promotion video for the prom has been a great success among the students. However, Yukino's mother shows up as a member of the PTA and demands it be canceled. Yukino is unable to make her mother see reason but doesn't want Hachiman and Yui to help her change her mother's mind. She is determined to make the prom succeed on her own.
While the villain of this episode might seem to be Yukino's mother at first glance, far worse is the puppet master behind the scenes, Haruno. Throughout the series, Haruno has showed up at the most inopportune times to make her sister's life harder. In fact, even before that, she enjoyed terrorizing her younger sister growing up—and it's not hard to imagine why: jealousy.
Haruno is the opposite of Yukino. She always had a plan for her life laid out in front of her. While Yukino was expected to do nothing, Haruno was expected to do everything—to be the perfect child and heir. From Haruno's viewpoint, Yukino has freedom—endless possibilities for her life—while even as an adult, Haruno's a slave to her family's expectations.
But that's not the only reason she constantly meddles in Yukino's life. As a young girl Yukino tried to follow her childhood dream—to become her father's successor. Yet, she failed to receive recognition no matter what she accomplished. So she decided this was because of her own inadequacy—that she lacked something she has seen in both Haruno and Hachiman. Unable to gain whatever it was she lacked, she hoped to blaze her own path—despite no longer having any dreams to use as a guiding light.
However, the trick isn't that Yukino lacks something—hence why should couldn't find it. Rather, it's that she still has something Haruno and Hachiman don't have: hope.
Haruno and Hachiman are both deeply pessimistic people. They expect the worst from people and accept it when it comes true. Hachiman lost his hope due to his experiences with girls in middle school and the fallout from the car accident on his first day of high school that left him isolated from the rest of his class. Haruno lost hers by being unable to break away from the life her mother groomed her for.
Haruno is resigned to her lot in life and tortures those around her—likely because misery loves company and because she wants everyone to be as disillusioned with life as she is. She does not believe her sister to be able to pull off the prom singlehanded and force their mother to re-evaluate her. She expects her sister to fail—fail and have her hopes crushed at the feet of their mother just like her own had been. Haruno pessimistically refers to this as “growing up.”
But worse than that, she's taking steps to make sure that this comes to pass by isolating her sister from those who care about her most. When Haichman takes the bait and admits that he is in a love triangle with Yui and Yukino, she laughs at him and instead claims that the three are in a codependent relationship.
Now why exactly this hits Hachiman so hard is that, like most things Haruno says, it's true from a twisted point of view.
Without a doubt, Yukino suffers from codependency. With her mother neglecting her, she did everything she could to please the people around her—hoping that would somehow give her a goal in life. And while she has tried to break away from that mindset in High School by keeping others at arm's length, she still longs to please those she cares about—hence her codependency relapse in the back half of season two. However, since then, she has been doing her best to limit contact with her friends and make her own choices.
The lie in Haruno's assertion is that Hachiman and Yui are codependent toward Yukino. True, Yui had a similar people-pleasing nature at the start of the series. She would always go with the flow and not rock the boat. But as her true desires became more clear (i.e., her want to be with Hatchiman), she cared less about what the group thought of her relationship with him—to the point she's okay with pictures of her dancing with Hachiman being plastered over SNS.
As for Hachiman, Haruno claims that he is codependent towards Yukino because it feels good to help her when she's in trouble. Of course we know the reason Hachiman helps Yukino is not for self-gratification but because he truly cares about her. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that Haruno's words don't cause Hachiman to suffer from introspective self-doubt that keeps him on the sidelines as intended—well that and his promise to Yukino to let her handle the prom on her own.
However, as meddlesome as Haruno is being, a large part of the problems Yukino's facing are ones of her own making. In her drive to prove herself independent, she has once again overcorrected in how she handles her interpersonal relationships. While not ignoring them or treating them as strangers, Yukino has all but cut ties with Hachiman and Yui while working on the prom.
Overcoming codependency doesn't mean cutting your friends out of your life. Rather, it means making your own decisions. It's okay to ask for help and opinions as long as the final choice is yours. Yukino, however, has closed herself off to not only the temptation to go back to her old ways but to the support of her friends she clearly needs as well.
That said, Yukino is completely aware that her actions revolving around the prom have all but doomed any possibility of a romantic relationship with Hachiman. She has simply decided that chasing her dream is more important to her than anything else. And so, without her actively participating in the love triangle, Yui and Hachiman naturally become closer to each other.
In this episode, they go on a date (in all but name) to a nearby Ikea under the pretense of preparing a gift for Komatchi. They're even planning on cooking together (likely at Yui's house) when they get the message that the prom is all but canceled.
This prompts Hachiman to call his teacher for an explanation—which she will give him only if he puts into words why he wants to save the prom. And while it's hard for him he eventually does: he promised Yukino he would save her one day.
And as Hachiman runs back to school, Yui breaks down in tears. She realizes that, with this act, Hachiman has resolved the love triangle—and not in her favor. While she could have let the tears flow in front of him and gotten him to stay, she doesn't want to be the damsel (not when there's someone she cares about who actually does need his help). Nor does she want to do anything that would harm the inherent kindness inside him—the kindness that caused him to put his life at risk to save a stranger's dog.
Moreover, she feels guilty for growing closer with Hachiman in Yukino's absence—and feels like this is her punishment for doing so. While Yukino gave up on Hachiman to chase a likely impossible dream, Yui doesn't even have any dreams to follow.
And, of course, because the human heart is full of contradictions, part of her still wishes that she had broken down in front of him, just so he would be with her a little longer.
• It's surprising how much of this episode revolves around Haruno given her small amount of screen time.
• The reason Haruno is so focused on Hatchiman is that while his pessimistic worldview is so similar to hers, it's different in one important aspect: he has a chance to come back from it due to his relationship with Yui and Yukino.
• Go back and rewatch the splash mountain scene from season 2 episode 9. It's pretty much required to understand this episode. It not only has the moment where Yukino asks Hachiman to save her someday, it also has a lengthy conversation about her relationship with her sister and how she feels she lacks something that Hachiman and Haruno have.
• I honestly wonder if the “minority” who oppose the prom actually exist beyond Yukino's mother. She says people talked to her and asked her to come and talk to the school but there is no proof of that whatsoever. I wouldn't be surprised if she just thinks her daughter is wasting her time.
• Yukino's dead, resigned smile when her sister tries to out her codependent nature in front of everyone is heart-breaking—to the point where even Haruno backs off.
• As a resident of Chiba for more than a decade, I know exactly where that Ikea is and have been there more times than I can count. It's not the first Chiba fanservice in this anime and won't be the last.
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