My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Climax
by Richard Eisenbeis,
How would you rate episode 5 of
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Climax (TV 3) ?
This episode is all about laying out the problem our heroes face and the personal stakes involved should they fail to overcome it.
As shown in the last episode, the general issue they are facing is that the PTO—i.e., Yukino's mother and her (potentially non-existent) cohorts—have decided that the prom should be canceled. However, one of the main tenets of the school they attend is student autonomy. Thus, even with Yukino's mother breathing down their necks, it's hard for the school administration to do anything more than “advise” the prom committee to hold off on planning for the moment.
Of course, both Hachiman and Yukino see this for the BS that it is: a way to functionally kill the prom without having to “cancel” it due to the tight schedule needed to pull it off in the first place. Unfortunately, should they decide not to follow the school's “advice”, things are likely to escalate—and not in their favor.
Yukino, for her part, hopes to appeal to the PTO and explain logically how she will address the PTO's issues—and win them over with hard work and determination. Hachiman, on the other hand, has serious doubts about the plan's success.
This is because, while the PTO has stated their reasons as to why they think the prom is a bad idea, these complaints have been made in bad faith. So no matter what they do to address those complaints, it won't change anything. The PTO will just find new reasons to justify their objections.
Hachiman is aware of what is on the line for Yukino. To her, this is a chance, perhaps her last chance, to overcome her codependency and prove to both her family and herself that she can do more than live quietly in her sister's shadow—that she has value too. So even though Hachiman wants to help, he realizes he can't just march in and take over. To do so would defeat the purpose of her handling the prom in the first place.
So he lays it all out in the open. He says he wants to save her—as she once asked him to—and flat out asks if it is okay for him to help her. He won't interfere in her plans and will follow her lead when it comes to any final decisions. He just wants to make a backup plan and get it ready in case everything else falls through.
Now, on paper, this sounds like it should be enough. Hachiman's set down a plan where Yukino can get his help but still have ultimate control of both the situation and her own actions. The problem is she can't see it that way. To Yukino, he's just placating her. In the end, things will go bad, she'll give in to temptation, and go along with his idea—and nothing will have changed from how things usually go. For her, a person trying so desperately to grow, this would be just another form of failure.
And so Hachiman is left with no choice but to flip the script. If she doesn't want help, he won't help her. Instead, he'll do his own thing, on his own, and for his own reasons. And she has no right to object. The prom is a service club project and there is no need for them to work together—that was the deal they made back in the first episode of the series.
But to hammer the message home—which is to get her enthusiastic consent—he makes it the final battle of their ongoing challenge. He'll do it his way and she'll do it her way. And whoever gets the prom to happen will be the winner. This appeals to the one part of her personality that is 100% her own, the part that isn't susceptible to her codependency: her drive to win.
Of course, the obvious problem here is that this puts her in a seemingly unwinnable situation. What Yukino wanted from the whole prom thing was to realize it on her own with her friends cheering her on from the sidelines (and in doing so change how her parents view her). But now, with Hachiman in the game, this is impossible.
If she wins now, it'll prove that she can do things on her own—and she may even get the respect from her parents that she deserves. However, she'll have done it without her friends believing in her and supporting her in the way she asked—exposing instead a fundamental lack of trust and respect for her and her needs. It will be the death of their friendship.
On the other hand, if Hachiman wins, it'll prove she couldn't do it on her own. Not only would the aforementioned lack of trust issue remain unresolved, but she'll also be forced to give in to her codependence and do whatever Hachiman asks of her. This in turn would give credence to her greatest fear: that she'll never be able to escape her codependency no matter how hard she tries.
This knowledge (along with her drive to win) gives her a second wind, allowing her to redouble her efforts and press on. If their relationship is doomed either way, she's going to fight for the way that at least shows she has autonomy—and prove that her way of doing things has been right all along.
...But that doesn't make her any less sad knowing that this will likely be the last thing they do as friends.
The other focal point of the episode is Iroha and how she feels about the whole situation. In the most general sense, her goal is to make sure the prom goes through as planned; if it doesn't, it's unlikely she'll be able to try again in the years to come with the stigma of having failed once. However, she recognizes that the prom has become something entirely different for Yukino and Hachiman and wants their issues to be resolved—preferably in a way that doesn't end with the prom imploding in on itself.
In their big conversation of the episode, Hachiman talks to Iroha about him taking responsibility for the relationship he has built with Yukino, and if it has become codependent or anything else, he wants to take responsibility for that and make things better.
This causes her to realize what it is she really wants from him: for him to take responsibility for his actions regarding her. In her mind, it's his fault she went from freshman class idol to student council president. It's his fault she went from an ineffective leader to someone who not only gets things done but one that considers the health and wellbeing of those under her. And most importantly, it's his fault that she has come to love him.
The heartbreaking thing is that, in witnessing the conversation between Hachiman and Yukino at the episode's climax, she is forced to acknowledge that she doesn't even register romantically to Hachiman—not in the way Yukino does, anyway. While he is certainly willing to help Iroha when needed, it's nothing compared to the care, investment, and emotional vulnerability he is willing to show before Yukino. Iroha's not even in the race for his heart. And that, understandably, pisses her off.
However, that doesn't mean she isn't concerned for the apparent tears she sees streaming down Yukino's face as the episode ends.
• Keeping all characters except for Hiratsuka, Yukino, and Iroha out of this episode is a good choice that really gives the episode focus.
• I loved how Hiratsuka bursts out laughing at Hachiman's assertion that he is used to being hated by girls—you know, despite his obvious love square.
• I agree with Hachiman: Hiratsuka is too good for him and I am in shock that she is still single.
• Iroha's “joke rejection” of Hachiman in this episode isn't a joke. She just says she wants him to wait until everything else is sorted out (with Yukino, Yui, and the prom) before figuring out if they can date. He just dismisses the whole idea of them dating out of hand which clearly hurts her a bit.
• Once the challenge is issued, Yukino won't even use the glasses Hachiman bought for her. Even that is relying on him too much.
• Her not using the eye strain-reducing glasses likewise gives her the perfect excuse to use the eye drops to hide her actual tears.
• While Yukino can't see it at this moment, everything is not quite as black and white as she fears—though Hachiman is walking one hell of a tightrope. Going forward, he needs to find a way for her to win that allows their relationship to continue/evolve into something better or for her to lose in a way that still proves her personal autonomy to herself (if not her family as well). Is this a tall order? Yep. But we'll just have to see what he's able to come up with.
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