My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Climax
by Richard Eisenbeis,
How would you rate episode 7 of
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Climax (TV 3) ?
The first two-thirds of this episode serve to show just how hard Hachiman is going to have to work to keep his head above water.
While the prom he is preparing may be fake, he can't half-ass it. For his con to work—for the PTO to be forced to choose the better of two bad options—both options have to appear 100% real. Of course, the only way to do this is to actually plan and make preparations for an alternative prom. This means he and his new committee not only have to develop an alternate plan from scratch with no budget, but the plan must be objectively worse as well. Walking this line appears to be even harder than preparing a good prom like what Yukino is doing.
It's clear that Hachiman didn't really know what he was signing up for when he came up with this strategy, and he doesn't realize his error until the meeting with Kaihin Sougou High School. Expecting to get Tamanawa on board with just a mix of fancy buzzwords, he is shot down instantly. As a school president, Tamanawa has grown over the months just as Iroha has. He now wants concrete details rather than posturing. And honestly, if Tamanawa can see through his plan for the sarcastic attempt it is, then so will Yukino's mom.
This part of the episode also serves another major purpose: making the audience laugh. On one side, we have our two board game club members—i.e., stereotypically unpopular otaku—being drafted into Hachiman's committee. The humor comes from the fact that neither of them are prepared for interacting with Yui and Hachiman. It's clear they have little experience dealing with beautiful, popular girls like Yui—but even they, with a rather bleak outlook all their own, regard Hachiman's extremely pessimistic honesty as going way too far.
And then there is the rap scene. I mean, if that doesn't make you laugh I don't know what to tell you.
The focus on comedy for the majority of this episode is important. In pacing a long form story—especially one as full of drama as My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU—it's vital to take a step back from time to time. Being caught in an unrelenting spiral of despair is exhausting and a good helping of comedy can let both the characters and viewers decompress. And given the dour mood of the third season so far (and likely that of episodes to come), this episode was the perfect spot for a bit of a breather.
Of course, all that levity comes to an end with the episode's dramatic final scene.
This scene is like a case study for why My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU is such an excellent show. It is so complex—touching so many topics and filled with so much subtext—that the only way I can think to cover it is to break it down part by part.
Meeting Yukino by coincidence, Hachiman chooses to spend time with her over doing his job and meeting Hayato (who he sees in the distance)—once again showing where his real priorities lie.
The two fall into their old pattern of meaningless insults, self-deprecating humor, and irrelevant wordplay. And for a fleeting moment, both smile as they almost forget they're in the midst of a friendship-ending crisis.
When he asks her about how she is doing, she quips about him not typically caring for others—even though they both know he cares deeply for her. More tellingly, she jumps unconsciously when he refers to her as his “enemy”—the exact opposite of what she wants to be.
They lie to each other about how well it's going when it comes to their respective proms—not only because it's the smart posture to take given their competition, but also because they don't want to worry each other.
Knowing that he must be lying just as she is, Yukino tells Hahiman once again that he doesn't have to do this—that she'll pull off the prom by herself. He replies that it's just in his nature to meddle—reiterating once again that he's just doing what he's doing for himself.
The whole time Yukino has been holding onto a can of Hachiman's favorite coffee. This is symbolism 101: she was originally holding it because she had been thinking about Hachiman, not because she was planning on drinking it.
She tries to give it to him but Hachiman's inferiority complex means he can't accept a gift from her without it being a response to something good he did—he needs them to be on equal footing, so he buys her another one. (Note that even after he gives the new can to her, she doesn't open or drink it.)
Then Yui shows up—shocked to see the two of them together and acts almost like a jilted lover at first. Hachiman doesn't see this (or pretends not to so as to defuse the situation) and gets up to leave for his talk with Hayato. However, Yui now confronts Yukino.
It's important to note that, from this point until the credits roll, every time Hachiman tries to interject, he is basically ignored. He is not part of this conversation any longer—it's between Yukino and Yui alone.
Yui asks if Yukino has been avoiding her—which Yukino vehemently denies. Yet, neither of them quite buy it. While Yukino hasn't been avoiding Yui, she hasn't been making time for her either. Both wish for the lie to be the truth, however, so Yui accepts it on the surface.
The truth is that Yukino has decided to give up on Hachiman for her dream of becoming the family heir, knowing that he would then likely end up with Yui instead of her. She's resigned to this, so even though it hurts her to learn the two of them have been working together on his prom, she tells Yui she understands.
But here's the thing: Yukino doesn't. She can't possibly understand. In the past few episodes, we have gotten glimpses into the emotional turmoil in Yui's heart. Yui doesn't understand herself. She wants so many things: She wants to be with Hachiman romantically, sure, but she also wants for both their friendship to survive and for Yukino to be happy (i.e., in a romantic relationship with Hachiman) as well. The problem is that there is no way to realize all of these desires at once.
But whatever happens, however things turn out in the end, Yui wants no ambiguity. This is what she means when she says she wants to “do this all properly.”
When Yukino says she hopes Yui's wish is granted, it's her way of giving permission for the two of them to date. She wants the two of them to be together because she wants her friends to be happy more than she values her own happiness—her own wish to be with Hachiman.
But in Yui's mind, she's already accepted that Hachiman wants Yukino and not her—though she can't help backsliding when the two of them are alone. And in this scene we see where her new priority is—or at least where she wants it to be.
As Yukino tries to leave, Yui runs to her and hugs her. She shows her affection for her friend—as her words clearly weren't getting through. Yui then tries to outline her plans for the future—attempting to convey that no matter what happens with Hachiman, she intends with all her heart for their friendship, hers and Yukino's, to continue.
Or perhaps, these plans spilling from her lips are simply Yui's own self-deception. In her fear of losing her best friend, she is voicing these things despite knowing they will almost certainly not happen, hoping that, by saying them out loud, they may yet come to be.
And in the end, as Hachiman looks on, he can only hope that the two girls' fragile friendship will survive the trials and tribulations to come.
• About the rap: The way I see it, it's artistic license—the characters are not really having an impromptu rap battle. Rather this is just the director's way of portraying their conversation in an interesting, silly way.
• It's not technically the rap itself that made me lose it. It was Yui filming it. Even if the rap battle wasn't real, Yui filming it means that she still wanted a video of how weird Hachiman is when talking with Tamanawa.
• Why is Tamanawa getting more and more testy after Hachiman and Yui arrive? Because Hachiman is talking about exchanging contact info with Orimoto, the girl Tamanawa has a crush on! Poor little guy is jealous.
• Sagami, one of the two game club members, is the younger brother of the culture festival committee leader Hachiman verbally destroyed in the climax of season 1.
• I love how happy Zaimokuza is at his prom title being chosen. He's been such a good friend to Hachiman, it's nice to see him get a win.
• “Sobu High School Prom: The Saiko Project” is indeed the perfect name because it is a pun. Saiko here is written phonetically, which can have several possible meanings. On one hand it could mean, “best” as they are trying to make it appear that it is the best they could come up with. On the other hand, it could also be read “psycho” as in “you'd have to be psycho to choose this proposal.”
• Okay anime, I have noticed your Chekhov's gun with the camera Hachiman gets this episode and is studying to use. I'm excited to see how it will pay off.
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