My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO!
by Nick Creamer,
Can you at least give me twenty minutes to breath, SNAFU? I'm not sure my heart can take this.
The early scenes this week at least offered some relief; with Hikki finally having Told The Truth, the air felt significantly cleared this episode. After briefly stressing over his own embarrassment and getting propped up by the ever-supportive Komachi, Hachiman returned to the club room, where for the first time since the “club breakup” he spent some time with Yukino alone. Yukino's been an imposing, distant figure for a long line of episodes now, but with Hachiman now having put his emotional cards on the table, Yukino immediately came into focus. Though she said last week that she wasn't really sure how to reciprocate Hikki's desires, her awkward attempts to ask how she can help demonstrated she's both equally committed to repairing their friendship and just as nervous as he is.
From there, all three members of the club went to meet with Iroha. The opening gag of Iroha handing her bag off to Hikki only to be met by shocked expressions from the other two was pretty great, and reflective of how well Iroha tends to deflate the usual tension and self-seriousness of the other characters. Iroha is a bit of a troll, frankly, and her friends need that. She's essentially battered her way into the narrative this season, but she's been a welcome addition all around.
After meeting their adversaries and agreeing with Hikki's diagnosis of the situation, the group of four ended up being joined by all of Hayato's group on an ostensibly inspiration-seeking trip to an amusement park. This led into a series of scenes that really let the show relax back into its old comfort zone, complete with silly gags, awkward moments of tension between all the cast, and lots of fun-with-friends photo montages. Not all of this material was good (I'm definitely not a fan of how the return to humor also meant a return to crappy light novel gags like Ebina's fujoshi jokes or “someone marry Sensei”), but it was overall a welcome relief to see these characters actually having fun, and enjoying each other's company again. SNAFU's cast is a richly drawn bunch, and when you spend as much time as this show has getting to deeply know characters and share in their trials, moments of peace like this can be just as rewarding as the more overtly dramatic stuff.
That's not to say this sequence was all fluffy jokes and Yukino being moe about Pan-san the panda. There were many small moments of camaraderie worth highlighting here, from Ebina checking in to apologize for how her request might have hurt Hikki's friendships, to Hikki and Yui sharing a moment where they each reflected on how they felt about the day. Though Hachiman opened with a scowling complaint regarding the crowds, Yui replied that she actually wanted to come back sometime, a statement that included a silent but clear “with you.” Acknowledging this, Hachiman “offhandedly” mused on another tourist spot that had recently opened, once again offering an olive branch to strengthen their relationship. These roundabout gestures of friendship are very good at conveying both the extent to which these characters care for each other and the ways they maintain their shields in order to avoid being burned by a too-honest confession.
The episode's last two sequences were having none of that low-key friendship nonsense. The first, between Hikki and Yukino, was a simultaneously quiet and climactic moment for their friendship. As the two of them jostled in the line for a final rollercoaster, their own mutual concern became clear in Hikki's attempts to make sure Yukino was comfortable, and Yukino's surprising “I was fine riding this with Yui, so I should be fine (with you).” As they rode towards the drop, Yukino opened up even more, reflecting on how her fear of rollercoasters probably stemmed (like so much) from her sister's cruelty. “Hey, Hikigaya-kun. Save me someday?” she asked; and then the world shifted, the coaster dropping over the cliff as Hikki's stomach dropped. A perfect silent moment, the emotions Hikki was feeling conveyed visually through the brilliant device of the ride's movement, the camera staying focused on his face as the world literally fell away behind him. This season is too good to us.
After one more refreshingly honest conversation between the two of them, it was time for fireworks, and the day's end. Surrounded by close friends and secure in his feelings, Hikki was given a brief moment of peace and nostalgia, before he spotted Iroha making her own feelings known to Hayato at the front of the crowd. Just like the rollercoaster scene, the framing here was perfect - the melancholy piano building into guitar, the fact that we were unable to hear the actual words that passed between them, the expressions lost in the glow of the fireworks above. Much of this season has been spent mending fences and preserving dynamics, but Iroha has now taken a step that can't be taken back. But the key point of this season isn't that Iroha was rejected, and that such things are sad and inevitable - it's that Hikki clearly cares, because someone who has become a friend to him has been hurt. Last time he wanted to help his friends, Hikki could only move himself to action through Komachi's request. Komachi was right to do that, and she was right this episode when she said that people don't change overnight. But after all that's happened since, I still hope that Hikki has learned to act for his own sake.
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
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