Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, Oregairu) is a slice of life anime where our protagonist loathes each and every human in existence. Segregating himself from the society he detests, throughout Oregairu’s three-season run, Hikigaya Hachiman slowly changes from being scorned by his peers for having zero redeemable qualities, into a hero who often comes to save the day for those he cares about.
Season 1 - Hikigaya and Misanthropy
Hikigaya in the first season of Oregairu was...how can we put this gently...a huge jerk. Granted, he grew to be a relatable protagonist for the misfit social outcasts of the world, however, the point of characters like Hikigaya is to showcase the negativity that they embody.
Similarly, with characters like Rick Sanchez from Rick and Morty or Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye - just because a character is seemingly intelligent, does not mean that they should be idolized for their views. That is not to say that these are poorly written characters because we dislike them. On the contrary, we are supposed to recognize their flaws and use our judgment in determining whether they deserve sympathy, empathy, or hostility.
Hikigaya, in this season, proceeds to go on long rambling rants about how society is plagued by platonic interactions and fake people who put on masks to go about their daily lives. This is until he is forced into the service club (a group of volunteer students bent on solving the problems of their peers whatever they may be) alongside Yukinoshita Yukino and Yuigahama Yui. Hoping the service club will rectify his behavior, he vows to try his best at overcoming his negativity at the behest of those around him.
Hikigaya is not particularly liked by his classmates in this season. While he never grows to earn the affections of many people over the series, even Yuigahama and Yukinoshita dislike him at this point - pointing out his ‘twisted eyes’ and often describing him as ‘creepy’. How could such a detestable character possibly earn his wings in the span of thirty episodes?
Season 2 - Hikigaya and Learning to Love
After the first season draws to a close, we rejoin our cast. Now under the knowledge that their feelings toward Hikigaya are changing, Yuigahama and Yukinoshita must accept that they harbor romantic feelings for our zero. While before, the romantic interactions between Hikigaya and the girls were primarily circumstantial (walking home together, accidental closeness, etc), now; we see the girls actively trying to win Hikigaya’s affections.
Hikigaya too has started opening up a lot more. As the entire class embarks on a trip to Kyoto, the service club is tasked with assisting one of their friends in her romantic confession. At a pivotal moment during the trip, one that will affect the outcome of service club customer Hina’s request, Hikigaya stakes his reputation by putting himself in the firing line (confessing his love to her and thereby sparing the pride of one of his classmate’s from being rejected).
This is one of the first glimpses into Hikigaya’s shift in personality. Perhaps he was merely carrying out his duty. Perhaps the confession was one of Service Club obligation and not of martyrdom. However, just maybe, Hikigaya is learning to care for people other than himself and that empathy is inspiring him to act more selflessly.
Yuigahama and Yukinoshita both recognize Hikgaya’s sudden personality shift. They each have their alone time with Hikigaya, attending amusement parks and going Christmas shopping. Deepening their individual relationships, both girls come to learn that the faint spark of attraction that had been lingering inside their hearts - has now erupted into passionate feelings of love.
Season 3 - Hikigaya’s Journey Culminates!
Without delving too deep into the latter half of season three as to avoid spoilers, this season sees the climax of Hikigaya’s growth. A much slower-paced season in our opinion, as the group does their best to plan an end of school prom. This season stays fairly bottled in the school or homes of the cast - instead; pooling all its resources into giving each character a satisfying conclusion.
Where Hikigaya was once apathetic to others and his surroundings, he has since softened and exposed his caramel center. He tirelessly aids his peers with their prom preparations, despite the reluctance of his inclusion from Yukinoshita. He acknowledges the feelings of his trio, hilariously referencing his love-triangle to Yukinoshita’s sister. He compliments Yuigahama on her clothes and dances with her to help Isshiki film a promotional video. All in all, season three Hikigaya is the most positive we have seen thus far.
Yukinoshita eventually admits that she does not enjoy Hikigaya constantly coming to her rescue, that she can never grow to be an individual if she constantly relies on his support. Hikigaya refutes these claims and tells her that is what friends are for. Who would have thought such words could come out of Hikigaya’s mouth? Season one Hikigaya would never have dreamt up such a ludicrous thought.
Yet, here we are, Hikigaya confiding in Isshiki about his plans for Yukinoshita. Spending time with Yuigahama by choice and not out of obligation. Listening to other people’s opinions such as his teacher Shizuka, as he values and respects opinions other than his own. A tremendous growth, and one that solidifies Hikigaya as the hero of this story.
Hikigaya Hachiman transformed himself from a misanthropic, outcast into a kind-hearted hero over the course of Oregairu. With the help of those around him, he came to learn that support does not make one weaker, but lifts them up to be even stronger. What do you think about Hikigaya Hachiman and the finale of Oregairu? Let us know in the comments below!
What was that? Which girl did he choose? Well, you’ll just have to watch season three to find out, won’t you?