Oregairu and Me in Retrospect

Few months really late, but it has recently come to my attention that Oregairu‘s final volume was finally published after a long hiatus (Thanks again Frog-kun for the summary!).

First off, wow! It’s finally over! Second, I can’t believe it’s almost been about five to six years since I first watched the anime. I once wrote a post about the series, but it was so amateurish and cringey that I am really embarrassed to share the link here.

Beyond the quality of my writing back then, I kind of have a lot feelings about the series that’s different from when I first wrote that post. However, there are still things that remains the same. I still think Oregairu is the first ever work centered on a teenage experience where I felt seen. Finally, a loser nerd protagonist that is similar to me! Most works about teenagers, especially the ones in the west, always feel alien to me, even when the main subject is, purportedly, a lonely loser. Heck, I don’t even feel much of anything toward Holden Caufield in Catcher in the Rye, the one teenage main protagonist that many fans of the series pointed at as being similar with Hikigaya Hachiman. I can understand his circumstances and his pain, but I couldn’t feel much emotional connection to him. Meanwhile, there’s something specific in Hachiman’s circumstances that connects me to him, something that I couldn’t quite explain with my current knowledge and understanding.

On the other hand, I kind of feel like the fact that we’re both socially inept people who can’t quite blend in with the majority is basically the similarity between me and Hachiman begins and ends. For one thing, I don’t share his intelligence. For another, I don’t share his misanthropy and his jaded view of youth. I may feel alienated from my peers, but I can’t ever say that I hate them. Well, at least not all of them. No matter how much others have disappoint me or let me down, I can never say I hate people.

Part of it comes down to the fact that I’m too much of a people pleaser to ever hate others. That instinct to please others kind of comes partially because I accept the fact that my view of reality is always skewed compared to others thanks to my ADHD/ADD (I can’t honestly remember which condition that I have but from my personal research they are broadly similar). To put it simply, the mental condition that I have always makes me oversensitive toward external stimulus and also made me miss social cues that most people are intuitively aware of, so it often made me behave inappropriately in certain situations. There are far too many times where listening to others have helped me from dangers.

It also helps me from being a complete dick to others.

No matter how much I want to think that I am a “good” person, there’s always moments where I inadvertently hurt others.

The other thing that really separates me from him is perhaps the realization that I am perhaps far more similar to his clubmate at the Volunteering club.

I realized that I have more similarity toward Yui.

On the surface, Yui and I have absolutely nothing to do with each other whether it comes to personality or interest. I mean, the fact that she has lots of friends is the most obvious ones. But the moment in the first episode where she couldn’t help but feel like that she felt the need to be aligned with others feels very in line with my people-pleasing instinct in retrospect. Not only that, but the fact that she always put on a cheery face and earnest in everything that she does also felt like me when I’m with the people that I’m close with. At the very least, that kind of attitude is what I aspire to be more in the future.

We are also kind of an airhead. Well, my brand of airheaded-ness comes more in the fact that I’m either too focused on one thing to ever shift focus or I’m spacing out because I’m too busy daydreaming and making up epic narratives in my head. But still, she has that kind of airhead-like quality to her that I felt similar to mine.

This realization kind of dawns on me when I was watching Hyouka, another series about a closed off, recluse youth. Specifically, it was when I watched the Kanya Festival arc during the segment focusing Chitanda, the Yui of Hyoka one could argue. How she always too caught up in participating in the club stands rather than achieving her goal is the one thing that felt similar to me. The other thing was her blatantly direct and awkwardly inept way of misapplying her senpai advice on social persuasion. The specific mix of earnestness, but also incompetency in the way she conducts the whole social interaction felt true to my own.

Oh, she is also kind of a clumsy airhead (The moment where she headbutt the mic during the radio interview is just ugggggh).

So yeah, in the end I realized that Hachiman and I don’t have much similarly to each other. But then again, I’ve more or less concede to the fact that I’m always going to be alone when it comes to my own experience. While it does diminish the affection that toward the series just a little, it doesn’t make the series any less important for me.

Although the fact that Hachiman and Yukino is a thing now kind of makes me want to slam his face to a desk while saying, “Darn Riajuu!”. Then again, the very fact that he has two attractive women who pines for him is already another point where I don’t feel similar to him.

But anyway, thanks Oregairu!

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The eternal student.

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