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Opinions (C):

Well… Uhh…. That happened. Its a strange sensation that’s felt after the ending of the second season of this franchise. A series  that I really didn’t expect to get any kind of continuation, let a second season under a different studio entirely.

What’s been so truly fascinating about Yahari’s second season is that it brought its A-Game from the get go (while under a different director and studio at that). The plot moved at a breakneck pace, character arcs concluded, the story’s core issues were examined and focused on and yet… We’re left hanging and confused by what it all means, another season into this story.

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There was always a chance of this happening, with just 13 episodes and a currently ongoing Light Novel series, it seemed doubtful that we’d get any real conclusion to the major love triangle, the story itself, and even focus on the two major girls. And that’s hard to accept, its painful and its downright disappointing. Its all those things because of how well the series carried itself this season, and how it really felt like it was building up to… something.

And yet, it really didn’t seem like there enough time to tackle the main issue head on, to provide that definitive conclusion that fans of this story so rightfully want. Instead, we got this sombre, thoughtful but ultimately unfulfilled and pretty confusing episode to end the series on.

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So what did we get in this finale? We got an awkward three person date between Hikigaya, Yui and Yukino. The tension was rife in the air, due to the whole situation that the three of them find themselves in. At this point its obvious that Yukino, and Yui are interested in and going for Hikigaya, and it seems like he’s interested in one of them too. The issue then, is about how they resolve this love triangle situation and come out of it without destroying their friendship.

The honest to God answer to that question is that they can’t. Hikigaya has to choose between the two of them, and for him to do that, one of them or both of them have to let it be known that they’re interested. And after that does happen, the one left out is probably going to be emotionally broken and alone, and have to distance themselves from the other two. Its a painful, messy situation for sure, but I think its only getting worse by how the two girls are handling it.

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A lot of what makes this episode so odd, and not work as well as say… The rest of this very season, is the fact that it’s just too ambiguous and vague. Much like how Hikigaya talks about Yui, and how she needs to be more clear, the episode could stand to do that as well.

As it stands, I think that Hikigaya is actually leaning towards Yui rather than Yukino. The flashbacks we saw, of him thinking about her, that we’ve seen creep up throughout the series are evidence of that. He’s also asked her once if “she’s free”, so there’s that too. And of course, there’s some pretty visible chemistry there as well. But again, that’s what I think, or maybe… What I want to think? The show isn’t locking it down one way or the other.

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And then there’s Yui’s odd behavior from the last episode and this one. What is that exactly? The show doesn’t quite spell it out, so I’ve just got my suspicions to go on. I think that Yui is interested in Hikigaya but she also knows that Yukino is as well. That, is what’s making her guilty, and making her unable to really drive forward. She’s torn between her best friend and the guy she likes, and  she’s desperately trying to find a way to get everything she wants.

The whole thing with Yukino is exactly that, the little speech at the end where Yui talks in as many riddles as possible, well that’s her trying to give Yukino some kind of out? She mentions their competition, and that the loser has to obey the other person, and with that Yukino kind of would just have to obey Yui should she lose.

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And lets talk about Yukino. I think Hikigaya put it best that his ideal of her as a strong girl was misguided, or deceiving himself. I think the series in general gave that impression, only to really pull back the curtain this season. Yukino isn’t strong at all, she’s actually very very emotionally fragile, and indecisive. She can’t take risks and is really afraid of rejection.

I’m not sure what exactly happened with Hayama when she was younger, but whatever it was damaged her pretty badly. And to deal with that, she put up that facade of the uptight, strong girl. Now she’s back in a situation where she stands to lose everything she holds dear. The guy she loves, and her friend, and she’s frozen in place with fear.

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Yui’s desperate to move forward, Yukino wants to and can’t and Hikigaya wants something “Real”. I’m starting to really think that what he wants is an actual close relationship with a girl, that that is what the “real” thing of his is, but well… He’s got the whole issue of wondering if he can even be liked by anyone.

Hikigaya’s probably come the farthest this season, and the steps he’s taken with Yui seem pretty darn impressive for him. But there’s Yukino, and whether Hikigaya cares for her romantically or not (he very well might), he does care for emotional well being.

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So the episode, and by extension the season ends with some vague statement about how the three of them will continue to struggle, strive and move forward, and how Hikigaya’s request is still something they have to fulfill.

In the very last scene, it seems like both Hikigaya and Yui’s earnest attempts at both connecting with her and resolving this situation have led to Yukino herself finally doing something. She starts talking about her own request… And then the series just ends before we even hear what that is.

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I wouldn’t call that open-ended, I’d just call it cutting off at the worst possible point in the story. I kept expecting to see the conclusion to that sentence after the Ending Credits, but no such luck.

And with that, what’s perhaps most painful is the fact that we’re back to the point we were at last season. Scratch that, we’re actually a bit worse off, simply because the story has developed right up to the point where a conclusion feels imminent and very necessary. But since we don’t have said conclusion, we’re pretty left hanging and wondering.

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Wondering if we’ll ever get the conclusion to this story, to these three characters, and get some kind of resolution to all this careful buildup and powerful storytelling.

The question then, is whether there’ll be a season 3 at some point, to which I honestly have no idea. I’m not one to keep up with Disc sales, and stuff like that, so I’m not sure if that will ever factor into a potential concluding season later down the line. I do think that this franchise is fairly popular in Japan, having three manga adaptions, an ongoing primary light novel series and two video games.

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I do know that the anime has completely caught up to its source material at this point, But honestly, I’m not sure there’s much story left for a potential third season. It just seems like at this point what we really need is an answer to the question: “Who does Hikigaya end up with, if anyone?”. There’s issues with Yukino’s family as well but again, I don’t see how that can really be explored much more beyond what it has been already. Stuff like Hayama and Yukino’s history could also take a look, but again, the way the series itself kinda downplayed that element’s importance makes me wonder if that’s a story its interested in telling either.

In the end, I’m personally of the opinion that we won’t get a third season. Maybe we’ll get an OVA or something, but even that seems doubtful. The tragedy of all this really is the fact that this is such a painful ending to such a strong season otherwise. I’d definitely rank the 11 episodes preceding the last two as markedly better than the first season, but the last two episodes kind of really stumbled. I don’t think that’s director Kei Oikawa or Studio Feel’s fault really, that’s just what they had to work with.

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So with that, we’re officially done with season two of Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. If someone who’s seen this episode has a better handle on what exactly went down, or any prospects for a season three, then the comments are very much welcome. Otherwise, I suppose we can pray for a season 3. You never know… lightning might strike thrice? XD

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