>Back at home Hachiman has a conversation with Komachi. He compares his relationship with the relationship Yukino has with Haruno. Hachiman has spent 15 years together with Komachi, so it’s only natural that they’ve come to grow close to each other. Hachiman then starts to think about Yukino. He thinks that the three of them (Yukino, Haruno and Yukimom) have spent even longer than 15 years together under the same roof. Have they though? If this were the case, then certainly their relationship should be better right? This is another example of Watari bringing back elements that were introduced earlier in the series. (At this point in the series, Yukino is 17 years old. She has lived alone for 2 years and she has studied abroad for at least 2 years. The point being, there’s no way that Yukino could have lived together with the Yukinoshita family for longer than 15 years.)
“……Komachi, do you like your Oni-chan?”
Komachi replied instantly with a laughter of indifference. Woo, woo, unintentionally, I started whimpering. So mean…… Well, this was proof that we could get along so well to the point that we could have this sort of conversation face to face.(!) Whether we were joking or bantering, or about our likes and dislikes, no matter what the content of our answer was, we would be speak our true feelings from the bottom of our hearts.(!) The fifteen years that we had spent together were not just for show.(!) Then, what about that pair of sisters, and also between her and her mother?(!) They have been together for even longer than fifteen years(!), and stayed under the same roof(!), possessing the same memories and recollections, with the same values. Despite all that, even when they crossed paths, they still do not understand each other, so then, how would they be able to interact with other people normally?(!) Our brother-sister relationship could not be established without Komachi. In fact, there were many things that I had to thank Komachi for.
>Komachi says she’ll give Hachiman chocolates, Hachiman says he’ll gladly accept. Komachi compliments Hachiman on how he’s bad at deception.
“……However, if someone like you who isn’t good at deception, can accept my chocolate, I guess I am still a little happy about that.”(!)
Komachi said so with a much more mature smile than usual. She placed her chin on her hands as she lay down in the kotatsu, tilted her head, and she looked at me directly, her gaze ever so warm.
>Hachiman internally struggles about what type of relationship he wishes to have with Yukino and Yui. Hachiman never tries getting closer to someone, however he also never tries distancing himself from anyone either. This will play an important role in Volume 12. Hachiman knows that he has feelings for Yukino and vice versa, but because of Haruno’s words, he is trying his hardest to suppress them. He is trying to take the easy way out.
“Not good at deception……”
Those were the words that Komachi had used to describe me, but the me of today could not readily accept that with conviction. I would never try and get close to others, but, neither would I take the initiative to distance myself from others.(!) I was aware of what I was doing, drawing a clear line, plainly covering it up(!), trying harder than usual to dull it, not dwelling on it, playing the role of the observer to the extreme. I had always known that I was placing myself in an unfair position. In order to not confront it, to not acknowledge the discomfort and unease that had always been bugging me, I had chosen to keep my distance.(!) I was more than aware of it, that I did this so that I would not make any blunder. I know that there is only one answer and that this was not it. Even so, I still wanted to suppress them. That is why, this was probably why that person could see through my intentions.(!) Once more, a voice from within tormented me. Are you really such a person, Hikigaya Hachiman? Is this really what you wish for, you bastard? Stupid noisy fellow. Don’t just go running your mouth and shut the hell up when you don’t know anything about me. In the end, from then on, I lapsed into silence.
>Before falling asleep, Yui asks Yukino if she knows what she’s going to do. Yukino hesitates. Yui says that she has decided what she’s going to do, Yui’s going to take Hachiman and Yukino out on a final date with the three of them together and then they’re going to sort their feelings out.
In chapter 8, the chapter before the final chapter, it starts snowing all of a sudden. This is important, since it ties into the title: Spring, Bound Beneath the Thick Snow, Begins to Sprout.
However it also ties into the following:
Another thing that's important is that the last day of Yahari Volume 11 is Valentine’s Day.
>Yui invites Hachiman out on a date. Hachiman assumes it’s the promised date that was meant for just the two of them.
That day, an unusual snow fell.(!) It does not usually snow in Chiba.(!) The wet clouds that flow forth from the Sea of Japan were obstructed by the many mountain ranges that form the back bone of Honshu.
The low-hanging massive clouds was a sign that clear weather was not going to be coming soon, just the sound of heavy snowfall with the white snow falling from the sky. It seems like it was going to snow the whole day long.(!) I shivered at the cold, and started to walk back to my house. At that time, once again, I shivered as I walked. I reached into my pocket to discover the source of the vibration, to find out that it was an incoming call. The display indicated that it was from [★☆Yui☆★]. Yuigahama. From the time this contact was first entered, it has not changed, and it has stayed that way ever since. I was troubled for several seconds over whether I should pick up the call. However, the call continued on uninterrupted and my hand phone continued on vibrating. Giving up, I pushed the Answer button and held it gently to my ear.
“… … Hello”
At the instant I spoke, I heard a cheerful voice replying from the mouthpiece at the bottom of my phone.
“Hikki, let’s go on a date!”(!)
“…. … Huh?”
>Hachiman thought that initially he and Yui would go to Destiny Land for their date, however the promised date has been changed many times throughout the series. Hachiman thinks of how the place where new promises will be exchanged is one station away. What’s important to know here is that, once again, one of the key components of Hachiman and Yui’s relationship is “promises” that Hachiman has to uphold. In that sense the driving factor of their relationship is more a sense of duty or responsibility than his actual feelings. Hachiman starts thinking about how he didn’t reject Yui’s invitation, there was no logical reason to reject her. However, for some reason he starts doubting if this is the right thing to do.
Especially since today was Valentine’s Day.
With a dull shake, the train came to a halt. The door opened with a Pshhh-tsuu sound. The cold air and the snow blew into the compartment, and then the couples that had boarded before me disembarked. Then, the doors closed and a bell echoed. The characteristic “Disney” music of the train station was used as the melody for the train’s departure.(!) As I listened to it, the number of people in the train gradually diminished, allowing me to lean against the train’s door. The white castle and the active volcano gradually became more distant(!), fading away from my left eye’s vision. Today was not the day I got off at this station.(!) At one time or another, I had the vague notion that one day or another, we would surely visit this place together(!), but it didn’t happen.(!) The unspoken promise(!), the words that were exchanged no longer took the form that it was supposed to be.(!) With a few changes, it shall still be carried out.(!) The meeting place where new promises would be exchanged(!), lies in the one station ahead.
Passing the big bridge, through the river near the border, an enormous Ferris wheel came into view. Indeed, it truly is Japan’s largest Ferris wheel. I recalled the phone call from this morning. It was not out of bewilderment nor surprise that I did not reject the unexpected words that came out from her mouth.(!) In the first place, the one who first invited her was me.(!) This was just a continuation of what I have had always procrastinated.(!) There was no particular reason to reject her.(!) However, was this really okay?(!) Such a doubt suddenly flashed across my mind.(!) As I searched for the answer within, the velocity of the train dropped. Regardless of my purpose for thinking about it, the train’s motion stopped suddenly with one large jerk, along with my thoughts.(!)
>Hachiman arrives at his destination, he sees Yui. However he also sees the person he has been trying to avoid the entire volume: Yukino. Why is she here? Yui invited the both of them. Yui wants the three of them to go out one last time and have fun together.
Upon reaching underneath the roof of the building, I closed my umbrella. Taking a brief look at my surroundings, I then broke into a run. There were not many people here even for a weekday. Thanks to that, I immediately spotted the figure of Yuigahama who was clad in a blue coat.
She was probably on the train before me. Yuigahama was walking towards me, calling out my name, and waving the pink colored plastic umbrella in her hand. I nodded in reply to her and trotted slowly towards her. However, my feet suddenly came to a halt.(!)
“… … Ah”
The hem of a grey colored coat was fluttering behind Yuigahama. The one person who stood directly behind Yuigahama turned to face me, her eyes wide open in surprise.
The murmur came from Yukinoshita Yukino. Why was she here?(!) I wondered doubtfully as the two of us faced each other.
“Yukinoshita came here as well?”(!)
It was plain to see without us having to say it. The situation was hard to comprehend. It seemed to be the same for Yukinoshita as well. Yuigahama caught a glimpse of Yukinoshita twisting her body uncomfortably. Then, she opened her mouth anxiously.
“Uh, Um…… If, if you two had plans, then I shall go back… ….”(!)
“It’s fine! Let go have fun together!”(!)
With that, Yuigahama held onto Yukinoshita’s arm, who looked ready to go back at any moment. At the same time, she tugged at my sleeve. Yuigahama bent downwards, took our hands and pressed them tightly to her chest.
“I want the three of us to go together……”(!)
The sound of her murmur ended with a whisper. With her eyes lowered, I had no way of telling her facial expression.(!) However, the beseeching tone in her voice was more than sufficient to convey her desires. Yukinoshita and I looked at each other, both of us were at a loss for words. Yukinoshita’s gaze continued to wander about and she let out a bewildered sigh.
>Hachiman starts doubting whether Yui using her promised date for the three of them together like this is alright. Hachiman has been postponing this promise for 7 volumes (plus a couple of side volumes) and now he has finally agreed to go out with Yui, only for Yui to use the promised date as a means to sort their feelings out. Hachiman senses Yui’s determination, so he doesn’t object, however he convinces himself that he still needs to fulfill her promise someday.
Nevertheless, after considering how Yuigahama was lifting her head and her looking at us with such a gentle expression in her eyes, Yukinoshita nodded along with a small sigh. And then, Yuigahama turned her gaze towards me.(!) Seeing that the two of them had no particular objections, I had no objections either.(!) However, there was just one thing that I wanted to hear.(!) I hesitated to ask her directly, and averted my eyes from her a little. It seemed to a terribly awkward thing to ask now after all this time.(!) The words that could smooth it over just wouldn’t come. Somehow or another, I managed to open my mouth and squeezed some words out.(!)
“… … This, is this really fine?”(!)
“Yes, this is fine”(!) Yuigahama replied immediately.
Without averting her eyes, she looked at me directly, her expression was one that looked forced. There was no hidden meaning behind the words in my question, it was straightforward. This was probably true for her reply as well. No, I wonder about that.(!) I wondered if there really was no further meaning behind those surprisingly simple words.(!) No matter which was it, if this was Yuigahama’s wish, then I don’t really have any reason to object to it.(!)
“Yup! There is no need to worry about the snow here.(!)
(There is no need to worry about the snow here, about hiding everyone’s feelings underneath the snow.)
It would be great if everyone here can have fun!” Yuigahama puffed out her chest proudly in reply. Indeed, if you say that everyone could enjoy themselves here(!), then this place was probably the appropriate place to be. That place, it seems to be a little bit of a bother to go there as three.(!) That’s why, just maybe, once more on another day.(!) That day will probably come whereby I have to fulfill the promise.(!)
“Okay, let’s go.”
The place here today, belongs to everyone.
>They look at some sharks, Yui nudges Yukino on, telling her that even Hachiman is having a good time. Yui is happy to see that Hachiman and Yukino are able to act normal.
>They look at a nursery fish. This fish supposedly resembles Hachiman and his “trying to make the best out of the little he’s got” attitude.
>They move on to another location. Hachiman makes an offhanded comment about how Yui being concerned about everything is just like her. Yui tells Hachiman that she’s not the nice girl Hachiman thinks she is. If you’ve read Yui’s analysis, you should know what she means by this.
The coarse and slimy feel was really enjoyable. Next to me, Yuigahama had withdrawn her hand. However, I saw that she continued to look at the catsharks with a look of adoration.
“What? Are you sure you don’t want to stroke them anymore?”
“Yep! I think they would be tired out if I touched them too much.”(!)
“I see, that’s so like you, Yuigahama”(!)
I unintentionally let out a smile. Indeed, if one were to stroke animals indiscriminately, it would probably stress them out. Our cat for example, would give me a cat punch if I were to stroke it. I honestly preferred that way of showing that it’s stressed out. The words that came out of mouth were spoken ever so casually.(!) Yet, Yuigahama stared at the ground, avoiding my gaze and her shoulders shook with a twitch.(!)
“…… Just like me, I wonder about that?”(!)
My gaze followed her. The falling snow danced as they fell, causing ripples on the water surface. Yuigahama slowly raised her head to look at me.
“…….I, I am not as nice as you think I am, Hikki.”(!)
Those eyes were like telling of the distance between us, just like the fleeting smile she wore on her face.
>Hachiman realizes that his comment was not the right one to make. All this time Hachiman has treated Yui as a nice girl that simply hangs out with them without any other reason behind it. By saying that Yui is a nice girl, Hachiman is essentially disregarding Yui’s feelings as nothing more than her being nice for the sake of her being nice.
The whisper added as an afterthought seemed to be more of a monologue. Hearing that, I held my breath. What the heck am I doing?(!) I said that it was just like Yuigahama Yui(!), but what exactly did I mean by that?(!) Once again, the discomfort within my body came creeping out(!), causing my chest to shudder. Gripping my fist strongly, I realized I had probably overlooked something serious that was causing this uneasiness to gush forth.(!) Even so, I have to say something, but try as I might, the right words just wouldn’t come out of my mouth. I saw her trembling lips, the lonely smile on her and her cast-down eyes.
>Yui notices some penguins and urges the three of them to get a move on. Yui is trying to keep a cheerful attitude. This is the last time the three of them can be together, Yui wants to make fun and fond memories. Hachiman notices this.
Without a voice, without anything being said, the surrounding noise got much louder.
Therein, “Kyui~~” a high pitched cry reverberated throughout.
Upon hearing that, Yuigahama looked up, recovering her composure quickly.
“Ahh, penguins!(!) Hikki, Yukinon, let’s go!”
Yuigahama said that spiritedly. She called out to Yukinoshita and gazed at her, to which Yukinoshita looked in my direction with a dazed look. Taken aback by her, I returned her gaze. However, her eyes wandered back and forth between us, showing her concern for us both.
“Yup! Let’s go.”
Yukinoshita looked at her cheerfully, and returned her words with a helpless smile. I wondered if she had overheard our conversational exchange just now.(!) She might have seen that expression on Yuigahama.(!) Yuigahama took Yukinoshita’s arm, and quickly walked in the direction of the rocky mountain. That stride seemed to be light. Looking at the figure from behind, it was deliberately trying to be happy.(!) Maybe I felt that way due to the talk that had concluded just now.(!) Now, was the time when the three of us would enjoy ourselves, just like what was said.
>They look at an explanation board in regards to the penguins. One particular line catches the attention of all three. Yukino realizes something first and decides to go inside. Yukino is aware that she’s imposing on Hachiman and Yui’s date, so she decides to give them some alone time. Hachiman decides that Hachiman and Yui should go inside as well. Yui says she wants to stay outside just a little longer. Yui is essentially creating a moment for Hachiman and Yukino to spend some time alone.
Looking at them gave a pleasant feeling. Meanwhile, I took a glance at the explanation board in front of me. Yukinoshita and Yuigahama came beside me and pressed their faces forward to read it, all the while going “well now, let’s see”. I conceded the spot to the two of them and took half a step back, whilst my eyes followed the sentences on the board. Apparently according to the explanation board that I saw, the two penguins that we saw that were snuggling up to each other were husband and wife.(!) In many cases, Humboldt penguins in captivity often mate for life and so will continue to stay with the same partner until one of them dies.(!) After reading it, I looked another look at the two penguins. It was then I realized Yukinoshita’s shoulders in front of me were shaking(!), and knew that she was so gasping her breath due to her surprise. And so, she left the area at a quick pace.(!)
Yukinoshita who had left first seemed to be in a hurry, but she nevertheless turned halfway back to look at me upon hearing the concerned voice.
“…...I’ll wait inside.”(!)
With those few words, she then headed back inside the park without looking back. The penguin zone was an open air area. Taking into consideration the weather, now would probably be a good time to head back inside. The voice that told us that she would be going on ahead first, looking back, I saw that Yuigahama was still staring at the Humboldt Penguin. With her eyes partially closed, she gave a gentle gaze.
“I guess we should get going.”
“Ah, umm. I want to see this a bit more before I go. I still want to take a wee bit more pictures! ......You go on ahead!”
Saying that, she pointed her fingers at the fairy penguin’s direction and then turned around once more to the direction of the Humboldt Penguin with her phone. She did not appear to have any intention of using her phone, rather, just grasping it strongly with her hands.
“…… I see.”
Seeing her in that state, I hesitated to say anything more. With that short answer, I took one step forward, one step in the direction of the building.(!) The cries of the birds continued on behind me. The calls of the two penguins now seems to be just a little sadder now.
(This penguin symbolism is pretty important, but I’ll come back to it at the very end of the volume. The most important thing to take from it for now, is that when Hachiman is given the choice, he instinctively goes after Yukino.)
>Once Hachiman enters the building, for the first time since Haruno’s words, he has a sonnet-like internal monologue about Yukino.
Having been outside for such a long time, the warmth of the building inside made me puffed out a breath. Advancing along the road from the penguin zone, it would lead to some stairs that descended down to the room below. There were still a couple more enormous fish tanks below. An explanation board there had the words “Seaweed Forest”(!) inscribed on it. Yet despite what the sign said, all I could make out from afar was the large giant kelp(!), swaying and waving their “arms” about, swaying to and fro. Such big seaweed.(!) Other than the light brown kelp(!), the vivid red and green sea anemone and the corals illuminating the area, the room was otherwise pitch dark. There was even a bench intentionally placed in front of the water tank, making seem all the more like a small movie theatre. Yet, there wasn’t so much a figure of anyone sitting down there now. It was deserted to say the least. However, in the direction of the water tank where the light was spilling out, the faint shadow of a person standing there could just be made out against the dark backdrop. That standing figure. There was no way I could mistake that for anyone else.(!)
Her appearance, illuminated by the dim light of the water tank in the darkness, caused her to resemble a painting. I couldn’t call out to her. The breath that I wanted to spit out was stuck at the back of my heart. Therefore, I stopped walking. Noticing the break in the sound of the footsteps, Yukinoshita turned towards my direction. She made a gesture that vaguely seemed to be nodding her head. With that, I began to walk towards her, little by little.
>Hachiman and Yukino talk about the fish in the water tank. Yukino makes a comment about how the fish seem to be really free, which quickly turns into something else. Yukino says how she has never been able to find a place where she belongs. She always gets swept away by other people’s decisions and follows what they want, until she crashes into an invisible wall. Hachiman thinks how it feels like Yukino is being sucked away in the water, being pulled back to the place where she needs to go, however this invisible wall is preventing her from moving forward. Yui walks in. She’s glad, while holding back tears, that she was able to give Hachiman and Yukino a moment to spend some time alone.
On that note, our conversation ceased. We both simply continued to silently gaze at the water tank in front of us. The faint light from the giant seaweed(!) illuminated the multicolored fish swimming about in the surroundings. There were countless fish swimming to and fro. Like the swaying giant kelp(!), they were swaying about as well, as though their movements were dependent on it.(!) There were small fish with bluish scales hiding in the shadow of the seaweed.(!) On the other hand, a particularly flashy red fish was leisurely swimming about, without a care in the world.(!) Yukinoshita’s eyes chased after the fish’s movement, and spoke all of a sudden.
“……They seem to be really free.”(!)
“Yup! Oh, that fish is quite big huh.”
Yukinoshita’s small voice did not seem to be directed at anyone. It was more of a monologue. But, I dare say we were observing the same fish.(!) If so, then it was only natural for me to reply to that voice. A faint breath escaped my lips suddenly.
“If it can’t find a place to go, it won’t find a place that it belongs to.(!) It will hide, ride with the current or follow whatever it can(!), until it crashes into the walls it can’t see.”(!)
Yukinoshita gently stretched out her hand to touch the glass. However, before long, the hand grew powerless and was quietly lowered. Glancing at her from the side, I could not tell where her eyes were looking, just that she was definitely looking in front.
“Which fish are you talking about?”(!)
I did not know what she was looking at, so I had to listen. Thereupon, Yukinoshita gave her answer immediately, along with a seeming calm sigh.
Saying that, she touched the water tank gently once again, a lonely smile on her face as she bent her neck slightly. The figure of her extending her hand, it looked like she was about to be sucked into the water(!) and yet, she was unable to return to the place she ought to go(!), owing to the obstruction by the glass wall.(!) Just like the bubbles disappearing, this moment was short-lived.(!) The room was quiet; not a single sound could be heard. The sound of the bubbles gushing forth and bursting open could not reach us as it was blocked by the glass. As I watch Yukinoshita stare into the water tank as though she had been isolated from the world.(!) As we stood there, the sound of one footstep could be heard.(!) Turning around, I saw Yuigahama watching over Yukinoshita with a calm gentle look.(!) That expression on her face was one that was anywhere between gentle and ready to burst into tears.(!)
“Sorry to have kept the two of you waiting!”
Yuigahama gave a big wave with her hands as if just noticing us, and called out to us with a smile on her face like always.
>They look inside a water tank filled with jellyfish. Yui says how this reminds her of fireworks. Hachiman thinks back to a certain moment he shared with Yui.
>Yui is glad that they could share one final happy memory together. Hachiman thinks that all three of them have probably felt the same way about the three of them being able to stay together. However, was that feeling real or an illusion? Yui wants the moment to last a little longer, so they decide to go on a Ferris wheel ride.
“I am really glad…. That the three of us could see this, together.”(!)
Words that sounded of relief, just like her sigh. Those words were strange yet I am sure I understood them.(!) Yukinoshita tugged her jaw and nodded in agreement as well. I could not say for sure, but I dare say that at that time, what we were all feeling, was probably not all that different. It was an illusion that I held on to.(!)
“Is that so?...... I think that it would’ve been fun. It’s not time yet anyway……”
Yuigahama checked her watch as she said so. Then, something seemed to have caught her attention.
Raising her voice, she pointed at the enormous Ferris wheel in the distance.
And so, we continued gazing upon the view that stretched out before us, never getting tired of it. The usual conversation, the usual atmosphere, I thought that that was just like us. And yet, there was this indecisiveness and uncertainty that lingered at my feet.(!) The Ferris wheel gradually began its descent. Hiding its instability, it continues to turn slowly. It does not make any progress, just going round and round in the same location as always.(!) But even so, eventually……..
“……. It’s almost over.” She murmured.(!)
The meaning behind the Ferris wheel is pretty straightforward, since Hachiman spells it out: the three of them are going in circles and not making any progress. Then Yui says: “it” is almost over. “It” being the relationship they currently have.
>Yui confronts them about what the three of them are going to do about their relationship. Yui gives Hachiman the cookies she has wanted to give Hachiman since the beginning of the series. This is another example of Watari bringing back elements that were introduced in the early parts of the series. Yukino sees Yui giving her cookies. Yukino wants to give her chocolates as well, but she hesitates. Yukino realizes that it would be incredibly inappropriate to suddenly give her gift as well. Yui wants to give Hachiman her gift, but Hachiman initially refuses to accept them, until Yui forces the cookies on him.
There was no one but us. The sea stretched out all the way in front of us. In the distance, lights lit up the town. Perhaps, it was a scenery that can only be seen at this instant. Slowly, the time passed by calmly. That’s why, it cannot continue on for long.(!) Yuigahama leaned away from the fence of the terrace, and turned to look at us.
“What shall we do from here?”(!)
“That’s not what I meant.” As I jest lightly, Yuigahama shook her head silently.
There was a serious edge to that voice. She took one step to our front and looked at us directly.
“About Yukinon. And also, about me. About us.”(!)
The words that were shot out made my heart jump. That uncomfortable feeling I had always been embracing began to rapidly rear its head.(!)
“Hikki, here, to thank you for that time.”(!)
And with that said, Yuigahama took something gently out from her bag. A beautiful wrapping that contained cookies was held reverently by both her hands. When I saw that, I was so taken aback that I could hear myself catching my breath. Out of the corner of my eyes, I could see Yukinoshita clutching her bag(!), whilst weakly shaking her head.(!) And then, she gazed downwards at her feet. Yuigahama walked past Yukinoshita and stopped in front of me.
How could I forget it? It was mine, the Service Club’s first consultation that we had received. In the end, at that time, all I did was use words to confuse.(!) The solution that I gave was a far cry from a true resolution. And yet, despite this, Yuigahama had been trying to solve it properly with her own strength.(!) This, was plainly shown. Yuigahama appeared puzzled as to why my hands would not move to take the cookies(!), but she pressed the cookies firmly onto my hand. There was now a weight firmly resting in my palm.
In the anime, Yui places the cookies in Hachiman’s hand a couple of moments later.
A thing to take note of here, is that this is the first time Yui is openly showing her affection for Hachiman while Yukino is present. If you’ve read Yui’s analysis, you should be aware that Yui always waits until she’s alone with Hachiman before she makes her move on him.
Another thing to take note of is that the anime plays a couple of sequences out of order and leaves out Hachiman’s monologues, so it requires more interpretation from the viewer to understand what is going on. However, as you can see, even in the LN nothing is directly pointed out.
>While Yui’s cookies may not have turned out perfectly, Hachiman takes note of the effort Yui put into them. Yukino tells Yui how amazing she is for not only being able to make cookies herself, but also for being able to present them to Hachiman.
The cookies that I could see from the cellophane bag were irregularly shaped, had traces of burn marks and had an unusual hue to it. I could not honestly say that it was pretty. However, one could tell from a glance that it was homemade. From this result, one could tell the effort and seriousness she put into it despite her being bad at cooking. Yukinoshita gazed blankly at the cookies in my hand and let out a mixed sigh.
“Handmade cookies? This, is made by you alone?”(!)
“But it is a bit of a failure isn’t it?”(!)
Yukinoshita shook her small head as though that didn’t matter at all(!) whilst Yuigahama brushed off her embarrassment with a smile.
“Yuigahama-san, you are... amazing.”(!) Her voice seemed like she was trying to be kind, or perhaps there was a sense of longing to it. Yukinoshita looked shyly at Yuigahama. Yuigahama returns her look with a happy smile.
>Hachiman refuses to accept this as merely a thank you gift. Now this is an incredibly important part. You’ll fully understand this once you start reading Part 5, but this is essentially Hachiman thinking back to his thoughts about Yui’s feelings being fake in Volume 3. Back then he concluded that whatever special feelings she would develop for him would ultimately be fake, because they exist for the boy that saved her dog, not for Hachiman himself. Yui convinced Hachiman that her feelings would have existed even if the car accident didn’t happen, because she would have been sent to the Service Club, she would have met him there, he would have helped her out and then she would have fallen in love with him. Since you now know that the Service Club exists because of the car accident, this should raise a problem. But we’ll get back to that in Part 5. The only thing you need to know for now, is that Hachiman repeats this train of thought right before the moment he’s about to give up on wanting something genuine. Hachiman is essentially trying to take the easy way out.
“I said that I’d try it on my own. I said that I would do it my own way. And this is what I came up with.”(!)
And so Yuigahama gave her answer.
“... That’s why, this is just a thank you.”
With that said, Yuigahama puffed out her chest, and showed her bright smile. If this was about that time(!), then the matter should have already been settled.(!) What’s past is past, it has already ended.(!) I do not want to dig it up now after such a long time.(!) If this was about thanking me, then I have already received more than enough. That’s why, it was illogical of me to receive this gift of thanks.(!) It’s time to end what was already wrong in the beginning.(!) It should still be possible for us to start over again.(!) If that’s the case, perhaps the feelings that were trapped inside, the answers too will change.(!) Supposing. Supposing if. If those feelings became anything special.(!)
>Hachiman doesn’t want to blindly accept Yui’s gift as a thank you, however at the same time he doesn’t react to Yui’s gift either. Yui says she wants everything; Hachiman as her boyfriend, Yukino as her best friend and the three of them staying together. If all three of them would express their feelings, then they won’t be able to stay together. Yui is intentionally being vague and not addressing anything specifically, but it is implied that Yukino should bury her feelings for Hachiman so that the three of them can stay together.
I averted my eyes from Yuigahama, and my throat let out a strangled voice.
“You have already thanked me enough”(!)
I did not want to confirm whether it was really just a gift of thanks.(!) Even so, whether it was really just a gift, I can’t just accept it without giving it a second thought.(!) However, I was assaulted by a sense of regret the instance I said it.(!) From what I could see, Yuigahama’s face looked ready to burst into tears.(!)
“Still, it’s just a thank you.”
Yuigahama spoke with a voice that sounded like she was being crushed to death. Her expression was contorted as she bit her lips lightly. To hide the gleam from her eyes, she quickly turned her back to us.
“I want everything. Now, and from here on. I know I am unfair, mean even.”(!)
She sulked in a low tone as she faced the sky, weaving her words. It seemed to be a monologue rather than seeking some form of rebuttal or answer from us. Therefore, whilst looking at her back, the least that I could do was to listen carefully so as not to miss a single word. When she was done talking, her white breath rose up and melted away into nothingness. With that, she turned around and looked straight at us.
“I have already decided.”(!) Yuigahama’s eyes were no longer wet, her gaze now reflected a strong sense of determination.
“I see......” Yukinoshita’s murmur betrayed a sense of resignation. I was unable to utter even a single word. Yuigahama gave us a small lonely smile.
“If we find out about each other’s feelings, I think we won’t be able to stay the way we are now. That’s why, this is probably our last consultation.(!) Our last request will be about us.”(!)
There was not one specific thing that she said.(!) If she had said it out, then that would’ve confirmed it for all of us. She was just avoiding the matter. Vaguely, faintly, she continued on without addressing the issue. That’s why, there’s no guarantee that our thoughts envisioned the same thing.(!) However, there is no helping it in this case, Those words only appear to be the truth.(!) It was a suspicion that I had held in the corner of my mind for a very long time. It was something that Yuigahama was acutely aware of.(!) And now, one more person. Yukinoshita was looking down with her eyes closed. Her expression was unclear, but it was not one of objection(!), nor was it an interrogative look, just one that was listening in silence. I think that even Yukinoshita has realized that.(!)
>Yui says she knows the answer to Yukino’s problem, which is a bluff. If Hachiman (who knows way more about Yukino and her past than Yui) himself doesn’t know what Yukino’s problems exactly are, then there’s no way Yui knows what they are either. That’s why Yukino says she doesn’t understand what Yui means, because there’s no way Yui should know. Hachiman starts thinking about Yukino’s problems and what the best way is to solve them. Yui continues to increase the pressure on Yukino. Hachiman starts thinking to himself that if the truth were to be revealed, something would be lost forever. Yui repeats that she will take everything if she wins.
“Ne, Yukinon, that contest we are having is still on right?”(!)
“Yes, the loser will have to listen to whatever the winner says.”(!) Yukinoshita answered in bewilderment as she had not anticipated such a question.
Thereupon, Yuigahama touched Yukinoshita’s arm softly, faced her directly and said clearly.
“The problems that Yukinon is facing right now, I know the answer.” With that she patted Yukinoshita’s arm softly.
The problems that plagues Yukinoshita, they have always been the reason behind her actions and words.(!) More than anything else, Haruno Yukinoshita had clearly stated it.(!) The Yukinoshita Yukino of today, what’s the best way to help her?(!) I do not know. What could it be? The relationships with her mom, her sister?(!) It could probably be one of them, then again, it probably would be one of them. Yukinoshita hung her head in bewilderment. I don’t understand(!), she murmured in a fading voice. Yuigahama nodded her head gently and her hand left Yukinoshita.
“I think it is probably the answer for us as well.”(!)
In the end, I still did not get it.(!) Neither me nor her.(!) If I understood it, then it would probably fall apart. The things that we have been ignoring would slowly fall apart.(!) Hence, no matter what the end is, it is inevitable that something will be lost.(!) In conclusion, the solution lies in the road ahead. Yuigahama once again cut off her words and shook her small head. And so, in addition to that, we found ourselves suddenly staring at each other.
“If I win, I’ll take everything.(!) It’s probably unfair. But it’s the only thing I can think of. I want things to always remain this way.”(!)
That’s why, the answer that Yuigahama gave at first, it disregarded conditions, assumptions, equations, everything. It was just one of the obvious conclusions.
>Hachiman starts internally justifying to himself how it would be fine if the truth about Yukino’s feelings, her problems and the reason why the Service Club exists never comes up. He’s essentially headed in the same direction as Yui. He too wants to preserve the “now” that all three of them are sharing. Yui has always been looking in the right direction: Hachiman as her boyfriend and Yukino as her best friend, so is this the proper conclusion to their story? Yui gets no response out of Hachiman, so she turns her attention towards Yukino and asks her if she is okay with this proposition.
For example, even after all the processes, no matter what situations may await us, even if it would be impossible to reach an agreement, at least our answer would not change. It may seem like a lie, but those fun times would always continue on.(!)
“What do you think?”
“What do I... That is....” I choked on my words(!) as I was posed that question by Yuigahama.
In retrospect, even if it means resorting to twisted methods or distorting the truth, I would still have held on to my answer(!), I would still have done it.(!) Even if it’s impossible under normal circumstances, as long as I was compelled, no, as long as I could justify it(!), then that wish would come true.(!) If I had made such an excuse, I would surely have convinced myself.(!) I think that if times like this could continue on, then surely a little bit of discomfort for the sake of our happiness would be worth it.(!) Above all. Yuigahama is probably not wrong. I have a hunch that she had always seen the right answer.(!) I think that it would definitely be easier to just accept it.(!) However.... Is leaving the incorrect things the way they are the right thing to do?(!) Surely, that is the truth that we are seeking?(!) Yuigahama looked on kindly as I gnashed my teeth attempting to answer her. Following that, she gently took Yukinoshita’s hand.
“Yukinon, is that OK?” Yuigahama posed the question to her like a mother asking her child.
>Yui asks if Yukino is okay with Yui taking “everything”, because that way all their problems will be solved (Yukino’s family problems and the three of them can stay together). Yukino starts struggling and almost caves in until Hachiman realizes that there is no way that this can be right. Hachiman interjects and says that Yukino needs to solve her problems herself. Hachiman starts thinking about the images he pushed on both girls. He tells them that he doesn’t want any vague or superficial relationships (even though he was the one pushing for it the entirety of Volume 11), he only wants something genuine, regardless of how much they have to struggle and regardless of the consequences. This gives Yukino courage to come back to her senses. Yui replies by saying that she thought Hachiman would say something like that, however a single tear starts flowing. Yui has come to a realization of which of the two girls means the most to Hachiman.
Upon being asked, Yukinoshita’s shoulders trembled.
“Wa ta, shi wa…”
She averted her eyes to escape Yuigahama’s gaze. Even so, she was unable to give a proper response. Her thin voice faltered as she tried to craft her reply. The instant I saw the state she was in, I knew it then.(!) Ahh… this is wrong.(!) She is wrong.(!) Yukinoshita shouldn’t be entrusting her own future to someone else.(!) There is no way that that can be right.(!) Yuigahama is an unfair girl, but surely, saying such a thing can’t be right.
“Even so, I…”(!)
“No.” I interjected.
Yukinoshita looked at me in surprise upon hearing my slightly raised voice.
“I cannot accept this proposal.(!) Yukinoshita should solve her own problems herself.”(!) Clenching my fists suddenly, I faced Yuigahama. I saw Yuigahama’s mouth tensing up, with an unusually cold look in her eyes. Yuigahama Yui is a nice girl, I had decided that for myself willfully. Yukinoshita Yukino is a strong girl. I had forced that ideal onto her. Having said that, I have always been relying on their kindness. However, this is exactly why, this reliance must end.(!) I can no longer run away from that kindness or repay it with a pack of lies.(!) After all, that is why Yuigahama Yui is a nice girl and Yukinoshita Yukino is a strong girl.
“Besides, that’s nothing but… deception.”(!)
The words that I spat out disappeared to the waves. And just like a cycle, the waves continue to surge forward, being pulled along continuously. No one made any sound. Yukinoshita looked at my moist eyes and her lips trembled whilst Yuigahama gave me a small nod as she looked upon my dim eyes, waiting for me to continue my words.
“Be it vague answers or superficial relationships, I don’t need any of those.”(!)
What I wanted was something else.(!) I know that I am being an idiot. I know that that’s definitely not it.(!) I know how this will end, that I will end up with nothing.(!) But still.
“Even so, I want us to think, to writhe, to struggle. I …”(!)
The words that I wanted to say just wouldn’t come. I know that this is not right.(!) If you could say that it’s enjoyable, then I suppose it’s all right afterall.(!) If in the unlikely future, we are able to lives as we like, then I suppose no one would have to suffer.(!) However, I want to discard away all those ideals.(!) I do not possess the strength to continue living in these delusions.(!) On top of self-doubt, I had no wish of telling any lies to those that I care about greatly.(!) That’s why, the answer that I want.(!) I want to obtain the answer I desire without lies.(!) Exhaling a hot breath, realizing that I was not going to continue on, Yuigahama looked at me directly.
“… Hikki, I thought you would say something like that.”(!) Yuigahama smiled gently with a grin on her face. At that instant, a tear swiftly flowed down her cheek.(!) What should I do? It would have been fine if not for the unsightly face.(!)
>Hachiman exchanges a glance with Yui. Hachiman and Yui’s wish is highly likely the same shape, but it may not overlap entirely. Both wait for Yukino to give her reply. After regaining her courage, Yukino tells Hachiman and Yui that this isn’t the last time they’ll be together. Besides, Hachiman’s request hasn’t been fulfilled and on top of that Yukino has a request of her own. Season 2 ends on a cliffhanger.
Yuigahama and I exchanged glances, and gave a small nod to each other. Her wish and mine were not visible.(!) However that shape that it takes differs slightly and may not perfectly overlap.(!) Despite saying that, it is not definite that they cannot become one.(!) No matter how I looked at it, there certainly exists a link somewhere.(!) With that in mind, I turned and glanced at Yukinoshita. Yukinoshita clutched her chests tightly. The teary eyed Yuigahama and I looked at each other. There was a fleeting tremble in that look of unease. Yet, when I realized that I had been waiting all this while for her answer, I took a small deep breath.
“Don’t decide my feelings for me.”(!) Yukinoshita rubbed her eyes as she sulked.
“Also, that’s not the last of anything. Hikigaya-kun, we still have your request.”(!)
My request. Just as I was about to ask her about it, Yuigahama interrupted with a faint smile. She gave a nod to Yukinoshita. They smiled at each other as though they shared a secret known only to the two of them.(!)
“And, one more thing.” Yukinoshita offered a smile, and turned her ever beautiful face towards us. As I waited for her to continue her words, she took a step. A step towards us. One gentle step.
“My request, will your hear it?”(!) In between bouts of embarrassment, Yukinoshita said those words, to which Yuigahama smiled broadly.
“Sure, let’s hear it.”
With her answer, Yuigahama takes one more step forward, shortening the distance between us, and gently held out her hand. Before long, the evening’s setting sun and the sea casted silhouettes upon the white canvas. It was faint, hardly reliable and the form it took was indistinct. But they definitely were linked(!), and they will definitely become one.(!) If only, if wishes could materialize.(!) That is definite……
Copied from Yui’s analysis:
>Yui essentially pulls a Hachiman, sacrificing her own ship, to force a reaction out of Hachiman and Yukino. At first she directs her attention towards Hachiman (she gives her cookies to him) but she gets no reaction.
Then she points her attention towards Yukino, promising her to solve her family problems but also the problems the Service Club currently has (which is a bluff, Yui has no actual plan to help Yukino out, she is merely trying to get these two to react), however if this happens Yui will take “everything” (Yui is intentionally being vague here, but it is implied that Yukino would need to give up on her feelings for Hachiman so that their group can stay together).
>Yukino being pressured by her family over the last couple of days and not wanting to lose the only two friends she has in her life,
struggles internally about giving up her feelings for Hachiman, until she finally gives in. Yukino always caves in when it comes to emotional matters especially when it involves something her best friend Yui wants, believing that this would be the best/easiest outcome that would not only fix everything (her family issues, keep her friends in her life) but also make everyone else happy (except for herself of course).
>Yui is essentially making Yukino choose between her feelings for Hachiman or them staying together as a group.
>Hachiman, seeing Yukino struggling, intervenes and says that it doesn’t matter to him how much they have to think, writhe or struggle, the only thing that matters to him is finding something genuine.
>If you think back to what happened at the beginning of season 2, it was Hachiman sacrificing himself to preserve Hayato’s superficial group from falling apart. Hayato’s group was afraid of dealing with something real (Tobe confessing, getting rejected and their group falling apart) because they wanted to preserve the status quo.
>By rejecting Yui’s idea, Hachiman is pretty much saying that he doesn’t care about the consequences or if their group falls apart, he wants the genuine article he’s been looking for this entire time.
>This fills Yukino with the needed courage to come back to her senses.
>At the exact moment in time where Hachiman intervenes for Yukino’s sake, it becomes very clear to Yui which of the two of them means more to Hachiman.
>However, Hachiman doesn’t want Yui to bow out either, that would be deceit. It’s time for all of their feelings to be revealed and Hachiman to choose who he is in love with while rejecting the other.
So, basically, Yui herself would be fine with a lie; Hachiman becoming her boyfriend and Yukino staying her best friend as long as they can stay together, but because she knows neither of them want this, she pulls this stunt to get a reaction out of them, to see which of the two girls means more to Hachiman.
That’s the meaning behind Yui’s: “Why is it that what I want and what’s expected of me are so similar, yet so different?” and “What I want and what they want are so similar, yet why are they so different?”
And finally, there are two things that give away what the conclusion of the story will be:
So, remember how important that penguin sign from the very last episode of season 2 was? With Hachiman instinctively going after Yukino?
Well, Watari had already revealed in an earlier volume who Hachiman’s penguin was when he had a chance encounter with her.
>Once a penguin finds its mate, they stay together for life.
>Volume 3; penguins. A penguin will always find its mate, even in the largest of crowds. The one thing that really stands out to Hachiman is Yukino.
Well, brothers and sisters had a lot going on with them. If the older brother, like me, was just a failed piece of work by general standards, then the little sister unexpectedly had it a lot easier. She wouldn’t have to agonize over being compared to him. However, if I were an exceedingly excellent individual, then how would Komachi see me? The reason I found myself pondering over that might have been because, walking ahead of me, I saw her.(!) Even in this crowd of people, I could tell.(!) Yukinoshita Yukino went to one class to the next, taking her time gazing into them. Her gaze was slightly softer than usual. Regardless of the reasons and details behind the Cultural Festival, it was thanks to Yukinoshita that it was turning out so smoothly. Most likely, she was aware of that, and proud of it. The fact that you tried so hard and something came out of it was definitely something that would cause your gaze to look kinder.
>Yui on the other hand gets a “fireworks” motif attached to her character. As in: it’s great while it lasts, but it doesn’t last long.
>Volume H - Watari’s afterword. The meaning behind the fireworks motif:
And, we have finally come to the end of episode 9. The huge fireworks that launches up into the air at the very end. This fireworks are also one of the motifs that light up this series. As this huge flowered lights blossom into its full glory, this flowers also fade away into the darkness of the night. Because these lights are bright and beautiful, once they fall(!), the shadows that they leave behind are dark as well. After all, these shadows are the remnants of his bright youth being sent away.(!)
Yui is the character most associated with fireworks (read “Promised Date”). Yui is continuously reminding Hachiman of how nostalgic these fireworks are and how she constantly wants to make memories with Hachiman.
With “Hello Alone” playing in the background and Volume 11 being Yui’s final character arc, it should become clear what Watari is trying to convey with this and how it ties into how the series is going to end.
And that’s season 2.