Explanation for the ending of Volume 13 as well as the story
Since there seems to be some confusion as to what is going on in volume 13, what happens towards the end and more importantly why it happens, I think it’s kind of important to provide an explanation. There will be some spoilers for volumes 12 and 13, but I think it’s kind of necessary. Later on I will also provide a summary of what happens in Volume 13 and how it ties into previous volumes, but I think this is a little bit more important right now.
So first of all, for the people who have read my analysis (and still remember some of it), I explained how Oregairu was separated in 4 different arcs, each spanning 3 volumes. Originally volume 12 was supposed to be the last volume, but then a couple things happened (delays etc.), so one volume became three volumes and we basically started a new arc.
The basic structure for each arc is as follows:
1. In the first volume of the arc, the characters are having fun for the first half of the volume, then something happens and the volume ends on a cliffhanger.
(Volume 10 was like this. Volume 12 is like this as well.)
2. In the second volume of the arc, we’re dealing with some kind of problem and during the volume Hachiman and Yukino drift apart or get separated from each other.
(In Volume 11 Hachiman kept his distance from Yukino. Volume 13 ends with Yukino putting an end to their current relationship.)
3. Originally Volume 12 should have been the final part of the arc of Volumes 10 and 11, but it seems like that’s going to be Volume 14 now. What happens in every single final arc is that Hachiman and Yukino overcome their issues and then their relationship grows stronger.
So, it seems like the biggest thing to address right now is the ending of Volume 13, but before we get to that, Watari had an interview on 20-11-2018 (the release date of Volume 13) and the most important things to come out of the interview are the following:
1. Watari says that if you have time, you should read Volume 1 and Volume 13 again.
Why should you read you Volume 1 again?
Because Volume 1 deals with how the Service Club was made and Yukino’s desire to save Hachiman. These will be things that come into play in the last volume.
2. Watari says that he hasn’t changed his mind about the ending and it’s still the same ending he had in mind since Volume 1.
What ending has Watari had in mind?
Since early on, Watari has foreshadowed what his ending was going to be:
>Of course, I’ve never once thought I wanted to be close with anyone. But, since being forced into the Service Club(!), I’m fairly sure something has changed.(!) It’s not me that’s changed, it’s my surroundings that have. For reasons out of my control(!), I’ve become involved with people I’d originally never get into contact with.(!)
In Volume 12, Watari sprinkled in a couple of clues about the Service Club. He even made Hachiman think about the club in chapter 4. (Although it’s machine translated, so you’ll have to excuse me for this.)
The most important things to take away from these clues are:
1. Zaimokuza is the only person Hachiman knew before joining the club.
2. When Totsuka asks Hachiman if they will invite new members, Hachiman says he has no say in that and that it’s up to Yukino and sensei. Hachiman also says how he doesn’t know how the club was formed.
3. Hachiman has never touched the key to the Service Club and for some “reason” the key seems to be very important to Yukino.
It also seems from spoilers that Hachiman has a talk with Yukino’s mother and he introduces himself as “Hachiman Hikigaya” in Volume 13. Yukino’s mom recognizes him as the boy from the car accident and apparently apologizes to him. While the Japanese and Chinese readers might be surprised as to why this is brought up again this late in the series, hopefully the people that have read my analysis aren’t.
(Update): In Volume 13 chapter 8, Hachiman has a conversation with Yukino’s mom and she asks him what his name is. He introduces himself as “Hachiman Hikigaya’. However, what’s more important, is that for “some reason”, Sensei really didn’t want Hachiman to give his name to Yukino’s mom. After Hachiman said his name, Sensei apparently gave up on something.
Another interesting thing to take note of, is that the reason why Hachiman is able to convince Yukino’s mom to help them out, is apparently because Hachiman told Yukino’s mother that he is “Hachiman Hikigaya, the boy from the car accident”. It’s also quite strange that Yukino’s mother has been smiling and has been more cooperative ever since she found out about that.
(I’m intentionally being vague here, but the point is that Yukino’s mother now knowing that Hachiman is the boy from the car accident and that she is now in a position where she can make the connection as to why the Service Club exists (by asking Yukino or Sensei) will play a huge role in Volume 14. If you’ve kind of been able to figure out what this revelation exactly means for Hachiman, then you should be aware that this will cause a lot of drama in the final volume, especially if it’s revealed during the prom.)
So basically, even if we have to wait a little bit longer for the ending, it seems like Watari still plans on going through with the ending he had in mind. I explain it in more detail in “Part 5” (near the bottom), but the point is:
>Once Hachiman finds out that every single relationship he has made is because of Yukino and the Service Club, everything will come to an end.
As it stands now, Volume 13 ends with Yukino putting an end to the Service Club, but apparently she still hasn’t told him what the actual purpose of the club was. (“Coincidentally” at the exact same time as Yukino puts an end to the Service Club, she also tells Hachiman that their relationship has run its course.)
So the next step would be for Hachiman to find out why the Service Club existed. This has always been Watari’s plot twist in the series and it seems like this is now being set up as the turning point and most likely what will provoke Hachiman to go back to Yukino, because there will be no way he can ignore what she has done for him once he finds out.
Now I’d like to move on to symbolism. Watari usually uses symbolism to foreshadow where his story will go.
I don’t know if you have read my analysis, but I kind of explained the importance of Watari’s fireworks symbolism and how it relates to Yui’s character. (If you have, then you can skip the parts that you recognize.)
In the first chapter of Volume 12, Yui once again reminds Hachiman of the fireworks date they had:
This is taken from Volume H (from ANOTHER). In Watari’s afterword, he explains the meaning behind his 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.(!)
Ever since Volume 3 or 4, Watari has been associating this fireworks motif with Yui. In the final episode of season 2, you once again get a reminder of this fireworks motif, with “Hello Alone” playing in the background.
The other relevant moment Yui has in Volume 12, was when she and Hachiman went shopping to buy Komachi a present for passing her exams and for being accepted into high school. The two of them enter an IKEA store and then start talking about their future. Yui asks Hachiman what he wants to be and he gives her a vague non-answer. Yui on the other hand tells Hachiman that she wants to become a bride. While Hachiman has this conversation with Yui, his thoughts start to wander. See if you can figure out what Watari was implying with this scene.
So it would seem that Watari is still going through with whatever ending he had in mind for Yui.
As for Yukino, her name basically means “Snow beneath the snow”. So any time there is a reference to snow (or flowers even) it’s usually some kind of symbolism related to Yukino (there are a lot of snow-themed character songs for Yukino).
In Volume 10, Hachiman thought to himself that for now he would be satisfied if he only left a footprint in Yukino’s life, as in: Hachiman would be glad if Yukino would at least still remember him years from now.
So, in the first chapter of Volume 12, Hachiman thinks to himself, how if he tried touching snow, getting close to it or playing with it, it would disappear. As in: If Hachiman tried getting closer to Yukino, she would disappear.
The orange color that reflected off the snow did however give off a warm vibe. Still, the snow would disappear after the slightest touch. That warm, transient light tells me that the sparkling snow that fell into the ocean in the setting sun was not a hallucination.
Snow had indeed fallen, and the day that we had spent together was real as well. The snow was proof of it, yet, with a subtle temperature difference, or with the slight passing of time, it will disappear.
If you touch it, it disappears, and if you play with it, it will crumble and break. However, even if nothing was done to it, it will still disappear one day.
If the weather remains cold like this, is it possible that it would stay there forever...? I keep thinking about these meaningless “ifs.” With a shiver, I tossed those wild thoughts aside. The answer to that was found long ago when I made that snowman back when I was a kid.
The point to this being that Hachiman and Yukino distancing themselves one more time has been foreshadowed in Volume 12 (and 10 even). So, it’s not something that Watari came up with out of nowhere.
However, Yukino has also been associated with another piece of symbolism, namely penguins. In Volume 12 chapter 5, during their preparations/rehearsal for the prom, both Hachiman and Yukino wear tuxedos (or Yukino wears something called a swallowtail).
In Volume 12 chapter 5, you also have Hachiman thinking to himself, how their prom preparation feels a lot like the preparation for a wedding.
Hachiman spent some time thinking about weddings in Volumes 10 and 10,5.
Oregairu has always had some marriage imagery, even in the earlier days.
And then of course there’s also that Hachiman and Yukino are the only two to get married with each other in the second visual novel game.
So, based off of symbolism alone, it seems that Yukino first gets a “snow that melts or disappears” moment and later on a “penguin” moment in in Volumes 13 and 14.
And then there’s also this one. In Volume 12 chapter 2, Yui discovers the Destiny Land photo that Yukino took home with her. Pay attention to the bottom panel, where Yui sits next to a Pan-san doll (Hachiman) and a cat doll (Yukino). Pay attention to the amount of space between the two dolls and Yui.
From Volume 13 spoilers.
The point to all of this is that Watari has left a bunch of clues behind that he is still going through with the ending he had in mind since Volume 1. So, in case people think Watari changed his mind and the ending is steering towards a Yui ending, well, no. It’s still either a Yukino or nothing ending. It doesn’t mean that Hachiman and Yukino will necessarily end up together, but it’s still going to be a Yukino ending in some shape or form.
Anyway, with all of that out of the way, let’s get to the actual explanation as to what is going on in the final moments of the series, what happens near the end of Volume 13 and more importantly why.
So, I will basically have to explain what Hachiman and Yukino’s problem is as well as the nature of their relationship. In order to do that, I’ll have to briefly go over the relevant character development moments of both Hachiman and Yukino as well as explain the plot one more time.
So, the story starts off with Hachiman being forced to join the Service Club and Yukino wanting to save Hachiman. She wants to help him become more sociable and make friends.
As the story progresses, Hachiman and Yukino grow closer to each other and more importantly Hachiman starts solving problems with self-sacrifice. Pretty much everything Hachiman does, he does for Yukino or for her sake.
However, the problem becomes that Hachiman starts turning this into a habit and he starts self-sacrificing for meaningless matters. While Hachiman pretends this doesn’t bother him or affect him, it clearly does, as shown in Volumes 6,5 and 7-9.
Since Yukino wants to save Hachiman and because she doesn’t want him to become a martyr (especially considering how everything Hachiman does is for her sake), Yukino tries to do whatever it takes to stop him from self-sacrificing.
Hachiman, still dead-set in his was, starts doing things behind Yukino and Yui’s backs. He also starts lying to them. Yukino gives up on trying to save Hachiman and it’s around this time that Yukino loses her self-confidence and starts doubting her own abilities as well as the purpose for the Service Club’s existence.
Yukino’s plan to fix Hachiman isn’t going the way she wanted it to go, because Hachiman is now lying and manipulating other people and he is constantly solving problems with self-sacrifice. Yukino tells Hachiman that she was only pretending like she knew everything and that she could solve everything. It’s around this time, where Yukino gives up trying to save Hachiman, that she also starts to lose her sense of self, because Yukino feels like she can't do anything for him anymore.
Yukino feels like the entire thing has gotten out of hand, so Yukino tells Hachiman to take a break from the Service Club and his “responsibilities”.
During this conversation, Yukino somewhat tells Hachiman what her actual goal was for running for student council president, namely so she could save someone.
So, around Volumes 10-11 you have a Yukino, with very low self-confidence who is now starting to rely on Hachiman and you have a Hachiman, who is increasingly starting to feel like he is the only one that can solve other people’s problems (mostly Iroha), stuck in a club where they help other people/are being taken advantage of.
Yukino’s development goes like this:
Yukino wants to save Hachiman -> Yukino gives up on trying to save Hachiman -> Yukino loses her self-confidence and her sense of self.
Hachiman’s development goes like this:
Hachiman starts self-sacrificing to solve problems for Yukino -> Hachiman stops self-sacrificing because of Yukino but is now lying, manipulating and deceiving people -> Hachiman feels like he is the only one that can solve other people’s problems.