Explanation for Volume 14 as well as the ending of the story
This is for the people that cared about the plot and characters. If you're satisfied with the ending and don't feel like something is missing or that something doesn't make sense, then feel free to stop reading right here. If that’s the case, it’s fine and you should just enjoy the show for yourself. There are a bunch of cute moments in the last volume that you’ll probably enjoy. Also it’s probably for the best not to read this because there will be spoilers.
If however you just finished reading volume 14 or finished watching season 3 and you have some questions or feel like there are certain things off about the ending, then I guess this serves as a way to give you some peace of mind. If you feel like the plot suddenly went missing, that certain things didn’t get addressed, that things that happened in the previous 2 seasons somehow don’t connect with season 3, that there is no real resolution to a bunch of characters and certain things about the story being hand waved away then I’ll try my best to explain why that happened. Chances are that you may not like what you’re going to read, but see what happens.
The point of this isn’t for you to take any of this and attack the author, the series or the characters. I just want to show what happens when a series becomes too big for its own good and when outside influences affect an author’s work.
Since volume 14 came out and the translations are still being worked on, it’s probably for the best not to share this because you might affect other people’s enjoyment of the ending. While season 3 is airing and after it finishes airing, don't share this or bring this up on any forums with people to prove some kind of point. Most anime watchers just want to have a good time while watching season 3. They want to see Hachiman interact with the cast again, to see who Hachiman ends up with etc. A lot of the fun with Oregairu comes from people discussing the show, so just let people have fun and form their own opinions.
This is not meant for you to get into any arguments with anyone online. Just read it for yourself if you want some closure on the series. If you have any questions or have something to say about this, then ask me about it and don't bother other people with it.
Anyway, it’ll be a pretty long explanation, so you should probably prepare yourself for that.
Oregairu season 2 aired from April 2015 to June 2015.
Oregairu season 3 will air from April 2020 to June 2020.
Oregairu’s final volume, volume 14, came out on the 19th of November 2019 (although it was leaked a couple of days prior).
Watari made Gi(a)rlish Number during the 4.5 to 5 year hiatus of Oregairu.
Gi(a)rlish Number aired from October 2016 to December 2016.
Watari wrote a character that is his self-insert, where he complains about the LN and anime industry, shows concern about his fans, how he didn’t really want to write ANOTHER etc.
>Could you guys respect the source material?
>I wonder how long they will be my fans.
>Volume 11 delayed. ANOTHER to go alongside the BDs.
You can also go to Watari’s twitter and scroll down to see that for the past two years he has been doing almost nothing but retweeting new merchandise.
Volume 12 was initially supposed to be released in April 2017.
Instead it was pushed back to September 2017, one month after Comiket92 and a couple of months before Comiket93.
Oregairu volumes 13 and 14 were initially supposed to be released around the same time in 2018. Instead volume 13 got pushed back from October to November 2018, one month closer to Comiket95. (See the previous two links.)
Volume 14 was initially supposed to be released on November 2018, but got pushed back twice. First to April 2019. Then finally to November 2019, one month before Comiket97. (See the previous two links.)
During each of the Comikets, there were Oregairu booths selling a lot of merchandise.
The reason why I bring all of this up, is that it’s important that you understand what the reason behind the delays is as well as what ended up happening to the story. The merchandise sales have played a huge part in the direction of the last three novels and the lack of any consequences to previous plot points, character motivations being shrugged aside or not explained as well as there being no real conflict in the last volume and everything just “working out” for everyone.
Let’s take a look at the things that Watari has said over the years.
The original story was supposed to end at volume 12. Instead the conclusion got stretched out into three volumes leading up until volume 14. A large portion of the final volumes being filler/fluff material so that they could make another anime season. The announcement that volume 12 would become volumes 12-14 happened after both Qualidea Code and Gi(a)rlish Number finished airing.
In an interview after season 2 finished airing back in 2015, Watari said that the ending for Oregairu would be bittersweet. There is nothing really bittersweet about the ending, since Hachiman ends up with a girlfriend and friends, no drama or obstacles getting in his way. Nobody gets hurt, nobody gets rejected. Nothing bad happens to anyone by the end volume 14. The story concludes with Hachiman and Yukino in the clubroom drinking tea, while Yui, Iroha and Komachi barge in with a title drop “My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong”. However there is nothing really “wrong” about this ending, so the title basically makes no sense now.
In the afterwords of ANOTHER, Watari said that readers should read both conclusions and pay attention to the differences and that reading both would somehow enhance the experience. However, the only difference right now is that in ANOTHER Hachiman ends up with Yui and can’t tell her that he loves her, while in the main story Hachiman ends up with Yukino and does love her.
Also, in the main ending there’s a prom. Other than that there are no real meaningful/significant differences. In both endings the three of them stay friends, so…
Watari had an interview on 20-11-2018 (the release date of volume 13). There he claimed that his ending didn’t change and he was still going to write the ending he initially had in mind. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you believe that.
However he also said that if you have time, you should read volume 1 and volume 13 again, before volume 14 comes out. This raises the following question, why would you need to read volume 1 again? There’s nothing really important that happens in volume 14 that connects or ties back in with volume 1.
Volume 1 deals with Hachiman being forced in the Service Club, you get a glimpse of what Yukino’s intentions are and there are clues dropped with Hachiman asking himself questions about this mysterious club and girl. Other than that, there’s no reason to ask people to read volume 1 again.
In his afterwords, Watari has also said a couple of times that he felt that his light novel wouldn’t work as an anime. If you’ve read the light novel or my analysis, you should know that Watari has a very unique and vague writing style, where a lot is portrayed through body language, facial expressions and symbolism. He has also said that he has tried attending a lot of the meetings where they make the anime and tried to be as involved as possible to make sure that everything worked, however season 2 ended up confusing a lot of people. Watari’s experience with making season 2 is most likely reflected in the anime of Gi(a)rlish Number.
The synopsis for volume 14 states that Hachiman intends on doing irreparable damage to the “fake” thing, so that they can get the only genuine thing. However, Hachiman doesn’t really end up doing any damage to anything, definitely not any irreparable damage. Also nothing really came to an end, since near the end of the story the Service Club is back in business (even though Yukino put an end to it in volume 13) and it ends with them drinking tea as if nothing happened. Both Yui and Iroha are just fine with Hachiman and Yukino dating. So are Yukino’s mom, Haruno and Hayama. Also, “something genuine” ends up becoming “confessing to the girl you like”.
In Watari’s afterword of volume 14, he says that there are certain things that couldn’t be fully presented. He says that he leaves the interpretation up to his readers. Basically, Watari kind of gave up.
Also in Watari's afterword of volume 14, he says how he thinks that he was able to everything he wanted to say into this story. Feel free to decide if you believe that or not.
On 19-11-2019, the official release date of volume 14, Watari said in an interview that for the past 9 years he hasn’t been able to sleep well and he hopes that he will be able to sleep well now.
Some other things from Watari’s interview. (I’ll go over this later on.)
So far these have all been things that have happened outside of the novels themselves (except for the afterwords). Let’s focus on things that actually happen (or didn’t happen) in the story. However before we get into this, I need to specifically emphasize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with Hachiman ending up with Yukino. Their confession was solid. Hachiman asking Yukino if she would allow him to mess up her life and Yukino asking Hachiman to give her life was a very effective confession scene.
In case anyone wants to use any of this as an argument to discredit the main couple from ending up together, then don’t, because that’s neither the point nor the issue. There has been too much foreshadowing, symbolism and development between Hachiman and Yukino compared to Hachiman and any other character, for there to be any other end pairing. Besides, the entire story is about Hachiman and Yukino’s relationship as they slowly grow closer to each other.
I’d even go as far as to say that the only times something interesting happens in volumes 12 to 14 is when one of the Yukinoshitas is on screen and that by the end of the story Yukino is probably one of the few characters that is still actually a well written character. The problem lies with pretty much everything else.
While people are excited that Hachiman ended up with Yukino, I feel like a lot of this excitement and that it’s a happy ending with zero drama or conflict is kind of blinding people from how the series actually finished. Or some might just be happy that it’s finally over after 4-5 years and don’t want to spend too much time thinking about it anymore.
However, it’s when you actually think about how the series ended, that’s where the ending starts to not make sense. At least from a writing standpoint.
From here on out I’ll point out a couple of things from the first 11 volumes and compare them with the last 3 volumes and you can decide for yourself if any of this makes sense or if the things that happen in the ending are tonally consistent with how season 2 left off.
I’ll also point out how volumes 12 to 14 play out and you can decide if you feel like anything has really been properly resolved or if you feel like all of the conflict disappeared all of a sudden.
Keep in mind that there has been a 2,5 year hiatus between volumes 11 and 12, a year between volumes 12 and 13 as well as a year between volumes 13 and 14. Each of these volumes, except for 14 obviously, ended on a cliffhanger. However did any of the volumes that came after their predecessor really deal with how the previous volume left off? Let’s take a closer look.
4.5 to 5 years ago, season 2 ended off on the following cliffhanger.
>If we figure out how each of us feels, I don’t think we’ll be able to stay the same.
>Yeah, I am being stupid. I know how this will end. I’ll be left with nothing. Even so, I want us to think, writhe, struggle, and find… something genuine.
Volume 12 begins with an interlude that can either belong to Hachiman or Yukino, but it’s not included in the manga. (I’ll come back to this later.)
For the first half of chapter 1 of volume 12, the trio reminisces about past events, possibly as a way to remind people of all of the events that have happened so far. However, the most important thing you should notice is that it’s mostly small talk. The three of them are not really addressing any of the drama or conflicts they’ve had and they’re avoiding any sensitive topics. I don’t know if you remember how season 2 ended with Yui putting pressure on Yukino, but pretty much no one mentions any of that or addresses it. I get that season 2 had ended around 2,5 years ago when volume 12 came out, but canonically speaking there should be 10-30 minutes between the ending of volume 11 and the beginning of volume 12.
There are a couple of notable moments from this conversation between the three of them. One of them is Hachiman and Yui’s exchange about her cookies, where Hachiman realizes that he’ll have to honestly tell Yui his feelings someday.
However, did that really end up happening? Did Yui actually end up confessing her feelings? Did Hachiman “honestly and without any deception” either accept or reject Yui’s feelings? By the end of volume 14, Yui simply enters the Service Club and says that she knows Hachiman and Yukino are dating, that she still has feelings for Hachiman but she still wants to be with them. Does this feel like a proper conclusion to Yui’s character arc? For almost the entire story Yui has been trying to confess her feelings to Hachiman. Did this end up getting resolved?
Near the end of the story, Watari ended up giving Yui a lot of interludes revealing her inner thoughts. As the story was nearing its conclusion, Yui’s inner thoughts became darker and more selfish. Did she ever act on them though? Did any of this ever go anywhere? What was the point of all of these interludes? So Yui’s desire of “wanting it all” basically means that she wants to be friends with Hachiman and Yukino, while the two of them date and Yui is fine with that? If it was this easy for Yui to come to terms with Hachiman and Yukino dating, then what was all of the drama in season 2 about then?
On another note, if “Hello Alone” is a song that’s about Yui, do the lyrics still make any sense? Who exactly ended up alone by the end of the series? Hachiman? Yukino? Yui? Who are the “You and I” in this song?
>Did you ever break free from your endless suffering? You and I are alone again, Hello Hello, Alone.
Or what about the “only in a fairytale ending” lyrics? Isn’t the ending of volume 14 a bit too much on the “sweet” side? There’s no real conflict or drama, no one really ended up being rejected or hurt.
Another important thing brought up during this conversation between the three of them, is that Hachiman finally internally admits that the reason why he helped Rumi out was, because Rumi reminded him of someone he knew. (However it’s not included in the manga and chances are it might not be included in the anime either.)
During volume 4, it was very important to Yukino to help Rumi out, because Yukino recognized something in Rumi that happened to her as well. However, after they helped Rumi, Yukino asked Hachiman what his reason was for helping Rumi. Hachiman gave a dishonest answer to both Yukino and the reader.
Now in volume 12, Hachiman internally admits what his actual reason was.
Yui’s fireworks symbolism gets brought up again. (It’s fun while it lasts, but it doesn’t last long.) However since Yui still wants to be friends with them/involved with them near the end of volume 14, I guess this doesn’t really mean anything anymore either.
There’s also a reminder as to who played a part in causing Sagami’s “situation”. (See Haruno’s part)