Iroha goes to the Service Club to introduce the idea of a prom. This is the moment where the overarching plot from the first 11 novels gets replaced/overtaken by the prom. A prom that has not once been mentioned or hinted at in the previous 11 novels, now becomes the central conflict of the final arc.
By the end of volume 14, what really happened with the prom? Did Iroha end up becoming prom queen? Did Hachiman get to dance with Yukino? He got to dance with Yui and Sensei, but not with Yukino. There was no drama at the prom itself, no real conflict. A prom could have served as a great set piece where a lot of romantic scenes as well as dramatic scenes could happen. Instead it ended up being just two proms. Yukino succeeding with the prom(s) was merely a consolidation/compensation prize, so then why did we spend 3 volumes on this?
Why not just hold a normal thank you party and instead focus on more story relevant things?
So, clearly Watari must have had some bigger plan for the prom.
The reason why I bring this up, is because volumes 12 and 13 have a very similar story structure to volume 6. There are a lot of callbacks to volume 6. See if any of this reminds you of what happens in volume 6.
Hachiman and Yui visit Yukino’s apartment.
There’s a character that shows up with a selfish request.
Yukino takes on the request on her own. In volume 12, Yukino plans on making the prom a success on her own, without the help of Hachiman and Yui, as a means to prove herself to her mother.
Yukino ends up doing most of the work on her own.
There are also moments like this. (Although this is the ending of volume 5.)
The end of volume 6.
The end of volume 13.
There is also a callback to this moment in volume 14.
You have Haruno laughing during a meeting again, probably because in volume 12 she knew where this was headed, however in volume 14 nothing ended up happening at the prom.
In volume 6, Haruno's meddling was what caused the festival to get out of hand. This time both Yukino’s mother and Haruno are involved. You have Iroha talking back to Yukino's mother and in volume 13, Hachiman does the same thing towards the end of the volume. Yukino’s mother is supposed to be scary, but there are no consequences to Hachiman and Iroha acting like this towards her.
The reason why I bring up this comparison, is because in volume 6 there were actual stakes and consequences to what happened during the cultural festival arc.
Let’s compare that to what happens in 12 to 14.
Iroha approaches the Service Club and asks them if they can help make the prom become a reality. If you’ve read volume 10,5 or my analysis on Iroha, you should know that the reason why Iroha actually invited Hachiman on that date (however that was entirely removed from the anime), was so she could take pictures and use those later on to blackmail Hachiman. Iroha wanted to spend the leftovers of the budget so she could get a full budget refund next year.
Now there’s no more budget for this year to host a prom. Is this going to be a problem? Will there be any consequences to Iroha spending all of the Student Council budget on herself? Apparently not, since they will just use next year’s budget and hopefully nobody will notice.
However, this moment is not included in the manga and it probably won’t be included in the anime either. Instead Hachiman just says that it looks expensive and then Yukino says what actions she can take to make it less expensive.
In volume 14 they solve the budget issue for the second prom by crowdfunding.
In season 2, Hachiman ended up manipulating Iroha into becoming the Student Council president so he could preserve the Service Club. Then he had to cover up his tracks and help Iroha ease into the role of SCP behind Yukino and Yui’s backs.
In season 2, Hachiman accused Yukino of creating a puppet candidate and then Hachiman asked Yukino if she planned on helping this candidate forever. However, isn’t that what he ended up doing with Iroha?
Did Iroha ever become a good SCP? In volume 12 Hachiman makes some internal remarks about how Iroha should fire herself as SCP.
Did Iroha ever learn how to do any of the work on her own or is she still asking other people to do work for her or manipulating others to do things for her?
In volume 9, during the Christmas event, Hachiman was making a mess out of the event, so he ended up going to the Service Club and asked Yukino and Yui for help. This was not shown in the anime, but it was Yukino who stayed up all night and turned the entire event around, but ended up giving the credit to Iroha.
Now in volumes 12 and 13, it’s still Yukino who is doing most of the work, while it’s Iroha’s prom idea.
Yukino specifically said that she wanted to handle this prom on her own, without the assistance of Hachiman and Yui. Iroha was present during this conversation.
Instead Iroha goes behind Yukino’s back to ask Hachiman to come help them out. Even though Yukino specifically wanted to solve this on her own so she could put a stop to the codependent relationship. By the end of volume 13, Yukino ends up breaking off her relationship with Hachiman, because she realizes that Hachiman will never be able to stop being codependent/wanting to solve everything for others.
Meanwhile it was Iroha who roped Hachiman to come help against his will. Did this ever get addressed?
Hachiman’s problem is codependency, basically a desire to be needed by other people. Hachiman gains his sense of strength by feeling like other people need his help.
If Hachiman’s problem is codependency, then you should be aware how unhealthy Hachiman’s relationship with Iroha is. Ever since volume 8, Iroha has taken advantage of his codependency or his inability to turn people down. Yukino on the other hand has tried her hardest to put a stop to it on multiple occasions.
Instead, the book makes it seem like it’s only Hachiman and Yukino who have a codependent relationship, but not Hachiman and Iroha as well.
On another note, during season 2, Yui was encouraging Hachiman’s self-destructive behavior. Yui was enabling his self-sacrifice, however this also never gets addressed and the entire codependency plot from the past 3 volumes gets hand waved away in volume 14.
In the previous 11 volumes, Iroha has never shown an interest in Yukino or Yui, unless there was something she could get from them. Iroha has always come to the Service Club for Hachiman. However from volume 12 onwards, Iroha all of a sudden cares about Yukino’s feelings towards Hachiman? All of a sudden Yukino and Iroha are really good friends in volume 14 because they worked on a prom together?
Iroha rudely talks back to Yukino’s mother and Yukino’s mother is supposed to be scary, but there are no consequences to this?
So by the end of the series, Hachiman ended up manipulating Iroha into becoming SCP so he could preserve the Service Club. Hachiman initially had to help Iroha with her new role behind Yukino and Yui’s backs. Iroha has never really become a self-sufficient or competent SCP. Iroha still needs to ask or manipulate other people to do the work for her. Iroha has constantly been taking advantage of Hachiman’s codependency. Iroha has also never found out the truth behind why Hachiman made her become SCP in the first place.
Volume 13 ends with Iroha eating snacks behind her desk while the vice-president is doing all of the work. Hachiman tells Iroha that next year he will find her a new rookie that will do all the work for her.
In volume 14 Iroha gives the graduates a farewell speech and she asks Hachiman if he wants to join the Student Council so he can keep helping her.
That’s the end of Iroha’s character arc. Iroha gets to do whatever she wants and there are no consequences to any of her actions.
Watari’s thoughts on Iroha from his interview.
Anyway, back to what happens in volume 12. Yukino begins working on the prom. Hachiman doesn’t get to go to the Service Club anymore, so instead he spends his time playing videogames. However, without the Service Club (and Yukino), Hachiman ends up feeling miserable.
Hachiman asks Saika out on a date.
Hachiman goes to a diner with Zaimokuza. Hachiman is reminded how Zaimokuza is the only person he knew before he joined the Service Club, however this ends up being a red herring since this doesn’t end up leading anywhere.
Hachiman ends up going to the Service Club after Iroha asks him to help out. Hachiman attends the rehearsal for the prom. You get some penguin symbolism/marriage foreshadowing. (In volume 14, Hachiman and Yukino see a chapel and Yukino makes a comment about how they should do “it” here. Hachiman replies that it’s too soon, however Yukino was talking about the prom.)
Hachiman dances with Yui. Yukino stands in the background observing with a content look on her face. (In volume 13 Yukino ends up breaking off her relationship with Hachiman and tells Hachiman to go fulfil Yui’s wish.)
This moment is another callback to volume 6.
Hachiman goes on a date with Yui so they can look for a graduation gift for Komachi. Yui tells Hachiman that she wants to be a bride someday. Hachiman thinks about how something about this feels artificial.
The two members from the gaming club from volume 3 get reintroduced. They’ll play a bigger role in the next two volumes. One of them is Sagami’s younger brother.
That’s the majority of volume 12. The plot really only picks back up again, once Yukino’s mother shows up at school. However, before we get to the cliffhanger of volume 12, there’s something else I’d like to point out
Watari says that the main principles of his writing are details in outline/plot, details in each scene, the logic of his story and character development.
This is true for the first 11 volumes. Watari has always been a very logical (and very vague) writer. Except for the first volume, every single one of Watari’s volumes ended on a cliffhanger and then Watari would deal with that cliffhanger in the next volume.
Volume 1 introduces the majority of the cast and ends on Hachiman re-writing his essay. Both Hachiman and Yukino are sitting in the clubroom and Yukino says that someday an “insect” might come to like Hikigaya. The reason why volume 1 is the exception, is because this cliffhanger only gets resolved by volume 14.
Volume 2 ends on Hachiman finding out that Yui was involved with the car accident and he resets their relationship with the “nice girl” speech.
Volume 3 deals with Yui leaving the Service Club. Hachiman and Yukino go on a date to buy Yui a birthday gift. Hachiman and Yui make up, however volume 3 ends on Hachiman wondering what Yukino exactly meant.
From Watari’s interview on 23-11-2019. Watari says that volume 3 was a foreshadowing of the plot and when Haruno showed up, there was more foreshadowing. (Also pay attention to how Watari says that the car accident was the plot. I’ll come back to this.)
Haruno recognized Hachiman’s last name.
Volume 4 begins a new arc with Rumi at summer camp and ends with Haruno picking up Yukino in the family car that hit Hachiman.
Volume 5 is a filler volume for the most part. Hachiman is on summer break. He spends most of his time with the other characters. However he is reminded of Yukino being picked up in that car.
Near the end of the volume, Hachiman and Yui go to the fireworks festival where they meet Haruno. Once they’re done talking, they walk Haruno back to her car. Haruno wonders why Yukino didn’t tell Hachiman about Yukino’s involvement with the car accident.
The volume ends on Yukino trying to explain the situation, but Hachiman doesn’t want to know more about Yukino.
Volume 6 deals with the tense atmosphere between Hachiman and Yukino as well as Sagami’s arc with the cultural festival.
By the end of the volume, Hachiman and Yukino have made up. Hachiman and Yukino sit in the Service Club. Hachiman asks Yukino if they can be friends, but Yukino cuts him off saying that can never happen. Hachiman then brings up the car accident and wants to know what Yukino’s response is. However, Yukino doesn’t give him a direct answer. The volume ends on Hachiman thinking about how one day he will think back on all of the things he has lost. (I will come back to this conversation later on.)
Volume 7 is the beginning of a new arc, the Ebina/ Kyoto trip arc. Volume 7 ends on Hachiman doing a fake confession to Ebina and Yukino being upset at Hachiman self-sacrificing himself/making a fool out of himself like that for no real reason. Like Watari said in his interview, this is the first time Yukino and Yui see Hachiman’s actions with their own eyes.
Volume 8 begins with there being tension between the Service Club members.
Sensei brings in Meguri and a new client, Iroha.
Hachiman and Yukino both try solving Iroha’s request in their own way, however it’s ultimately Hachiman who wins the showdown with lies and deceit. Volume 8 ends with Hachiman wondering if he actually made the right decision.
Volume 9 begins with a fake atmosphere in the Service Club.
Iroha shows up with a new request, but Hachiman has to solve it behind Yukino and Yui’s backs.
Hachiman ends up making a huge mess of things, so he goes to the Service Club to ask Yukino and Yui for help. They decide to help him out and they manage to turn the event into a success.
Near the end of volume 9, Yukino tells Hachiman that she accepted his request for something genuine, however she phrases it in a riddle.
Volume 9 ends with Hachiman thinking how he will continue searching for the conclusion of this story (something genuine) for a long time.
From Watari’s interview.
Volume 10 is the beginning of a new arc. Yukino celebrates her birthday with her family as well as Hayama’s family. This causes rumors to spread about Yukino and Hayama dating. Hachiman and Hayama put an end to the rumors. Hachiman has his infirmary scene with Yukino.
Volume 10 ends on Haruno planting seeds of distrust in Hachiman’s head.
Volume 11 is about Hachiman dealing with these feelings of unease, as he tries to do whatever it takes to keep his mind off of it.
Volume 11 ends on the following cliffhanger. Whether you feel like volume 12 properly deals with this cliffhanger or not is up to you.