Welcome to my personal retrospective and character analysis of Yukinoshita Yukino, from the anime and light novel series Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. This is an attempt at a comprehensive personal analysis of this character using my own understanding of psychology, literary analysis and personal emotions to construct a complete picture of her in my mind, and present that to the community. I am largely using my own psyche and experiences as a reference to construct a greater understanding of Yukino, so please keep that in mind when proceeding.
This paper is a means to express my observations while watching the anime and reading the novel from notes I have taken. Of course, this is not meant to be taken as definitive fact, rather one man’s interpretation and a platform for discussion. That said, I have not completed the light novels since the last two novels are incomplete in their translations as of writing this, meaning much of this analysis could be subject to change depending on the direction of the story, therefore this will only use the material covered in both anime seasons.
Quotes have been taken from the following sources for reference:
- Season One: FFF
- Season Two: Commie
- Light Novel: NanoDesu/Yen Press
It was the beginning of the end for those lazy, hazy summer days at the end of August. Small reminders of the upcoming time that I would have to wave goodbye to the peaceful time I was enjoying and return to school permeated into my daily life. It was an uneventful summer of 2015, I was about to turn sixteen and the second year of high school approached. Not much has changed since then though, as I was still deeply invested in anime and it was how I spent my days of leisure in that summer. Dread clouded my perception of high school life after some complications arose the year prior due to failed attempts to integrate into a new school and romantic let downs, so I was not looking forward to returning. With this mindset, I was nearing the end of the seemingly short summer break and decided to watch one last anime before academic responsibilities took over, that series was Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteriru.
Never before this had an anime resonated with me on such a personal level, and in a way my own twisted perception of society as a teenager found solace in hearing the words of Hikigaya Hachiman. It was the perfect time to be introduced to this series in a way, I was in the target demographic of immature, cynical outcasts who related to Hachiman. Despite recognizing the faults of internalizing the deliberately biased words of Hachiman, it provided me a feeling of comfort to know that this person, fictional or not, understood my perspective. It was for this reason that I fell in love with this anime.
From the opening monologue, I sensed that I would be in for a real treat but never could have imagined the emotional rollercoaster I was in for. Hachiman established himself as a character I could project to, understand him beyond what was presented on-screen, and empathise with in ways I never understood before. To me, Oregairu is, even now, an anime that remains close to my heart because of its ability to craft seemingly human characters with so much emotional depth. I have a stronger grasp of the psyche of some of these characters and understand their emotions better than my friends in reality.
Then I met Yukinoshita Yukino, the unwavering dark-haired beauty that has since cemented herself as the first and only fictional character to truly steal my heart. Prior to this, I was infatuated with kuudere characters on a superficial level because I related to their personalities on the surface. However, after seeing Yukino develop as character I found myself anticipating seeing her again when she was not on-screen. I was completely infatuated with her allure, and it was then that she became my waifu. Despite the ironic portrayal of otaku being infatuated with their love for fictional characters, I was unaware of that and simply felt an unrequited bond forming between me and this character on the screen. Her personality and growth as a character was incredibly inspiring and remarkably endearing so I couldn’t help myself from falling in love.
Even after rewatching the anime and getting into the light novels years later, I still feel a deep emotional connection to Yukino and what her character means to me. Because of that, I rewatched the anime once again with the intention of taking notes and with the goal to reason out a psychoanalysis of her character in order to understand her further than I had before. Hopefully this long-winded analysis proves to be as useful as it was for me, in exploring Yukinoshita Yukino.
Under the Snow
Names carry a tremendous weight to them. In the West, parents having children will often look to their religion for inspiration for naming their children. Me and brother were named after Catholic Saints due to my parents finding the meaning behind said names to resonate with them enough to name us after that. Names can carry the importance unlike any other title given to you, for they were given to you by a parent and hold meaning to them beyond the superficial sound it makes rolling off the tongue. Literature and film will commonly heighten the underlying meaning by assigning certain names to character to derive more depth and personality to those characters. Japanese naming conventions similarly utilize the importance of the meaning behind names, but in my opinion to a more nuanced degree due to the complexity of their writing system. Japanese names will use Kanji, or borrowed Chinese characters, all with a multitude of readings with varying meaning, as well as Hiragana and sometimes Katakana. However, Kanji contains such an extensive list of characters to choose and the ability to combine different Kanji to create a unique meaning to the child’s name. Likewise, “Some kanji have nanori, which are readings which occur only in names.” (3) Much like anime characters, Japanese people will have a name with another layer of depth beyond the sound their name makes. For example, the name “Ichirou” is a common boy’s name meaning “first son” which relates back to a traditional naming scheme of naming children after the sequential order of which they were born. (3) For this reason, anime characters will utilize the unique Japanese naming conventions to expand of character personality through their names. Examples include “Makoto” meaning “sincere, honest” and Shinji meaning “true ruler”, and knowing this allows the viewer another element to think about when examining a character. The meaning of a character name is rarely contrived, so exploring deeper into the Kanji allows for another layer of characterization to be uncovered.
I want to begin with understanding the Yukinoshita Yukino, a duplicative name which holds hidden meaning. In Japanese, the name 【雪ノ下雪乃】 is comprised “雪” is the kanji character meaning snow, while the second character being katakana “ノ” which is a possessive particle as well as “乃” which has the same reading, and finally “下” meaning underneath or beneath. Simply examining the family given name of Yukinoshita reveals the literal meaning of “under the snow” followed by the first name Yukino, roughly meaning “the snow.” In totality we can interpret the name of Yukinoshita Yukino, rather the slightly modified “Yuki no shita no yuki” as snow beneath the snow.
“Snow beneath the snow” implies multiple layers, and when examining Yukino as a character I want to explore this concept much further as a keystone to her personality. Stories will commonly explore such ideas of hiding behind a mask or a protective layer to shield one’s heart from being revealed. Not everyone can wear their heart on their sleeve, and nobody does in the anime and light novel series Yahari ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru, or Oregairu for short. Everyone has a facade and holds ulterior motives to their actions giving us in the fanbase plenty to examine. Here I will further explore the theme of layered personality of Yukinoshita Yukino and the snow motif as a basis for this character analysis.
Much of Yukino’s past is shrouded in mystery, rarely revealed to us in brief moments of vulnerability. It is in these moments when the layers around her heart lose their strength and show the true nature of what Yukino carries with her. One such moment I will bring up later, but surfaces as a result of discussing family, which she relates to the Yukinoshita family situation:
“But as soon as I called out to her, the clouds covered the sun and a shadow came over her face. Because of that, I couldn’t read the expression on Yukinoshita’s downturned face clearly. But the mere sight of her feeble, drooped shoulders told me she had let out a short sigh.”(Volume 2, pg 110)
Hachiman notes this change as he explains
“Her expression was no different from normal – cold and withering. The clouds had only covered the sun for a moment. I had no way of knowing the meaning of the sigh she had breathed in that split second.”
Observant as always, he is able to catch the fleeting show of raw emotions displayed by Yukino in a vulnerable period. This is most likely due to the fact that such a subject being brought up was unexpected, thus she was unable to prepare herself to hide her true feelings. Also, the Yukinoshita family dynamic is strained and a difficult subject for her to face. I will cover that extensively in detail later on, but for now as a reader of the novel and watching the anime, we only are aware of Yukino’s strange reaction that is quite unlike her usual self. The “Ice Queen” that is, one that has a personality as cold as ice and a heart frozen over. The reason is made evident as we delve deeper into Yukino’s past.
Tsurumi Rumi was the young girl that was helped during the summer camp arc in the first season of the anime, she is a girl who they notice to be standing away from her assigned group and is seemingly detached from the rest of the class. Rumi’s story mainly serves as a point of reference for understanding the mentality of each character and how they feel about themselves. This is evident because each character attempts to guide Rumi in a direction they see best fit basing their reasoning off lessons learned from their pasts to deter her from making the same mistakes they made, or prevent the hurt they felt growing up. Seeing a vulnerable child venturing down the path of a cynical loner like Hachiman is preventable early on and we get to see the true nature of the cast as they intervene.
The result of the conflict is resolved in episode eight of the first season, with Rumi reassociating with her classmates as they “reset” the bonds between the girls. But that isn’t that important, because what Hayama explains afterwards is critical. He confesses that as a child, he saw a similar situation with a girl being alienated by the class and bullied behind her back, and he expressed guilt for simply standing back and watching. That is why with Rumi he decided to make things right and get involved to help instead of living with regret once more. However, the girl Hayama failed to save was Yukino.
In episode three, Yukino reveals that she studied abroad but was alienated and bullied when she came back to Japan. Of course, she presents this in an arrogant fashion that somehow “all the girls at school grew desperate to eliminate me” (Ep 2, 8:38) because she was too cute. Of course this wouldn’t fool anyone but the intention was not that, rather it was to persuade people that she was utterly self-absorbed and nothing would phase her. Yukino was presenting a painful piece of her past in a way that would make her appear indifferent to it, but it only brought to light an uneasy concern within those around her. This act simply building up her persona of “The Ice Queen” due to her icy personality and unapproachable nature.
Episodes seven and eight we also get a brief introduction of the fragile relationship between Hayama and Yukino. Initially Yukino only appears uncomfortable around Hayama and his group of friends, but it is later revealed that Hayama’s father is the legal advisor for Yukino’s father who holds a political office, and they were classmates in elementary school. This implies their past complicated history. Yukino is emotionally distant from Hayama due to his failure to intervene when she was bullied in school, and Hayama lives with that guilt.
A Veil of Snow
“In the end they always get jealous and avoid her”– Yukinoshita Haruo
Hachiman refers to Yukino in a condescending manner due to her cold and unfriendly demeanor and his dislike in the how she treats him. In his pseudo-Death Note he writes:
“April 2013; 1. YukinoshitaYukino looked down on me the moments I met her. Looked at me as though I were a bug. Way too self-conscious. She’s the Ice Queen! Demon superhuman!! I’ll kill her!” (Ep 2, 15:04)
Despite the comical impression Hachiman initially forms of Yukino, this serves as a manner to examine her personality. The “Ice Queen” persona is her facade she built up, trying desperately to convince herself and those around her in the hopes that the lies will eventually become reality. In a way this allows others to grow to understand Yukino in the way she wishes to appear, as Hachiman notes that she is “…always beautiful, unable to lie, honest, always standing on her own two feet, without anyone or anything to support her.”(Ep 9, 21:37) However, this persona only served to give people a false image of the true Yukino, the vulnerable girl she wishes to keep hidden, but it doesn’t last long, “I chose to feel like I understood her.” (Ep 9, 21:48) notes Hachiman after realizing the truth unravel before him.
Even Yukinoshita Yukino lies, Hachiman misjudged her. He initially was under the impression that there was some truth in her Ice Queen persona, but he ended up overlooking the truth. Earlier in the episode, Yui explained that “Yukino wants to talk to someone and I can’t do it myself.” yet this was disregarded because Hachiman was too confident in his warped understanding thinking that Yukinoshita Yukino would never need the help of someone else. In a way, the distant personality helped her move past the troubles she faced, but at the same time discouraged people from trying to get close to her.
However, this doesn’t mean the persona will forever remain. In episode eleven, she confesses “Yuigahama-san, right now it is difficult for me but one day I’ll rely on you.” Yukino is expressing her desire to want to rely on someone, because after trying to carry the weight of responsibility herself for so many years she isn’t ready yet to trust people. The Ice Queen thinks that seeking help and relying on others is a sign of weakness, but Yukino is growing to understand that her warped way of thinking is misguided, yet is still unable to let go of her familiar way of thinking despite the known negative implications. However, the first step to recovery is recognizing the issue, and as Yukino realizes that she has been perceiving the world wrongly it spurs her growth as a person to begin.
Based off personal experience, trust issues stem from the warped self-responsibility or desire to not rely on others. Other people are inferior so relying on them is a sign of weakness, right? A superiority complex has roots in the fear of being inadequate, and in order to justify not being at the bottom you have to lie to yourself that you are better and everyone else is below you. But to me this is was a defensive measure. “If people don’t like me, I will dislike them right back because their opinion doesn’t matter anyways!” All this does is alienate yourself from your peers because you become so absorbed in a narrative where the world around you is wrong and your worldview is the only correct one. In a way, I feel like Yukino falls somewhere into this frame of mind. Her classmates in elementary school bullied her due to jealousy since she was off studying abroad and came from a wealthy background. So she convinced herself that those people weren’t worth her time and the only reason they spoke cruelly about her was because she was obviously superior. However, this only perpetuate the cycle with both sides equally pushing away from one another. This is why Yukino appears unapproachable, because she has been alienated by the school and from her own doing under the impression that she is too perfect.
Hachiman is a self-proclaimed loner, and a hypocrite. After joining the Service Club, his charade of isolation, narcissism and self-assessed understanding of human relationships is tested and placed under inspection. He no longer is able to turn to his comforting ideal of being a longer because he is forced to interact with others as a result of the activities of the Service Club, whether or not he recognizes it as such. Clinging to these ideals long into the series proves as a test of his abilities and forces him to come to conclusions that might be unfavorable to him. Continuing to resolve conflict in his typical manner only results in unsavory feelings of resentment from his peers, even if they were successful in the end.
During the school trip with Tobe’s request, Hachiman’s conclusion is to take the fall in order to solve the conflict. Because of this, Yukino and Yui are upset at his way of handling things, and is evident through Yui stating “Spare a thought for how someone feels” and Yukino’s: “I hate the way you do things.” when reacting to Hachiman’s efforts with the Tobe request and the School Festival arcs respectively. The perspective of the girls show Hachiman essentially carrying the burden of responsibility and diverting the conflict towards himself instead of truly solving a problem, and as a result are upset to see him take the fall. Hachiman wants results regardless of the repercussions without explaining to others what he intends to do, weakening the sense of trust between the group. Likewise, Yukino is afraid of Hachiman’s destructive approach to approaching problems since he doesn’t seem to care about his perception in the eyes of the school, and ultimately the club. Yukino grows to fear the path Hachiman continues down, one that she was once familiar with and wants him to understand his flaws, but they are unable to truly understand one another. She holds a faint image of what Hachiman is in her mind and watches it diverge from the actions that the real Hachiman takes. To put it simply, YahariBento explains this as “… the author tries to explain how humans place expectations to other people by believing in the image of that person. The image that “the watcher” believes that what they understands is the truth because “the actor” presents her/his standpoint via remark, attitude and actions. So basically, both of them help one another to create this image. The final result is the watcher believes it, but will be betrayed by both of them later, when the watcher realizes that the image is not the truth…” (5). This essentially is bringing to question the trust between the club members and the disingenuous facade each person is constructing.
In episode twelve of season one, Yukino tells Hachiman that “You and I can’t be friends.” At the time, her reasoning is that she doesn’t feel like she knows him. My interpretation is that Yukino is not confident in truly understanding Hachiman, and fears her own inadequacy at the time. He has gone on to talk about how “She and I are completely different. That’s why all our conversations are refreshing.” and Yukino most likely understands that sentiment. However, she fears that she is inadequate to get close to him and complicate club activities while also “taking” Hachiman away from Yui, who also has feelings for him. She is also unable to properly understand if Hachiman is the person she thinks he is.
These feelings shape the inner conflict surrounding Yukino as we enter the second season of the anime. From the start of this new season, it is more visibly evident that Yukino is more self-conscious of the relationship between her and Hachiman, as well as how their relationship might be interpreted by onlookers. During the school trip, all the students are put into a new situation and it changes the lens at which they look at their relationships with one another. Being outside of a school setting transforms their perception of how they view their classmates, friends of teacher since it is not in the typical classroom setting. School trip, hot spring, and beach episodes in anime are particularly important due to this fact, providing a change of pace and altering the usual setting at which each of the characters grew to understand each other in. For example, seeing Hiratsuka-sensei in a casual setting might seem strange to the students who are so comfortable seeing her as simply their home room teacher.
So Yukino suggest suggests for her and Hachiman to return to the hotel separately during the school trip to avoid suspicion, and to not cue Yui in on the fact that they are meeting behind her back. Perhaps this is due to Yukino’s strong desire to maintain the mutual trust between her and Yui that she chooses to not provide any sense of confusion which will complicate their relationships. In a way she is unable to fully accept her selfish desire to be with Hachiman and recognizes it as such, but this brings to question her self-confidence and willingness to act. At the time I can assume it is because she has yet to fully commit to the idea of progressing their relationship and is not ready to confront the time when she will do something which will harm the group dynamic of the Service Club.
On a personal aside, I’d like to briefly relate this to my personal middle school class trip. We spent a week traveling to, visiting and returning from the nation’s capital. Initially this was a great change of pace to take a break from school, thinking about high school starting in the Fall, and just hang out with friends. However, this proved to be an interesting experience because even though this was a school organized event, everyone was outside of the classroom setting and allowed to essentially do what we wanted. It was the first time I shared a hotel room with two other guys, and we spent the time watching Family Feud, eating snacks from the vending machine, prank calling other rooms and talking late into the night. Being on an extended trip away from home as a teenager with a bunch of my peers allowed all of us to feel that sense of independence and strengthen our bonds as friends by sharing these new experiences with one another. Likewise, the teachers felt similarly and I was able to talk in a casual manner with some teachers I usually never talked to, discussing stuff like video games and movies like they were a distant uncle or aunt. That’s why I believe that the class trip in Oregairu was critical in introducing a new layer to the relationships of the characters since they were able to meet in with different pretenses. Previously it generally was under the pretenses of work for the Service Club, even if it was just an excuse.
“I’m sure she and I are similar on some level” (Ep 1, 13:19) observes Hachiman after assessing the type of person he perceives to be Yukinoshita Yukino upon their first meeting in the Service Club. However, the irony is that Yukino chooses to distance herself from Hachiman and instead favors Yui. For Hachiman, this seems strange since he believes they are of similar mindset, but she knows there is a clash of ideals between the two that cannot be overlooked. Yukino knows that she and Hachiman are fundamentally different in their view of their own self-image and goals. While Hachiman seems content with his life and treats his faults as strengths in a twisted way, and Yukino seems to recognize her faults and hates herself because of how she acts. She wants to change herself and the world for being wrong, while Hachiman believes that the world is the problem but chooses to blame it instead of attempting to confront his problems. His inability to understand the way Yukino feels creates a dissonance in their ability to understand one another, and is upset at Hachiman’s reluctance to confront his problems and accept change. More than anyone she feels like she understands the importance of changing oneself and wants Hachiman to understand that sentiment. Both unable to recognize this conflict, we are left to consider the quote “Knowing each other is one thing, but understanding is an altogether different matter” (Ep 3 6:13). With this in mind, Hachiman cannot recognize his own faults nor accurately view Yukino for who she really is, and Yukino is equally guilty at pretending to understand his mentality. Hachiman is clinging to the perception of Yukino he observed upon their first contact and is unable to evolve this image to change in accordance to the Yukino in front of him. He fails to understand her which only strains their relationship, evident through Yukino line of “And here I was sure you’d understand.” (Ep5 17:45) after overestimating Hachiman’s ability to understand her. This only serves as a set-up for him to misjudge her personality which he refuses to accept could happen. This is reinforced because he still tells himself such things as “Yukinoshita doesn’t lie” and ultimately the result is the finale of Zoku, in which he is forced to accept reality that “Yukinoshita is a strong girl. And so, I burdened her with the ideal image I had of her.” (Ep13 20:20).
“Family reasons, huh…” Yukinoshita said. “Every family has them.”
She had a deep look of melancholy on her face that I had never seen before. She looked just like Taishi, who had come to tell us of his troubles. By that, I mean she was on the verge of tears.
But as soon as I called out to her, the clouds covered the sun and a shadow came over her face. Because of that, I couldn’t read the expression on Yukinoshita’s downturned face clearly. But the mere sight of her feeble, drooped shoulders told me she had let out a short sigh.” (Vol 2 pg 111).
Mother & Expectations
In a perfect world, we’d like to think we had control over dictating the outcome of our life. In some ways we can, though there will always be forces outside of our control that we cannot include in out calculations and pose problems. However, in the case of the Yukinoshita family, the children have little say in the course of their life. To frame this properly, we must consider the status and expectations place upon the children of a powerful and influential family with successful parents, such that the children are almost forced into inheriting the family tradition and need to somehow meet or surpass their parents success. This is seen quite often as a theme in fiction as well as reality that can often lead young people to massive amounts of stress. We will begin to get a more clear picture of the mentality of Yukinoshita Yukino, as well as Haruno but beginning to examine their life through the lens of Japanese cultural traditions, family expectations and the mother’s role in this.
Jim Taylor Ph.D explains how “Ability expectations are those in which children are expected to achieve a certain result because of their natural ability, “We expect you to get straight A’s because you’re so smart” or “We expect you to win because you’re the best athlete out there.” The problem with ability expectations is that children have no control over their ability.” (7) Returning focus to Yukino, we can see her continued success inside the classroom as a byproduct of the expectations she has continued to live up to because of her family name, and has accepted it as normal. “In the end they always get jealous and avoid her” is how Yukinoshita Haruno puts it, and it is accurate to say that Yukino’s continued success has proved to set her aside from her peers in both a positive and negative sense. The Yukinoshita name continues to be held at a high regard, but at the same time she is distancing herself from her classmates due to widening the gap to which she would be approachable as a peer.
The reason for the continued academic achievement of the Yukinoshita children is largely due to the mother’s influence. Traditionally in a Japanese family dynamic;
“…the mother sets the expectations for the child. She creates a relationship with her child through amae, the desire to be passively loved. The child is dependent on the mother and is cared for unconditionally. It is the mother’s responsibility to raise her child with love and security.
The “Kyoiku Mama,” or Japanese educational mom, is dedicated to supporting the education of her children.4 The mother makes sure the child receives a quality education. If the child succeeds in school, the family is also considered to have succeeded. The child’s mother helps with homework, teaches discipline, provides a supportive home environment for studying, and is involved at school.” (8)
Because of the importance of the mother’s role in their children’s academic upbringing, Yukino’s mother has very likely been a major player in shaping the ideal of academic and extracurricular success, grooming them to one day inherit the family name. However, we later learn the bias of the mother towards Haruno since she is the eldest and already successful, thus pushing the importance of Yukino’s accomplishments to the background since she is no longer the heir to the family.
Now to look into the portrayal of mother Yukinoshita in the series to see just how she holds a strong grip on her children. In episode eight of the first season, Haruno says that their mother wants to meet her, which changes the weight of the scene. This is the first time we get insight to what type of person the mother is, and is evident with how Yukino reacts to the summon. She changes to a more serious attitude, puts up the “Ice Queen” front and leaves. Afterwards we learn that Hachiman didn’t see her again for the rest of the summer. From this first introduction, we don’t even have to see the mother to start formulating an idea of what kind of person she it. Due to prior foreshadowing, such as Yukino’s downcast expression when family issues were brought up, we can now start to assume that her mother is potentially the source of those feelings.
Now, looking further into Zoku we finally get the first appearance of the mother whom is dragging Yukino down. She tells her “I want you to stay true to yourself and live freely, but I’m worried you’ll go down the wrong path.” (Ep12 21:03) but, contrasted with Yukino’s perception of her mother’s expectations: “When mom decides something, she forces other people to follow.” We can see that there is a discrepancy in the viewpoints of these two parties. I interpret this as an illusion of choice, taking the side of Yukino. “The illusion of choice is a psychological mental model that states humans are happy if they believe that have control over their own actions and can exercise free will. If free will is deprived, or seemingly deprived, from an individual, he or she will become resentful or rebellious, even if the choice forced upon him is identical to the one he would have selected of his own accord.” (9) Yukinoshita’s mother is controlling the lives of her children even if she might deny that presently. This is not as direct as we might think however, it is equally the result of the children not wanting to disappoint the authoritative figures of their parents. Yukino explains how “We all have our own personal image that’s dictated by others-” which is indicative of her perception of the control her mother has over her, further evident through her mother telling her that“I want you to stay true to yourself and live freely, but I’m worried you’ll go down the wrong path” in episode twelve of season two. Obviously, their mother cares about them, but perhaps it is for the selfish reasoning of wanting to uphold the family’s appearance as successful rather than simply wishing for her children to have a bright future. The latter is only a byproduct of the former so she can view this as a win-win despite not considering the wishes of her children. Now, taking Yukino’s statement at face value, we can conclude that while the mother does most likely have the best interests of her in mind, she is only viewing it from her own perspective and not that of what Yukino wants. Hachiman goes on to explain how “We all wish to remain true to ourselves, but who decides who we are as people?” In the case of Yukino and Haruno, they are shackled by the expectations of their mother and find it difficult to express themselves freely.
Haruno & Self-Actualization
“Siblings are the strangers that live closest to you.”
Yukinoshita Haruno is an enigmatic figure, playing both the figure of an instigator and an older sister leading to mixed results between the relationships of the cast. We first are introduced to Haruno during episode six of season one, when Hachiman and Yukino spend a day together at the mall under the pretenses of finding a gift for Yui. This event facilitated an environment in which the two would experience a close- than-usual interaction, influencing their willingness to confine in each other. However, the important variable at play here was the unexpected appearance of Haruno, which is the first time we learn of her in the series. This first impression of her character allows not only for us to start to formulate a conflicted distaste for involvement, but also to serve as an agent to cause Yukino to react in ways unfamiliar to what she has shown before, vulnerability. I will refrain from discussing the intricacies of Haruno’s psyche, rather, I will focus on the role she plays in the series.
Yukino’s relationship with Haruno is complex, but can be interpreted as Yukino being jealous of her older sister, and resents that she feels that way. Much of the dynamic within the Yukinoshita family stems from the importance of their perception to others, and the continued success at upholding the family name. Naturally being the oldest, Haruno grew up with the expectation of being the figurehead representing the Yukinoshita family, thus making Yukino constantly living in her shadow of success and wants to prove herself. She confesses, “as for anything regarding my family’s reputation is Haruno’s Job. As for me… I’m a replacement.” Feeling that she isn’t regarded as “important” as Haruno, she desperately tries to fight for the affection of her parents through the only means to get their attention, which is academic success.
Sibling rivalry is quite common, personally I can speak first hand of this. I have a younger brother whom is like my best friend. Despite this, I get the impression that we inadvertently try to one-up one another in sports and school. A healthy rivalry sparks competition between two parties creating the motivation to constantly improve upon oneself with the justification of outshining the other person. Ideally, this is all done with good intentions. In sports for example, my running club would train together through the week, each person urging each other onward, and during races we would all race and push each other to reach success which could not have achieved alone. Siblings act in a similar manner with a healthy relationship, like with me and my brother. However, this can also easily lead towards jealousy when one sibling perceives that another is receiving more attention or affection than them. “Sibling rivalry is more common in same-sex siblings since they share common desires and attributes and there is more room for competition. Sibling rivalry is more common in girls than in boys.” (6) explains Alexander K.D. Leung in his paper entitled “Sibling Rivalry.” In the case of the Yukinoshita siblings, we can see this rivalry evident, even if Haruno doesn’t engage in it directly. In fact, it is my understanding that Haruno’s ultimate goal is to lead Yukino out of her shadow and for her to find her own success.
“Yukino hasn’t changed a bit, always matching, always hand-me-downs” Haruno explains this when recognizing that Yukino is following her footsteps of going to the same university she attended. Yukino yearns for those feelings of familiar love, but they are not reciprocated to her, directly implied with her observation in episode thirteen of season two; “You two must be close. I’m envious of that.” Yukino, on some level, wishes for her mother to recognize her as an individual capable of success. However she has only been able to prove that by following the footsteps of her older sister, and as a result, not being true to herself. The paradox lies in the fact that Yukino cannot freely express herself without restricting her own life choices to those of her mother if she wishes to gain affection. Haruno understands this and wishes for Yukino to look at her perspective critically, learn from that, and move on to be her own person.
Haruno explains that the best way to spark development and unity is a desire to fight a common enemy. Using her statement as a basis for understanding her objective, I have concluded that Haruno’s goal was to act as a “villain” in order to motivate Yukino to grow as a person and test the concept of if their relationships are “genuine.” In much the same was as Hachiman approached conflicts in the past, she plays the role least desirable in order to achieve success directly. Hachiman even notices this and then asks “Did you purposely make-” leaving us to speculate what this means, though even he seems to be aware of her intentions. A redditor by the name of /u/johnbon7 explains Haruno’s actions as “deliberately antagonistic”(10) which I feel is an incredibly accurate description of her role in the series.
That said, I have grown to understand Haruno as the “instigator.” She is trying to incite the event in which would make it seem like she was that “villain” in order for Yukino can turn to her friends. Haruno’s plan would then either result in Yukino confining in her friends and strengthening their bonds, proving their “genuine” relationships, or going on to highlight their strained relationship if Yukino fails. Regardless of the outcome, Haruno seems to be testing the friendships of the group at the expense of taking the emotional toll on herself in much the same way Hachiman was prone to act. Either she is the agent of the mother or she wants the best for her sister, still unclear judging from an anime perspective. So, these actions are done with the intention of Yukino not following her footsteps. She is trying to insinuate change in Yukino by acting like the villain, so her sister finds her own path. During the concert at the end of season one, Yukino finally acts independently and remarks “This is the way I have always been. We’ve known each other for seventeen years. Maybe you never realized it.” evidently highlighting her growth over the course of the season. Yukino finally accepting herself and her standing in the family. Hachiman then says the compliment was unexpected, which Yukino responds by saying that she never hated her sister, but there was time when she wanted to be her. Haruno used to be her measure of success, a figure to look up to and to compete with. But eventually she was forced to accept that it’s impossible to become another person and she needed to stand on her own.
In Brown and Bosson’s dissection of narcissistic personalities, they found “that narcissists experience “both high and low self-esteem in alternation” (italics added, this issue). In support of this contention, Morf and Rhodewalt cite several studies that demonstrate associations between narcissism and fluctuations in state self-esteem” (12) This points to the fluctuation in people with narcissistic tendencies and could possibly serve to explain the evolution of Yukino’s personality. Her narcissism was just a cover to hide her true feelings, a veil of snow if you will, and when she began to realize her faults that layer melted away like the winter snow upon reaching spring. Unsurprisingly, the main agent of change is none other than Haruno, who’s name is written with “陽” meaning “the sun” (13) but is read as “Haru” meaning spring. Following the trend we have seen thus far in the series regarding names, Haruno is the foil for Yukino, the ray of sunlight to melt the snow in the start of spring. She was able to inflict a change in direction for Yukino’s feelings and ultimately instigating the majority of the character relevant changes after her introduction, who she plays a major role in.
After examining the known forces influencing the psyche of Yukinoshita Yukino, we have begun to grasp a stronger understanding at the person she is. With this in mind, I’d like to return to a few moments during the series which could best be understood after understanding of Yukinoshita from the a psychoanalytic perspective.
To begin, we can generalize Yukino as being quite similar to Hachiman in action, but is more self-aware and critical. Meaning, while she does share some logical reasoning stemming from a point of her viewpoint towards society, it is not to the narcissistic levels which Hachiman demonstrates. Psychologically speaking, narcissism originates from the basal human desire to seek approval and be regarded well by others. (11) Hachiman is a self-titled “loner” despite the visible contradiction of him having success in forming relationships with his classmates, yet he chooses to disregard those experiences in order to preserve his own ideal image of himself. It was quite interesting to discover a phenomena in which a narcissistic person will be likely to misread complex social situations due to psychological impairment. It is described as follows:
“…narcissistic myopia, a state similar to alcohol myopia. Alcohol myopia (Steele & Josephs, 1990) refers to a state in which only the most salient cues are processed due to decreased cognitive capacity. Because of decreased cognitive processing, contextual cues are neglected and complex deliberations are severely impaired. Given that complex processing demands are present in most social situations, it is not surprising that alcohol myopia has been shown to impair appropriate interpersonal judgment” (12)
With this in mind, Hachiman’s psyche begins to unravel and we begin to understand his unwillingness to let himself accept the true social discourse playing out in front of him. This is perhaps a reason why he is unable to unable to realize the evolution of Yukino, rather choosing not to accept it because he was too confident in his own assessment of her to begin with.
Later on in Zoku, Yukino confesses “All I ever did was act like I could do anything- like I understood everything” both serving as a means to explain her own shortcomings, but also wanting Hachiman to realize the faults he has despite the current success of his plans. Hiratsuka-sensei explains how Hachiman is good at calculating human emotions, but that is also his downfall. Case in point, with the Yukino and Yui situation, she told him this: “The last remaining answer- the one you can’t calculate- that’s human emotion” meaning that Yukino is not upset over what he is doing, rather what this makes them feel as a result. However, Hachiman finally begins to come to critically examine himself and the club throughout Zoku, and because of this we reach the conclusion to the Student Council Presidency arc.
The Student Council election, and festival serves as a means of concluding Yukino’s period of growth and testing her ability to understand herself. In the school festival arc, Yukino initially refuses to be chairwoman, but later accepts the position to help Sagami. Either this was because she regretted not taking the position originally, or because she was not confident in her ability to handle the responsibility of being an authoritative figure. Despite this, Yukino was seemingly serving as the person in charge of the committee rather than assuming role of assistant. I interpret this as her wanted to handle this herself as a way to prove that she can handle this responsibility alone. From what we’ve learned from her perception of success, living in the shadow of her sister’s reputation is creating conflict in her. On the one hand Yukino wants to prove her worth in succeeding in anything her sister Haruno could, but is then also conflicted that she is being manipulated by the authoritative rule of her mother unwillingly. Later in the episode Haruno shows up and this causes tension with Yukino because of the newly introduced pressure of being judged by the person she wants to prove herself to. Perhaps this pushes Yukino to refuses assistance after Sagami decides to screw everything up, in away to overburden herself and artificially give herself more responsibility. This unmoving stance of not wanting the help of others is a detriment to her only aiding her levels of stress, which ultimately cumulate in her having feigning a sickness to take a day off. Contrary to what Hachiman thinks, the fact that someone has always found a way to avoid relying on people, does not mean they should not get help when they need to. Yukino realizes the harm she is doing to herself and the superficial reasoning of proving herself to those around her.
Through my own experiences, I can empathise with the thought process in which Yukino feels the desire to unnecessarily burden herself with responsibilities. While not having gone to such lengths are her, I tend to get protective over my own projects and will often disregard the offers of assistance. I feel like this is more of my own distrust of other people in not being able to meet my own unreasonably high standards. Oftentimes I will have lofty goals to reach with ambitious projects and quality standards I expect only myself to follow and it will more often than not result in me getting agitated at the project or myself as it spirals out of control. Similarly to Yukino, I desire that control over the situation and fully assuming responsibility on the actions I take, but it’s not a viable option when the issue grows in scale. Sometimes the project is too difficult to tackle alone and trying to do so will on result in exhaustion and failure. Yukinoshita reached her limit on what she could assume responsibility of and ultimately had to abandon the duty she had taken on because of those reason. It was because of this that she started to understand that despite accepting the help of others, it was in no way accepting defeat. Relying on others only demonstrates the strength of your trust in them that they will assist you wholeheartedly, unless that’s a school group project. But in the case of Yui, Yukino had to realize that when she was overwhelmed she needed to come to understand that her friends were there to help her, but not used to that she was unable to consider that an option at the time. Eventually this understanding leads Hachiman to show concern for her, in his own way, by making Iroha student council president. Despite being displeased with the manner of which Hachiman burdens himself with the problems of others she was able to learn that one day there will be someone who will understand her, so long as she opened up her heart.
However, this change within Yukino also caused Haruno to respond with a rather cryptic warning, stating that it wasn’t trust growing in her but something more sinister. Haruno’s warning might have implied that she had realized the growing dependence and possibly even codependency that Yukino felt towards Hachiman. As explained by Wikipedia, “Codependency is a behavioral condition in a relationship where one person enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.” Assuming that Haruno was being genuine with her warning, this would mean that she believes Yukino is enabling Hachiman in a way that would prevent him from realizing his problems and in turn, prevent his growth which would ultimately serve to help her. By not trusting Hachiman to help her and instead say nothing and make him worry, she is forcing his hand and the only way he can solve a problem is through his own extreme measures. Similarly, Yukino’s inability to genuinely trust Hachiman or Yui highlights the growing tension in the club, and with the mutual understanding of one another the trust is completely one-sided. Nobody can understand someone fully if they don’t display their emotions openly or express them to others. This is the precursor to what sparks Hachiman’s breakdown, in wanting something genuine.
The height of the tension within the Service Club cumulates in one of the most iconic monologues of the series in Zoku. This is the first time we genuinely see Hachiman show emotionally vulnerability, allowing himself to also act as a representation of the feelings he has been holding back up until this point. Concerning the previously mentioned tension in the club, it was a result of the continued inability of the club members to allow themselves genuinely trust each other despite growing closer over the course of the series. Despite the common understanding within psychology that ninety-three percent of communication being non-verbal and only seven percent being verbal, the small percentage of that whole should not be disregarded, and was the flaw of the club members. They expected each other to read their emotions, Hachiman himself even prided himself in being able to read people but the continued stress of over analyzing simple emotions and miscalculations resulting in negative consequences led to his outburst. “There’s stuff others won’t get unless you say it loud. But sometimes, you can’t get through to people even if you spell it out.” (Ep 8 15:58) Even after asking someone how they feel, it’s difficult to take what they say at face value after previous doubting and critical examination due to that person not being fully open to discuss what was wrong. This is why Hachiman explains that “It’s not empty words I’m after. There was something I desired all along.” (Ep 8 17:12)
Hachiman is tired of all the nonsense that has come as a result of the stress that came with his constant concern with the intricate emotions of those around him. He is tired of being in the dark and miscalculating what people say either because he overthinks what they say, or because they aren’t able to say what they really want. When there comes a point in which he even beings to doubt his friends, he realizes that something needs to change. Hachiman simply wants to understand people in a way where there won’t be any unknown variables, those being his source of stress and eliminating them will be the only way to give him true peace of mind. He doesn’t want friendship or mutual understanding. This roundabout way in which the Service Club members have accepted as normalcy is only straining their relationships, not saying what is on your mind only serves as a way to deter help instead of reaching out. Yukino doesn’t say what she really feels, and seeing Yui confused makes him finally understand that this is not how it should be. He wants something where they can have relationships where they’re free, unburdened by the enigmatic display of emotions they present each other. He understands this is unreasonable, out of reach, yet he still wants “something genuine.” A world in which people would say what they mean and open their heart to the world so that there won’t be any more confusion.
Something genuine, “To preserve that place and time we spend there.” Hachiman is more empathetic than he has presented himself as and this is shown with his genuine concern for the future of preserving that the club means to him. All this parading around behind masks is what he despises about the “normies” in school yet he has let his own circle of friends down the same path and wishes to fix it. Since the buildup of tension in the club, they haven’t been able to sit down and drink tea together, which symbolized the time they would be able to recognize their bonds with one another. As Hachiman begins his monologue, his gaze lingers on the unused tea set and confesses “…There was something I desired all along.” (Ep 8 17:12) What he really wants is to return to the time when the three of them were able to drink tea after school, not seeing Yui so troubled when she unable to read the feelings of her best friend and Hachiman standing there feeling helpless.
After spilling his heart out, Yukino is still unable to fully comprehend the desire for something genuine. Perhaps she was unable to realize the true nature of Hachiman’s “request” believing that they were all friends. But it wasn’t until episode ten of Zoku in which she truly begins to understand what Hachiman desired all along. This is why after Hachiman thanks Yui and Yukino for fulfilling his request, they retort but saying it was not complete yet. They have accepted his request in a way he is not willing to understand, because between the two of them they have finally began to formulate what “genuine” means to them. Yui and Yukino desire something more than just friendship with Hachiman, and thus are unable to accept that their part in the request complete. After witnessing Hachiman’s desire to show vulnerability in spite of their perception of him breaking down, Yukino begins to accept her own desires, selfish or not. No more superficiality forming false friendships with each other, Yukino begins to want that genuine relationship too in her own way. In the end, Yukino finally realized her own final request as a result of this, she can’t lose to Yui. Prior to this she has only held back her feelings because she was not willing to sacrifice the bonds between her friends in order to be true to herself. However, the irony is that the bonds between her friends at the time were not genuine. Because of her hesitation and misreading of their relationships, her inability to express herself freely, ultimately was one of the pieces that led to the exposure of their false bonds. If the club’s friendships were genuine, Yui and Yukino would not have problem in confessing their love, but because of their lack of confidence in these bonds they did not want to strain them any further in order to be selfish.
“But you can’t call something genuine just because it makes you suffer”(Ep 8 10:28)- Hiratsuka-sensei
More Regarding Haruno’s Teasing
Now that I have unpacked the major points of discussing regarding Yukinoshita Yukino, I want to take some time to explore some decisive moments in the anime series. This is largely based off personal theories and might be proven to be false due to the possibility of the light novel exploring the nuances of said events in great detail later on the series. That said, this is mostly for fun, discussing some potential possible ways to interpret certain events.
As I have mentioned previously, Haruno was an enigmatic figure in the series that primarily served as a instigator with a concern for her sister. It is still mostly unclear whether or not she was genuinely wanting to help Yukino, or if she was there to sabotage the relationships of the group. This is largely shrouded in mystery due to the fact that we never really have gotten an explanation of her motivations and that a majority of the back story of the Yukinoshita siblings is still not available to use as a reference for psychoanalyzing them.
In Zoku, I observed that Haruno would often tease Yukino regarding the topics of love or a boyfriend. After seeing this as a running theme, I found it hard to concretely say if Haruno did in fact have good intentions. Being her older sister, I would assume Haruno would have a grasp of what kind of person Yukino was and knew how to avoid sensitive or embarrassing subjects. The result of this teasing had potentially adverse effects as Yukino was perhaps even more hesitant to proceed further with a relationship due to fears of harassment. This is seen when Yukinoshita reveals that “Back when we were kids, [my sister] would always mess with me at places like this.” when she and Hachiman are alone together at the amusement park, which is often seen as a cliché in romantic comedy type anime. Whether this was a means to stimulate the budding romance in the group, force Yukino out of her shell, or simply to harass her is quite unclear.
Personally, I find it difficult to express my emotions sometimes, and when someone would inquire about me having a crush I would instinctively deny everything. I think it’s quite common for people to avoid discussing such topics out of embarrassment because we either don’t want to be teased about it later on, or that the truth of our feelings would be made public. Though technically speaking, neither should be a problem. If we have confidence in the genuine relationship with the friends asking us there should not be a worry that they would maliciously harass us, or make it common knowledge about this disclosed information. Even if the person we are crushing on learns of out feelings, it really shouldn’t be an issue since it’s the truth. Because of this and knowledge of her goal to test the genuine bonds of the three, Haruno aligns more with “chaotic good” in that her involvement in the series is largely destructive towards character relations, but also acts as a way to be an overall instigator of change, regardless if those intentions are selfish or not.
Hiratsuka-sensei explains to Hachiman that he is good at calculating human emotions, but in turn it proves to be his greatest flaw. With the Yukino and Yui situation, she told him this: “The last remaining answer- the one you can’t calculate- that’s human emotion.” This implies that Hachiman failed to take into account the emotions of those involved as a byproduct of his actions. He was unable to see past his personal objective to fix the problem that the feelings of those involved were overlooked. You can’t calculate human emotions, our thoughts or the feeling of love. These are unexpected variables that one can never be certain as to how others will react without a greater understanding of them as people. This is why when Hachiman felt he had a firm grasp of the situations around him, it was only through his perspective with little regard for the emotional consequences, which was the fault he was constantly accused of. Yukino even vocalized this sentiment when she told him “I hate the way you do things.” in episode two of Zoku. Even Yui was uncharacteristically upset when she accusingly told Hachiman “spare a thought for how someone feels.” after the Ebina confession scene in the same episode. “…if you stick to your ways, you won’t be able to help someone when you most want to.” (Ep3 13:04)
With this in mind, we head into episode nine of Zoku at the amusement park. As Yukino and Hachiman approach the next ride, clearly for couples, she hesitates and heavily implies that she is nervous. Hachiman misreads her body language and assumes she was referring to the ride itself, not the social implications of going into a love tunnel amusement park ride because he has yet to accept that both Yui and Yukino have feelings for him. He is unable to understand these complex emotions and seems to want to disregard them, because of his predisposition that romantic comedies don’t exist in the real world along with his warped perception of love. It is then at the peak of the ride, finally realizing that she can handle her own feelings and vulnerability being exposed, Yukino confesses “Hey Hikigaya, help me someday.”
This is Yukino’s emotional climax and essentially the final step she had to take to finally move in a direction of change. She was able to accept that Hachiman will change his perception of her, and would understand the vulnerability of displaying her emotions to him. One day there will be someone who understands Yukinoshita, someone who can break through her shell. She wants Hachiman to be that person, the one to save her.
Later on the bench, it seems as if she is looking at a picture. For amusement parks, it is not uncommon for pictures to be taken on rides and be available for purchase when you get off, so it extremely like that is what Yukino has. Our suspicions are confirmed when she hides it quickly upon Hachiman’s return with drinks, and this is when she opens up to him. She begins by telling him “I was always the obedient unproblematic girl, but I also knew they called me stuck-up, unlikable and the like behind my back” confirming the idea that she would conform to the wishes of her family in order to remain unproblematic. Perhaps afraid of the consequences, then eventually accepting that behavior as normal until recently. What changes all this was her desire for something that neither Hachiman or her sister had. She wanted something that could only be attainable without trying to pretend to be someone else, something only attainable by Yukinoshita Yukino, she wanted to please herself. Going on the ride was her first step in moving towards her progress at displaying affection towards Hachiman in her own way, despite Hachiman being unable to realize this. Yukino realizes that she needs to stop comparing herself to others for her identity and needs to learn and become the person her heart truly desires.
In episodes ten, she carries this sentiment when dealing with the planning committee: “Making vague statements for actual communication and understanding, while never lifting a finger… It will never create anything, never improve anything, and never help anything. It’s nothing but a sham.” Yukino continues her habit of unveiling her person philosophy through her statements towards others. The previous episode allowed her to develop and with this understanding she applied it to the stalemate at the meeting. This is most likely unintentional, but it goes to reinforce that her way of thinking has been changed as she reveals it herself regardless.
The last variable is Hachiman, and if he is willing in accept the change that his peers have. Youth is about developing physically, academically and emotionally yet Hachiman clings to his ideals because he wants to disassociate with the idealization of youth, or “seishun”. He has always been an outsider and likes to still think of himself that way even if it’s false. He needs to undergo the same evolution as Yukino if he truly wishes for something genuine. In the last episode of Zoku, we see the seeds of change planting themselves in his mind. He thinks to himself “Yukinoshita Yukino is a strong girl. And so, I burdened her with the ideal image I had of her.” before the final title card falls with the message “Spring Always Comes to Life/Buried Underneath a Pile of Snow.” Hachiman was only finally able to internalize his shortcoming when it was already too late, and most likely will change his ideology. He himself wished to understand people, but in the end he failed to meet his friends half-way and remained stagnant. As a result he ended up hurting both Yukino and Yui with only himself to blame, and he understands this at long last. As for the title card, I like to think of this as illustrating the parallel trajectory of Yukino and Hachiman. For the longest time, Yukino hid her feelings under a veil of snow, the snow under the snow. Hachiman is similarly doing this, by refusing to accept change. However, though understanding of one’s faults and changing yourself for the better, the layers of snow can melt away and finally reveal the beautiful flowers of spring below. All that needs to happen is for you to allow your heart to thaw.
Why Yukino Means a lot to Me
Thought the psychological analysis and use of personal anecdotes, I have felt that I personally have found some closure in understanding this character. Her development as a character through the two seasons was had a profound impact. Yukinoshita Yukino is such an important character for me, and even more so through the writing of this paper. Her evolution from the “Ice Queen” to a vulnerable girl really highlights how much people can change over time, and it resonated so much with me. I’m sure there are plenty of Oregairu fans out there that were initially drawn to the show because we projected our thoughts onto Hachiman. But for me I guess these were only the thoughts that I wanted for be my own. In a way, the persona of Hachiman lived inside me and only came about because of consistently being excluded from social situations and I was alienated by my peers. So the cynical thoughts served as a crutch for me to accept my situation as it was and continue onwards lying to myself. But thought witnessing the evolution of Yukino through the series, I started to connect with her more than I thought I would. It was in seeing her develop to accept herself despite the implications of others judgement was I able to learn the faults in myself. I needed to be true to myself, I needed to desire something that only I could and stop aligning with the malicious thoughts I had come to form because I was secretly depressed but failed to recognize that, instead hiding under a veil of snow to protect myself. I still find it difficult to genuinely come to accept the lessons I’ve learned and put them into practice, but at the very least I was able to recognize my own faults. Much like Hachiman, I am in a place where I recognize that I have been wrong, but am at the crossroads of continuing down the path of destruction or rehabilitation. Though, as cheesy as it sounds, I remind myself how Yukino was able to move past her narcissism and change in spite of the external factors holding her back. Even if I don’t change into an optimist, I have come to understand that change can happen, even to the “Ice Queen.”
But regarding Yukino in a more lighthearted lens, she is my self-proclaimed waifu. It’s probably obvious simply due to the serious dedication of writing a lengthy dissection of her character and this series. To reiterate what I had touched on in the Introduction of this paper, I was originally a kuudere guy. I was particularly infatuated with Yuki Nagato from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and she was the first character that could be considered my waifu, but it was mostly due to the fact that I found her aesthetically appealing. At the time I wasn’t seriously into the idea of waifuism nor was I deep enough into otaku media that I actually was able to understand the love between a fictional character. For that matter, I never really understood love. But then as I watched Oregairu I started to feel the feelings of attraction blossoming inside me, I desired to see this character more and she charmed me in a way I thought impossible. I was initially starstruck at the beautiful dark-haired maiden who spoke harshly to the main character and was instantly infatuated in a way I thought impossible. But it wasn’t until the completion of both seasons when I realized I was in over my head. The logical part of my brain argues that waifuism is dumb, but I can’t help the strong feelings of admiration and affection I feel towards Yukino. This is why I believe in the power of writers to create such human characters that blur the line between fiction and reality. Through all my hardships and lonely nights, I was able to keep my head in the right place because of the reminder that I cared for someone and love still existed in this world, even if the person was two-dimensional. No, love existed in spite of the cruelty of this world and transcended dimensions. Destructive, mostly likely, but I cannot deny the fact that learning to love Yukino has helped me in times of distress and has overall served as a force to keep me accepting that love isn’t all for naught instead of succumbing to the cynical worldview that has crossed my mind many times alone.
Retrospective & Regrets
I impressed myself that I have come this far! Seriously, this is easily the longest paper I have written and has been a considerable amount of work to produce this, which is why I am afraid of sharing it. I have my doubts that this will even be relevant and I never planned it to be. This is, in the end, a surface level biased analysis of a character whom I claim to be my waifu. Honestly, there most likely isn’t anything in this paper that is worth anything as most of it is potentially just reiterating known information. But despite my lack of confidence, I was able to reach a point where I was moderately satisfied with this paper. In the end, I feel that some of my personal analysis fall short. A lot of what I write relies heavily on my own personal references as a basis for understanding some of the nuance in the character action of Yukino so it’s hard to imagine a stranger being able to fully understand that. Similarly, I’m no expert in human emotions and will admit that I have difficulty understanding people. I’m terrible at reading emotions and it took me a while even with this anime series to distill the important information and structure it just so that I would get a proper understanding of the characters. Characters like Haruno were extremely troubling for me, as I felt like I was taking shots in the dark as to what she possibly was planning on doing. In reality, I have one real friend and find it difficult to form bonds with people because of my lack of understanding and failure to learn these crucial interpersonal skills as a result of my childhood.
This was a huge undertaking for me, not only because I wanted to fully explain this character but also because I really wanted to do justice to the character of Yukinoshita Yukino. Even now, nearing well over 12,000 words I still feel that this sufficiently capture the essence of who Yukino is. It is this dilemma that kept me from even starting this paper. The constant self-doubting, the lack of self-confidence and my overly self-critical nature that can never accept the quality of my own work. I didn’t want to do a disservice to a character I care so much for so I ended up blowing this project out of proportion in the beginning. To give some back story, I initially rewatched Oregariu in April 2018, during which I took notes with the intention of writing a comprehensive analysis of my favorite character. It was because of the previously stated reasons, of which setting my standards too high, that I ended up being discouraged to even starting this project after I noticed I had over ten pages of notes alone. So I put the notes in a folder deep into my hard drive and decided that I could just give up. However, the urge to write never died down and I found the motivation to write this paper. For both myself and the community. Even if this was all nonsensical rambling using a bare minimum grasp of psychology, I wanted to create this. I had come to far to turn around and here I am, nearly complete and the weight finally off my chest. I guess it is paradoxical to ever want to cover a topic with one-hundred percent accuracy, because my own critical nature will never let what I have as “enough.” I still hold a shred of self-doubt within my that knows that I probably missed something in the light novels that I haven’t finished, or some nuanced moment of characterization in the anime that could dispel anything I presented in this paper and I guess I will have to live with that.
Lastly, I want to point anyone towards the excellent blog YahariBento: https://yaharibento.wordpress.com/ They write my personal favorite analysis of Oregairu, reaching levels of understanding I can only aspire to reach. I references one of their posts in my own paper, but have also used their blogs as reference to help grow my personal understanding of the series, serving as my favorite supplement to the anime and light novel.
Anyways, thank you so much for making it this far, I really hope this analysis has come to help you understand Oregairu or Yukinoshita Yukino further, or simply served as an interesting read taking into account one man’s take on the series. If I missed anything or simply wish to contribute to a peaceful discussion, please feel free to share your thoughts and potentially correct anything I might have missed in this paper. Once again, thank you for reading, have a nice day.
- 雪. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2019, from https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/雪#Kanji
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