In episode eight of Oregairu Zoku, Hikki made a life-changing decision. For the first time, he entered the club room sitting not aside, but in front of the two girls he has grown to be so comfortable with—to finally open up and speak his mind. Hikki’s request for something genuine was played out so much it became somewhat of an inside joke in the anime community. But its lasting impression is also a testament to the impact many must have felt upon witnessing that scene for the first time.
Fast forward five years later, fans finally get to witness a resolution to questions that the “genuine scene” has raised. Be it Hikki’s unfulfilled request, Yui’s selfish wishes, Yukino’s family and internal struggles, or the three’s respective expectations on their relationship, Oregairu Kan answered in striking fashion. Aided with snippets of perspectives other than those of Hikki’s, this instalment was made much more straightforward than the previous two. By getting into their headspace, viewers can better understand and untangle the perplexing plot threads that were laid down in previous seasons, giving this grand trilogy a fulfilling conclusion.
But that’s not all Kan has to offer. Setting up multiple red herrings, the beginning two-thirds of Kan was a little conventional, until the last three episodes started rolling. The plot twists surprising and the payoff huge, how the ending played out was honestly unexpected given how things were from the start. It won’t be the closure that all fans had hoped for, at least not me; but it is the ending’s ability to impress even when it goes against your wishes that makes it so much more astonishing. These displays of spectacular writing were made possible by covering only three novels instead of the usual five to six, for Kan can now skip less material and include a lot more details in this adaptation.
Which brings me to the one thing that they didn’t include in the previous seasons: fillers. In first season and Zoku, Oregairu gave viewers no time to draw breath, every episode is filled to the brim with information you cannot afford to miss. It was so packed and lacking in time that it skipped entire chapters just to reach a satisfying endpoint. This time around, Kan slowed down the pace, putting less narrative-relevant but engaging dialogue in between important plot points to let viewers some time to rest, giving it the best pacing among all instalments. Some might not find it appealing, and would rather have more plot progression and/or characterization take place. But in any case, I believe those like me, who have followed along for two seasons and on for a third, would like seeing more relaxed moments from Oregairu’s endearing characters.
Speaking of characters, one might claim the game club members and Zaimokuza as nothing but glorified plot tools, there for the sole purpose of getting Hikki a few allies for his project. Nitpicking aside, these mistakes are not Kan’s fault whatsoever. As I have alluded to earlier, some crucial chapters were lost during the previous adaptations; the important ones here being those that feature the Volunteer Service Club’s visit to the game club in season one, and those where Zaimokuza was supposed to be featured in both seasons. What results is the degradation of Zaimokuza’s role in the anime-only story; while the game club became total strangers to both the trio and the viewers, even when they should’ve been familiar faces. To make up for that, Kan slightly altered a few scenes to make up for the missteps previous seasons have taken, and I think they did a great job of that. I think it goes without saying that it wouldn’t be fair to deduct points off of Kan because of other seasons’ problems.
What Kan has done with characterization is nothing short of amazing. Haruno’s intentions, something that was set up in Zoku and ultimately became a cornerstone in Kan, added a lot of humanity into both members of the Yukinoshita household. The trio’s respective wishes, told through Yui and Hikki’s lens, were spectacularly presented, with their actions having a sprinkle of previously established personalities while breaking the mould and showing the growth each of the three had experienced. It is not far-fetched to say Kan handled the main trio and Haruno’s development brilliantly. To see how far and how well our characters developed over the three seasons, was, without a doubt, something I enjoyed. We, as viewers, got to catch them grow up and experience things, you couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride in that.
For me, I loved the art style. Excluding the outlier which was the first season, the second and third season animations, character design and overall feel had drastically improved. As this episode had 3 seasons, you could see visually especially (when comparing the second and third seasons), that our lovely characters had matured and looked a lot more ‘adult-like’ as we reached the end of this trilogy. That is what I love most. I enjoy an anime most, especially one that has had multiple seasons, that it’s characters and the art style that accompanies them grow and evolve too.
Up till now, every aspect I praise about Kan always has that “gotcha moment” that made it just short of perfect. But the one thing it nailed to a T is sound: OP, ED, OST, voice acting, you name it. The OP and ED are once again sung by yanaginagi and the two voice actresses respectively, somehow topping what Oregairu had offered in the previous two seasons IMO. OST is recognizable the instant you play it; the voice actors did a great job bringing the characters to life. All I can say is, the OST and voice actors did their job, so that the storyboard and writing can do their job.
Without a doubt Oregairu the series is up there for me. I’ve really enjoyed this anime a ton, and I am sad to see it come to its conclusion. But like all things, everything eventually meets this end, and I believe this anime is befitting of the praise it had gained over the years. One of the best anime series out there in my opinion, definitely one of my favourites for sure. I think the one issue that I’ll always have, and I think this applies to all final seasons of anime. I personally would love to see a final season that goes extremely in-depth and is detailed the heck out. A final season where character development, art and story perfectly align to give the viewer the best possible final season imaginable. That is what I would like to see one day, Oregairu came close, but I think 12 episodes didn’t give this anime the proper send off, the proper ending I think Oregairu deserved.
But that’s just me.