Before I cover the latest episode of Oregairu (going by Crunchyroll’s stream), I’d like to note that this show has officially been licensed by Sentai Filmworks for a home video release. It’ll probably come up sometime during spring of 2014.
Anyways, this episode gives our main characters a bit of development, while introducing two new guys to us (one of whom we’ve seen a bit last episode, but here we can see a bit more of what he’s like).
The Tennis Trap
Saika Totsuka is one of the two new guys introduced, and you’d be forgiven for thinking he was a girl at first. This tennis player’s cute boyish looks, mannerisms, and ability to magically project sparkles around himself is not only setting off all of Admiral Ackbar’s alarms, he’s making even Hachiman start to have strange feelings towards him.
|Don't forget the ability to blush cutely at will.|
That said, this episode was less about Saika himself and more about what the club members are doing for him, in helping him train so he can inspire the tennis team to do better. Among other things, this leads to a tennis match against Yumiko, who for right now is as haughty as ever.
This tennis match definitely has some moments of character development, as Yui shows that she’s willing to stand up even to Yumiko to defend her club; she also declares Yukino to be her friend, something Yukino does not directly reject. As for Yukino, aside from taking some time to talk down Yumiko, she also has a great moment where she almost says that Yui is her friend… though in the end, she ends up taking it back. Still, the first cracks in her shell have started to appear…
As for Hachiman, we hear more of his amusing internal monologues as he figures out that his life is going kind of like a rom-com except for the fact that it’s a boy who’s dragged him into helping a club… granted, a rather cute, girlish-looking boy, but still. He also has a fun moment where he uses his experiences in isolation to turn the tide of the match in his favor. However, for a more serious moment… consider when Yukino, tired out from a long match, says that Hachiman will win the match for them—and she never tells a lie. Whether he’s just rising under pressure or he really feels compelled in his heart to make sure Yukino is not wrong…
Our “new” character, who appeared in the previous episode in Yumiko’s group as one that wanted to accompany her, appears here with a bit more character behind him. He seems to be a “nice guy” that tries to be the peacemaker between Yumiko and the Service Club, saying such classic nice-guy lines like “isn’t it more fun when everyone plays?”
|He also spouts such wonderful nice-guy lines like this.|
Of course, this being a rom-com gone wrong, Hachiman is having none of this, preferring solitude anyways, and shoots down his suggestion for everyone to get along immediately. He also gets in a jab at his popularity, saying someone as popular as he is should feel shameful for trying to take away the rights to the tennis court from someone with no popularity.
Hayato could be an interesting character going forward; he’s certainly not a bad person, but at the same time, he does stand against pretty much everything the Service Club members stand for. He seems to be all for socializing and being with people, and he definitely just goes along with Yumiko and her group (unlike Yui, who is willing to stand against them). Though that may be because he seems to have feelings for Yumiko…
In the end, even though he and Yumiko lose in the end to the Service Club, Hayato ultimately “wins” when he saves Yumiko at the end, causing what looks like the spark of romance between the two.
|Though considering what kind of a person Yumiko is, I'm not sure that's really that great of a prize to win...|
Yui feels sorry for Hachiman for being ignored, but he doesn’t really care; he’s satisfied enough with having helped out Saika. Besides, he's more concerned that this rom-com seems to have paired the guy with the guy and the girl with the girl, at least within the service club. But no matter, a clichéd catch-the-girls-while-dressing scene quickly reminds him that the usual clichéd rom-com events can still happen.
This show continues to develop its main cast as it also slowly expands its expanded cast to provide more of the picture behind this rom-com gone wrong. We know that Hachiman was involved in an accident on the day of the welcoming ceremony (something that was hinted at in a flashback last episode), and that will likely play a large part in all of this. There’s also the question of whether the Service Club can really become a group of friends, and how that can impact their interactions with the people around them in the school.
There’s plenty of room for comedic moments, too, from Yui’s reaction when she finds out that she’s not a proper member of the Service Club because she never submitted an application to join, to Yoshiteru being a commentator for the tennis match and offering epic attack names to the various tennis moves going on. The dialogue remains as sharp as ever, too. All in all, still a great show from this season.