OWLS March "Devotion" Post: Hachiman and the Problem of Self-Devotion
Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations
At this point, I do not know if I need to explain what OWLS is, but just in case, I will. For those who are totally unaware, OWLS is a group of bloggers and other content creators dedicated to promoting acceptance of all groups, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc. In dedication to that mission, members make one post/video each month dedicated to this idea.
For this month, our theme is “devotion:”
When we talked about fandoms, we show our appreciation and support by buying merchandise, cosplaying, writing fanfiction and etc. In fact, our appreciation can end up looking like a sign of religious worship. For this month, we will be talking about how certain characters express devotion to others, objects, and values. We will also be discussing how devotion can turn into an unhealthy form of passion and obsession and the implications of that.
As always, make sure you also check out posts from the members going before me and after me, which this month is Nyan and Matt Doyle, respectively. The full schedule for this month can be found at the end of this post. With all of that being said though, my post this month focuses on Oregairu. Please enjoy.
The return of Oregairu will likely mean continued growth for its main character Hikigaya. However, even despite this, it is worth remembering where his character started off, and how his progression throughout the series has affected him.
Hachiman Hikigaya started off in the series as fairly sure of himself. Distinct from the rest of his classmates, he felt that most were wasting their lives doing nothing, and that enjoying himself was completely worthless. This attitude attracts the attention of one of his teachers, and is then forced to join the Volunteer Service Club, one which is dedicated to helping others with their problems.
Hachiman, being someone who cares very little about others, takes issue with this immediately. He sees using his time to help others as completely nonsensical, but is forced to nonetheless. Arguably more problematic than his outlook, though, is the way in which he chooses to help others. Hachiman usually takes a more selfish root to solving problems, and even if they do end up working, they usually hurt both others and himself in the process.
A good example of this comes in the final moments of the first season, when the student council president is tasked with giving a speech to open the school festival, but gets stage fright and is unable to do so. In order to save the school festival, Hachiman takes it upon himself to guilt the president into doing her job. Everyone else sees this as going to far, but, at least initially, he accepts this as a necessary evil.
Hachiman’s biggest problem in this case is his lack of trust in people. Again, he see’s himself as distant from others, and relying on only himself in times of need.
In the show’s second season, Hachiman comes to have a radically different view of people. After spending a lot of time helping others with his club mates Yukino and Yui, he begins to realize that having relationships with other people is important. The bitterness of his past was simply him not giving people a chance.
Hachiman comes to start approaching people’s problem not with a thick-headed, emotionless boredom, but rather with active consideration for people’s feelings. He goes from a die hard individualist to a member of a group, in more ways than one.
His initial problem was that, because of the accident that kept him in a hospital for months, he became devoted to an idea of how he thought things should be, rather than adapting to the situation as it was. People do not make relationship with others by always considering themselves first. They form relationships by understanding others, and coming to rely on others in meaningful ways.
A relationship will only ever be as healthy as those involved allow it to be, and those who take Hachiman’s initial approach likely will not find much success in interacting with others.
How do you all feel about Oregairu and the idea of devotion? Let me know in the comments below.
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