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After Being Burnt by Friendship} ?> You wouldn’t guess it by the title, but My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, otherwise known as OreGairu, tackles the complex topic of genuine relationships versus shallow ones, and what it takes to connect people at a meaningful level.
Hachiman Hikigaya is the class pariah (and one who wears that title as a badge of honour). A teacher forces him to join the school’s “service club,” where the members assist fellow students with their personal problems. The club is also comprised of Yukino, a beautiful genius with a biting tongue and, apparently, a frozen heart, and Yui, a bubblehead whose kindness for others is only matched by her anxiety.
As the show moves forward and the service club takes on student requests, the three club members develop relationships with each other. But it’s frequently one step forward and two steps back as they become closer to one another before drawing away again. For Hikigaya, the pushing away is because he’s built a shield around himself, having developed the defense mechanism of criticizing the ideas of friendships and cliques while promoting a selfish, hedonistic existence. But as we see from his frequent asides, the real reason that Hikki doesn’t want friends is that he’s been burnt frequently in the past. His experience has been that taking chances to know others more intimately causes pain, and he’d rather do without.
I totally feel Hikki.
During my college years, I began to drive myself to get to know others and be there for them in their times of need. I enjoyed it a lot at first, but as years passed, I found myself likewise scorched from those relationships. I learned that many of my friends didn’t value their time with me as much as I had with them, and that our bonds were easily broken. I began to retreat from developing friendships as my brain had effectively made the conclusion that the heartache and sacrifice just weren’t worth it.
It took more maturity, more learning, and becoming a parent to teach me that while my observations about my friendships were correct, my conclusion was a bit skewed.
Hikki comes to realize a similar thing. The surface-level friendships among the three club members deteriorate, and it’s then that Hikki realizes what it is he truly wants. Despite the pain it causes, despite knowing that he, too, will cause them hurt, what Hikki really desires from Yukino and Yui, and tearfully explains to them, is this: he wants something genuine.
Hikki and I both realized that getting to something genuine, developing something real, isn’t some final destination for a relationship map—it’s merely the beginning of a friendship. And who knows where that friendship might go; it could lead to wondrous and amazing things, or it could lead to sorrow and bitterness. I’ve found the possibility of being hurt is worth it because when I become vulnerable in order to dig toward that deeper level of relationship, I not only cultivate that friendship, I also grow as a person.
If I build a wall around myself and keep everyone at arm’s length, I will keep myself safe. But I also give up the opportunity to give something of myself to others, and in return, to learn about myself and become a person I didn’t know I could be.
And so in digging down toward deeper bonds, I discovered a treasure when I wasn’t not even looking for one–that “something real” isn’t just found in a bond between two people; that I, too, could become something genuine. And that realization was a priceless treasure, that as I gave, I accidentally became someone more than I ever thought I could be.
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