…I’d have to go with Hachiman x Hayama.
It’s kinda rare for this sort of light novel series to feature male supporting characters of any real consequence. Usually, they’re either the MC’s generic friend, a joke character or some moustache-twirling villain.
It’s rarer still for a mainstream light novel series to depict a nuanced relationship between the male MC and another male character. I mean, it’s rare for the relationships with the female characters to be all that nuanced either, but at least the girls get attention. In light novels, it’s like there are no guys but the MC. I know I’m painting LNs with a broad brush here and that there are plenty of exceptions (Eugeo x Kirito, anyone?), but let’s face it. No one reads LNs for the BL.
I personally think that this is unfair. I demand equal representation when it comes to shipping!
That’s why I thank God for Oregairu. Since most of the characters, including the male ones, are extremely well-written, it is possible to ship BL without sticking two cardboard cutouts together.
I used to ship Hachiman x Totsuka, but their relationship ended up becoming stale, so I had pretty much abandoned ship entirely by the time season 2 started. Hachiman x Hayama is superior in every way because the two characters change as people and challenge each other in meaningful ways. Their rivalry reminds me of something from a shonen manga, and we all know that people read shonen manga for the BL.
…I say all this, but I don’t actually ship the Oregairu characters that much in general.
These kids are so awkward that they can barely handle regular friendships, let alone romance, so I honestly can’t imagine what would happen if they started dating. I’m not just talking about Hachiman here, by the way. I love how Watari Wataru doesn’t conflate “genuine human connection” with romance, even when it’s evident that the relationships between some characters are not platonic either. It’s genuinely interesting how this series goes to great lengths to show why people choose not to be in a relationship despite wanting connection.
This is why I like the interactions between Hachiman and Hayama. Hachiman is the loner while Hayama is the popular guy, but they’re not so different at heart. They both reject intimacy while simultaneously wishing for something “genuine”, even if they act on their desires in completely different ways. Hachiman plays the villain while Hayama plays the nice guy, but they’re both desperately doing this to preserve the status quo. And they both resent each other, or at least can’t bring themselves to like each other even when they admit their respect. It’s a really fascinating dynamic.
I think in any other show I would have shipped the hell out of them, but it doesn’t feel quite right here either. But, well, what do you expect from a show called My Teen Romantic Comedy is Wrong as Expected?
Thats my otp. It always felt as if they poured their hearts out to each other aaying stuff they would never say to their friends around them. It seemed like they fully understood each other and their motivations. I always looked forward to their alone time as it always felt like that was when both took a step forwadd in development.
I don’t think they really “poured their hearts out to each other” but they did seem to reveal some things about themselves unintentionally. For example, Hayama shows his insecure side more around Hachiman because Hachiman is the one person whom he can’t bring himself to be nice to. But that doesn’t mean he trusts Hachiman, as evidenced when he tells Hachiman not to pry into his business. I don’t think they necessarily understand each other, but there is, at least, mutual acknowledgement.
I can definitely agree that their scenes together are great, though.
I thought people liked the Zaimokuza and Hikki pair.
One of the aspects that lifts this LN series over others is the compare/contrast of these two characters. As you point out, they are only superficially ‘opposites’ and WW plays around with this throughout the series in legitimately interesting (for a YA novel) ways.
Hell, I bet one could make a pretty interesting (if shorter) LN just by retelling the entire series from Hayama’s perspective.
Shipping shouldn’t necessarily need to be romantic, right? If “Watari Wataru doesn’t conflate ‘genuine human connection’ with romance” maybe the shippers out there shouldn’t limit themselves either.
I agree with this. It’s hard to find the language to talk about relationships that are not explicitly romantic, though. I think that to some extent “shipping” is becoming a somewhat ambiguous term, since some people do use it to express interest in relationships they don’t necessarily support romantically. There are some (albeit less popular) words in use like “friendshipping” and “brotp”. However, in the case of Hachiman x Hayama, neither word seems to appropriate as they are neither friends nor bros. And what sort of words would you use to describe a relationship that is not romantic but not platonic either?
By the way, googling “platonic shipping” came up with some interesting results.
I like the thought of asexual Hayama. (But not aromantic, so that doesn’t preclude the ship, either.)
Never not a good time to link this essay. Of course, part of what makes Oregairu resonate for certain people is that it’s about teenagers who have reached the same conclusions about social performativity. Oregairu is also about how we should reach for connections anyways, (Everything is AT Fields!) go for “the real thing” in some cases, but in others, like with Hayama and Yui, how social performativity is not always undesirable nor even false/insincere.
While Hachiman/Hayama have certain mental similarities, (their awareness of social dynamics) Hayama does have some social advantages that Hachiman doesn’t (
DA ZOOOONEgood looks, a more instinctive grasp of social graces that makes him “likable” rather than awkward, a history/inertia of popularity) which changes what parts of the system he witnesses. They both experience isolation, but isolation from the top and isolation from the bottom are still different contexts and perspectives. So they bond over shared feelings, but their conflicts stem from the different approaches they favor.
(As in the found-footage film Chronicle, Hayama being more “well-off” socially allows him to be a bit ahead of the curve on embracing connections, even the ones that appear shallow, rather than getting caught in a rejection spiral. The stakes don’t appear as dire to him.)
It kind of reminds me of Tiffany and Roland, from Discworld.
Man, I could not relate to that essay. I always thought that the idea of a stratified hierarchy, “nerds versus jocks” thing was more of a Hollywood trope than a reality. But maybe it is like that in American schools? Or maybe it’s been so long that I can’t remember how high school felt anymore…
It probably is more extreme in the US than other western countries, more extreme in the past than in the present, and more extreme in our heads than in reality.
You can look at it in terms of performing masculinity/femininity. Male ‘jocks’ are simply performing masculinity in a way male ‘nerds’ aren’t, and hence have higher social status in the patriarchal system. At least, that’s one way to look at it.
I still don’t agree with the essay. People don’t really choose whether to be popular. People probably don’t choose much of anything if we’re to defer to scientific evidence.
These things tend to be specific to school size and school location. All schools have a hierarchy, but certain schools reinforce that hierarchy than most, and certain regions reinforce traditional nerd/jock hierarchies more than most. Some of the themes in the 21 Jump Street reboot movie address this.
After GamerGate, there were more than a few personal essays posted by former nerds, describing their experience as matching the stereotype.
As for my own personal experience, I was in a large enough school that niches operated fairly independently of each other. Football was given priority, of course, but I rarely interacted with them at all. People seemed to mind their own business.
Of course, some of this stemmed from my own obliviousness. I, as that essay points out, did not care about popularity or high school hierarchy, at least from an overall standpoint. I cared a little bit about the hierarchies within my own niches as far as how they could “hold me back.” (a la the power struggles in Sound Euphonium) With hindsight, there are some moments that I wonder if they were passive-aggressive moments of bullying from others that I simply bulldozed my way through without noticing, because I didn’t care about what they were trying to target. And again, due to the size of the student population, I was a part of enough separate social groups that my standing in any one group couldn’t control my overall emotional state. (Like how Yui having two different friend groups allows her to not care as much about Yumiko’s brushoffs.)
As for choosing popularity, this is a case of a nerd doing exactly just that, quite scientifically.
My comment about people not choosing much of anything was just in reference to the state of scientific evidence regarding free will and its likely nonexistence. I’m sure people can and have undertaken scientific attempts to become more popular.
Interesting read even if I don’t know anything about the series your talking about. And hey, if you want any Kirito X Eugeo here you go (Warning site & some works are potential NSFW):
You mean, “except for the Fujoshi that an entire genre of LNs is written for?” :p
On a more serious note, however, this post almost made me want to give Oregairu another chance, as it reminded me of the one thing I did like — the interactions between Hachiman and Hayama. Also wish more people understood the point you’ve made about the difference between “genuine human connection” and romance, and about how genuine relationships can’t be pigeonholed into those square boxes that so many viewers seem to want to see.
Yes, but why don’t the mainstream LNs have as much fujoshi bait as mainstream manga. It’s a disgrace, I tell you!
To be fair, not many writers are good at depicting relationships as well and are very much inclined to pigeonhole their characters into square boxes.
I don’t read enough mainstream LNs, so can’t help you there, I’m afraid!
Hm…I think it’s half and half, to be honest. I’ve been pondering the question of “why is most shipping about ‘romance'” for more than half the year (because of Eupho, surprise surprise), and I think that most people are, for better or worse, inclined towards valuing what they see as a ‘romantic’ connection, without really thinking about what makes that connection so compelling. When I’ve tried to break it down for myself, the physical attraction facet of it comes near the bottom; perhaps just one up from ‘oh, they look good together’…
[…] second season earlier this month, but it was good stuff. In particular, I’d like to say that Hayama is the best guy and that he really needs more love and […]
‘sup. You may be interested in Volume H, as part of the ANOTHER series then. It has a lot of Hachiman x Hayato moments, especially the interaction they have in a certain scene, unique to this (alternative?) series, where they share a bicycle, which has intense emotional and perhaps a bit of sexual tension.
your thought about Hayama is very interesting. However, for me, I doubt Hayama will resent 8man to do something opposite to Hayama’s ideal. Of course! He doesn’t want 8man to do batman and many things, but I suspect the reasons Hayama hates what 8man did, comes from other unexpected reason. It is something simple and normal more than anyone thinks, and can be found in almost every men’s heart.
What am I talking about?
I will not say so straight because I did that in my post, so I will paste Oregairu analysis that can give you the indirect answer about why Hayama doesn’t like what 8man did instead, and you might never know about that before.
If you want to proceed to my analysis, you can go via link in my username. (However, I recommend you to read part 1 first)
I really like them and I wish they got more exposure. If you’re interested I suggest checking out this pinterest board, it has a lot of HayaHachi stuff: