This was a difficult volume to get my head around. I’m writing this summary not just so that fans can get an idea about what happens, but so that I can sort out my feelings on it.
A quick refresher: At the end of volume 12, Hiratsuka-sensei told Hachiman that Yukino is in trouble. He runs off to save her even though she says that she doesn’t want his help.
Volume 13 starts with Hachiman arriving at the staff room to talk with Hiratsuka-sensei. She gives him an update on the prom situation, telling him that although the proposal hasn’t been scrapped yet, the school wants “self-restraint” from the students organising the prom.
Even though the intent of this line is clearly to inspire the students to give up on the prom idea on their own accord, Hachiman willfully twists the meaning of the word “self-restraint” and decides that the issue can still be forced through. Realising Hachiman’s intent, Hiratsuka-sensei is happy. “I trust you,” she says.
Knowing that she’ll be leaving her post as his teacher soon, she gives him some final advice. “Just helping her out with this prom isn’t going to save her.”
Hachiman acknowledges that, but even so, he still knowingly pursues the wrong path.
Hachiman’s idea for getting the prom accepted is a very typical Hachiman scheme. He’ll come up with a plan for a second prom, one that looks terrible next to Yukino’s proposal, and pressure the school into making a choice between one of the two proposals.
Meanwhile, Yukino has been going about things in her own way. In order to make the prom less “scandalous,” she has revised the dress code, among other things. But Hachiman doesn’t think that this will be enough to appease Yukino’s mother.
“I want to help you,” he insists. “I want to take responsibility.”
But Yukino insists that she needs to do things by herself, otherwise she won’t be able to move forward. Hachiman has no choice but to accept that, so he proposes a different approach instead: turn it into a competition. They’ll go about things their separate ways, and whoever succeeds will be the winner and can ask anything of the other person. After all, it was never a requirement for the Service Club to work together in order to solve problems.
After a silence, Yukino responds, “That’s fine with me.”
When Hachiman expresses his surprise at her willingness to comply, she smirks. “Didn’t you know? I’ve always hated to lose.”
Iroha, who has been watching this whole exchange, isn’t impressed. Why does he have to be so roundabout? she wonders. She’s asked Hachiman before about why he wants to help Yukino so much, but he never gave her a straight answer. Don’t talk about taking responsibility like it’s some kind of excuse, she grumbles to herself.
Iroha is a complete bystander to the confrontation, and can’t be sure if what she witnessed was a confession, a lover’s quarrel or a breakup. After Hachiman leaves, she finds it too awkward to remain in the room. Yukino appears to be fine, but just as Iroha is about to go home, she thinks she sees Yukino crying to herself.
Iroha immediately confronts Hachiman after that. She tells Hachiman why she wants to do the prom – because she knows things are ending soon and she doesn’t want anyone to have regrets.
“That’s why you have to do it right,” she says, looking him in the eye.
The next morning, Hachiman comes across Yui and tells her about what’s happened. Yui insists on helping Hachiman, and he can’t refuse her. He appears to be unaware, however, of what Yui is really thinking and why she insists on watching over him. There’s nothing Yui wants more desperately than for the three of them to stay together, even as she knows that it’s an impossibility. Yui also has romantic feelings for Hachiman that she has kept suppressed for a long time.
I’m such a mean and horrible girl, she can’t help but think.
The rest of the volume is mainly preoccupied with Hachiman enlisting help from all the side characters in order to get his scheme to work. In what is 100% the best scene in the novel, Hachiman tricks the hapless goons from the Games Club (remember them from volume 3?) into helping design a fake website with fake opinions from students.
Another great scene is when Hachiman convinces Tamanawa that his deliberately terrible prom plan is completely viable by using nothing but buzzwords and over-the-top hand gestures, just as he learned from Tamanawa himself.
There are still some serious scenes even in the midst of the volume’s most light-hearted content. For example, Hachiman has a conversation with Ebina, where she tells him, “Everyone can see what’s going on with you three just by looking.” This is a prospect which disturbs Hachiman somewhat, because he didn’t think that their relationship was so simple that it could be grasped from the outside.
Yui has an awkward chat with Yukino, telling her that she’s helping Hachiman for her own reasons. She also tells Yukino, rather cryptically, “Your wish won’t get granted.” Yukino responds that she’s been trying to get Yui’s wish granted, not her own. When Yui asks if Yukino really knows what her wish is, Yukino says, “It’s probably the same as mine.” Yui accepts that answer.
Hachiman also has a revealing conversation with Hayama, who finally tells him what the deal was between him and Yukino in elementary school. She was once a loner who got scorned by the other children, and although Hayama felt sorry for her, he only reached out to her in a “half-hearted way.” Because of that, he feels that he made her problems worse, and that she’ll probably never forgive him for it.
Despite the confession, Hachiman still thinks of Hayama as a good guy (although Hayama really doesn’t like him back). Because of his respect for Hayama, Hachiman feels that he can be blunt when Hayama tells him that his methods are wrong. “I know all of that,” Hachiman insists. “I do it because I know that. It’s the only way I can prove that our relationship isn’t codependent. It’s not necessary for me to help her, but I want to do it.”
Hayama blinks in surprise. “Hikigaya… do you know what that feeling is?” he asks with a conflicted smile.
“Of course I do,” replies Hachiman. “It’s a man’s stubbornness.”
After his conversation with Hachiman, Hayama calls up Haruno and they meet in a cafe.
Hayama asks Haruno why she planted the idea of “codependency” in Hachiman’s head. “Because it’s the truth,” she responds matter-of-factly.
Hayama tells Haruno to leave Hachiman and Yukino alone. Little by little, they’ve been improving, he insists. But Haruno disagrees. “That’s just a sham. I want to see something genuine.”
Her words hit Hayama where it hurts; she has long ago dismissed him as a faker. Hayama stews in his regret and wonders if Hachiman will turn out differently.
Meanwhile, Hachiman organises to meet up with Haruno himself in order to ask her to leak the fake website for his plan. Haruno laughs in his face at his idea that through saving Yukino, he’ll prove that their relationship isn’t codependent. Yui, who has come along to offer Hachiman moral support, insists that putting distance would just make things worse. Haruno isn’t convinced, but she decides to do what Hachiman asks of her anyway.
Hachiman thinks that the matter is settled there, but unbeknownst to him, Yui goes back to confront Haruno again later. “I think you’re wrong about us being codependent,” she says. “Wanting to do something for another person… Feeling hurt and doing your best, wanting to support them, and always wanting to be with them… It’s not codependency.”
“Hey, do you think that’s something genuine?” Haruno asks quietly.
“I don’t know,” says Yui helplessly. For her, it just hurts all over.
The stage has been set for the final conflict.
In the end, Yukino’s mother accepts Yukino’s proposal in an anticlimactic twist. But everyone knew that was not where the conflict truly lay. No, the real issue was always about what came after. After arguing about who should take the credit for a little while, Yukino decides to accept the win.
So she tells Hachiman her request.
“Let’s put an end to this.”
This relationship is wrong. It’s not what Hachiman wanted for her. She’s fine now by herself, she insists. He saved her.
Hachiman has lost every reason to interact with her.
“I understand,” he says finally. “I’ll listen to what you have to say. If it’s within my power, I’ll do it.”
“Please grant Yuigahama-san’s wish.”
“Is that your wish?”
“Yes, it’s my wish,” says Yukino with a gentle smile.
After that, there’s nothing more to say. They end their final exchange, and Yukino closes the door softly behind him.
Hachiman does not look back.
Note: Photos come from this imgur folder.
Update: Added a paragraph about Yui’s conversation with Yukino and her wish.