Regarding Yukinoshita Yukino
Table Of Contents
Under the Snow
A Veil of Snow
-Mother & Expecations
-Haruno & Self-Actualization
Welcome to my personal retrospective and character analysis of Yukinoshita Yukino, from the anime and light novel series Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. This is an attempt at a comprehensive personal analysis of this character using my own understanding of psychology, literary analysis and personal emotions to construct a complete picture of her in my mind, and present that to the community. I am largely using my own psyche and experiences as a reference to construct a greater understanding of Yukino, so please keep that in mind when proceeding.
This paper is a means to express my observations while watching the anime and reading the novel from notes I have taken. Of course, this is not meant to be taken as definitive fact, rather one man’s interpretation and a platform for discussion. That said, I have not completed the light novels since the last two novels are incomplete in their translations as of writing this, meaning much of this analysis could be subject to change depending on the direction of the story, therefore this will only use the material covered in both anime seasons.
Quotes have been taken from the following sources for reference:
- Season One: FFF
- Season Two: Commie
- Light Novel: NanoDesu/Yen Press
It was the beginning of the end for those lazy, hazy summer days at the end of August. Small reminders of the upcoming time that I would have to wave goodbye to the peaceful time I was enjoying and return to school permeated into my daily life. It was an uneventful summer of 2015, I was about to turn sixteen and the second year of high school approached. Not much has changed since then though, as I was still deeply invested in anime and it was how I spent my days of leisure in that summer. Dread clouded my perception of high school life after some complications arose the year prior due to failed attempts to integrate into a new school and romantic let downs, so I was not looking forward to returning. With this mindset, I was nearing the end of the seemingly short summer break and decided to watch one last anime before academic responsibilities took over, that series was Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteriru.
Never before this had an anime resonated with me on such a personal level, and in a way my own twisted perception of society as a teenager found solace in hearing the words of Hikigaya Hachiman. It was the perfect time to be introduced to this series in a way, I was in the target demographic of immature, cynical outcasts who related to Hachiman. Despite recognizing the faults of internalizing the deliberately biased words of Hachiman, it provided me a feeling of comfort to know that this person, fictional or not, understood my perspective. It was for this reason that I fell in love with this anime.
From the opening monologue, I sensed that I would be in for a real treat but never could have imagined the emotional rollercoaster I was in for. Hachiman established himself as a character I could project to, understand him beyond what was presented on-screen, and empathise with in ways I never understood before. To me, Oregairu is, even now, an anime that remains close to my heart because of its ability to craft seemingly human characters with so much emotional depth. I have a stronger grasp of the psyche of some of these characters and understand their emotions better than my friends in reality.
Then I met Yukinoshita Yukino, the unwavering dark haired beauty that has since cemented herself as the first and only fictional character to truly steal my heart. Prior to this, I was infatuated with kuudere characters on a superficial level because I related to their personalities on the surface. However, after seeing Yukino develop as character I found myself anticipating seeing her again when she was not on screen. I was completely infatuated with her allure, and it was then that she became my waifu. Despite the ironic portrayal of otaku being infatuated with their love for fictional characters, I was unaware of that and simply felt an unrequited bond forming between me and this character on the screen. Her personality and growth as a character was incredibly inspiring and remarkably endearing so I couldn’t help myself from falling in love.
Even after rewatching the anime and getting into the light novels years later, I still feel a deep emotional connection to Yukino and what her character means to me. Because of that, I rewatched the anime once again with the intention of taking notes and with the goal to reason out a psychoanalysis of her character in order to understand her further than I had before. Hopefully this long-winded analysis proves to be as useful as it was for me, in exploring Yukinoshita Yukino.
Names carry a tremendous weight to them. In the West, parents having children will often look to their religion for inspiration for naming their children. Me and brother were named after Catholic Saints due to my parents finding the meaning behind said names to resonate with them enough to name us after that. Names can carry the importance unlike any other title given to you, for they were given to you by a parent and hold meaning to them beyond the superficial sound it makes rolling off the tongue. Literature and film will commonly heighten the underlying meaning by assigning certain names to character to derive more depth and personality to those characters. Japanese naming conventions similarly utilize the importance of the meaning behind names, but in my opinion to a more nuanced degree due to the complexity of their writing system. Japanese names will use Kanji, or borrowed Chinese characters, all with a multitude of readings with varying meaning, as well as Hiragana and sometimes Katakana. However, Kanji contains such an extensive list of characters to choose and the ability to combine different Kanji to create a unique meaning to the child’s name. Likewise, “Some kanji have nanori, which are readings which occur only in names.” (3) Much like anime characters, Japanese people will have a name with another layer of depth beyond the sound their name makes. For example, the name “Ichirou” is a common boy’s name meaning “first son” which relates back to a traditional naming scheme of naming children after the sequential order of which they were born. (3) For this reason, anime characters will utilize the unique Japanese naming conventions to expand of character personality through their names. Examples include “Makoto” meaning “sincere, honest” and Shinji meaning “true ruler”, and knowing this allows the viewer another element to think about when examining a character. The meaning of a character name is rarely contrived, so exploring deeper into the Kanji allows for another layer of characterization to be uncovered.
I want to begin with understanding the Yukinoshita Yukino, a reduplicative name(2) which holds hidden meaning. In Japanese, the name 【雪ノ下雪乃】(4) is comprised “雪” is the kanji character meaning snow (1), while the second character being katakana “ノ” which is a possessive particle as well as “乃” which has the same reading, and finally “下” meaning underneath or beneath. Simply examining the family given name of Yukinoshita reveals the literal meaning of “under the snow” followed by the first name Yukino, roughly meaning “the snow.” In totality we can interpret the name of Yukinoshita Yukino, rather the slightly modified “Yuki no shita no yuki” as snow beneath the snow.
“Snow beneath the snow” implies multiple layers, and when examining Yukino as a character I want to explore this concept much further as a keystone to her personality. Stories will commonly explore such ideas of hiding behind a mask or a protective layer to shield one’s heart from being revealed. Not everyone can wear their heart on their sleeve, and nobody does in the anime and light novel series “Yahari ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru”, Oregairu for short. Everyone has a facade and holds ulterior motives to their actions giving us in the fanbase plenty to examine. Here I will further explore the theme of layered personality of Yukinoshita Yukino and the snow motif as a basis for this character analysis.
Much of Yukino’s past is shrouded in mystery, rarely revealed to us in brief moments of vulnerability. It is in these moments when the layers around her heart lose their strength and show the true nature of what Yukino carries with her. One such moment I will bring up later, but surfaces as a result of discussing family, which she relates to the Yukinoshita family situation:
“But as soon as I called out to her, the clouds covered the sun and a shadow came over
her face. Because of that, I couldn’t read the expression on Yukinoshita’s downturned
face clearly. But the mere sight of her feeble, drooped shoulders told me she had let out
a short sigh.”(Volume 2, pg 110)
Hachiman notes this change as he explains “Her expression was no different from normal - cold and withering. The clouds had only covered the sun for a moment. I had no way of knowing the meaning of the sigh she had breathed in that split second.” Observant as always, he is able to catch the fleeting show of raw emotions displayed by Yukino in a vulnerable period. This is most likely due to the fact that such a subject being brought up was unexpected, thus she was unable to prepare herself to hide her true feelings. Also, the Yukinoshita family dynamic is strained and a difficult subject for her to face. I will cover that extensively in detail later on, but for now as a reader of the novel and watching the anime, we only are aware of Yukino’s strange reaction that is quite unlike her usual self. The “Ice Queen” that is, one that has a personality as cold as ice and a heart frozen over. The reason is made evident as we delve deeper into Yukino’s past.
Tsurumi Rumi was the young girl that was helped during the summer camp arc in the first season of the anime, she is a girl who they notice to be standing away from her assigned group and is seemingly detached from the rest of the class. Rumi’s story mainly serves as a point of reference for understanding the mentality of each character and how they feel about themselves. This is evident because each character attempts to guide Rumi in a direction they see best fit basing their reasoning off lessons learned from their pasts to deter her from making the same mistakes they made, or prevent the hurt they felt growing up. Seeing a vulnerable child venturing down the path of a cynical loner like Hachiman is preventable early on and we get to see the true nature of the cast as they intervene.
The result of the conflict is resolved in episode eight of the first season, with Rumi reassociating with her classmates as they “reset” the bonds between the girls. But that isn’t that important, because what Hayama explains afterwards is critical. He confesses that as a child, he saw a similar situation with a girl being alienated by the class and bullied behind her back, and he expressed guilt for simply standing back and watching. That is why with Rumi he decided to make things right and get involved to help instead of living with regret once more. However, the girl Hayama failed to save was Yukino.
In episode three, Yukino reveals that she studied abroad but was alienated and bullied when she came back to Japan. Of course, she presents this in an arrogant fashion that somehow “all the girls at school grew desperate to eliminate me” (Ep 2, 8:38) because she was too cute. Of course this wouldn’t fool anyone but the intention was not that, rather it was to persuade people that she was utterly self-absorbed and nothing would phase her. Yukino was presenting a painful piece of her past in a way that would make her appear indifferent to it, but it only brought to light an uneasy concern within those around her. This act simply building up her persona of “The Ice Queen” due to her icy personality and unapproachable nature.
Episodes seven and eight we also get a brief introduction of the fragile relationship between Hayama and Yukino. Initially Yukino only appears uncomfortable around Hayama and his group of friends, but it is later revealed that Hayama’s father is the legal advisor for Yukino’s father who holds a political office, and they were classmates in elementary school. This implies their past complicated history. Yukino is emotionally distant from Hayama due to his failure to intervene when she was bullied in school, and Hayama lives with that guilt.
“In the end they always get jealous and avoid her”- Yukinoshita Haruo
Hachiman refers to Yukino in a condescending manner due to her cold and unfriendly demeanor and his dislike in the how she treats him. In his pseudo-Death Note he writes:
“April 2013; 1. Yukinoshita Yukino looked down on me the moments I met her. Looked at me as though I were a bug. Way too self-conscious. She’s the Ice Queen! Demon superhuman!! I’ll kill her!” (Ep 2, 15:04)
Despite the comical impression Hachiman initially forms of Yukino, this serves as a manner to examine her personality. The “Ice Queen” persona is her facade she built up, trying desperately to convince herself and those around her in the hopes that the lies will eventually become reality. In a way this allows others to grow to understand Yukino in the way she wishes to appear, as Hachiman notes that she is “...always beautiful, unable to lie, honest, always standing on her own two feet, without anyone or anything to support her.”(Ep 9, 21:37) However, this persona only served to give people a false image of the true Yukino, the vulnerable girl she wishes to keep hidden, but it doesn’t last long, “I chose to feel like I understood her.” (Ep 9, 21:48) notes Hachiman after realizing the truth unravel before him.
Even Yukinoshita Yukino lies, Hachiman misjudged her. He initially was under the impression that there was some truth in her Ice Queen persona, but he ended up overlooking the truth. Earlier in the episode, Yui explained that “Yukino wants to talk to someone and I can’t do it myself.” yet this was disregarded because Hachiman was too confident in his warped understanding thinking that Yukinoshita Yukino would never need the help of someone else. In a way, the distant personality helped her move past the troubles she faced, but at the same time discouraged people from trying to get close to her.
However, this doesn’t mean the persona will forever remain. In episode eleven, she confesses “Yuigahama-san, right now it is difficult for me but one day I’ll rely on you.” Yukino is expressing her desire to want to rely on someone, because after trying to carry the weight of responsibility herself for so many years she isn’t ready yet to trust people. The Ice Queen thinks that seeking help and relying on others is a sign of weakness, but Yukino is growing to understand that her warped way of thinking is misguided, yet is still unable to let go of her familiar way of thinking despite the known negative implications. However, the first step to recovery is recognizing the issue, and as Yukino realizes that she has been perceiving the world wrongly it spurs her growth as a person to begin.
Based off personal experience, trust issues stem from the warped self-responsibility or desire to not rely on others. Other people are inferior so relying on them is a sign of weakness, right? A superiority complex has roots in the fear of being inadequate, and in order to justify not being at the bottom you have to lie to yourself that you are better and everyone else is below you. But to me this is was a defensive measure. “If people don’t like me, I will dislike them right back because their opinion doesn’t matter anyways!” All this does is alienate yourself from your peers because you become so absorbed in a narrative where the world around you is wrong and your worldview is the only correct one. In a way, I feel like Yukino falls somewhere into this frame of mind. Her classmates in elementary school bullied her due to jealousy since she was off studying abroad and came from a wealthy background. So she convinced herself that those people weren't worth her time and the only reason they spoke cruelly about her was because she was obviously superior. However, this only perpetuate the cycle with both sides equally pushing away from one another. This is why Yukino appears unapproachable, because she has been alienated by the school and from her own doing under the impression that she is too perfect.
Hachiman is a self-proclaimed loner, and a hypocrite. After joining the Service Club, his charade of isolation, narcissism and self-assessed understanding of human relationships is tested and placed under inspection. He no longer is able to turn to his comforting ideal of being a longer because he is forced to interact with others as a result of the activities of the Service Club, whether or not he recognizes it as such. Clinging to these ideals long into the series proves as a test of his abilities and forces him to come to conclusions that might be unfavorable to him. Continuing to resolve conflict in his typical manner only results in unsavory feelings of resentment from his peers, even if they were successful in the end.
During the school trip with Tobe’s request, Hachiman’s conclusion is to take the fall in order to solve the conflict. Because of this, Yukino and Yui are upset at his way of handling things, and is evident through Yui stating “Spare a thought for how someone feels” and Yukino’s: “I hate the way you do things.” when reacting to Hachiman’s efforts with the Tobe request and the School Festival arcs respectively. The perspective of the girls show Hachiman essentially carrying the burden of responsibility and diverting the conflict towards himself instead of truly solving a problem, and as a result are upset to see him take the fall. Hachiman wants results regardless of the repercussions without explaining to others what he intends to do, weakening the sense of trust between the group. Likewise, Yukino is afraid of Hachiman’s destructive approach to approaching problems since he doesn’t seem to care about his perception in the eyes of the school, and ultimately the club. Yukino grows to fear the path Hachiman continues down, one that she was once familiar with and wants him to understand his flaws, but they are unable to truly understand one another. She holds a faint image of what Hachiman is in her mind and watches it diverge from the actions that the real Hachiman takes. To put it simply, YahariBento explains this as “... the author tries to explain how humans place expectations to other people by believing in the image of that person. The image that “the watcher” believes that what they understands is the truth because “the actor” presents her/his standpoint via remark, attitude and actions. So basically, both of them help one another to create this image. The final result is the watcher believes it, but will be betrayed by both of them later, when the watcher realizes that the image is not the truth…” (5). This essentially is bringing to question the trust between the club members and the disingenuous facade each person is constructing.
In episode twelve of season one, Yukino tells Hachiman that “You and I can’t be friends.” At the time, her reasoning is that she doesn't feel like she knows him. My interpretation is that Yukino is not confident in truly understanding Hachiman, and fears her own inadequacy at the time. He has gone on to talk about how “She and I are completely different. That’s why all our conversations are refreshing.” and Yukino most likely understands that sentiment. However, she fears that she is inadequate to get close to him and complicate club activities while also “taking” Hachiman away from Yui, who also has feelings for him. She is also unable to properly understand if Hachiman is the person she thinks he is.
These feelings shape the inner conflict surrounding Yukino as we enter the second season of the anime. From the start of this new season, it is more visibly evident that Yukino is more self-conscious of the relationship between her and Hachiman, as well as how their relationship might be interpreted by onlookers. During the school trip, all the students are put into a new situation and it changes the lense at which they look at their relationships with one another. Being outside of a school setting transforms their perception of how they view their classmates, friends of teacher since it is not in the typical classroom setting. School trip, hot spring, and beach episodes in anime are particularly important due to this fact, providing a change of pace and altering the usual setting at which each of the characters grew to understand each other in. For example, seeing Hiratsuka-sensei in a casual setting might seem strange to the students who are so comfortable seeing her as simply their homeroom teacher.
So Yukino suggest suggests for her and Hachiman to return to the hotel separately during the school trip to avoid suspicion, and to not cue Yui in on the fact that they are meeting behind her back. Perhaps this is due to Yukino’s strong desire to maintain the mutual trust between her and Yui that she chooses to not provide any sense of confusion which will complicate their relationships. In a way she is unable to fully accept her selfish desire to be with Hachiman and recognizes it as such, but this brings to question her self-confidence and willingness to act. At the time I can assume it is because she has yet to fully commit to the idea of progressing their relationship and is not ready to confront the time when she will do something which will harm the group dynamic of the Service Club.
On a personal aside, I’d like to briefly relate this to my personal middle school class trip. We spent a week traveling to, visiting and returning from the nation's capital. Initially this was a great change of pace to take a break from school, thinking about high school starting in the Fall, and just hang out with friends. However, this proved to be an interesting experience because even though this was a school organized event, everyone was outside of the classroom setting and allowed to essentially do what we wanted. It was the first time I shared a hotel room with two other guys, and we spent the time watching Family Feud, eating snacks from the vending machine, prank calling other rooms and talking late into the night. Being on an extended trip away from home as a teenager with a bunch of my peers allowed all of us to feel that sense of independence and strengthen our bonds as friends by sharing these new experiences with one another. Likewise, the teachers felt similarly and I was able to talk in a casual manner with some teachers I usually never talked to, discussing stuff like video games and movies like they were a distant uncle or aunt. That’s why I believe that the class trip in Oregairu was critical in introducing a new layer to the relationships of the characters since they were able to meet in with different pretenses. Previously it generally was under the pretenses of work for the Service Club, even if it was just an excuse.
“I'm sure she and I are similar on some level” (Ep 1, 13:19) observes Hachiman after assessing the type of person he perceives to be Yukinoshita Yukino upon their first meeting in the Service Club. However, the irony is that Yukino chooses to distance herself from Hachiman and instead favors Yui. For Hachiman, this seems strange since he believes they are of similar mindset, but she knows there is a clash of ideals between the two that cannot be overlooked. Yukino knows that she and Hachiman are fundamentally different in their view of their own self-image and goals. While Hachiman seems content with his life and treats his faults as strengths in a twisted way, and Yukino seems to recognize her faults and hates herself because of how she acts. She wants to change herself and the world for being wrong, while Hachiman believes that the world is the problem but chooses to blame it instead of attempting to confront his problems. His inability to understand the way Yukino feels creates a dissonance in their ability to understand one another, and is upset at Hachiman’s reluctance to confront his problems and accept change. More than anyone she feels like she understands the importance of changing oneself and wants Hachiman to understand that sentiment. Both unable to recognize this conflict, we are left to consider the quote “Knowing each other is one thing, but understanding is an altogether different matter” (Ep 3 6:13). With this in mind, Hachiman cannot recognize his own faults nor accurately view Yukino for who she really is, and Yukino is equally guilty at pretending to understand his mentality. Hachiman is clinging to the perception of Yukino he observed upon their first contact and is unable to evolve this image to change in accordance to the Yukino in front of him. He fails to understand her which only strains their relationship, evident through Yukino line of “And here I was sure you’d understand.” (Ep5 17:45) after overestimating Hachiman’s ability to understand her. This only serves as a set-up for him to misjudge her personality which he refuses to accept could happen. This is reinforced because he still tells himself such things as “Yukinoshita doesn’t lie” and ultimately the result is the finale of Zoku, in which he is forced to accept reality that “Yukinoshita is a strong girl. And so, I burdened her with the ideal image I had of her.” (Ep13 20:20).
““Family reasons, huh…” Yukinoshita said. “Every family has them.”
She had a deep look of melancholy on her face that I had never seen before. She looked
just like Taishi, who had come to tell us of his troubles. By that, I mean she was on the
verge of tears.
But as soon as I called out to her, the clouds covered the sun and a shadow came over
her face. Because of that, I couldn’t read the expression on Yukinoshita’s downturned
face clearly. But the mere sight of her feeble, drooped shoulders told me she had let out
a short sigh.” (Vol 2 pg 111).
In a perfect world, we’d like to think we had control over dictating the outcome of our life. In some ways we can, though there will always be forces outside of our control that we cannot include in out calculations and pose problems. However, in the case of the Yukinoshita family, the children have little say in the course of their life. To frame this properly, we must consider the status and expectations place upon the children of a powerful and influential family with successful parents, such that the children are almost forced into inheriting the family tradition and need to somehow meet or surpass their parents success. This is seen quite often as a theme in fiction as well as reality that can often lead young people to massive amounts of stress. We will begin to get a more clear picture of the mentality of Yukinoshita Yukino, as well as Haruno but beginning to examine their life through the lense of Japanese cultural traditions, family expectations and the mother’s role in this.
Jim Taylor Ph.D explains how “Ability expectations are those in which children are expected to achieve a certain result because of their natural ability, "We expect you to get straight A's because you're so smart" or "We expect you to win because you're the best athlete out there." The problem with ability expectations is that children have no control over their ability.” (7) Returning focus to Yukino, we can see her continued success inside the classroom as a byproduct of the expectations she has continued to live up to because of her family name, and has accepted it as normal. “In the end they always get jealous and avoid her” is how Yukinoshita Haruno puts it, and it is accurate to say that Yukino’s continued success has proved to set her aside from her peers in both a positive and negative sense. The Yukinoshita name continues to be held at a high regard, but at the same time she is distancing herself from her classmates due to widening the gap to which she would be approachable as a peer.
The reason for the continued academic achievement of the Yukinoshita children is largely due to the mother’s influence. Traditionally in a Japanese family dynamic;
“...the mother sets the expectations for the child. She creates a relationship with her child through amae, the desire to be passively loved. The child is dependent on the mother and is cared for unconditionally. It is the mother's responsibility to raise her child with love and security.
The "Kyoiku Mama," or Japanese educational mom, is dedicated to supporting the education of her children.4 The mother makes sure the child receives a quality education. If the child succeeds in school, the family is also considered to have succeeded. The child's mother helps with homework, teaches discipline, provides a supportive home environment for studying, and is involved at school.” (8)
Because of the importance of the mother’s role in their children’s academic upbringing, Yukino’s mother has very likely been a major player in shaping the ideal of academic and extracurricular success, grooming them to one day inherit the family name. However, we later learn the bias of the mother towards Haruno since she is the eldest and already successful, thus pushing the importance of Yukino’s accomplishments to the background since she is no longer the heir to the family.
Now to look into the portrayal of mother Yukinoshita in the series to see just how she holds a strong grip on her children. In episode eight of the first season, Haruno says that their mother wants to meet her, which changes the weight of the scene. This is the first time we get insight to what type of person the mother is, and is evident with how Yukino reacts to the summon. She changes to a more serious attitude, puts up the “Ice Queen” front and leaves. Afterwards we learn that Hachiman didn’t see her again for the rest of the summer. From this first introduction, we don’t even have to see the mother to start formulating an idea of what kind of person she it. Due to prior foreshadowing, such as Yukino’s downcast expression when family issues were brought up, we can now start to assume that her mother is potentially the source of those feelings.
Now, looking further into Zoku we finally get the first appearance of the mother whom is dragging Yukino down. She tells her “I want you to stay true to yourself and live freely, but I’m worried you’ll go down the wrong path.” (Ep12 21:03) but, contrasted with Yukino’s perception of her mother’s expectations: “When mom decides something, she forces other people to follow.” We can see that there is a discrepancy in the viewpoints of these two parties. I interpret this as an illusion of choice, taking the side of Yukino. “The illusion of choice is a psychological mental model that states humans are happy if they believe that have control over their own actions and can exercise free will. If free will is deprived, or seemingly deprived, from an individual, he or she will become resentful or rebellious, even if the choice forced upon him is identical to the one he would have selected of his own accord.” (9) Yukinoshita’s mother is controlling the lives of her children even if she might deny that presently. This is not as direct as we might think however, it is equally the result of the children not wanting to disappoint the authoritative figures of their parents. Yukino explains how “We all have our own personal image that’s dictated by others-” which is indicative of her perception of the control her mother has over her, further evident through her mother telling her that“I want you to stay true to yourself and live freely, but I’m worried you’ll go down the wrong path” in episode twelve of season two. Obviously, their mother cares about them, but perhaps it is for the selfish reasoning of wanting to uphold the family’s appearance as successful rather than simply wishing for her children to have a bright future. The latter is only a byproduct of the former so she can view this as a win-win despite not considering the wishes of her children. Now, taking Yukino’s statement at face value, we can conclude that while the mother does most likely have the best interests of her in mind, she is only viewing it from her own perspective and not that of what Yukino wants. Hachiman goes on to explain how “We all wish to remain true to ourselves, but who decides who we are as people?” In the case of Yukino and Haruno, they are shackled by the expectations of their mother and find it difficult to express themselves freely.
“Siblings are the strangers that live closest to you.”
Yukinoshita Haruno is an enigmatic figure, playing both the figure of an instigator and an older sister leading to mixed results between the relationships of the cast. We first are introduced to Haruno during episode six of season one, when Hachiman and Yukino spend a day together at the mall under the pretenses of finding a gift for Yui. This event facilitated an environment in which the two would experience a close- than-usual interaction, influencing their willingness to confine in each other. However, the important variable at play here was the unexpected appearance of Haruno, which is the first time we learn of her in the series. This first impression of her character allows not only for us to start to formulate a conflicted distaste for involvement, but also to serve as an agent to cause Yukino to react in ways unfamiliar to what she has shown before, vulnerability. I will refrain from discussing the intricacies of Haruno’s psyche, rather, I will focus on the role she plays in the series.
Yukino’s relationship with Haruno is complex, but can be interpreted as Yukino being jealous of her older sister, and resents that she feels that way. Much of the dynamic within the Yukinoshita family stems from the importance of their perception to others, and the continued success at upholding the family name. Naturally being the oldest, Haruno grew up with the expectation of being the figurehead representing the Yukinoshita family, thus making Yukino constantly living in her shadow of success and wants to prove herself. She confesses, “as for anything regarding my family's reputation is Haruno’s Job. As for me… I’m a replacement.” Feeling that she isn’t regarded as “important” as Haruno, she desperately tries to fight for the affection of her parents through the only means to get their attention, which is academic success.
Sibling rivalry is quite common, personally I can speak first hand of this. I have a younger brother whom is like my best friend. Despite this, I get the impression that we inadvertently try to one-up one another in sports and school. A healthy rivalry sparks competition between two parties creating the motivation to constantly improve upon oneself with the justification of outshining the other person. Ideally, this is all done with good intentions. In sports for example, my running club would train together through the week, each person urging each other onward, and during races we would all race and push each other to reach success which could not have achieved alone. Siblings act in a similar manner with a healthy relationship, like with me and my brother. However, this can also easily lead towards jealousy when one sibling perceives that another is receiving more attention or affection than them. “Sibling rivalry is more common in same sex siblings since they share common desires and attributes and there is more room for competition. Sibling rivalry is more common in girls than in boys.” (6) explains Alexander K.D. Leung in his paper entitled “Sibling Rivalry.” In the case of the Yukinoshita siblings, we can see this rivalry evident, even if Haruno doesn’t engage in it directly. In fact, it is my understanding that Haruno’s ultimate goal is to lead Yukino out of her shadow and for her to find her own success.
“Yukino hasn’t changed a bit, always matching, always hand-me-downs” Haruno explains this when recognizing that Yukino is following her footsteps of going to the same university she attended. Yukino yearns for those feelings of familiar love, but they are not reciprocated to her, directly implied with her observation in episode thirteen of season two; “You two must be close. I’m envious of that.” Yukino, on some level, wishes for her mother to recognize her as an individual capable of success. However she has only been able to prove that by following the footsteps of her older sister, and as a result, not being true to herself. The paradox lies in the fact that Yukino cannot freely express herself without restricting her own life choices to those of her mother if she wishes to gain affection. Haruno understands this and wishes for Yukino to look at her perspective critically, learn from that, and move on to be her own person.
Haruno explains that the best way to spark development and unity is a desire to fight a common enemy. Using her statement as a basis for understanding her objective, I have concluded that Haruno’s goal was to act as a “villain” in order to motivate Yukino to grow as a person and test the concept of if their relationships are “genuine.” In much the same was as Hachiman approached conflicts in the past, she plays the role least desirable in order to achieve success directly. Hachiman even notices this and then asks “Did you purposely make-” leaving us to speculate what this means, though even he seems to be aware of her intentions. A redditor by the name of /u/johnbon7 explains Haruno’s actions as “deliberately antagonistic”(10) which I feel is an incredibly accurate description of her role in the series.
That said, I have grown to understand Haruno as the “instigator.” She is trying to incite the event in which would make it seem like she was that “villain” in order for Yukino can turn to her friends. Haruno’s plan would then either result in Yukino confining in her friends and strengthening their bonds, proving their “genuine” relationships, or going on to highlight their strained relationship if Yukino fails. Regardless of the outcome, Haruno seems to be testing the friendships of the group at the expense of taking the emotional toll on herself in much the same way Hachiman was prone to act. Either she is the agent of the mother or she wants the best for her sister, still unclear judging from an anime perspective. So, these actions are done with the intention of Yukino not following her footsteps. She is trying to insinuate change in Yukino by acting like the villain, so her sister finds her own path. During the concert at the end of season one, Yukino finally acts independently and remarks “This is the way I have always been. We’ve known each other for seventeen years. Maybe you never realized it.” evidently highlighting her growth over the course of the season. Yukino finally accepting herself and her standing in the family. Hachiman then says the compliment was unexpected, which Yukino responds by saying that she never hated her sister, but there was time when she wanted to be her. Haruno used to be her measure of success, a figure to look up to and to compete with. But eventually she was forced to accept that it’s impossible to become another person and she needed to stand on her own.
In Brown and Bosson’s dissection of narcissistic personalities (11), they found “that narcissists experience "both high and low self-esteem in alternation" (italics added, this issue). In support of this contention, Morf and Rhodewalt cite several studies that demonstrate associations between narcissism and fluctuations in state self-esteem” (12) This points to the fluctuation in people with narcissistic tendencies and could possibly serve to explain the evolution of Yukino’s personality. Her narcissism was just a cover to hide her true feelings, a veil of snow if you will, and when she began to realize her faults that layer melted away like the winter snow upon reaching spring. Unsurprisingly, the main agent of change is none other than Haruno, who’s name is written with “陽” meaning “the sun” (13) but is read as “Haru” meaning spring. Following the trend we have seen thus far in the series regarding names, Haruno is the foil for Yukino, the ray of sunlight to melt the snow in the start of spring. She was able to inflict a change in direction for Yukino’s feelings and ultimately instigating the majority of the character relevant changes after her introduction, who she plays a major role in.
1. 雪. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2019, from https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/雪#Kanji
2. Cook, V. (n.d.). Reduplicative Words. Retrieved February 13, 2019, from http://www.viviancook.uk/Words/reduplicatives.htm
3. Campbell, M. (n.d.). Japanese Names. Retrieved February 13, 2019, from https://www.behindthename.com/glossary/view/japanese_names
4. Yukino Yukinoshita. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2019, from https://oregairu.fandom.com/wiki/Yukino_Yukinoshita
5. Y. (2015, August 25). Oregairu Analysis – Why are Yukinoshita Yukino (雪ノ下 雪乃) & Yuigahama Yui (由比ヶ浜 結衣) So Angry at Hikigaya Hachiman (比企谷 八幡) (During The School Trip)? [Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru. Season 1 Ep 10-12 & Zoku Season 2 Ep 1-2]. Retrieved February 13, 2019, from https://yaharibento.wordpress.com/2017/08/25/oregairu-analysis-yukinoshita-yukino-yuigahama-yui-angry-hikigaya-hachiman-school-trip/
6. Leung, A. K., & Robson, W. L. M. (1991). Sibling rivalry. Clinical Pediatrics, 30(5), 314-317.
7. Taylor, J., Ph.D. (2010, November 4). Parenting: Expectations of Success: Benefit or Burden. Retrieved February 14, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-power-prime/201011/parenting-expectations-success-benefit-or-burden
8. Bennet, L. (n.d.). Expectations for Japanese Children. Retrieved February 14, 2019, from http://www.socialstudies.org/sites/default/files/publications/yl/1003/100306.html
9. Kennon, J. (2010, December 17). Mental Model: The Illusion of Choice. Retrieved February 14, 2019, from https://www.joshuakennon.com/mental-model-the-illusion-of-choice/
10. /u/johnbon7 (2015, June 23). Haruno's character ,motivations and analysis. Retrieved February 14, 2019, from https://old.reddit.com/r/OreGairuSNAFU/comments/3aurdt/harunos_character_motivations_and_analysis/#ampf=undefined
11. Baumeister, R. F., & Vohs, K. D. (2001). Narcissism as addiction to esteem. Psychological Inquiry, 12(4), 206-210.
12. Brown, R. P., & Bosson, J. K. (2001). Narcissus meets Sisyphus: Self-love, self-loathing, and the never-ending pursuit of self-worth. Psychological Inquiry, 12(4), 210-213.