Anime OWLS

How being the bad guy helps (OWLS Blog Tour)

Before everything else, you should totally check out Kat’s blog entry about misunderstanding hate from the Harry Potter books.

This month’s blog tour has been quite a challenge for, not only me, but the majority of everyone in OWLS. The prompt, “Diplomacy,” has so many perspectives to discuss about that choosing one is proving to be difficult. So I decided why not make it a little bit confusing for me by using a show that’s dialogue-heavy, Oregairu.

An anime series known for its deep and mind-boggling hits about high school life and society, I found Oregairu to be the best basis material for the “Diplomacy” prompt as the show is centered around the politics of a regular high school. Before we dive in, spoilers are in great abundance here and if you do not take kindly to that, avert your eyes!

Before we get to the nit-and-grit, allow me to provide the prompt for this month’s blog tour which was made by our chief creative officer, LynLyn. Throughout the month of November, members of the Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect will be talking about “Diplomacy.”

November Blog Tour – DIPLOMACY

Whenever we have a disagreement with someone, we use our words to express our thoughts and opinions. However, there are those who would rather use fists instead of words, those who forget that being “right” isn’t the most important thing, and those who lose sight of compromising and acknowledging differences in opinion and belief. Diplomacy is an important skill and tactic that not many of us have or are able to utilize properly especially in “social media wars” for sensitive issues and anime discourse—we just express our opinions without really listening. For this month’s prompt, we will be exploring some of the best negotiations scenes in pop culture media and discuss how effective these diplomatic moments are and what we can learn from them. We will also discuss why communication and listening are important traits to have and whether or not there are other means to enforce peace.

Man is a social animal and by that description, we cannot gain a sense of completeness without interacting with others. However, there is also that barrier between each and every one of us – the fact that each person is composed of ideas, beliefs and levels of knowledge that, in no way, will ever be completely similar to ours. This is where the art of diplomacy comes in.

The art of negotiations and dialogue is of high importance as we put our best interests forward and over others’ interests, as well as making our own ideas appealing to the right people. It is the only way we can ensure that, at the end of the day, we can all benefit from our combined efforts.

Sagami volunteers to be the chairwoman after Yukinoshita rejects the offer

In the anime series, Oregairu, the diplomacy being presented throughout dialogue between characters is a clear example of how the art can come in different forms. The show portrays an almost-accurate depiction of high school politics – the hierarchy between the high school stereotypes: nerds, jocks, social climbers and more.

This portrayal of diplomacy is highlighted during the series’ cultural festival arc where the main characters: Hachiman, Yui, and Yukinonshita, are members of the event planning committee. As members of the service club, their main role is to ensure that the event committee meets expectations.

The chairwoman asks for the assistance of the service club

In fulfilling their roles to help the committee, they have to assist the chairwoman in making sure that her leadership receives much praise and success, but it doesn’t actually go smooth sailing. Her motivations for volunteering the important position are, as evident and implied in the show, for “personal growth” which is basically the tamer way of saying: “I want to look cool.”

To do this, the chairwoman enlists the aid of Yukinoshita, a well-revered honor student in the school, to take on the role of vice-chairwoman. This immediately backfires her as she impresses the entire committee into how well she can organize and display her leadership skills and this annoys her greatly.

It does not help when everybody nitpicks her inability to set the committee’s goals straight and have Yukinoshita appear godly as she allows her to clean up her mess. Over time, the chairwoman tries to also find some points where she can put Yukinoshita in a bad light and thus, the whole committee becomes a contest on who can look the coolest between the two.

The committee slowly descends into a pit of dysfunctional-ism as members slack off, with the chairwoman being the wrong role model, while deadlines are around the corner. It puts Yukinoshita in a difficult position to raise morale among those who are still religiously accomplishing their work and taking on other people’s tasks.

The committee loses morale and attendances as more members slack off under the chairwoman’s suggestion

This is where a spark of brilliance comes in from the main character, Hikigaya Hachiman, the hero we all need but do not deserve. In the next few days, he would go on to assume the role of villain for the committee – nitpicking and insulting the leadership, the committee’s inability to fulfill deadlines and just overall, lighting the fuse to the powder keg.

He does this to provide motivation and a strong reason for all members within the committee to do their best and prove him wrong. As he and other characters who’ve seen through him have stated, “What unites a band of people? An enemy.”

Thus, he goes to fulfill that very role, at the cost of his own social standing and self-esteem.

Hachiman ponders on a method of getting the committee to work better

Now with the morale of all committee members using the antagonist, Hachiman, as a means of motivation, there is one more issue: the slacking chairwoman.

Throughout the preparations and on the day of the event itself, she has committed a lot of embarrassing mistakes that make people question how did she get into the position of chairwoman. This puts her in a spot of depression and what better way to pick her up by having Hachiman, the most hated man in school, to elevate her position further.

When Sagami, the chairwoman, goes missing and is found by Hachiman, he lays down the real beef of how disgusting and selfish she is whilst in the midst of the people who she holds in high regard: her friends and the man she admires.

Sagami’s friends try to comfort her whilst Hachiman puts her down

This is where Hachiman’s innate skill of practicing diplomacy shines through: usage of gunboat diplomacy in order to motivate a group of people to rally for a certain goal. For the sake of others, he becomes the villain – serving as an individual for everyone to beat and, in result, fulfill their goal with great success.

Using gunboat diplomacy has been key for prominent events in our modern society. The Allied nations roused up their citizens in donating their money for war funds as they painted Nazi Germany to be their enemy, to name an example.

In the smaller scale, students use this in order to group together and fight for a common goal by determining an enemy – either in the forms of a teacher, a school official, or an individual that they view negatively.

Hachiman smirks at how well his plan has been doing

Diplomacy essentially has two aspects: the positive and the negative.

The positive being that well-executed diplomacy through careful planning and socializing can get you what you want whilst the negative being that diplomacy is a double-edged sword: it is either you end up victorious in either uniting people or elevating yourself by doing so.

The art of diplomacy, much like other forms, is not a perfect idea. In the end, people around you will be affected, whether positively or negatively, but we have to put the common good in the highest regard – this is why taking on the reins of leadership, or any similar role, is not an easy task.

In this show, the main character has subjected himself to the judgmental eyes of the entire student body to serve his interests and as well as for the common good. Surely, he has hurt himself, his friends and other students by doing so but if it gets the job done, you can hardly argue.

Although it does not apply to all scenarios, we could say that “the end justifies the means.” Even if those means can go out of hand.

I hope that this article proved to be enlightening and entertaining at the same time. If you have not read the previous article, please do so. As for the next article, Scott from Mechanical Anime Reviews will be discussing diplomacy as seen in Turn A Gundam, be sure to check out their blog!

Go and have a look-see in Kat’s blog to read the next entry for this month’s blog tour and be sure to check out the Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect, if you are interested in joining us.

Thanks for reading!

7 replies on “How being the bad guy helps (OWLS Blog Tour)”

Hachiman gives us so many points to discuss when it comes to diplomacy or problem solving. My only issue with this story line with the chairwoman was why they didn’t just let people ask why she’d been appointed. Whether others disliked Hachiman’s actions or not, it didn’t change her inability to lead or organise. Then again, that kind of makes you question any of the service club’s actions as you wonder if ‘helping’ people is actually helping them.

Liked by 1 person

I think that’s the whole catch of the service club and its actions. As Yukinon did say in the first few episodes of the show, “We only mean to guide you, not solve your problem” – which is technically “helping” but not in a way that we are usually accustomed to.

As for choosing the chairwoman, I think it’s a common scenario in high school where people just don’t want to take responsibility and can settle for anyone who is willing to be the “sacrificial lamb.”

Wish I could cover more about Oregairu but I don’t have the luxury of doing it yet. Maybe in the near future?

Thanks for sharing! 😀 😀

Liked by 1 person

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