I really should try to, I don’t know, not spend three weeks going through the later half of an anime series. With all the time I have, getting shafted to that magical hour before I fall asleep is not the best way to retain my full knowledge and convince myself to go through more than just one a night. But might as well write my last review within the walls of a high school, the birthplace of my blogging shenanigans, and talk about the Haganai, shame I haven’t much to say!
The thing about Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends, or Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai that can be a bit difficult to describe is that there is a very clear focus on storytelling, and progressing relationships, but not a lot in the show happens aside from that, and as such, properly explaining my thoughts on it can be difficult. On one hand, the show can be described as: A half-english and intimidating looking young man named Kodaka Hasegawa transfers to a Japanese catholic school, and gets involved in a club full of social oddities. Where the show fulfills the expected focus on friendship given by the title, with a mesh of students from a hyper-intelligent scientist girl who reads aloud mecha with erotic subtext, well, text in general. To a ten year old nun whose existence is capitalized when she runs in the morning sun, naked as the day god made her, and is observed by another nun, who scratches her ass upon seeing the sight.
Needless to say, the show encapsulates one of the brands of humor that I very much enjoy, and does so very well. Never being afraid to break out an Oculus Rift prototype for an episode where the conflicting cast try to play a fantasy RPG together. Or have a girl often referred to as Meat be taken to a position where she needs to read the text of some “gal games” she likes for whatever reason. Not that it prevents Haganai from telling a very nice narrative between the characters, as the inner workings with Kodaka and what only on first glance appears to be a harem, do grow more complicated. Mostly due to how I more or less fell into a pit of adoration for the seven members, who can be a bit on the nose with a one sentence description. Featuring a well trodden mold if the bit of a scientist girl didn’t throw you off, the translation from Funimation really brings the characters to life, as the performances brought with them enough enthusiasm. Although, I couldn’t help but find it weird how Kodaka, who I view as a character acting more as a vessel than anything, was given the most detailed backstory of the bunch, when aside from appearances, he just fills the slot of nice guy.
However, being based on four volumes of an on-going light novel series per season, neither one ends with with a remarkably solid conclusion. With the big reveal in season one being something foreshadowed and a bit obvious to be stretched out since the earlier episodes. And season two, despite having one of the most randomly radical conclusions to combine the well written dialog that is constant for a series, with cat ears and flying metal balls. Before they cut the rope as a plot point is being tied to introduce a new one.
Which is pretty much my largest narrative gripe, the series seems to pause itself so it can be picked up within another year and a half. And even then, the fact that I watched something where sexting was a thing thrown in just because it was funny, makes it hard for me to necessarily mark off points. It left me with five pages of notes where I was pretty much shouting through my keyboard as a moo played whenever one character mentioned how the other one had massive sweater stuffers. Or praising how Haganai somehow managed to bring in three of its seven characters within one episode while not feeling cluttered. And managed to give another a good sense of character within an existence contained in the final four episodes.
Instead, my only other issue comes with how the second season changes the art style to a far more pastel centric one. Something I might understand, seeing as how looking at the first season didn’t have a particularly distinct look, but the transition to a color pallette with less contrast often can leave things feeling very bland. I did grow used to it over time, still not able to understand why bother changing it with the same studio working on it, but whenever I looked at the pudding haired protagonist, I couldn’t help but wish the show looked like it once did. In what could be not wanting change, or just preference over a visual direction.
Thankfully, that is the biggest change I really noticed with the seasonal transition and shift between directors. With certain traits given less attention or expanded, the show feels pretty much the same in terms of content. Only altering the sense given by the surprisingly more brief four or so months the show covers with things like one character changing their hairstyle every in show day because there is only so much you can do with a scientist girl archetype. Well, aside from making her some sort of CG wizard as the second season’s opening is revealed to be more or less canonical.
Which is a little over 800 words that I have to say. The show is plain old fun, with a nice lineup of characters who are a blast to observe, and despite being a show I back and forwarded with watching multiple times, it is a treat that had me giggling through all twenty-four episodes. Giddy even as things got more serious, because there was a girl with fried fish and a bikini lodged in her hair to look forward to. And while my brief snooping around other’s reviews did not reveal my thoughts to be in the same camp, there’s a gender ambiguous maid done well acting on a cherry topping off the whole affair, and I can’t help but love it.
Excellent! (18/20) An exceptional product that is hindered by a few issues to the point where they are barely worth noting for this superb title. Definitely worth both your time and money.