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Category: Hi Score Girl

Hi Score Girl 0

Why Hi Score Girl Works As A Romantic Comedy Anime/Manga: Part 3

WARNING: Contains spoilers for the manga and events from the manga that have yet to appear in the anime. Learn to read the damn manga.

PART 2: https://yukithesnowman.com/2018/08/26/why-hi-score-girl-works-as-a-romantic-comedy-anime-manga-part-2/

I’ll be honest with you: I’d be happy if Hi-Score Girl ended with Akira moving to America and never returning to Japan (not saying there should have been only three episodes, of course).  Harou would have to move on, deal with his feelings, and handle his first heartbreak as the series finale or something.  A realistic, relatable ending to viewers who experienced such pain in their youth.

They had feelings for somebody they cared about, spent endless hours with them, realized that person touched their heart and wanted to be with them until they were separated by uncontrollable forces.

That’s probably why I enjoy the third episode of Hi-Score Girl: because it hits close to home.

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That’s one way to never return. 

Years ago, there was a girl I had a crush on.  We were in the same class and hung out with each other often. I don’t remember much about her besides that her family was poor. So poor that she only brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.

I couldn’t care if she was poor or anything, she was a good friend and somebody I had feelings for.  One day, she told me that her dad got a better paying job. As a result, her family was moving out of the city (for the job). I was happy that her family finally got money, but I was sad that she was moving away and that I would never see her again.

Heartbroken even.

(My first childhood crush is probably hooked on heroin now because it’s the Midwest)

Even if the series didn’t end with Akira moving, it would have been impactful if Akira never returned,  Harou moved on with his life and got in another relationship with a girl (which he does).  In episode 4, we’re introduced to the new female protagonist, Koharu.  She’s a bit of an introvert and goody-two-shoe who’s a little curious about video games (thanks to her dad running a small arcade outside their house).

Koharu, despite being a normie girl, has uncanny natural skills in fighting games, which catches Harou’s attention. Later, the two start to hang out after school. Harou gets her into gaming and helps her hones her gaming skills; therefore triggering the start of their relationship.

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Koharu

I’d be fine with Koharu replacing Akira as the female lead.  Her character devolvement from a quiet normie girl who cares about nothing than to study to a sadistic, jealous, straight-forward gamer girl is the best in the series.  However, this is a bit overshadowed by  Akira’s return.

Not to knock on it, but it cheapened the emotion events of episode 3 (and could have ruined it if there weren’t other factors that will save it later down the road). Granted, it was foreshadowed that she was going to return to Japan (with Guile telling Harou that his fight with her isn’t over yet), but I do feel some type of way by it.

It’s a shame because like Akira’s relationship with Harou previously, Koharu interest and relationship with Harou is rooted in realism.

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As stated earlier, Koharu is curious about arcades, video games, and why Harou likes them.  Despite being the model student, Koharu hates studying. She wants to know what it is like to have fun and freedom; which is why she’s drawn to Harou (since he has those two things). After school, Koharu is caught in a snowstorm while attempting to return home.  Harou spots her and gets her to come inside a candy shop until the snowstorm dies. Harou convinces Koharu to play Street Fighter II (as she explained to him she never played a game before).

Despite being new to games, she was able to pull off advanced moves such as anti-air attacks, punishing on blocking the opponents, and 360-degree joystick motion special moves with ease.  Mind you, this is with Zangief: a character who is not at all newbie-friendly.

 

They continue to hang out with each other, strengthen their bond and Koharu’s interest in gaming. This would lead to Koharu’s strong crush on Harou, which in turn lead her to convince her parents to buy her a Super Famicom (Super Nintendo) to not only get into gaming on a hardcore level but to make Harou jealous of her.

 

On the topic of jealousy, Koharu and Akira are jealous of each other, and they are not shy to showcase their mutual dislike.  After a session in the arcade, Akira spots Harou and Koharu hanging out with each other. She gives them a death glance (from the safety of her car).  The next day, Harou tries to speak with Akira (after finding out she was at the arcade), who simply ignores him.   She refuses to speak with him until he comes clean with his relationship with Kaharu (which he states the two are only friends and he has no romantic feeling for the blonde girl).

 

When it comes to Koharu’s jealousy, it’s more severe than Akira’s. When she hears about Akira initially, she’s not concerned; as she was happy that Akira’s a fellow gamer girl with supreme skills (and even admires her for it). That changes when she finds out that Harou and Akira had a relationship in the past, which sparks her envy. This envy drives her to get better at fighting games: Darkstalkers mainly.

This drive isn’t out just mere self-improvement, but to beat Akira in order to win Harou’s love.

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In Chapter 24 of the manga (after the second time skip), Koharu confronts Akira; bluntly asking her rival if she and Harou once had a thing.  Akira is silent, making Koharu push the question further.  Upon not getting a response from her rival Kaharu flat out tells Akira that if she doesn’t make a move on Harou, she will.  On the surface, Akira doesn’t seem bothered by Koharu’s plans but later on in the chapter, we see that she’s afraid that Koharu will deliver on her promise (but more on that in a future post).

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At the end of Chapter 26, Koharu challenges Harou in a best of three wagers with a selfish ultimatum: If she wins, Harou will have to end his relationship with Akira and date Koharu instead.  If she loses, she’ll let him be.  To say that she might be a sucker for love is an understatement but its young love.

Young love that is fueled by jealousy, but young love regardless.

I do not know the mindset of women when they’re in love, but I’m sure jealously and the fear of being replaced by somebody else plays a huge role in crushes.  Koharu was in fear that Akira’s skills and friendship would cause her to be replaced.  On the other hand, Akira feared that Harou replaced her after she had moved.

I can’t blame Harou for being close with Koharu (even if it was on friendly terms). He assumed that Akira would never return and moved on.  Of course, she was on his mind for the two and a half years that she was away (as we saw with Harou admitting to Akira that he was longing to see her again) His sole purpose was to improve himself so if Akira did return, he’ll be ready for her.

It’s funny how Akira was the centerpiece for both Harou and Koharou’s quests for self-improvement although while one reasoning is innocent, the other is in malicious intent.  Harou wants to get better for his rival.  Koharo wants to separate Akira from Harou and keep him to herself.

It’s a bizarre love triangle: two girls fighting over a guy because of video games.

Continued in Part 4

AFTERWORD

Me personally, if I was Harou, I would do some playa shit between the two girls and date both of them behind their backs)

Hi Score Girl 2

Why Hi Score Girl Works As A Romantic Comedy Anime/Manga: Part 2

Part 1: https://yukithesnowman.com/2018/08/14/why-hi-score-girl-works-as-a-romantic-comedy-anime-manga-part-1/

Scenario: Let’s say you and another person are deeply in love with each other. You both have unprecedented chemistry. Every little thing that person does never fail to charm you. You can’t help but feel warm and fuzzy around each other.

You guys are inseparable.

One day, however, you’re forced to leave that person – forever.  Your family is moving far away. You got a new job in a new state.  That college you wanted to get into accepted you.  You murdered somebody and now you have to leave your country for another one where your homeland can’t legally remove you from that new country before the police catch you.  How would you tell that person and would you do anything within your power to stay with them – just for one more day?

This is the situation for Akira in episode 3 of Hi Score Girl.

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Episode 3 starts with Akira losing to an A.I. controlled M. Bison (Vega in Japan and Dictator in the competitive Street Fighter scene).  Normally, the gaming genius Akira shouldn’t have any problems fighting against M. Bison (as he took him out with only two buttons from a damaged arcade cabinet), but she’s losing her edge. Even if she’s only commutates through body language, Akira is being eerily quiet.

Harou sees this and assumes that she’s upset because summer break is ending; therefore she won’t have time to spend at the arcades. However, he’s ignorant of the fact that her situation is far worse than a mere end to summer vacation.

In a few days, Akira’s family is moving to Los Angeles, California.

 

The next day, the duo is invited to hang out with their classmates at a local theme park, which both of them take up on the offer.  As the day progress, Akira and Harou decide to ditch them and hang out with each other in the arcade instead. Akira is more than happy to do so, as she wants to spend time with Harou alone.

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Plus, I’m pretty sure Harou doesn’t wanna be stuck with this girl all day…

There’s a part during the arcade scene where Akira spots the light-gun game Space Gun. Harou takes it that she wants to play with her simply nodding yes. He starts to tease her; telling her that she might piss herself because it’s a scary game (given she hates horror-driven media) but she goes with it regardless.

As they play, Harou tries to get Akira to advance the game by having her move her foot off the pedal (as holding down the pedal makes the characters retreat from the enemies).  She refuses. Her leg starts to shake. If she moves her feet off the pedal it’ll only lead her closer to their unavoidable separation.

 

Akira is desperate for time. Harou doesn’t know it, but Akira has feelings for him.  Remember: Akira spent her young life as the heir to a rich but brutally strict family. Akira was never allowed to enjoy life as opposed to the average girl who could go out and play with friends. It was only recently when Akira decides to defy her family’s wishes and escape to the arcades to get away from her miserable home life.

Flashing, colorful lights blinding the eyes. Furious adults screaming vicious profane words at each other after defeat.  Chocking tobacco smoke poisoning the air.   Such a vile place wouldn’t seem right as a safe haven for Akira. But she needed a safe haven to escape the unwanted responsibilities place upon her.

The safe haven where she met Harou: the boy that brought joy to her life.

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Akira and Harou continue their journey through the park; traveling through a magic mirror house, riding a roller coaster and a scary ride.  At one point, Harou asks Akira if her parents ever took her to a theme park, to which she shook her head no in response.

To say that Akira is a sheltered child is an understatement.  To Harou, the trip to the theme park was normal.  Every (normal) child has gone to a theme park at least once in their life. But, to Akira, a girl who never experienced the joy of having a normal childhood; this was a new, life-changing event for her.

I’m sure some of you out there may have been sheltered by your parents and can relate to  Akira. They forbid you to play outside after a certain time.  They didn’t allow peculiar forms of media in the house like anime or rap music.  Anime was a tool of Satan so they banned it from your house. Maybe one day, you had enough of their bullshit and decided to go out into the world and do your own thing, just like Akira.

(Akira’s gonna wind up doing hard drugs and drink straight from vodka bottles later in life. That what usually happens to sheltered kids once they get out in the world.)

 

The more time she gets to spend with Harou means the more time she can live normally. She doesn’t have to worry about her high status, school work and the pain those things brought her. The pain she never asked for.  Pain that was mended by Harou’s company, understanding, friendliness.  They spent the reminding hours of the day playing until sunset, eventually heading home on a bus with Akira falling asleep and resting her head on Harou’s shoulder.

The sunsets on their summer vacation – and their relationship.

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The next day brings in the new school year – and the horrible news. Harou hears about Akira’s family moving away.  He’s shocked.  It hits him – hard. Rumors start to fly such as “her parents got a divorce” or “they got a new job in America.”  Harou refuses to believe he’s hurt about Akira’s sudden move. He tries to play it off by acting happy that his rival is gone. Finally! He can rule his castle (the arcade) in peace; he shouldn’t fear Akira invading it.  She’s gone forever!

Deep down, he knows he’s full of shit.

 

Akira wasn’t any girl that played video games casually. She was a gifted monster who dominated them.   Any game she touched she mastered it. Only he was able to come “close” to her skill level – but it simply wasn’t enough.  Akira forced yet inspired Harou to improve in Street Fighter II.  She never judged him for his gaming passion but encouraged him to get better at it.

They started out as rivals. He was disgusted at the fact that Akira bested him time and time again. He couldn’t stand the fact she was around. However, as time went on,  they grew as friends.  He respected her.  Harou was happy that she was her equal. In  his time of reflection (and holding back tears) he  became honest with himself:

Harou had feelings for Akira. She touched his heart.

 

 

With newfound determination, he runs after her; rushing to the airport to see her one more time.  He arrives in time and tries to convince her to stay (as she’ll miss all these new games coming out such as Fatal Fury by SNK).  Then, he gives her a good-bye present: The toy ring from the first day they hung out together as friends – not rivals. She rushes to him, breaking down crying. She’ll never see her first friend again.

Her first love.

 

 

Continued in Part 3 (because fuck SEO suggestions I’m not making this a 1600 word post also my bad for making this a summary than a reason why this series work)

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Hi Score Girl 0

Why Hi Score Girl Works As A Romantic Comedy Anime/Manga: Part 1

I hate romantic comedy in any form of media – especially in anime; as most romcom anime are unrealistic and littered with cheap, perverted jokes.  From my reviews on My Girlfriend is a Shobitch and Hajimate no Gal, it’s clear I detest this genre. These shows were clearly written by otaku virgins who never had a relationship with the opposite sex and are living out their weird, lonely otaku fantasies through anime.  So, when I discovered that J.C. Staff’s latest project, Hi Score Girl, was not only a (loose) history piece of the second arcade boom in Japan, but a romantic comedy as well, I was I amazed by how they show a realistic portray of a relationship blooming and evolving over time.

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May I dare say that this romcom anime has even charmed me by how pure the relationship between main characters Akira and Harou is?  You take two characters who’re seemly “opposite” of each other but somehow,  they click. Akira’s the popular, high-class rich girl who excels in every subject – performance arts included.  She’s the type of girl that every boy in school wants to date and every girl wish to be.  Harou, however, is “hopeless”.  His scholarly performance is a joke. Artistic skills? None. He gets teased often by his peers for his bad grades.  He rather wastes his day ruling over at his castle: the local arcade, installing fear in peasants with his mastery in Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (SF2).

 

Harou believes that Akira is out of his league.  Can’t blame him for his wrong line of thinking.

Akira, despite her academic achievements and financial background, loves playing video games. In reality, she’s socially awkward, can’t make friends, doesn’t express herself verbally, and hates that her family controls her life. She visits the arcades often to escape her rigid lifestyle,  blow off steam, and be her true self. Funny enough, like Harou, Akira is an SF2 player – except she’s the top player in their scene – as Harou will learn the hard way.

After witnessing  Akira’s 30 win-streak performance against other players in SF2 Harou challenges her.  He loses to her Zangief – badly. To save his pride, Harou defeats Akira by using Guile’s defensive “Turtle” style and “cheap” throws tactics. Akira gets pissed and starts attacking him; it’s the start of their rivalry that will bloom into friendship and eventually, the two having feelings for one another.  During their summer vacation, the two hang out at various arcades, testing their skills against each other and thus deepening their bond.

For Harou, he’s happy he has an equal. For Akira, she’s happy that she finally made a friend.

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A friend that she likes to beat up, but a friend regardless. 

Right from the start, Hi Score Girl destroys the bullshit idea that opposite attracts we see in romance-based media by having our main characters falling for each other over a mutual interest: competitive video gaming. Let me ask you people who have a mate a question: How did you guys fall for each other?  Surely it wasn’t the fact you guys were opposite of each other. It was because you and your mate had things that click with each other and that turned you on towards them.  Sure, there are some differences, but overall, you were drawn to them through your similarities (and other factors of course).

Social and scholar level wise, Harou and Akira can’t even compare. Akira shouldn’t be hanging around with a “stupid” kid like Harou. Harou shouldn’t have the chance to be with Akira. Still, they were able to overcome those minor differences. They grew close through their powerful love for competitive gaming, relentless desire to win, and mending their after-school loneliness.    Who cares for social status differences when you and your friend vibe over a powerful passion?  What’s good are having excellent grades, popularity, and cash flow when you’re lonely and your parents dictate your life?

Those superficial ideas don’t matter when they’re outweighed by shared attractiveness on a deeper level beyond mere opposites.

Continued in Part 2.

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Spoilers for you non-manga readers my bad yall!