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