Welcome to the Final Episode and Series Review of Boku ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai, also known as Haganai. Like I usually do, I’ll discuss the series finale first, then get to the overall review. If you want to skip directly to that, go here.
She’s putting you to shame, Kodaka.
Kodaka left us all, not to mention the Rinjin-bu, in the lurch at the end of the last episode, running away from the clubroom after Sena not only confessed, but proposed marriage to him out of the blue. Well, since that time, he hasn’t gone back, and he’s avoided everyone else in the club. To make it worse, he runs into Yusa Aoi struggling with boxes, and ends up helping her with them. This leads to meeting Hidaka Hinata, the friendly seitokaichou, the girl that Yozora absolutely hates, and helping out the student council for a week. Thankfully, Kodaka stops short of joining the student council, but what must everyone else think?
I found Hidaka Hinata to be an interesting character. The first thing that struck me about her: her similarities to Yozora. Now, you’re all going “whuuu?”, but I think they are very similar people, with a key difference: Hinata has confidence in herself, Yozora does not. There are, of course, some other differences, but I think most of them are borne out of this one. Hinata likes to help other people, she likes to be with other people doing their best. Yozora does not like to be with other people. It’s effort for her, and really drains her. But one on one, they really seemed to be similar to me. I might be the only one who thinks this, but I’m saying it anyway.
The focus of the episode was the confrontation between Kodaka and the other members of the club, especially Rika. But first, he can’t figure out why Yukimura admires him. Why does Yukimura want to be like him, want to become a man, continue to serve him? And the best answer he gets is that Yukimura just does. And in questioning her, he just makes Yukimura admire him more (but I think that she also needs more explanation about what to do with boys…).
Interrupting Yukimura, Rika pages Kodaka to the roof, and there the battle literally ensues. Using physical punishment to get Kodaka to realize the error of his ways, Rika assails him with his wrongs, his obliviousness, and his pretending, even accusing him of being a harem anime main character, raising flags with all the girls. And Kodaka rejects that idea, because if he was a harem lead, he could give everyone a happy ending by being nice. The inversion of the harem style here works well, because we all know that usually harems do end up with everyone being friends, but how can Kodaka make everyone friends if all of the girls want to be with him? But Rika still won’t excuse him for running away from Sena and the club. In the end, she asks him to let her help him. She’s a genius after all. And when he asks her to be his friend, she replies, clearly and not lost on the wind this time, that they are already all friends.
Kodaka’s flight from the Rinjin-bu is pretty bad. Not only does he run away when Sena confesses, acting like he couldn’t hear her, he doesn’t go back. It’s a really poor way to treat not just Sena, but everyone. Yozora in particular was mortified at Sena’s confession, and I’m kind of surprised that Yukimura didn’t say that there was a big confrontation between Yozora and Sena about driving Kodaka away. On top of that, he goes to ‘fraternize’ with the Student Council, which just before was trying to shut the club down.
This is one of the key points in Rika’s confrontation with Kodaka. She accuses him of hanging out with them, and even falling in love with Hidaka Hinata. And he almost has, in the same way that everyone else in the school loves Hidaka Hinata, because she’s an easy person to love, and she loves other people easily. And what I said above about Hinata being like Yozora ties in here, because I think if Yozora was just a little more confident in herself around other people, that Kodaka would be hopelessly in love with her. I think the missing qualities that he doesn’t quite love about Hinata are the things that Yozora has. Unfortunately, she’s missing other things that she’d need.
And in the end, Yozora can’t take it. Sena’s confession, combined with Kodaka’s absence from the club she made to spend time with him, has made her lose her nerve, and she’s going to take a trip, asking everyone to not try to find her.
I really hope that we can get a third series from Haganai, because I think the story moved a long way, and I really enjoyed the tone shift from the first series which was mostly dark comedy and pranks to the friendship and relationship based comedy displayed in the second series. Unfortunately, we’re now at the end of all the published light novels, and they seem to be at a standstill with no more volumes coming soon. Perhaps another two years would get us more material for the story, and I’d gladly wait for that. While most series can’t pull off a third season, I think this one could, because the plot has been consistent and linear, and there’s still a ways to go.
Title: Boku ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT, “Haganai NEXT”
TV Series; 12 Episodes
Genre: Harem, High School
Produced: AIC Build
Haganai NEXT is a sequel to the anime of the same name from Fall 2011. It continues the story of the Rinjin-bu (Neighbor’s Club), a group of outcasts whose putative goal is to ‘learn how to make friends’. Being a continuation of the same story, based on a series of Light Novels, it’s directly following the first season, so much so that it could be considered just a split series. But unlike the first series, this series is a lot less of what the club is going and doing, and more about what’s happening in the club. While they’re telling themselves that they’re learning to make friends, they really are making friends: the other people in the club.
But it’s not just friends. This is a pretty obvious harem anime, and with one guy in a club with 6 girls, there’s going to be some romantic tension. And definitely, all the girls want Kodaka’s attention. But because the story is following the novels, there is less merry-go-round of will he, won’t he than in other stories. It makes pretty significant progress, and doesn’t have much backwards motion. Overall, the story is very enjoyable, and I’d rate it as Great.
The characters are the strong part of Haganai. Kodaka, the male lead, has some of the wishy washy traits that most harem leads have, but the series works at justifying his reactions throughout. But the real gems of the show are the girls. There are 2 main love rivals, 2 side love rivals, and two younger girls who just want his attention. And while they’re all vying for Kodaka’s attention, they’re also becoming friends with each other, and the development of the friendships in this series is very nice. Starting at the beginning of this season, this club was full of people who were wary friends with each other, and by the end of it they’re mostly strong friends, to the point where even Kodaka has to admit it. In particular, the development of Rika as a character throughout is fun to see. Another Great aspect of the show.
The production of the show is Great, especially for this type of show. The animation is sharp and crisp, with a lot of well done facial expressions. The show also has good animation for the other things throughout, even a battle scene for the finale.
The highlight is the writing. Putting these characters in situations where they’re uncomfortable is what the show does, and also plays the characters off each other very well. It has multiple rivalries that are handled well, and transforms them from enemy rivalries into friend rivalries.
Voice acting is great for the series, featuring Inoue Marina, one of my favorite seiyuu, completely owning Yozora’s character. Itou Kanae also shines as Sena, especially in the sequences where she has to turn serious. Fukuen Misato also shines as Rika, with a fun performance of a sometimes serious, sometimes perverted character.
Music for this second series is ok, I didn’t like the OP and ED songs as much as the ones from the first series, but those are tough to match as some of my favorite songs. I do want to mention the B-side to the OP single, as it’s a rival song between Kobato and Maria, done completely in character, and hilariously features them yelling “bakabaka!” “ahoaho!” at each other. Very well done by Hanazawa Kana and Iguchi Yuka
Overall, Haganai NEXT is a lot of fun to watch, and is a great continuation of the first series. While we don’t get a resolution at the end of the series, it’s set up for another series at some point in the future if the LN’s ever get published. It’s quite enjoyable from a comedic standpoint, and I have to mention that there’s quite the share of fanservice.