In the first half, Yozora looks back on when Kodaka first transferred. She recognized him instantly, but he never remembered her, and she was scared to be the one to bring it up. It wasn’t until her hair was singed and she had to have it cut short that he recognizes her, and even then, they can’t just go back to the way things were ten years ago, when he thought she was a boy. While they aren’t the friends they were, they’re still…something.
Haganai resists the urge to close with yet another beach episode. We can be thankful for that, at least. But we’re still a little disappointed that everything basically went back to the way it was. We should have expected as such; ten years is a long time, and considering Kodaka never knew Sora was a girl, it’s understandable it wouldn’t even occur to him that Yozora is Sora. All I know is, I was never in doubt as to the gender of my childhood friends, so I can’t say whether I wouldn’t be just as clueless as Kodaka in his situation.
Of course, this episode had to include everyone else, and unfortunately that meant one last unfunny Rikagasm and forced cosplay, because now the club can’t recognize Yozora with short hair. Sorry, but that’s ridiculous. She looks exactly the same aside from the hair; in the real world, it would be impossible to mistake her for a boy. They don’t have the ten-year excuse. The series is left very open-ended, with Yozora continuing to run the club, and her and Kodaka’s future together left ambiguous. Which pretty much sums up our feelings for this series as a whole.
At the end of summer vacation, the club attends a festival, where Kodaka samples various inferior takoyaki, Rika wins an XBox, adn Sena and Yozora are constantly competing over the games. They settle down, regroup, and fire off some fireworks, but Yozora’s hair catches fire. Kodaka douses her with water, but Yozora goes home in a snit, and isn’t seen again until she arrives in class on the first day of the new school year, with a new ‘do that makes Kodaka instantly recognize her as his old friend, Sora. Yozora is overjoyed he finally remembers.
The first four fifths of this episode were nothing to write home about, nor write much of anything about; it was pretty standard festival fare with a couple tired rivalries mixed in. But it foreshadowed what was to come when Kodaka has a dream the previous night about his childhood friend. They give each other unique names; she calls him Taka, he calls her…well, the name is “sparkled” out, but at this point, you know he’s just on the cusp of remembering.
What elevasted this episode from mediocrity and into standouthood was the final scene in class. It was a very touching moment that was a long time coming. In the end, all it took was a haircut! Of course, with only one episode left, the series can go one of two routes: continue from this moment, with Kodaka and Yozora/Sora reconnecting, or with a silly, self-encapsulated episode that takes place before or independent of this payoff. Rewinding would truly be a shame, though…we want to see this development further explored, as it totally changes their relationship.
The Neighbor Club spends a weekend at Sena’s beach house. They hang out on the beach, eat food Kodaka cooks, and tell awful ghost stories. Then the girls visit Kodaka in his bedroom one by one because they want him to protect them as they go to the bathroom, or in Rika’s case, sleep with him.
There’s not much to say about this episode…not much happened. Despite having done two pool episodes, they decided the series could bear a beach episode as well, along with a yukata episode next week. So it’s basically now just a vehicle for fanservice.
The true tease is that there would ever be any character development between Kodaka and Yozora. Yozora had another perfect opportunity to bring up the subject of their past friendship, in which Kodaka thought she was a boy – but nothing happened. All that’s still on hold. Boring cliches apparently take precedence.
(UPDATE: We’ve decided to upgrade this episode’s rating from 3 to 3.5.) Sena gets immersed in an eroge, much to the disdain of Kodaka and Yozoro. Sena then asks Kodaka to teach her to swim, and they have a de facto date at a swim park. He protects her from a group of boys, using his air of delinquency. He then dreams about his best friend from twelve years ago, and remembers something he said to him about quality being more important than quantity with friends. Unbeknownst to him, that he was actually a she…
The club remains only three this week, but we learn more about Kodaka’s past and meet his anime-obsesed sister. I’m glad she’s just cosplaying and not some kind of supernatural being, and his sister and not another harem member. She seems to be extremely dependent on him, so it doesn’t bode well for her that he’s spending more and more time with the club. (Perhaps she’ll start hanging around there?) After a first act in which Yozoro chastizes Sena and makes her read the eroge dialogue aloud, the two girls were basically seperate this week, which was refreshing.
While I find Sena’s request to Kodaka to teach her how to swim was a bit contrived, their day together itself wasn’t that bad. Lots of service, sure, but also lots of characterization and bonding. And even though he’s not the delinquent most of his school makes him out to be, he’s no weakling either, something his childhood friend from the past instilled in him. As to that: Yozoro was that best friend of his, and she’s remembered him all along. Which begs the question: will Kodaka ever figure this out? Considering he thought his friend was a boy and Yozoro is a girl…doubtful. Which is a shame.
Yozoro declares the best way for the Neighbors Club to start making friends is with games, namely, PSP games that require cooperation and teamwork. The three members enter the world of the RPG-like game, and Yozoro and Sena spending most of the time killing each other. They move on to girlges, and Sena becomes obsessed with the love interests therein. Alas, after countless hours of gameplay, they club is stuck on three members.
This episode, with an air of The World God Only Knows, decided to literally immerse the characters into the worlds of the games they were playing. It got them out of the boring clubroom and out of their ordinary uniforms, but their personalities stayed the same. Even stranger – and played totally straight – was a scene where Sena is dressed as the male protagonist, and Kodaka – in drag, with a hairpin – counsels her.
It’s funny moments like that, along with the frequent (but not annoyingly so), spirited verbal jousting, that let this seemingly wrote harem comedy rise above itself. While this episode wasn’t quite as impressive as the first, it was still surprisingly good. You’d never think a show with such an unbelievably bad opening sequence would settle down into something that’s actually decent, but it does. We also liked how the series didn’t introduce anyone new yet…giving the core trio time to gel.
The preview episode begins with a hallucination, as Kadoka dreams of an ideal world with ideal versions of his friends having fun together, with a recurring image of a hot pot always simmering nearby said fun activities. He wakes up in the midst of a dark hot pot, in which two of the girls he’d been dreaming about – Yozura and Sena – are trying to see who can outlast t’other in an eating duel. They both end up vomiting and passing out with the others. It’s established that Kodaka, Yozura, Sena, and four others are members of a school “Neighbor Club” dedicated to building relationships.
This is another case of a lull in the output of fall 2011 series we’ll be reviewing (Last Exile won’t air till Friday), so in the meantime we take a look at this 11-minute preview of a series we
won’t will be reviewing, the title of wihch translates to “I don’t have many friends”. If “I” is Kodaka, it would seem he has many friends, and they’re all have distinguishing marks making them easy to distinguish: Rika has the glasses; Yozura, Black hair; Sena, the busty blonde; Maria, the nun; Yukimura, the redhead; and Kodaka, who is odd-eyed. It would appear on the surface to be a harem of Index rejects.
We’ll admit, we actually started the first episode of Kimi to Boku, but scrubbing through it we realized there were five main characters, and not one of them was a girl. On the other side of the spectrum we have this series, with six girls, but at least one member of the opposite sex, and it doesn’t seem like everyone’s in love with the one guy. And while that was a rather slow-paced school slice-of-life, this was far quicker-paced, and threw a lot of curveballs vis-a-vis reality vs. fiction; showing us an idealized version of Kadoka’s friends before the real thing.