Sena invites Kodaka and Kobato to her house so he can meet her father, who was good friends with his father. He turns out to be very formal and serious most of the time, but is also a lightweight when it comes to drink. Sena terrories Kobato in the bath to the point she runs away, and Kodaka sees Sena naked, but the next morning, pretends he was drunk and didn’t remember. Sena’s father give him his blessing vis-a-vis his daughter.
Ah, meeting the father of the girl you like. Always a potentially awkward situation; and it’s very much that here as well, but Kodaka has a few advantages. First, beause Sena’s dad knows Kodaka’s parents, looking at him reminds him of them, which comforts him. Of course, that make us wonder why Kodaka never met Sena in the past. I guess Sena was the potential childhood friend he never had because his dad was usually pretty distant. Though we like how Kodaka won’t let his dad be called “trash”. “Idiot” is acceptable.
Kodaka’s only real friend ever, it would seem, was lil’ Yozora, whom he thought was a boy. As Kodaka doesn’t see either as a serious love interest as of yet, or indeed even as friends, and he manages to reassure both of them in the end, we’re still pretty much clueless who if anybody he’ll choose. But out of the whole Neighbor’s club harem, Yozora and Sena are the only seriosu and viable contenders. Now he needs to meet Yozora’s dad.
Vexed by extremely warm weather, the Neighbor Club makes a trip to the pool park. However, both the bus and the venue are extremely crowded, making the antisocial Yozora and Rika ill. The club is only there for a brief while before Sena gets a text that Yozora and Rika took off. Kodaka and the others leave too.
Like Ben-To, Haganai tries to put its own mark on the done-to-death fanservice fest that is the pool episode (the second of this series) by having two of the characters so socially awkward, they don’t even change, which is a refreshing twist. The final scene, with everyone going home in a somber mood that’s played for genuine drama, also jumps out of us as something that goes against the type.
Otherwise, there’s not much we can say; there was a ton of service, much of it focusing on Sena’s huge cans (the hugeness seems to vary greatly), Yukimura’s questionable gender, Rika’s dirty mouth, and Kobato’s inapproprately revealing-for-a-middle-schooler swimwear. Also, there were precious few minutes of Yozora-Sena bickering, though it was replaced by Maria-Kobato bickering, which is worse.
Kadoka starts making lunch for Maria, garnering the suspicions of his sister. An idol wish by Sena for the whole world to be a game results in Rika breaking out head-mounted VR game systems that let the club participate in an RPG, taking on various jobs. Kadoka’s job is a useless ‘wizard’, and when the first boss they come across wipes everyone out, but not before Kobato makes a brief appearance, having taken a sleeping Maria’s headset. She came to investigate Kadoka’s lateness, and Yozora allows her to join the club to be with her brother more.
The club’s first episode as a complete group (not counting episode 00) turns out to be a rather pedestrian affair, brimming with brazen though tame fanservice and lots of little kids bickering at each other. This was our first “RPG episode” since Sket Dance (though that was in their imaginations, this was actually technology), and it was a little less clever and a little more liberal with the skin. The ultimate lesson learned was that the group hasn’t quite pulled together yet, but they’re steadily working on it.
Another overarching theme was siblings; either real or imagined. Yukimura wants Kadoka to be her brother, and so does Maria when he starts cooking for her. But in all the time he’s spending at club with his new, well, friends, his little sister gets neglected. Not being good at making friends is a Hasegawa famly trait, it would seem, so the most logical place for her to be is by his side in the club…leaving aside the fact that lil’ runts like Maria and Kobato have no business being in a high school…
When she returns to what was her “naptime room”, ten-year-old nun Maria is manipulated by Yozora into signing off as the official moderator of the Neighbor Club. Kodaka is weary of a potential stalker, who turns out to be first-year named Yukimura, who looks like a girl from any angle, but is actually a guy. With Yozora’s approval, he joins the club and serves as Kodaka’s underling, and Kodaka is charged with making him more manly. When Kodaka hears an explosion in the “science room”, he runs in and carries an unconscious girl to the infirmary. When she recovers, this girl, Rika, thanks him profusely and joins the club as well, revealing her extremely dirty mind as she “seeks his DNA”
Had this episode been all about Maria’s introduction, or Yukimura’s, or Rika’s, it might have worn a little thin by the end. But by introducing all three in one episode in a steady progression, the comedy stays fresh and interesting. Now the whole cast from the sneak peek in episode 00 has been unveiled. Back then we unavoidably formed opinions on these three characters. Assuming Kobato was a classmate, when she’s actually Kadoka’s sister. Assuming Yukimura’s a girl, when he’s actually a very girly man in drag. This episode rewrote those characters in our heads, and they’re better for it. Having met and gotten to know the three mains of Kodaka, Yozora and Sena,, these three are the side dishes to the ‘Neighbor Club bento’, adding spice and variety.
While Maria’s youth and naivete and Yukimura’s submissiveness make for somewhat passive characters occupying the background, I like Rika the most so far. Yes, her filty mind and lewd commentary is a little overdone, but one has to admire her stubborn honesty and forwardness in contrast to the pussy-footing of Yozora and Sena vis-a-vis Kodaka. She’s on screen for only a few minutes and is already able to do what they never could – outwardly express their feelings. Her ‘mecha-as-ecchi’ bit was also pretty spot-on. Meanwhile, as most of the school still fears him and takes every word he says out of context, Kodaka may be correct that the club is actually making his reputation even more infamous. But he cannot deny that the club has netted him new friends he lacked previously, which is the point of the club. Sure, they’re all weird, but a club full of ordinary kids would be painfully boring.
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.