Haganai is based on a light novel, which, as fans of my reviews will know, means it’s most likely in a range between god-awful and above-average. I’ve gone on countless rants about light novels in the past so I’ll refrain from doing so and instead destroy the story (for what it is).
Kodaka is the new kid in school and scares everyone because he looks like a punk (because it worked in Toradora, so why not rehash the idea here?). He has the most ridiculous off-color hair I’ve ever seen as well as a passion for high-water pants and boat shoes. As he prepares to leave school after a rough first day he encounters a smoking hot girl talking to herself and is suddenly forced into joining a club he accidentally helped create (because it worked in Haruhi Suzumiya, so why not rehash the idea here?). The club, founded so Kodaka and his new friend, Yozora, can meet more friends and try to gain a social life, is quickly peopled with strange girls such as the rich Sena, the sexually obsessed Rika, and the girly-boy Yukimura. In true harem fashion Haganai quickly shifts gears a few episodes in, going from the construction of a club and finding of friends to doing generic harem things.
And of course, as with all harems, every girl (and boy) in the harem is madly in love with the main character to some extent. This means lots of feuds. The two main girls, Yozora and Sena, are constantly bickering while Kodaka’s little sister, Kobato, fights with the ten year old teacher/nun (that makes sense) Maria over who is Kodaka’s true little sister.
Aside from that, there’s no plot to speak of. After all the characters have come together each episode is a bunch of loosely connected events, most of which are boring outings to the beach, the pool (twice!), a festival, and karaoke. There’s also a bullshit PTSD storyline about Yozora actually being Kodaka’s best friend from when he was a kid. She remembers it and knows him; he’s forgotten and doesn’t recognize her. It’s groan-worthy for sure.
All this culminates in what I think is the single most underwhelming final episode I’ve seen in a long time. Rather than an emotional revelation or any sort of progression or closure with the cock-tease romance, we get a bunch of clips of shit we’ve already seen followed by enough open-endedness to ensure future seasons and OVA’s.
I can summarize the cast as being lackluster, but that’d be unfair to the few mildly entertaining girls.
Our main character Kodaka is the typical harem guy. He’s completely boring aside from one thing that sets him apart from the rest. And he, of course, also has some past event that ties him inexplicably to one of the girls. Project yourself into his boat shoes like the writers wanted and you’re doing it right.
Yozora appears to be the main love interest though I see the series going another way (which would be especially nice considering the predictability of these type of shows). She may be one of my most despised anime characters of all time. Kodaka sums her up pretty well in a later episode when he says she’s “Gorgeous but evil”. She’s very pretty, yes, but a total bitch. She has pictures she can use to blackmail characters; she forces Maria, the loli, to run around naked; she treats Sena like complete crap out of spite but also enjoyment. She’s a sick human being. You don’t have friends because you’re a cunt!
I’ll defend Sena because I don’t think she’s that bad, especially compared to Yozora. She has some affluenza issues and is a lolicon, but is an otherwise pleasant character to be around in the quieter, less comedic moments of Haganai. She’s given a lot more time to gel with Kodaka which endears her more to me. You also see her get type-cast as the tits when she’s really smart and just…autistic for lack of a better term, which further makes her more than just the piece of meat Yozora wants everyone to believe. Sena is best girl.
Kobato and Maria are the lolis. What disturbs me most about the DVD version of the series is that they are sexualized a lot. The first naked pair of tits we see are Kobato’s. We also see Maria’s. While Sena’s are shown twice I don’t take as much offense to that as I do the unneeded explicit sexualization of the ten year olds. It’s unneeded and weird considering other characters, especially Rika, get censored during more racy moments. Aside from that these two bicker as much as Sena and Yozora and neither are developed enough (not in that way) to be worthwhile.
Rounding the club out are Rika and Yukimura. Rika is obsessed with sex, talks in the third person, but is also an extremely successful scientist. She brings the funniest moments to the series despite her only character trait being “She’s sexually repressed and needs to get laid”. Yukimura is the trap/feminine-boy. This character’s necessary only to lure in a certain crowd and the strange blushiness and near-boners of Kodaka around him (I.E the swimming episode) lead to some awkwardness that is otherwise unneeded.
Fantastic animation is Haganai’s strongest point. The characters, for the most part, look unique enough to be memorable in that regard and every scene has beautiful lighting and color. There are some derp moments when characters are in the background and their irises are in strange spots but, for the most part, I have no complaints. Even four years later, it’s still high-quality stuff.
While the opening isn’t exciting, it is catchy. The ending song is much better, though still nothing worth putting on an iPod. Music during the show is what you’ve come to expect of this type of anime with happy music punctuating silly scenes and bringing an air of joviality that isn’t fully utilized. I watched the English dub (sacrilege to most, but dubs sometimes pull me into an anime more than subs) and found it to be watchable. Kodaka’s voice actor is as boring as the character himself with a phoned in, lazy performance. Sena and Yozora, for their part, do a pretty decent job. The loli’s are as annoying as you’d expect and other performances are serviceable. Some of the reworking of the Japanese script is where the most cringing comes, especially Sena telling Yozora to “lay off the Hateorade”. I’m shivering just typing that.
Despite all complaints, Haganai is a watchable and fairly entertaining show. It’s predictable and some of the comedy is flat merely because it’s nothing but girls calling each other lame names (meat, cow, floppy). I’ve been more entertained by other harem series, but Haganai is one of the better of the mediocre ones. It made me laugh (a feat some can’t even manage) and it did, despite the characters being relatively two-dimensional and generic, engage me in the pseudo-romance.
Haganai is a lot of cut-and-paste from other shows of the same genre, but it’s also got a grasp on keeping character interactions interesting and funny, even if some of it comes across as forced and annoying at times. The exclusion of a plot makes it hard for me to recommend based on any sort of writing merits, but the animation sure is pretty and the show comes across as harmless (except for the pointless nude scenes). It’s nothing new, but it’s good for what it is. Fans of harems and ecchi will enjoy this; people who aren’t into those genres will want to steer clear. My original review gave Haganai two and a half stars, but I think it’s more deserving of three, above average but not quite good.
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukuna
I can be very short about this show. The synopsis promises more as it delivers. It is an average one out of a million ecchi school club show.
Non existing, gradually more students join the neighbors club and together they do the regular stuff, day at the beach, day at the festival, day at the swimming pool, day of gaming etc.
Animation / sound
Nothing wrong with the animation. The opening theme is nice and the closing theme is okay but anything beside that is unnoticeable, except for some song with cat sounds which I haven’t been able to locate on YouTube yet. Hint hint wink wink.
Well...lots of things wrong here.
Kodaka is the main character, a nice guy who is misunderstood to be a delinquent. Unfortunately the show does too little with the delinquent part in my opinion, his class introduction is funny but other than that there are only 2 or 3 more little jokes. When he was young he had a very good friend but he does not know what happened with him. But you don't need to worry the show gives you some very obvious hints early on about who this friend is and proceeds to give more hints further along the show.
Yozora, she is introduced as a introvert girl but actually she is a very pushy and mean girl, it is probably intended as funny but her 'jokes' come across as bullying, she even slapped a ten year old nun, it is very hard to like her. Luckily she becomes nicer in season 2.
Sena, a nice and very popular girl at the boys but her popularity makes it very hard for her to find real friends. Sena is also big contributor for the ecchi material in this show because of her ''giant milk cow udders''. And despite being a top student at the school her IQ drops considerably when she is inside the club classroom and around Yozora, which makes her the number 1 bully target for Yozora. So expect a lot of ''Baka! Aho, shine!'' from her as she runs away crying.
Kobato, Kadoka’s young sister, a gothic lolita who has no problems with undressing for her older brother.
Maria, because the gothic lolita alone wasn’t enough we have Maria the 10 year old nun lolita. Maria has a crush on Kodaka which angers Kobato so when these two met it quickly escalates into fights which appear to be funny for the other students as they let them continue fighting. Maria is the number 2 bully target for Yozora.
Rika, the scientific genius who is a complete pervert, especially gundam sex turns her on.
Yukimara, the boy who constantly cross dresses as a girl/maid. He is forced to cross dress by, surprise surprise Yozora, but apparently it is no big deal for him, even though he wants to become manly.
This is a almost harem show with mild ecchi and regular school life / school club activities of which most of it has been done better by other shows.
If you want a pushy weird school club girl watch Haruya. If you want a bunch of weirdoes in a school club watch Noucome. If you want a delinquent searching for friends and romance watch Kaibutsu-kun. If you want a harem show with a childhood friend watch Nisekoi. If you want ecchi, well plenty of shows with more ecchi. Unless you like this kind of shows.
Season 2 is slightly better as season 1 but still pretty average.
The only special part of this show is episode 2 which is hilarious.
Have you ever been in a situation where you really think something will be great? Have you ever then realized that it was just something average, and not worth the waiting and excitement you put in? Well, this show might give you a similar feeling. It's like gettting excited for a game to be released, waiting for 6 months for it to come out, and preordering it in advance, only to find out that it's only half as good as you would expect it to be. That's how this show feels.
Just a warning to sensitive viewers, the show contains breif scenes of nudity, obvious fanservice, and tons of innuendo(some quite sensitive). I would not recomend this show to someone who has a problem with it.
The show starts out in a unique fashion. It shows a young man who's constantly misunderstood and is assumed to be a delinquint meets a girl talking to hir 'air friend'. They team up with Sena, your not so average rich busty popular girl, and begin their gaming, friendship making adventures. If all of this sounds like a good premise, that's because it is. Oh, by the way, did I mention Sena's big boobs? 'Cause the show feels the need to remind the veiwer at least once an episode.
*ahem*, back on track. It starts off as one of the most promising ideas I'd ever seen in an anime. The group becomes interested in playing video games together on their "Play States"(Play Station), and when they play, their characters appear as themselves in the games they're in, as the characters, affected by their outter selves. So basically, it absorbs the viewer into a multiplayer or single player gaming experience in an anime. As a gamer, I adored it. It was one of the best, funniest things I'd ever seen. They made fun of RPGs, dating games(even the *ahem* inapropriate ones), motion controls, beta versions, and I think one of them was aimed at School Days. They also made fun of the characters of people who play video games. For example, Sena(like me) is a completionist who likes to complete games quickly, and always fights with Yozora while Kodaka isn't that great at them and just tries to stay out of it most of the time. I'll get more into the characters later. However, this was a fantastic idea for a show, and when they added in Rika(the obvious yoai fangirl/pervert), and Kobato(the resident gothic lolita cosplayer) to the group, I only thought of how it could expand into the otaku world, and for a breif period of time, I laughed along with them at their anime and comic books full of inuendos. If this was what the entire show was like, I would have given it at least a nine out of ten. It would be kind of an expansive version of Lucky Star for adults. However, about halfway through the show, everyhting goes downhill.
Where it goes downhill is when it starts trying to be an average seinen school life anime around halfway through. It falls away from the unique beginning and falls into the same monotonous pattern I've seen many times. There's the obvious love triangle between Kodoka, Sena, and Yozora, the little harem obviously forming between all of the members and Kodaka, and Kobato(who I'm almost positive has a brother complex). Fortunately, the romance doesn't take over even when crushes begin to form, and the only really loudspoken one is Rika. Anyway, before I get too into detail, it goes out of the digital world and into the real world of beaches, festivals, karaoke, and other various cliche topics. So, the show goes from being unique and truly special to something that really falls into the typical pattern. As for the backstory between Yozora and Kodoka... It's too predictible.
The animation, for the most part, is utterly gorgeous. Colors are nicely defined, movement is smooth, and uniforms and costumes are colorful and varied, with little touches for each character, like Sena and her butterfly hairclip and the wings on her armor. Other than that, the character designs are rather generic. We have the big breasted blonde popular one(Sena), we have the black haired tough mysterious one(Yozora), we have the adorable little sister who is gothic lolita, though I wound complain about her too much as her hetochromia makes her look more interesting, the tough looking guy with odd hair who doesn't fit in(Kodoka), the one guy who is effeminite and always ends up dressed as a maid or a girl(Yukimura), and the scientist, who, of course, has glasses and is just average looking(Rika). Most are based off of cliche character stereotypes, and if it wasn't for their small quirky looks, it would be VERY annoying.
The only other thing that bothered me was the rampant fanservice. There was too much of it, especially near the end of the show. In the first couple of episodes, it was just in the opening, but it's obvious later that Sena will never find a bathing suit that will fit her chest, and so on, and so forth with the others. Really, I'm fine with a bit of fanservice, but it was just too much for the kind of show it was trying to be.
The opening and closing themes are fitting to the beginning of the anime, where it's focused more on video games and otaku culture, with it's sounds like it came straight out of an old video game, but it doesn't fit with the second half of the show. Then again, it's the second half of the show that doesn't fit. The constant cicada sounds in the summertime in the show do also cause for some annoyance.
Voice actors are great! I even recognized Kodoka's as Hinata from Angel Beats. He did a nice job with both roles, and the only one that ever bothered me was Kobato in some situations.
All of the characters, while in their own right are pretty good, are based on obvious stereotypes. This isn't a problem during the first half when they're just making fun of them, but in the second half where it gets serious, it can be pretty troublesome. The only exception would be Rika, because she's crazy the whole way through.
Kodoka Hasegawa: Kodoka is a misunderstood teen who just looks mean, and gets into some messy misunderstandings that cause almost everyone to avoid him thinking he's a delinquent. Surprisingly, though, he turns out to be a very kind and relatively intellegent character, who isn't interested in girls just to 'do it' with them all the time, a trait that's all too comon in anime characters. Surprisingly, he's also the most normal out of all of the characters, considering he's the one everyone thinks is crazy.
Sena Kashiwazaki(aka Meat): Sena is your average popular girl who gets everything, is rich, blonde, and goregeous. The only real difference between her and most characters like her is that she's a gamer. Honestly, when she was playing the games I could feel connection wiht her, but out of the digital world, she was foreign to me... She was impossible to connect with otherwise, just your average crybaby rich popular girl... *sigh*
Yozora Mikazuki: She's really a jerk most of the time, borderline tsundre in some points. Not to much else to say other than I felt bad that's she's lonely. Also, she contradicts herself quite a bit. For example: she claims she hates bullying yet she bullies the others in the club(Particularly Sena) all the time. She even went so far to claim that there were bullies in every school, and played the part of one for most of the time in the club. I understand she must've felt lonely and wanted to get back at them, but there's no excuse to act that way. If everyone reacted that way to bullying, it won't ever stop.
Kobato Hasegawa: In some ways, she reminds me of a friend of mine. She's constantly sucked into a world of an anime she likes, and cut off from the outside world for some points in the anime. She's constantly cosplaying as a character from her favorite anime, and constantly clashing with Sister Maria due to jealousy with her brother and the fact that she's always pretending to be a demon vampire.
Maria Takayama: She's a ten year old nun who thinks of Kodoka as a brother and argues with Kobato. Not much else to say here.
Rika Shiguma: She reminds me of my best friend in some ways. She's a perverted, super smart yoai/yuri fangirl.
Yukimura Kusunoki: An effeminite guy who tries to become more manly like a samuri.. but walks around in female bathing suits and maid outfits... Riiiight... Moving on...
Great in the beginning, boring in the end, too much fanservice. All in all, I would just watch the first 4 or 5 episodes and just stop after that... The rest just becomes cliche.
That's it. Peace.
Warning to readers: This is a meta-review targeted mostly at people who consider it good. Do not view this text as an attack to your integrity or something because the show itself is an attack to your common sense and feelings and I am just counterattacking it by using the same method. Also, the review covers both seasons.
This is another case of a show trying to mask its shallowness with a serious premise and once again hundreds of people are biting the lure. Busyness as usual. Let me start with some cold-hearted facts that many of you readers haven’t realized or don’t want to admit to, probably because you don’t like the idea of your escapism shows regarding reality to be so damn fake.
- Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai (made by the same studio) is NOT an awesome serious show about otakus being accepted as normal people by the non-otakus. It is fan catering nonsense bordering incest and fascination over porn games.
- Yosuga no Sora is NOT an awesome serious show about true brother/sister love. It is fan catering nonsense which go as far as resetting the story every few episodes as means to have the lead male having sex with everybody. NOT just his sister.
- Bakuman is NOT an awesome show about how to become a great mangaka. It is fan catering nonsense about a guy who has everything going rosy in his life and even getting a girlfriend out of someone who he never spoke to in his all life because DESTINY DEMANDS IT. Plus, it is patting at Jump Shounen fans too obviously.
In the same way, Haganai (short for what this shitty show is called) is NOT a show about making friends. Seriously, where the hell do you see the educational aspect in this show? It is fan catering nonsense about some anti-social people gathering in a room and playing porn games all day long, while insulting one another with overused boob size jokes. Very social and helpful indeed. It is also about cosplaying to fit in as many fetishes as possible in the same character. Yeah, that’s how you make friends. Nobody ever thought of, I don’t know, trying to talk to other people in an honest way helps? Nope, five minutes and they all give up trying to not be viewed as a misinterpreted stereotype and head on to become a different stereotype. One defined by boob size, hair colour, and uniform fetishes. Oh yeah, the depth is oozing out of their ears.
Now before you go apeshit about realism in anime not being important, I can always turn this boomerang back at you by saying “it is about a realistic problem” at which point you can only defend by saying you like the PREMISE of the show but not its presentation. Yes, admitting it is superficial is the only way out. And even in the weird case you do not admit and claim it is a realistic and very educational anime because it is your opinion and thus you can do anything you like (duh) then I am afraid once again you can be proven wrong by simply mentioning two other older anime.
- Welcome to the NHK is a very bold take on the lives of NEETs and hikikomoris of Japan. It delves into their deepest and darkest problems and goes as far as depicting mass suicide, pyramid scams, and drug-like dependence on games, all of which are presented as NEGATIVE!
- Genshiken is about a group of otakus making a club as means to find common grounds in their hobby. It also occasionally shows the negative part of their hobbies by making them act deviant and wait in hours in comikets.
Well this anime doesn’t try to show the negative aspect of being an anti-social. I mean, that is the main conflict of the series, right? Being anti-social is bad and you need friends. In the contrary, it is presenting it as cool. The lead male is scary for having a scary face and that is all to it. The main blonde female is scary because she has big boobs. Others are gothic lolitas and loli nuns. Do you see any ugly people? Do you see anybody dressing in a bad kitsch way? Do you see pimples, acme, fatsos, cross-eyed, crooked-teethed amongst them? NO! That is not anti-social; it is totally standard ecchi comedy stereotypes thousands of otakus go crazy about. So by simple deduction THEY ARE NOT ANTI-SOCIAL AND HAVE NO CONTEXT! The story is a lame excuse for fan catering with the stupid excuse of dealing with anti-social people.
If you just look at Princess Jellyfish, a similar show that aired a few months before this one you will clearly see how the anti-social women in the story REALLY look bad and REALLY act scared of other people (especially hipsters). You were made to believe and care about them, something that this show lacks completely.
I find absolutely nothing worthy in terms of story and the core concept is hardly looked into. Furthermore, the actual plot was further ruined with filler material not present in the anime, which happens to be far less funny and interesting than the core story. The ending is also never to be seen and all you get is a revelation that feels completely retarded. Since when does letting your hair to grow long makes you a completely different and unrecognizable character? I will tell you how; only if they are so generically drawn that they are defined JUST BY THAT!
I find absolutely nothing worthy in terms of characters. They are all generic-looking, shallow cardboards, defined by their sexual deviance and body/uniform fetishes. Frankly speaking it is nothing but a poor attempt to make the otakus feel a connection to this problem before they keep watching the same shit as always. You know, in the same way all harems have pussy protagonists everybody hates but they are otherwise the archetype most of the target audience identifies with easier.
The production values are good on a superficial artwork level; there is moe and sexy uniforms all over the place. But the poor animation, as well as the complete lack of cinematics and artistic overtones makes it an overall standard presented anime with a forgettable OST. Seriously, I am looking at it and I see nothing but overused generic school grounds, overused generic character figures, and overused generic videogame parodies. Nothing to make it stand out from all the rest MOEMOEMOE FLOOD shows out there.
As for all of you who will just try to view the series as an average ecchi comedy, you will again be disappointed. There hardly is any nude or erotic moments and everything is about few lines of vulgar speech and focus on dress fetishes, like maids and swimsuits. NOTHING MORE! You can find ten times more in a standard ecchi comedy. This is just another poor excuse to get fascinated over buying otaku-related merchandise; which, trust me, will NOT help you make more friends. In fact, you may even lose the ones you already have.
As for the whole “making friends” concept that so many people thought it’s so amazing and original and spam 10s all over the place? It is forgotten in a few episodes and afterwards it is just excuses for cosplay and comedy. You can find more serious and elaborate mechanics in a typical shounen series, where the hero makes friends out of the people he beats up. It works better than playing porn games all day and bitching at your co-player being a “sperm bucket”.
Educational anime my butt; it’s retarded fan catering nonsense for people without any expectations.
I have seen several anime that were very similar to this one, unfortunately for this show, most of them were far better. The whole over used harem thing is one thing and not the worst thing but it is indicative of a show that must resort to using cheap tricks or tired cliches but without bringing much new or useful to the genre or theme of harem play. I do not cater to bias against crossdressers but, the whole bs reason behind Yukimura's makes little sense beyond the first time he does it. They need a better story reason for him to keep doing that and be either guilable enough or dumb enough to fall for it or just fess up and admit he likes wearing women's clothing. The way underage nun is a bit odd to say the least. It is fairly hard to see her being a college graduate with enough tenior to be a teacher as being plausible even if she were a genius, but this whole concept totally falls flat on it's face by how foolish, childish, and guillable she is to every tormenting act the wicked Yozora brings to her. Really, even if she is young and a child, if she is a genius she would by rights have some element of maturity well beyond her years and certainly enough brain power to realize she was being lied to and tormented. The only real bright spot in the series is in fact Sena. She is a nice, charming girl who sometmes falls for easy tricks and lets her emotions overwhelm her reaction but that is understandable and way more so than the behavior of any other character.
The lead character, Kodaka is way too lassez faire to any of the childish immature escapides his friends perform around him especially when it comes to standing by while the nut job, Yozora abuses everyone around her at will. It shatters the illusion that he is supposed to be the only mature straight man type of character in the show. His sister is a bit too overly obsessed with some anime that you are forced to wonder if she is any more sane than the science student or Yozora. And our lead character seems to do little to check that unhealthy hobby.
It is watchable but this show won't win any awards or brownie points on it's merits, it only works as modest entertainment with medium to low value though leaning toward the lower end of that spectrum. It does a poor attempt relatively to compete with the dozens of other shows with a very similar feel to them, such as the show "Seitokai Yakuindomo" or "Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai" which do much better jobs even though both are a bit more suggestive of adult themes.