Hi Score Girl Series

Anime Hajime Review: Hi Score Girl II

Original Run: October 26, 2019 - December 21, 2019
Number of Episodes: 9
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Based on the Series Created By: Rensuke Oshikiri

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Hi Score Girl II. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

A hardcore gamer ever since childhood, Haruo Yaguchi (voiced by Kouhei Amasaki) continues to frequent the 90s’ blossoming arcade gaming scene. Although much more even-keeled than he was when he was young, Haruo still gets incredibly excited whenever there is a new release.

However, Haruo’s anticipation has less to do with the actual new game and more to do with the fact that he will be able to challenge his longtime rival Akira Oono (voiced by Sayumi Suzushiro).

Both Haruo and Akira have grown close thanks to their competitive personalities, albeit Haruo almost never has any chance when against Akira. Recently, though, their relationship has been moving away from their shared love of video games. As the two grow older, they begin to realize that they might actually have much stronger feelings towards one another.

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Series Positives

Something tells me I’m going to run into a lot of disagreement with this review.

Before I say anymore, for those who aren’t aware (like I was when I watched this series), there exist three OVA episodes that serve as a bridge between Hi Score Girl and Hi Score Girl II. I did not find out about this detail until after the fact, so that was fun. Thus, if you are thinking about giving this second installment a try, be sure you’ve fully caught yourself up.

As such, I am willing to give Hi Score Girl II the benefit of the doubt in certain aspects. For instance, if unfamiliar characters showed up in this season randomly, I am assuming they had their introduction in the OVAs. Granted, I could dispel such question marks by merely watching the three episodes. Although I won’t deny the possibility of me doing that some time down the road, I need to be honest with you. I want to put this series to rest.

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It has been proving difficult for me to get behind Hi Score Girl. For you see, I have found this series to be underwhelming.

Don’t get me wrong, there were aspects to this show that I enjoyed. However, I can’t and won’t ignore the immense sense of disinterest I had while watching. That was true in season one, and it was even more so during this season.

Before we get into any of that, though, I must give Hi Score Girl some due credit.

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My favorite character in this series is Akira Oono, and I don’t mean to say she was the most tolerable person out of a lackluster bunch. No, Akira was a legitimately good character who should not be overlooked. Her story is the reason I can understand why people have praised this show. Hi Score Girl, I will admit, is much, much more than a silly slice-of-life anime whose primary gimmick was incorporating the 90s video game community. Instead, this was a true coming of age romance that happened to be built on a shared love of arcade fighting games.

Akira encompassed this.

It is not surprising to me why Akira fell for someone like Haruo Yaguchi, and vice-versa. Akira gravitated towards Haruo because he was a wild card in her otherwise ridged, no-nonsense life. With the weight of her family’s legacy on her shoulders, Akira rarely had any chance to indulge in a hobby that was her own. She spent all her time studying, practicing, and being transformed into a “proper” lady. The people around Akira often treated her like a priceless piece of art that needed to be handled with the utmost care; rarely was she ever allowed to just be a kid.

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With that sort of life in mind, imagine the colossal monkey wrench a person like Haruo could be. For Akira, here was a person who was willing to be aggressive with her. Keep in mind, aggressive doesn’t necessarily mean violent. What I’m getting at is, Haruo had no interest in pampering a princess; he only wanted to take down his sworn rival.

By the end of season two, Akira had found a place where she could be herself, as well as a person who allowed her the freedom to let down her guard.

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Additionally, I do find it interesting that my favorite character in this series was also the only character who didn’t talk. By the way, god damn it show. What’s the point of having a character who can convey everything they are feeling through actions and expressions when you’re just going to explain their thought process through exposition?

With everything I have said, I suppose the natural next question would be: Do I hate this series?

The answer to that is a definitive no. However, I want to make it equally clear that the opposite isn’t the case either. I neither liked nor disliked Hi Score Girl. That said, I did find it to be a tad boring.

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Series Negatives

I will say that I was glad Hi Score Girl II was only nine episodes long. If it were a standard length anime, then I guarantee I would have fallen asleep during it.

Truth be told, though, I’m not entirely sure why I have found this series to be so dull. What I can tell you is that because this story never managed to grab my attention, I have never been able to get past Hi Score Girl’s animation.

I want to know the reason why this series thought it was a good idea to use such bubbly CGI. Hi Score Girl has only ever come off as looking cheap to me. And I find this style even more surprising since this show was from the same studio (J.C. Staff) that gave us Toradora, the Academy City series, and KonoSuba, and that’s just to name a few.

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I have always made it a policy to never overstate the quality of a show’s animation. Granted, I do praise and comment when appropriate, but I have never recommended a series solely based on its art style. Moreover, I try to encourage everyone to not fall victim to a sort of animated tunnel vision.

Always remember, a series can look like absolute garbage and still be successfully amazing so long as its key areas – story and characters – are secure. Hell, Kemono Friends proved that in spades. Consequently, the weaker a show in the places that matter, the more noticeable poor animation tends to be.

Case in point, Hi Score Girl II.

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This wasn’t a trainwreck of a season. Nevertheless, the critical elements that I mentioned were overpowered by this series’ animation. A rather unfortunate circumstance if I do say so myself.

Thinking back, all I really remember about season one was how it looked. The characters, the narrative, neither of those elements left any impact. Sadly, I feel this sentiment is only going to be much more significant for season two.

Now, were there any scenes or moments from this season that I could use to make my point? Not really, and that kind of is my point. Nothing about Hi Score Girl II, or this entire series for that matter, stands out as particularly memorable.

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Admittedly, this season got a lot more interesting near the end once the focus centered more exclusively around Akira and Haruo. But although this series ended on an upswing, it was too little too late. The final episode was not at all satisfying.

I guess you could say that this show was leaving itself an opening for a continuation. If that is the case, then I haven’t a clue where this story might be going, and the idea of a Hi Score Girl III seems unlikely to me. Then again, I thought the same thing at the end of the last season.

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Final Thoughts

I can’t with this series.

I did recommend the previous season, but I did so while straddling the fence, as well as under the assumption we were done. However, we weren’t done, and this installment definitively pushed me in a direction.

This series is on the slow side of things. That in of itself was not the problem. A slower story can work provided that said story and characters are being carefully crafted into something worth watching. I’ve seen it done in the past, but I didn’t see it done here.

Challenge me in the comments below, but I simply cannot recommend Hi Score Girl II.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Hi Score Girl II? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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