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Anime Hajime Review: Higehiro – After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway.

Original Run: April 5, 2021 - June 28, 2021
Number of Episodes: 13
Genre: Drama
Based on the Series Created By: Shimesaba

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

On his way home after being rejected by his crush, a young businessman, Yoshida (voiced by Kazuyuki Okitsu), runs into a teenage girl sitting alone in a dark alley under a light post. The girl, Sayu Ogiwara (voiced by Kana Ichinose), is not forthcoming with her circumstances. Still, it is clear to Yoshida that she is a runaway.

Then, Sayu offers to sleep with Yoshida in exchange for a place to stay. Yoshida has no interest in having sex with a minor, but he does take pity on Sayu and offers her his home for the night.

This chance encounter brought together two lives that would have, otherwise, never crossed. Nevertheless, Yoshida soon learns the lengths Sayu has gone to survive.

Series Positives

Higehiro played with fire. This is a series that might lose viewers by the time episode one ends. Granted, this dilemma has less to do with the show itself and more to do with anime’s reputation. Even I considered stopping because I had no faith anything good would come out of this story. Therefore, though it is a spoiler, it is essential we make this clear:

Sayu Ogiwara and Yoshida did not end up having sex. More than that, throughout Higehiro, Yoshida maintained he had zero romantic interest in Sayu. Although I cannot say the same for Sayu about Yoshida, at least her circumstances were unique; we’ll get to that later. But the point is, the route you might assume this series will go down never manifests itself.

This show was uncomfortable in parts. However, to an extent, I would argue that was the point.

Higehiro surprised me. Make no mistake; this series was not perfect. It had plenty of issues that, at times, outweighed what good there was. Nevertheless, it would be wrong of me to act as if there were no memorable moments.

And before we continue, something has been bothering me. From Wikipedia to IMDb, as of this review’s release, many sources categorize Higehiro as a romantic comedy. While that may be its official designation, it is exceedingly misleading because this series (the anime version of it) was neither.

Okay, Higehiro may be a comedy in the sense that it had a happy ending; it wasn’t a tragedy. But let’s be honest with ourselves; when we think “comedy,” I would bet most people imagine jokes, laughter, and general silliness. While this series might have had humor – most stories do to some degree – getting you to chuckle was not its goal.

This show was far too drama-focused than the word “comedy” suggests.

Additionally, saying Higehiro was a romance is also problematic since it implies a grown man fell in (intimate) love with a teenager. Frankly, there are enough shows out there like that, which is disturbing. But that wasn’t what happened in this series.

The thing that impressed me the most about Higehiro was the relationship between Yoshida and Sayu.

Now, was it weird that a full-fledged adult took in a random teenager off the streets without calling the authorities, especially if said teenager offered up their body – unprompted –  in exchange for a place to sleep? Yes, that was very weird, and shame on Yoshida for doing it. Aside from that, though, good on Yoshida for setting a boundary and sticking to it.

Although Sayu was pretty much throwing herself at him, Yoshida would not budge. In his eyes, Sayu was a child, which was an apt sentiment since that was what she was.

But if you think I am going to claim it was Yoshida and his white-knight heroism that made Higehiro worth watching, you would be wrong. On the contrary, Yoshida was actually a bit preachy. I say it like that because he was excessively black-and-white; i.e., “good kids shouldn’t do what Sayu has had to do.”

To give Yoshida some slack, he wasn’t the only high-and-mighty character in this series (TRUST ME, he wasn’t).

No, the real star of this show was Sayu and, more specifically, her backstory. By the time she met Yoshida, she had gone through a lot. The things she had to do were not things she enjoyed. Instead, she acted in ways she knew would keep her alive – not necessarily happy, but alive.

To Sayu, sex, her body, and “intimacy” were a form of currency. If she offered those, guys would give her what she needed:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Human connection

Then when the person Sayu was with no longer needed her, they left. Sayu would then have to wander until she found the next exchange.

Does that sound messed-up to you? It had better because it is, and it was. Sayu’s story was not a happy one, and I only mentioned a tiny sliver of the ordeal she had experienced. This child – as all the adults in this series were quick to say she was – had lived a difficult life. Was it any wonder why her sense of “what is proper” was worlds different than the ideals Yoshida claimed he represented?

Higehiro will not be among the best anime of the year. But it would not surprise me if Sayu appeared during the 4th Annual Anime Hajime Highlights (February 2022).

All the good that came out of this series was because of Sayu’s story. Higehiro did a fantastic job illustrating that there is more to a person than what you see on the surface. Perhaps people should consider someone’s background a little more before passing judgment.

As I said, calling this series a romantic comedy and leaving it at that does not offer us an accurate representation of what actually took place.

Series Negatives

Yoshida’s eventually realized how full of himself he had been when meeting Sayu. In the beginning, he thought he had all the answers and that his way was the right one. As he got to know Sayu more, and after learning the entirety of her circumstances, only then did Yoshida really consider how he might actually help someone he had grown to care for.

The same was not true for Airi Gotou and Yuzuha Mishima (voiced respectively by Hisako Kanemoto and Kaori Ishihara). These two adult women did more to turn this series into a typical teenage romance drama than the actual teenager.

Oh my god, it was always the most grating thing whenever Airi or Yuzuha tried “teaching” Sayu how to build her confidence. Neither of them took a moment to realize, “Hey, maybe there is a lot more going on, and I am actually incredibly condescending right now.”

Higehiro

And what made things worse was, Airi and Yuzuha didn’t need to be in this show; they contributed nothing to Higehiro’s resolution.

This story came down to Yoshida and Sayu confronting the latter’s past. And the person who gave the kick in the ass these two needed was Yoshida’s friend Hashimoto (voiced by Yuusuke Kobayashi), who was barely in this series. All Airi and Yuzuha ever did was:

  • Airi – String Yoshida along even after she had rejected him, and then show an interest once rumors of a possible girlfriend came about.
  • Yuzuha – Act like a spoiled brat the entire series and get mad at Yoshida for not showering her with affection like he did with Sayu, despite him having no obligation to do so.

If it appears odd that I am focusing this entire section on two characters, it’s because their absence instantly made Higehiro better.

Whenever Airi and Yuzuha were not on the screen, this series was far more interesting. Then when they were no longer key players in the story at all, Higehiro got really good. The last few episodes in this show were legitimately fantastic.

But sadly, this series had too many drama-but-not-really aspects that we can find in far more generic romance stories. And since this was not a romance in the usual sense, elements such as Airi and Yuzuha only held Higehiro back.

Final Thoughts

I had no faith this show could make it the entire way without a romantic relationship forming between its two main characters. The fact that it managed to do that was beyond impressive.

Be that as it may, you should know, this series will dance around the line separating circumstance from what is highly inappropriate. This show took a few risks – if we are putting it nicely.

Sometimes, those risks fell flat, but not always. No, when this story hit home, it did so soundly.

To my surprise, Higehiro has earned a recommendation.

But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Higehiro? 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 Odyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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