Genre: Comedy, seinen, romance, school
Studio: J.C. Staff
Episodes: 12 (+ 3 OVAs)
Available on: Netflix
It is 1991 and protagonist Yaguchi Haruo is a video game obsessed grade schooler who spends every waking moment of his existence playing the arcade games available to him. One day whilst playing a game of Street Fighter 2 at his local arcade, Haruo meets an opponent in the game who swiftly kicks his gamer ass and leaves him gobsmacked. The challenger turns out to be the incredibly rich, smart and beautiful Ono Akira who happens to be a fellow classmate of Haruo’s. Haruo and Akira being gaming together regularly in the arcade as Haruo is determined to beat his new rival. Hi Score Girl follows Haruo, his relationship with Akira and friends as well as his childhood and the various games to keep him entertained as an adolescent.
Hi Score Girl is one of those series which I would constantly be recommended by on my Netflix account but I would always scroll past in a haze of disinterest. Finally, I gave in to my recommendations, I added it to my watch list and decided to give it a go and I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised.
When first reading the premise for this series, it came across as possibly being a repetitive series which would get old fast. Our protagonist Haruo is a game obsessed kid with bad grades and a brain which has been fried by pixels. He meets a girl in his local arcade who rivals and even surpasses him in terms of gaming skills. Haruo takes this rivalling gamer very seriously and my mind I believed the series would stick within the confines of the arcade whilst the two duked it out as kids. I should not have let the cover art and brief synopsis deceive my as I was so far from the truth that the series presents to the viewer.
Whilst the series starts off with Haruo, Akira and friends being a bunch of grade schoolers, the series far surpassed my expectations with how the story would develop. One of the most enjoyable elements of Hi Score Girl is you get to see the characters grow, literally! It shows the characters growing all the way into high school which I found to be an interesting and refreshing take on character development and storytelling. I am used to the usual flashback scenes or episodes which give more development on characters and their backstories but Hi Score Girl almost allows the viewer to grow along with the character and see some of the milestones which the characters have to face such as high school entrance exams and first loves.
The animation style which Hi Score Girl used was an interesting combination of 2D and 3D animation. Whilst the use of the two animation styles are nothing new to the anime genre, Hi Score Girl has an unusual look compared to other series which utilise the two techniques. I find a lot of 3D and CGI based anime rather unbearable. It often looks clunky and doesn’t have the same fluidity which 2D offers and is usually pretty damn ugly. Hi Score Girl, whilst not having the most groundbreaking animation style in the world, was pleasant to watch and at times often fascinated me in the style which the series uses. The characters have the 2D drawing style which most anime fans are accustomed to but at the same time the characters have a roundness to them with their movements and at certain angles it is obvious they seem more 3D than 2D.
The characters that make up Hi Score Girl are few and far between as the series mainly focuses on a handful of characters instead of an expansive cast. Haruo can be annoying and a one track mind kind of guy at times but he has a good heart which makes him a likeable protagonist even amongst his stupidity. Akira is an interesting case as I was surprised to find out that she never speaks once within the 15 episodes. She cries and makes other reaction noises of surprise and anger but she never utters a word. I found this to be frustrating at first but I grew accustomed to it and somehow her silence adds to her character. She also has a tsundere like quality to her when with Haruo as can often be seen punching him which is usually a big turn off for me but I somehow still found her character endearing. Seeing Haruo and Akira grow and become closer in their own special ways was a heartwarming part that the anime offered and I hope with the announcement of season 2 that they continue to grow closer together.
Although Hi Score Girl isn’t anything super special, it certainly has its own appeal and charm. The series gave me an insight into 80s and 90s arcade games which adds a fun vintage flavour to this more modern game fan. I’m looking forward to what season 2 has to offer.
Overall rating: 7/10
Until next time thanks for reading and I hope you’re having a great day!
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