“Friends” Without Benefits
The Japanese title for this is…(take a deep breath…) “Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai”, which means “I Have Few Friends”, but we know it better as “Haganai”. Look, it’s another school-based anime! How original! And we have a new transfer student! Doubly original! And he’s having troulbes fitting it! We hit the trifecta!
OK, let’s put the snarkiness aside. Kodaka Hasegawa (the guy in the middle) is a recent transfer student to St. Chronica’s Academy, a Catholic high school. As with every other school he has ever attended, he finds it difficult to make friends there because of his naturally-blond hair (inherited from his deceased English mother) and fierce-looking eyes, which make him look threatening.
While doing something on campus, Kodaka comes across the equally solitary and highly abrasive Yozora Mikazuki (the one to his right) while she converses with her imaginary friend, Tomo. Realizing that neither of them have any friends or social skills, they decide that the best way to improve their situation is to form a club, The Neighbor’s Club, intended to make friends and learn social skills.
They slowly start to acquire members, as these folks are also social misfits for one reason or another:
Sena Kashiwazaki, that busty blonde up there. She has a double whammy: she is rich and her mother is the school’s head teacher, so there is a seething arrogance about her and no one wants to be her friend.
Kobato Hasegawa, the one with heterochromia iridum (two different colored eyes; reading me is an educational adventure), is Kodaka’s younger sister with a penchant for the dark and the macabre and sometimes pretends to be a vampire. This usually runs in full conflict to:
Maria Takayama, the one at the far right. She is 10-years old, a child genius, the supervising teacher for the club and a nun, so the sacred and the profane have conflicts of the most ridiculous caliber for some jolly good fun.
Yukimura Kusunoki. That’s the guy at the far left. Guy? Did you say guy? Well he bills himself as a guy, but s/he is decidedly non-masculine. Anyway, Yuki takes a lot of abuse in order to be more manly.
Rika Shiguma (the one in yellow), who is a mad scientist and some hopeless pervert of the highest order, always talking in rather smutty terms and losing it in regards to mecha sex.
Well, it’s not hard to see why these folks have been shunned and why they have a hard time making friends and being a friend. In fact, one of the more delicious conflicts is between Yozora and Sena, as they clash over everything and it seems it is done more to clash than any real problems or concerns. They slowly learn what it means to be a real friend (not in title only) and that it is a painful and hurtful process at times as you open yourself up to all the possibilities that exist.
Another really good looking show, I mean Sena is one hot number who isn’t afraid for people to see she is one hot number. Look at that suit she’s wearing! I’ve seen more cloth in a Barbie dress! As the series progresses, they come to realize that they have become friends. They were all looking for some thunderclap of revelation, a kind of “Today, you are a friend!” level of pronouncement, but they slide towards that point, learning the quirks and idiosyncrasy each have and come to an acceptance of who they are and what it means to be a friend.
It ends a bit on the flat side, and there is a suggestion of a potential second season, but it is still a most enjoyable show.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Good lines with the artwork)
Plot 7 (Creaks at points)
Pacing 9 (Moves at a nice tempo)
Effectiveness 7 (Sometimes gets a bit too back-biting)
Conclusion 8 (It reaches a ‘save point’, but it’s a good spot)
Fan Service 4 (A similar show would be “Gurren Lagann”)
Overall 8 (Really forces one to examine yourself)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. More robot randiness?