This is a real mixed-bag of a show for me. I like the general concept of it but detest the animation decisions, as it serves no purpose to make it 3D-ish, unless they were trying to tie things in with the video games they were playing. Anyway, this is the world of “Hi-Score Girl” , (‘Hai Sukoa Gāru’).
Let us return to those heady days of the 1990s. It is at least 1991, but it might be 1992. We are at the corner arcade as we look into the life of Haruo Yaguchi. He is a bit of a non-entity: so-so in school, so-so with athletics, so-so regarding looks (even in this art style, he’s on the downslope). The only thing he has going for him is his skills in the arcade, as he flattens everyone he meets.
Then he meets Akira Ono who absolutely flattens him in ‘Street Fighter II’. Oh, you bet it is on! The problem is just how hard it is to be a seven in a world of tens and he gets pounded like New Year’s mochi by her each and every time they meet, regardless of the caliber of machine or the style of gaming. The series details Haruo’s love of gaming and potentially some real affection for Akira.
The thing is Akira’s life is vastly different from Haruo, as she is the lonely rich girl, where the butler understands her far better than her parents, who only demand the best, so something as common as playing video games is not on the menu. This also has caused Akira to become socially stunted, as she has a hard time interacting with people and dealing with people and, eventually, caring for people. All she can do is crush them in video games.
There is a time jump in the middle of the series, as at least a year and potentially two have passed. Things have changed and things haven’t changed, but I would have liked more of a heads-up to this than waste a show trying to do the math. Even with the time jump, Haruo really hasn’t changed that much, but he does get a chance to reconnect with Akira.
This felt like a caliber of love letter to those people who were really playing (and I mean REALLY PLAYING) these arcade games back in the day. It’s just that Haruo comes off a more flat than the screens that showcase these games. I kind of get tired of unrequited love. I would rather have him commit and get shot down in a flaming pile of burning debris than to wonder and wonder and wonder.
Perhaps I feel the way I do owing to the artwork. There are times that 3D artwork is amazing and other times it is bland and boring. This falls into the latter and I felt a lot of emotionality was lost because it couldn’t be rendered to its best. If you can put that to one side, it is a charming show and Episode 2 is a real treat. I don’t want to wreck it for you, but that it was so obviously obvious is part of its charm.
As I closed this out, I heard there was to be a second season, but I honestly do not know where you can go with this and not make it look like a retread.
Binge? Line up your quarters (or 100-yen coins), as you will be here for some time.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Horrible CG)
Plot 7 (Typical but charming)
Pacing 8 (Gameplay is frantic)
Effectiveness 7 (The time jump hurts things)
Conclusion 6 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Bingeability 7 (That time jump in the middle is nettlesome)
Overall 7 (Good story, hurt by that artwork)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. I….lost? Again?