「僕は友達が……」 (Boku wa Tomodachi ga….)
“I Have… Friends”
Seeing how we already knew that Kodaka would be spending time with Yusa and Hidaka from last week’s preview, I entered the episode questioning what kind of impact two brand new characters could bring. Because, at least from Yozora’s perspective, the two are an encompassment of what the Neighbors Club strives to be (or possibly strives to avoid) — friendly, popular, and down to earth with a decent amount of common sense. But boy, was I wrong for questioning the writers and their decisions to introduce new characters during the last episode! Because after two seasons of watching Kodaka endure unwarranted glares, it was nice to finally see people outside of the club recognize him for the person that he really is. And while Yusa’s view may be a little bit exaggerated it really puts things into perspective when Hidaka, the most popular/powerful person in school, follows suit and gives him the benefit of the doubt. And not only did it really get the ball rolling by providing a stark contrast between Kodaka’s view of the world versus a regular person’s but had the episode started with Kodaka being blackmailed by Rika into meeting her, I doubt it would have had the same impact.
But boy, the second half of the episode really was something. What do you get when you get the two most sane members of the Neighbors Club in a heated battle to the death? Besides almost real nekomimi and deadly projectiles, you get the perfect environment for two people to face the lies they’ve been telling themselves. Honestly though, I never once thought about all the sacrifices that Rika made for her friends in the Neighbors Club. Sure there were all the technology related things she managed but after listening to Kodaka point out how she had to do all the dirty work in order to keep the peace I started to feel really bad for her. In the end though, things came to a close in a fairly clear manner — Kodaka manages to get passed his fear of relationships by finally opening himself up to someone else and allowing that person to help him stand on his two feet.
Before I start my final impressions, I wanted to point out something that really stuck out to me toward the end of the episode. There was a scene at the end of the episode where you see a young Kodaka staring at a young Yozora and it transitions into the present Kodaka looking at Rika. The moment that I saw that, it dawned on me that Yozora had officially lost the battle she’s been fighting at for the entire series — trying to keep Kodaka all to herself. While she was going about it in all the wrong ways, it’s a little disheartening to think about how all of her efforts have been in vain. Not only did she lose on both fronts, friendship and love, but to watch Kodaka get ripped away from her because of the very club she created must have been ripping her up from the inside.
Haganai’s second season in my opinion was one of the rare occasions where a sequel manages to reach even higher heights than the first. (I’m looking at you Baka test!) With wacky characters who acknowledge that they’re missing more than just a few screws, this show leaves all the stale gags behind and creates situations where both the environment and the characters work together to create something that feels new and different. Be it the fake trap Yukimura wearing awfully revealing clothes before we found she was actually not a trap or Yozora and Sena ignoring motion sickness and taking on a gigantic rollercoaster way too many times — it doesn’t feel out of place but still brings out all the laughs.
But Haganai really shone this season with its constant focus on the emotional side of friendship and its shove at the very end for Kodaka to face one of his biggest fears. As the hints became less subtle with each episode, it became clear that the focus wasn’t on who Kodaka would end up with but rather when Kodaka would open up and acknowledge all the feelings of those around him. All while hiding the gigantic surprise that Rika would be the one who’d become Kodaka’s first official friend. In hindsight it probably should have been fairly obvious with all the screen time she was getting but it just makes me feel all fuzzy inside after watching the two let everything out and end up even stronger than before.
All in all, Haganai stuck with made it such a good show in the first place and then added more than anyone could have asked for. By keeping the gags at first and slowly transitioning into something much deeper than a standard harem comedy, the show was able to transcend into something that could make you question some of the decisions you’ve made in life. Don’t get me wrong though — this show is far from perfect. With pacing issues and jokes that some people probably wouldn’t be comfortable with, I wouldn’t say this this is a show for everybody. But for those of you who don’t take things too seriously and watch anime to enjoy it, I would have no problems recommending a show like this.
P.S. Thank you everyone for taking the time to read my posts and leave all these awesome comments. It’s because of you, the readers, that I even consider doing this episodic-blogging thing. <3