The thing that sucks about the end of a season, of course, is that it also means the end of series you really like (if it’s a decent season, at least). Hi Score Girl is a particularly hard one to let go of for me, ironically in part because this really is it – it’s a complete adaptation. There’s no manga to turn to. I want to see series get complete adaptations of course, that’s ideal – but there is a sort of solace in knowing the story goes on in manga form. As well, the odyssey of getting this one to the screen has been such a long and aggravating one for those of us that love HSG that we want to savor the anime for as long as possible.
Love it I do, and savor it I have been. But this is a series telling a very specific personal story and while one could certainly envision a sequel (a direct one, not Dash), this one is indisputably ending in the right place. We’ve been building to this for two seasons and 10 volumes. And as we reach this point at last – starting with Haruo and Akira in that hotel bed together – what really stands out for me is the passage of time, both on-screen and off.
Even in context of the cosmic lightning flash that is a human lifespan, five years isn’t a very long time. A blink, really, if you’re an adult. But when you’re eleven and it takes you to sixteen, it’s longer than any geological age. It’s hard to imagine anyone changing more than an 11 year-old becoming a 16 year-old, but in point of fact much of who we will become is already nailed down when we’re children. To show us how Haruo especially changed in those five years (monumentally), and reconcile that with the fact that his essential nature remains intact – that’s the triumph of Hi Score Girl as a narrative. And indeed, in a general sense the heart of any good coming-of-age story.
That takes us back to the bed in that hotel room. This was a moment flush with implication anyway – two teenagers in love sharing the same bed, with the main obstacle between them (sob) having been swept aside. But then you consider what Oono knows that Haruo doesn’t – that for her, this really is probably her last chance… I don’t want to go all Tomino Yoshiyuki here, but if ever there was a time for two people to have sex, this was surely it. Their adult role-models were practically begging them to, for goodness sake. From his side I understand why Haruo would hesitate – he’s set up this challenge in his mind to mythical status, and it would feel wrong to jump the gun. But why would Akira not seize the moment? I know these things are awkward and never easy when you’re a teenager, but… What a shame.
As it stands, the situation – along with Oono’s relentless erotic noodging – is enough to prevent Haruo from getting much sleep. She claims the same is true for her, but I have my doubts too, Haruo. But time, tide and Street Fighter II wait for no man or woman. Haruo and Akira are in different brackets fortunately, and he breezes through C-block with relative ease despite being exhausted. But when he goes to check the status of Group F, to his shock Haruo learns that Akira has lost her first match. She’s not out, but this pushes her into the dreaded losers bracket – where only one survivor can make the final 12-player tournament.
Akira isn’t telling obviously, but it seems pretty clear that the weight of the secret she carries is throwing her off her game. Her spirit animal Zangief slaps some sense into her Soviet style, and she recovers in time to slam through the losers bracket. The first two rounds of the finals (only one for Haruo, as a group winner) find the pair matched up in the semi-finals, not the final – and despite the matchup odds (they’ve never mattered before) she takes the first round in relative ease. Sadly for Haruo, what she knows and he doesn’t undercuts the significance of this moment in their relationship – but the truth, like the winner of their battle, will be known soon enough…