「Round 24」

Irritatingly (but not coincidentally) I always seem to be traveling at the end of anime seasons. I never like to rush through posts, but that especially applies to series reviews, and especially of shows I love. But I have to make concessions to reality sometimes so this is going to be a lot shorter than it should be. All I can offer in penitence is that in the event something gives me a reason to talk about Hi Score Girl again in a few days (oh, who am I kidding – we both know I will be) I can make up a bit of the difference then.

All that really matters in the end is that I love Hi Score Girl, and I loved this adaptation. I loved the manga from the first chapter I read, I suffered through an agonizing five years of purgatory after Square Enix’ laziness put the anime on-hold. None of that holds a candle to what Oshikiri Rensuke went through of course, having the foundation of his career effectively ripped away from him through no fault of his own. But all’s well that ends well I suppose, and HSG did at least get the adaptation it deserved.

This season was very much the continuation of the first, there’s no question about that. The themes that were set up early in the story played themselves out to their logical conclusion. That means, among other things, that Koharu was effectively a distraction (albeit a fabulous one) – and it’s kind of heartbreaking to see her acknowledge that here. It also means that Haru has to see his promise to himself through, even if it is a relic of childhood. In the end he never could beat Oono in a real match – but I would argue he never really wanted to. Her mystique was something he loved about her.

The business with returning the ring was interesting. I can very much see Akira doing it for exactly the reason Koharu says, but I kind of don’t blame Haruo for not getting that – I don’t think I would have when I was sixteen. The truth is though that for Akira, Haruo is always her knight in shining armor, and knights in shining armor should always appear on their noble steed at the last moment to save the princess. It’s fitting that it’s Koharu who finally breaks through the fog of indecision for Haruo.

The way Oshikiri-sensei staged this, with the pantheon of game characters (led by Guile of course) that Haruo loved repaying that love by making his final meeting with Akira possible, was exactly how I would have wanted to see that play out. That said, there is a measure of uncertainty to this, which is fitting because these are still kids beholden to the whims of their parents. What’s not uncertain now are Haruo and Akira’s feelings for each other – though I’m not sure they ever really were. Perhaps we might get a clue as to what actually happens next when the first chapter of Hi Score Girl DASH comes out on Christmas Day – though that won’t be the focus of the manga (Koharu at age 29 will be) so I won’t be shocked if we don’t get much detail.

It’s such a great (and rare) thing when manga we love get the anime they should. So despite all the agony that went along with it, in the end I think Hi Score Girl fans should feel lucky – and maybe appreciate the fact that this is even sweeter than it would have been without the series’ travails. Heck, even the CG totally ended up working for me – it fit, just as the voices and the music and the overall tone of the anime did. Sometimes, even in a medium as crass and capricious as anime, justice really is served. And for HSG fans, that dish tastes all the better because we damn well earned it.


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