Boku Wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai – 11

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That has to be one of the more natural crossovers in recent anime history.

I suppose people are going to react to this episode based on which sort of Haganai they like.  For me, this was very good stuff, even though I’ll be the first to confess it was some of the most low-key material the series has done.  When you factor in that the long tease about “Taka and Sora” has finally been brought to a close, and you have a real success.  But I know some fans like this series with it’s teeth bared a little bit more, and I think that’s just a matter of personal taste.  If I can go an entire episode feeling sorry for Yozora more than loathing her, the episode is off to a good start.

I don’t mind that Haganai pretty much plays it by the books as far as hitting all the tropes, because that’s sort of the point – really, this is a satire of those tropes in a somewhat similar way to its stable-mate at AIC Build, Oreimo.  That’s why I wasn’t at all surprised to see four very familiar figures when Rika was describing her aborted trip to Comiket.  For all its outlandish humor and ecchi content, there’s an undercurrent of sadness (just look at Kodaka’s speech about his hair) that runs through this show and it was much in evidence here.  Rika and Yozora are both broken, and in fact everyone in the show is broken to some extent.  That’s why they fit together, as a confederacy of badly-fitted people, and I think that’s something a lot of people (certainly a lot of otaku) can identify with.  So when Rika described her failed attempt to go to Comiket I didn’t find it funny so much as very sad – here’s a girl who loves doujinshi dearly yet due to her own demons is unable to enjoy the world’s largest celebration of the art.  For all her sexual bluster, she’s basically shy and lonely.

Yozora is certainly lonely, though certainly not shy.  So when the Matsuri episode got its turn in the trope spotlight, it figured she’d tag along (Rika as well) and turn it into a personal battle with Sena.  For her it was a big day as well, as she’d never been to a festival before.  The difference of course is that Sena embraces new things in a way Yozora doesn’t – she won’t even wear a yukata when Kodaka says she’d look good in one – but Yozora wasn’t about to let Kodaka go off somewhere with her rival without tagging along.  For Kodaka it was a quest to find takoyaki as good as he had in Osaka (a failure), for Maria to gorge herself on twice her body weight in whatever food the others would buy for her, and for Yukimura a chance to be around the guy she likes. 

Naturally Kobato and Maria paired off in one rivalry and Sena and Yozora the other, but the irony here is that for three of those four people, this is effectively a friendship.  For the younger pair there isn’t so much baggage, so they’ve just basically segued into being bickering sisters, but the interesting dynamic is between Sena and Yozora.  Sena – for whatever reason – obviously views Yozora as someone worth trying to be friends with.  They’re both lonely, but for Sena the remedy is to try and engage Yozora.  For Yozora, it’s to do whatever she can to keep Sena from getting close to her.  That’s the fundamental difference between the two of them, really, and I haven’t seen much evidence in 11 episodes that Yozora is growing out of it.  I was happy for Rika, though, who fared quite well once the two enemies went off on their own to engage in a private death match (best choco-banana scene since Chokotto Sister).  She was adorable in winning the Xbox 360 for Kodaka – “Pretend it’s me and play with it all day” – though he completely whiffed on the hint.

Of course there’s one person for whom Yozora is willing to let her guard down.  After she reaches her low point in the series, slinking off in humiliation, drenched, after her hair caught on fire due to a small fireworks mishap (even I felt sorry for her) I could see where things were headed.  And indeed, after a week of seclusion she shows up in class with short hair, and the synapses in Kodaka’s brain finally fire.  The question is, where does the series go with this information?  It’s obvious that there’s no way the anime can have a real “ending” as the story has barely gotten started, but a major milestone has been achieved with the reveal and I’ll be curious to see where it goes from here.  I certainly don’t expect any pairings but the dynamics of the group will change with this news, and there’s the matter of Yukimura’s identity as well (though they’ve trolled us for a full season, so maybe they’ll leave it hanging).  I wonder if everyone will realize what’s been obvious for weeks – they’re all friends.  Objective achieved, in its own bizarre fashion.

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  1. F

    I think the thing Sena sees in Yozora is very similar to what she sees in Kodaka. They are the first two "peers" who didn't basically roll over and let her walk all over them. And somewhat perversely, she likes that. Yozora pushes it further, so she gets a larger thrill out of it.

    For Sena, Yozora's just as important to her as Kodaka is. I think the cruelest thing you could do to her is tell her she could only be around one of them.

    For Yozora, its different. She enjoys tormenting Sena (she's certainly got a sadistic side), but this entire exercise, the club, everything, was all for Kodaka. That is all that mattered to her. She doesn't want "friends" she wants "her friend", specifically.

  2. I think you have a lot of truth in there, but I wholly disagree that Yozora is just as important as Kodaka in Sena's eyes. Yes, she's a "peer" and a red cape in front of a bull. But Kodaka is the guy she's in love with. No contest.

  3. F

    Lets just say that Sena's emotional investment with Yozora is…complicated. I can't say more without novel spoilers.

  4. A

    Sena respects Kodaka, but CRAVES Yozora's attention and acknowledgement.

  5. K

    I don't expect any pairings. If the anime makers put him with Yozora I will be pissed. She has pretty much been a cruel asshat thru all the series and I can't see him picking Yozora over Sena just because they were friends as little kids.

    The one I feel sorry for is Rika. She obviously is seriously crushing on Kodaka and has 0 shot at snagging him. All she has to look forward to is heartbreak.

    I'm guessing we will have a 2nd season. I hope so at any rate as I would like to see more of these characters. It cracks me up to see a club full of broken people with no friends and they don't even realize that they have all become good friends. Perhaps thats what will be revealed to them next week.

  6. A

    I just hope this lasts more than 12 episodes

  7. I thought Oreimo would have a second season announced by now, too, but it does seem likely this series will continue. I expect it to see quite well.

  8. @Andsmeuth

    Andsmeuth: I think that was a little too spoilery given that with no tags, folks don't have a choice about reading it. So I deleted it (Blogger won't let me selectively edit). Here's the rest of Andsemuth's comment:

    Light novel wise , where the source material is , the Yozora is Sora scene is actually the end of a volume. The next volume picks up from that , and the dynamics do start changing more. That's the problem with 1 Cour anime light novel adaptations. It's difficult for them to end with a conclusive ending , because the entirety of the source material cannot be completely adapted.

    So yes , this anime cuts off just as the plot starts to hit high gear.

    Hopefully , Hagani will get a 2nd Season, certainly , because the plot really hasn't swung into high gear . This , and the Pegasus scene really is just the first major plot milestones and development. Everything else is character exposition and development , and slice of life filler .

  9. S

    The next episode is called, "I have a few friends", right? so they'll defo realize eachother as being friends.

  10. S

    Oh Yozora, don't cry, you look great in short hair too 🙂

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