The answer, I guess, is somewhere in between. There are definitely screwball comedies where warmth is a big part of the equation, and heartfelt episodes can be wonderful (especially for finales) – Shinryaku Ika Musume comes to mind, even Working!. But this, bluntly, isn’t one of them. For me at least Haiyore! is all about the comedy and the more outrageous, tasteless, and ironic the better. I like all the characters, but the dynamic is the show is all of them driving Mahiro crazy and endless reams of meta-humor. Anything else feels like it sort of gets in the way.
While I was worried that the finale would sell out completely and go the “It’s a Wonderful Life” route, it pulled back a decent ways from the edge of the cliff – maybe half sell-out and half true to form. It wasn’t the completely ironic celebration of nastiness I hoped for, where Mahiro would realize that his Cthulhu houseguests actually were a huge pain in the ass and that he was happier without them, and they’d come back anyway. But the saving grace was the descent into chaos in the second half, when Roy Fogger the Lloigor (I told you there was no way he could be that cute) revealed his true stripes and his true form. In a show where even the main character talks about how stupid the plot is there isn’t much point in talking about it in a blog post, but at least it focused on eroge and aliens addicted to it. And Mahiro at least showed the good sense to use the mirror when he was in trouble, as he’s basically depended on Nyaruko and the others to save him every time up till now.
There was a conclusive feel to the episode, with everyone showing up one by one to defend Mahiro and the metaphorical group hug at the end, but there’s not much of a feeling of finality to the series itself. Haiyore! seems poised to do very well on Blu-ray (8-10K most likely) and as such is almost certain to get a second season at some point. It’s easy to see why – it’s a comedy that could be smart but doesn’t require you to think too hard, and it knows exactly how to play to its audience. Of course the folks who buy anime discs are the ones most likely to get the endless stream of otaku humor that peppers the series, and it would seem to have just about every fetish covered pretty thoroughly (the avalanche of doujins has already started).
In short, this is an anime comedy for anime fans, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that in and of itself. But what makes Haiyore! stand out just a little bit more is the way that it doesn’t just throw Lovecraft and otaku references out to score points, but shrewdly incorporates them into the plots themselves (stupid as they are). Using the Yith as the vehicle for the clichéd body-switching episode is a perfect example – and it was in that episode that the series reached its satirical meta-pinnacle too, casting Ishihara as the “Space Child Guardian” prepared to destroy Earth in order to protect the children of the universe from ToLoveRu and Yosuga no Sora. The series didn’t often hit pinnacles of genius quite that high, but it was usually no worse than amusing, and the thought that went into weaving the metahumor and the Lovecraft into the fabric of the show was almost always obvious.
So don’t despair, Nyarlotephians – until the inevitable S2 announcement you’ll have the LNs, manga, and countless doujinshi to tide you over and get your sononium fix. Just watch out for forks.