I’ll always have a real affection for Haiyore! Nyaruko-san, because it was the first series that really went at Ishihara Shintaro head on, and the only one that’s savaged him the way he deserves to be savaged. That episode in the first season was one of the most cutting and hilarious examples of anime comedy in years. It treated him with exactly the derision of absence of respect with which he deserves to be treated, and for that Haiyore! deserves an enormous amount of credit.
Of course, the flip side of that is, that episode marks the high-water point for the series, and one it really never came close to equalling this season. I don’t know that the series necessarily took a step backwards this season, but it certainly didn’t make me laugh as often or as hard as the first did. I think it was simply a matter of the same style of humor recycled over and over losing some oomph – and somehow the show seemed just a bit tamer this season as well.
There’s also the fact that there wasn’t a whole lot of character development, but that brings with it its own set of problems. I never liked Haiyore! as much when it was too plot or character-driven – I like most of the cast well enough but strictly as comedic devices. The series veered too much towards conventional romcom plot in the second half of the first season and suffered for it; it didn’t do that so much this season, which is a good thing. But it also means the character interactions felt pretty stale and repetitive by the end of this season. Again, I don’t think it’s necessarily anything the show did wrong so much as the limitations of the premise.
There was one notable exception to all that – Kuuko’s developing feelings towards Mahiro this season. They provided both the strongest character dynamic and almost all of the series’ romantic spark (admittedly that last one isn’s saying much, as Mahiro and Nyaruko have zero romantic spark as far as I can tell). It’s ironic that the best thing in the second season was triggered by the worst thing, the arrival of Kuuko’s incredibly irritating cousin Kuune – it was the sham engagement Kuuko and Mahiro perpetrated to fool Kuune that made Kuuko fully realize just how attracted to Mahiro she’d become. In effect is sets off one the stranger romantic quadrangles in anime:
- Nyaruko loves Mahiro; she has his baby
- Kuuko loves Nyaruko; she has her baby
- Kuuko loves Shounen; he has her baby
- Mahiro doesn’t love any of them
- Hastur just wants Mahiro to take his special thing
I haven’t talked about the actual finale much, and that’s because like most of the episodes this season the plot was eminently forgettable. The series has made a joke about just how lame the plots and foreshadowing are, which at least shows that Haiyore! undertands its own limitations. We had the continuation of last week’d cliffhanger revealing the Banshin had been finished 500 years early. Predictably Nyaruko is in a state of depression about leaving; we get the requisite somber scenes where Mahiro grudgingly admits he’d miss her if she left and she professer her undying devotion. Just as predictable the new Banshin turns out to be defective – in this case because its brain was modeled after Nyaruko’s (real smart move there) and it goes on tilt as soon as it sees Mahiro. You pretty much knew how this was going to go, and how it was going to end, so not much to talk about here.
When S1 ended, a sequel to Haiyore! was effectively a lock. Now, we’re on much shakier ground. It’s clear Xebec spent a lot of money on this season – it really did look great – and BD/DVD sales have dropped significantly more than the normal decline for a sequel. A third season is not an impossibility, certainly, but given the doubts I really wouldn’t have minded if the show had stretched just a little and gone for some sort of ending, rather than the status quo we received. I’m not that bothered either way, to be honest, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the series continue in one form or another. I’d like to see more of Mahiro and Kuuko, and Hastur (by the way, it’s actually “trial and error”, Hastur-kun) has been sadly underused after a promising start as one of the more amusing trap(ish) characters of recent vintage.