There are a lot of fall anime that came out in Japan, but I stuck with this one when I found out it was out again. Now on its second season, ‘High Score Girl’ revolves around the story of Haruo Yaguchi, a delinquent student who engages in video games whenever he can, even during school time. As a result, he has mastered his video-gaming skills, particularly in arcade fighting games.
One day, he runs into an opponent who beats him handily, and finds out it is a girl from his school, Akira Ono, who is also one of the brightest but most quiet in his class. Later, Koharu Hidaka comes into the picture to create a cute but complicated love triangle between the three with Haruo caught in the middle of the two girls. This is the foreground of this slice of life anime.
In the background, you have an elaborate take on the arcade and video game scenes of the late 80s to early 90s. This is what truly got me hooked on the anime. Inside the anime, the creators used the actual animation of the video games featured. Aside from that, the jargon and techniques used are completely accurate.
If you love video games, and/or are a gamer; you will easily relate to what the characters are experiencing. And it all starts with Street Fighter II. That video game became the primary catalyst of the first confrontation between Haruo and Akira. I won’t say much about it, but I got hooked from there and have not looked back since.
This under-the-radar anime created by J.C. Staff is not only a love triangle video game slice of life; it is also an excellent social commentary of the arcade and video game scene at the times in Japan. Maybe it even reflects the scene outside of Japan. I, for one, used to be an arcade game addict, and can relate to the conversations in the story. The insight on how to play each character, and how to best utilize them are spot on. Sometimes, I couldn’t stop laughing at how I encountered the same problems when I was actively playing.
Of course, to add to the relatability, you have the cute love triangle in the story of Haruo, Akira and Koharu. There is a method to this madness as the defining point to their relationships is still video games. Though Akira initially has the upper hand, Haruo and Koharu catch up in some areas. This creates a most entertaining combination of slice of life, love, and video games completely unexpected from the current anime scene.
The animation itself is simple, but not simplistic; and complements the story that is being told. This one-two punch of simple animation and video game animation rolled into one makes ‘High Score Girl’ an entertaining watch. It’s a story about youthful rebellion and growing up amidst the video game landscape of its setting. These are themes that a lot of people can relate to, and proves to be enough for me to stick around ’til the end.
Give ‘High Score Girl’ a chance. Its second season is still ongoing.
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