Friends what make most of our social lives. We see them at school, around town and in some cases after many years apart. Some friendships are strained not from arguments or misunderstandings but a sudden move, far away from their home. Such a gloomy topic is covered in the comedy series “Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai” (Haganai for short) with an emphasis on teenage antics and frequent misunderstandings about the members of the Neighbor’s Club, lead by fiesty know-it-all Yozora Mikazuki. The series focuses on these members as they set out to make friends, yet ironically not know that amongst themselves is a growing friendship. Our only male character in the series, Kodaka Hasegawa, is branded as a delinquent for his unusual hair style and intimidating facial expressions (similar to Ryuuji from Toradora!) and as such making friends is nearly impossible. The club also consists of Sena Kashiwazaki, a rich and pampered attention seeker with a secret obsession with visual novels, Yukimura Kusonuki, a trap with a Sengoku-era background easily admiring Kodaka to the point of being his maid, Rika Shiguma, a girl with a genius IQ and a love for BL doujinshi (mainly involving mechas), Maria Takayama, a sister at the Academy yet looks and acts like a small child and Kodaka’s sister Kobato who dabbles in the occult and frequently clashes with Maria.
There’s really not much of a plot except some brief interludes to Kodaka’s past with his friend “Sora” whom disappeared after they were supposed to meet at the park one day. The last two episodes, however, bring the plot front and center and expand on the two’s friendship along with a very open-ended conclusion. The constant insults between Yozora and Sena (called “Meat” by Yozora) are a subject of contention amongst many viewers. I for one actually enjoyed seeing the two argue constantly even if it was over-done a bit too many times. The series functions as a slice of life series for the most part showing the club’s daily activities and highlighting the various quirks of each of the cast. I used to despise series like these, but after watching fellow AIC Build series Oreimo and Silver Link’s Baka to Test, i’ve really warmed to these types of comedy series. This may sound stupid but if a comedy series doesn’t make me laugh that’s a pretty bad thing: But Haganai made me laugh constantly stemming from the insults hurled by Yozora, but also Rika’s extreme pervertedness, Kobato’s mannerisms, and Yukimura’s steadfast devotion to Kodaka. The series knows how to implement the jokes in a timely manner and while some are over-used i still got a kick out of those jokes.
Shifting over to the production values: Another splendid job by AIC Build with a strong animation streak starting with Ore no Imouto. A couple of drops are present in terms of animation quality but nothing overly major. The real treat is the voice acting: I felt that it was really well done for the most part with a couple of standout performances from Fukuen Misato (Rika), Kanae Itou (Sena/Meat), Kana Hanazawa (Kobato) and Marina Inoue (Yozora) but the whole cast is well voiced. The OP/ED are also accompanied with nice stylish visuals and decent vocals turning out to be pretty average overall. There’s one issue i have however: The character designs (except Kodaka/any male character) are a bit to get used to and i don’t really like the glossy lips and eternal blushing faces but i’ll give it a pass as the comedy was really well done for the most part.
In short, the main goal of a comedy is to make the viewer laugh and Haganai easily accomplished that. It may have some faults but the goal of this series was laughs first, everything else second and it clearly succeeded in the former.
Animation: 8/10 – Top-notch effort from AIC Build though occasionally a bit wonky. Some pretty good background art, but i still don’t really like the character designs for the females… a bit too glossy on the lips.
Story: 6/10 – In comedies, there’s not much of a plot and if there is one its quickly brushed aside (like Hayate no Gotoku) but in Haganai’s case the plot is towards the end of the series. It’s done well, but there are some obvious cliches that don’t really work (long lost friend).
Sound: 8/10 – I love the choice of seiyuu in this series. Fukuen Misato as Rika may be one of the most memorable character of the year for me just how perverted she can be? Contrast to her previous roles as Yin from Darker than Black and the twins from Blood-C, her shrieks of “EXCALIBUR” and “UNIVERSE” are still hilarious to listen to. Kana Hanazawa’s performance as Kobato was also amusing to hear her in a non-quiet girl role. But the most damning is Kanae Itou’s role as Meat. A stark contrast from her performance as Ohana in Hanasaku Iroha, now a more mean and ruthless character in Sena. I really liked both OP and ED and the background music was okay.
Characters: 8/10 – I’ve already said a bunch about the characters but they really do carry the series. Their quirks and personalities really drived the show forward even Kodaka, whom from a female-dominated cast, actually makes a name for himself unlike similar series.
Enjoyment: 8/10 – Amidst a weak Fall season, Haganai stood out for the hilarious jokes, good characters that bring their quirks to the forefront, above-average production values and because of the jokes, i can overlook the other parts of the series like the fanservice and occasional re-used joke. It’s a good watch and i recommend it to any fan of comedy anime.
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Score Tally:
Animation – 8/10
Story – 9/15
Characters – 16/20
Sound – 8/10
Enjoyment – 36/45
Total – 77/100