August 17, 2013

Haganai Season 1

This is probably better known to most fans as Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai which is abbreviated as Haganai because....kanji.
In any event due to the fact that "I Don't Have Many Friends" was thought to have insufficient market appeal, Haganai is the title Funimation chose to release the DVD under.



This is not a show I would ordinarily watch. It screams harem show...and it's scream is not entirely misleading. However, last night, a friend of mine insisted that we watch it and suddenly it was 3AM and all 13 episodes were over....and I had finally found out where this .gif came from..



Haganai revolves around the misadventures of a high school club that is formed for the stated purpose of helping people with poor social skills. Of course this results in a group of awkward misfits in an enclosed space, interacting with each other thereby creating a critical mass of social ineptitude.  Hilarity ensues.
This show is a complete and utter train wreck but I laughed my ass off. While most of these characters are deeply flawed, they are flawed in fairly interesting ways. Furthermore most have at least some redeeming characteristics and a surprising bit of depth.



Funimation actually put out for a dub which in this case is rather above average. Well written and well acted, the stacatto dialog and superb pacing very effectively brings to life a group of not always likeable but generally interesting characters.....





From Right to left, disregarding the two small children we have...
Kodaka Hasegawa a reasonably sane junior at a prestigious private catholic school. He must care for his sister as his father is in America. He's intelligent but socially awkward and due to a combination of his blonde hair, clumsiness and extraordinary bad luck has an undeserved reputation in his school as a dangerous thug...probably with yakuza ties...WHO WILL FRICKING KILL YOU! No one at the very proper school wants anything to do with him and his reputation as a fiend is continuously deepening due to increasingly scurrilous rumors that include false accusations of attempted rape. Much of his problem could be solved if he dyed his hair, but he inherited his hair color from his recently dead mother and he's loathe to do so. One day he walks into an empty class to discover a young lady talking to herself. She turns out to be...
 Yozora Mikazuki a criminally insane clasmate of his whose conversation with herself involves  her utter lack of friends....which she totally does not think has anything to do with her cruelty, sadism,  or sense of humor activated solely by the misfortune of others. When Kodaka suggests she join a club she uses rationality and logic to justify not improving her lot in life. However, being a Machiavellian control freak she decides to form a club of her own, which she sells to the faculty as a club founded upon the Christian principles of love dedicated to helping students overcome social anxiety and make friends. She finagles a club room, puts up posters (that are encrypted) drags Kodaka to the club room and rejoices that she has managed to arrange for her to be alone in a room with a guy every day for several hours. This sense of joy lasts approximately 1.3 minutes before the clubs third member barges in eager to join...
Sena Kashiwazaki  is an arguably insane young lady who has leveraged her mild OCD into the highest grades in the school. Her narcissistic personality disorder and general arrogance are complemented (in the eyes of the student body) by her being a mixed race female who is the daughter of the Principle and rich beyond the dreams of avarice. She is, on paper, the most popular girl in the school. This and being spoiled have left her quite poorly socialized.  However, she fully understands that she has no real friends. The girls all (secretly) hate her and her fawning entourage of guys can't see past her breasts or her money. She sort of understands that she has no social skills beyond class conscious etiquette but she is at a total loss as to how she might overcome this. Sena is, despite her haughty disposition, the clubs most enthusiastic and sincere proponent of its stated mission...she is nevertheless a complete whackjob but she seems downright normal compared to...
 Rika Shiguma a functionally insane student in the schools science program who is something of a prodigy and has made a good deal of money (for her and the school) on various tech projects. Rika is not a mere 'mad scientist' she is a stark raving-cuckoo-for-cocca-puffs geek who suffers from a fear of crowds, mechaphillia and other crippling fetishes disabilities that cause her talk largely in double entedre's and have a professional yet still unwholesome interest in....
Yukimura Kusunoki  whose conditions were determined by medical professionals to not be pathological some years ago.  He's  a very effete young man who believes the thug life rumors about Koddaka and desperately hopes that Koddaka will teach him the ways of the bad-ass....Unfortunately, due to the machinations of Yozura he spends most of his time trying to "exercise  his virility by giving it something to struggle against so that eventually his manliness will shine through and blind all with its potency'...this involves him wearing women's clothes which he finds intensely liberating.

As for the two kids...well one is Koddakka's crazy sister who seems to really like 'Dance in the Vampire Bund' and being at THAT age is constantly dressing up as and acting like a vampiress. The other is a 10 year old..umm..."nun" who seems to be a ward of the school and is an irritant we will speak no more of here.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 07:38 PM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
Post contains 958 words, total size 9 kb.

1 I'm pretty sure we're not supposed to hate Yozora as much as most American viewers have reportedly done.  But yeah, she's hard to love.  Were we ever authoritatively told what sex Yukimura actually was?  It was played pretty ambiguously throughout the first series.  I dunno, if the answer to that is a spoiler for the second series, we'll see when that gets released -  I'm pretty much in a wait-for-the-physical-media-release place these days.

Posted by: Mitch H. at Sat Aug 17 21:02:42 2013 (0COXz)

2 I agree. I'm not sure if she's a character type that jumped the shark in writing or if she's an intentional inversion.


Supporting your idea we have

Additionally, she is an extreme tsundere, a 'type' that is generally the lead in these sorts of shows and generally comes out on top. The plucky normal girl who comes out on top and vanquishes her more superficially desirable/exotic/foreign  rival is a cultural trope as well. Someone who only watched the first few episodes might consider her the underdog

Sena is utterly full of herself and does have a princess complex, though she gets better. Being mixed race is a big strike against her in Japanese shows...they almost NEVER get the guy.

On the other side of the coin the male lead is mixed race. We have the utter sadistic cruelty Yozura exhibits when abusing Sena which is really over the top. The books she's reading may be intended to send a message too. Machiavelli doesn't have the negative connotations in the rest of the world he does in the US, but I'm pretty sure DeSade does. Sena's problem regards trust is well explored in a way Yozura's need to control everything is not. Yozura prooves herself to be completely untrustworthy and manipulative in the course of the show...she keeps one promise, alluded to in the spoiler, but that is for her gain.

Yomi Hirasaka is the authors name, which sounds like a woman and that difference in perspective might make all the difference. Mocking and tormenting someone like Sena might seem righteous in and of itself. The fact that Sena could ever BE sympathetic or considered anything more than an object to rage against might only have been realized beleatedly.

Hell, if we want to to pass out the hateorade...at the extreme end of the scale Yozora could be a Mary Sue character, living out a sadists dream of utter control of her peers and vengeance upon those she resents...all the while getting a noble and competent blond boy with a badass rep and who has already demonstrated he can take care of his sister. ......all this in a manga marketed as male wish fulfillment which which could be for her a power trip in itself.

...
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I just typed that paragraph.
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I myself have no issues at all...whatsoever...honest.

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Whatever the authors intent...I laughed.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Sat Aug 17 22:21:47 2013 (F7DdT)

3 Regards Yukimura.: I honestly dunno...That is his story...and I am sticking to it.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Sat Aug 17 22:29:28 2013 (F7DdT)

4 Sena is better done in the game, too. But then the Rika path wins outright. You can find the sequences on Youtube. BTW, the game music was quite amazing.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Sun Aug 18 00:13:41 2013 (RqRa5)

5 I note that my write up glosses over how awesome Rika is. She's really well written, and Alexis Tipton does a really good job portraying her in the dub.  (The reading of the mecha manga was...sublime).

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Sun Aug 18 00:40:25 2013 (F7DdT)

6

Posted by: Mauser at Sun Aug 18 01:51:50 2013 (TJ7ih)

7

 I just realized that the top cast members are the same as for another show: Guy who looks like a thug, Blonde rich bitch with huge boobs, Jealous brunette who is sadistic and childhood friend of the guy == Ladies versus Butlers.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Sun Aug 18 09:39:04 2013 (+rSRq)

8 What is the significance of Horse masks?

Posted by: Mauser at Sun Aug 18 17:57:43 2013 (TJ7ih)

9

Posted by: Pete at Sun Aug 18 21:40:17 2013 (F7DdT)

10 I'm not sure that there is "significance".
Pete feels otherwise and I put his comment behind a tag...where it belongs.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Sun Aug 18 21:46:29 2013 (F7DdT)

11 Brickmuppet, how did you edit someone else's comment? I didn't think we could do that.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Mon Aug 19 09:04:46 2013 (+rSRq)

12 Magic!
I went out to route 460, which is a road that is almost perfectly straight between Windsor and Richmond. This is becausev it was surveyed by George Washington and is believed to be built on a ley line. In an old tobacco barn along the side of the road I accumulated a large pile of ox dung. I then arranged 3 loadstones in an equilateral triangle around the dung pile with one of the "points" directed at Polaris. I then stripped naked and cut myself and bled into a quart jar that was one eighth filled with quicksilver (mercury.) When I had added an ammount of blood equal to the mercury I weakly staggered over to the manure pile and put the jar deep within it. With my essence mixed with mercury in a trilateral magnetic field aligned with Polaris next to a ley line I danced naked in what moonlight entered the old tobacco barn for 33 minutes all the while repeating the following chant. "BahweepGrahnAH..weep..ninnybahn!" After the 33 minutes had passed I staggered over to the dung pile and removed the jar which now contained a perfect facsimile of me, except that it was perfectly hairless was red and silver and 4 inches tall. This is called a 'homunculus' and is useful for odd jobs and tormenting ones enemies as well as curing writers block and the heartbreak of psoriasis.
For this purpose I placed the jar got dressed, drove home and took the homunculus (who I call "Aluishous") out of the jar .

I then placed him at a 45 degree angle to the left of the minitor and...THIS IS CRUCIAL

Disclaimers:
Several steps may not be strictly necessary.
Brickmuppet Blog is not responsible for:
1)mercury poisoning,
2) medical conditions due to blood loss
3) the sort of nasty infections one might get rummaging through ox dung with open wounds.
Dancing naked in the moonlight is not recognized as a first amendment right in Isle of Wight County.
If not disposed of properly Homunculus will turn on you after 7 days.
To dispose of Homunculus send it with $25 dollars to Schenectady Idea Service Schenectady NY. Include SASE if ideas are desired. HAZMAT packing procedures apply.
Note that Homunculus contains 10% of ones immortal soul.
The almighty may forfeit his option on the remaining 90%.

I repeated this procedure shortly after posting this comment to correct a typo.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Mon Aug 19 14:32:17 2013 (F7DdT)

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