Kodaka Hasegawa has transferred to St. Chronica's Academy, a Catholic High School. Due to his blonde/brown hair combo (a hair color he received from his late mother) and scary voice, everyone is afraid to talk to him, much less befriend him. As luck would have it, he finds a girl with long, black hair talking to her "air friend" after school. The girl is Yozora Mikazuki, and she proclaims they start a club called the Neighbors Club, an after-school club for people with no friends like themselves. They soon gather quite a crowd, including the rich, beautiful, but socially bankrupt Sena Kashiwazaki, a feminine-looking boy named Yukimura Kusunoki, genius pervert girl Rika Shiguma, energetic but ill-tempered 10 year-old sister/teacher Maria Takayama, and even Kodaka's little sister Kobato.
Would you believe me if I told you that despite the fact that nearly the entire cast is female, Haganai is not a romantic comedy, and not one kiss (and barely any hugs) is exchanged between any of the characters in the series? Yep.
Haganai is, at its heart, a story about social misfits. Yozora talks to her "air friend" instead of real friends, Sena is beautiful and smart but hated by girls and treats guys like slaves, Maria is a 10 year-old sister, Yukimura is a boy who looks too feminine to fit in with the guys in his classes, Kodaka's sister Kobato is under the delusion she is a vampire, and Rika is a genius but drives people away due to her constant innuendo drops and perverted mind. And Kodaka himself shot himself in the foot on his first day in his new school, his blonde/brown hair combo scaring people, as well as slant eyes and a voice making people think he's a tough guy.
And really, Haganai could've gone in one of two directions. It could have been a touching but still funny show about people who don't fit into society, accepting each other and becoming close friends. Or it could've been a raunchy romp filled with lots of cheesecake and hit-or-miss comedy. Guess which direction Haganai goes?
I hope you like Sena's breasts, as you'll see them quite often.
Fortunately Haganai is not without good characters. Yozora herself practically makes this show. Much like Hitagi from Bakemonogatari, she is dry, sharp-tongued, pushy, manipulative, and incredibly selfish at times. And yet despite this she's still funny and even likable, rarely using violence or taking her own threats seriously. And even though she bosses around (nearly) everyone - and I do mean every one (especially Sena) - she never once becomes detestable or unlikeable. In addition to being the funniest character, Yozora's past is also one of the most touching plot points in the series. I won't spoil anything, but you'll feel bad for her.
For our other female lead we have the very busty blonde Sena. For a girl who notes in the beginning of the series how girls hate her and that boys are used as slaves, it's pretty ironic that she's one of the nicer characters in the series, and is relatively nice to Kodaka. Despite this, she still has a hard time getting along with others and is ridiculously shy about admitting her feelings on things she never did in the past because they were "beneath her", like karaoke and cell phones. Her escape into dating sims actually serves a purpose in the story; since she can't make real girlfriends, she resorts to dating sims to befriend them. It's both funny and a bit depressing. One early dating sim play, where she and Yozora together are not amused by the sweet female lead, ranks as one of my favorite scenes in the entire series. As different as night and day (literally highlighted in their hair colors: Yozora's black hair and Sena's blonde), watching Yozora and Sena go at each other's throats bring about the funniest moments in the entire series, even if it does go overboard at times. Yozora is usually the victor in the arguments, with Sena running away crying "Stupid Yozora!" so often you'd swear it was her catchphrase.
And what about the other club members? Well
Uneven but funny, Haganai is a short, enjoyable series that has great leads, okay side characters, and mixed-at-best storytelling/comedy. — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: Older male teens, due to excess fan service, and pretty much anything Rika says.
Version(s) Viewed: FUNimation.com stream, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Haganai © 2011 Yomi Hirasaka ・MEDIA FACTORY / HAGANAI Project
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