Kodaka Hasegawa gets roped into joining a club called The Neighbors Club, which one Yozora Mikazuki has supposedly formed to give classmates without friends a chance to practice social skills they'd need to make friends.
This review gives this show the same overall star rating that Tim gave (though I did consider going down to only two stars), so why did I write it? Mostly because I had a slightly different take on the characters, in particular Yozora.
The box notes that the show is by the producers of Oreimo, and indeed the two female leads, between them, have many of Kirino's traits. Sena Kashiwazaki has Kirino's obsession with video games (including, apparently, eroge [erotic games] ), as well as her obsession with young girls (in this case, Kodaka's little sister Kobato.) I could actually understand Sena's motivation to join this club for the "friendless"; she wouldn't normally consider any of her fawning male admirers as an equal, while the female students would normally tend to hate her for grabbing all the boys. She's looking for a female friend. Unfortunately, I'm not at all sure she's found it in Yozora.
You see, I have to disagree with Tim about Yozora never once being detestable or unlikeable, though the moment she kind of achieves both is in the 13th episode (the OVA), which perhaps lies beyond what Tim saw. It's generally a pretty lighthearted episode- the group each contributes a chapter to a "round-robin" story about Kodaka, and get in some gentle ribbing of each other. But Yozora is not inclined to take Sena's jabs against her with good humor- in the classic pattern of the bully, she can dish out abuse but can't take it, and the tone of the show suddenly turns creepy when Yozora demands that Sena publicly humiliate herself to atone for her "offense". The act of contrition she demands has sexual overtones as well. We know that Yozora is an avid reader, and we see a copy of a Marquis de Sade novel on a table, so maybe Yozora's taste in literature is partly to blame, but to me she generally comes across as a domineering, manipulative girl who misuses her intelligence. Yes, she was allowed to mellow a bit in the episode when Kodoka finally realizes the thing about her that the audience had known since about the second episode, but I think if she'd been made less malicious, she'd be a much more sympathetic character. I also was pretty disappointed that Kodoka didn't intervene more often on Sena's behalf. He tends to regard Yozora's treatment of Sena as "teasing", though to me it often looked more like abuse. (Sena is just not as "mean" as Yozora, so it's never an equal contest.)
Like Tim, I didn't like most of the other characters, especially Rika, whose tics (speaking of herself in the third person, and imagining sexual situations in the damnedest places- for example, in mecha manga) kept making me shout "Make it STOP!!!!" Her obsession with homoeroticism rather reminded me of Akagi's sister in Oreimo, though at least that character was not raving about it ALL THE TIME. At one point Rika says her head will explode with sexual arousal; if that had literally happened, I would have cheered. As for Maria, the ten-year old nun (doesn't one have to be "of age" to take Holy Orders?), she does at least have one good bit, with her contribution to the "round robin" story. (It's hilarious in its simplicity.) I also didn't like Yukimura. Like Tim, I was willing to give Kobato, Kodaka's little sister, a pass; she's not as witty a goth-loli character as, say, Oreimo's Kuroneko, but she's OK when she's just being a kid sister. I did like the fact that Kodaka just takes Kobato's eccentricities in stride.
The show has got a few wonderful gags. Maria's "round robin" story is one; another, in an episode entitled "School Swimsuits Do Not Appear", is probably the funniest breast gag I've ever seen (there aren't many funny ones), though it would have been better if the victim's situation had been clearly shown to be a necessary consequence of the surroundings. (I blame the artists here.) Like Tim, I was highly amused when Yozora and Sena come to a completely arbitrary and irrational (at least to a male mind) snap judgment about a character in a video game. I liked the bit where Kodaka ends up accompanying almost all the girls in their trips to the bathroom, but I honestly couldn't say WHY I liked that bit.
In my opinion, there's enough good stuff here to let it squeak by with three stars, but I had a lot of reservations about Yozora. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Older male teens, due to excess fan service, and pretty much anything Rika says.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, bilingual.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Haganai © 2011 Yomi Hirasaka ・MEDIA FACTORY / HAGANAI Project
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