Those of you who have been with me for a while may have read that I didn’t get on with Hi-Score Girl. So when the series returned with a 9 episode run for a second season, I didn’t immediately jump on it. My issues with it were mainly with the lead character, Haruo, whom I found to be rather self-centred and emotionally immature (and yes, I’m aware he’s only a kid, but everyone around him always seemed to call him out on his shit to no avail). So, if I didn’t click with it, despite watching the entire first season, why have I returned? Well, a friend of mine encouraged me to do so, he said it might surprise me, and as it’s only nine episodes this time, I figured why not? it’ll at least make for a good follow up article now that the story is complete (as far as we know there isn’t currently any plans for a third season as the Manga has also reached a similar end, not that I’ve read that).
As you can already see from the title, I warmed to Hi-Score Girl 2, its by no means perfect, but as a whole body of work, I’d be happy to recommend it. Why? Well, I’ll explain.
Despite this season being much shorter than the prior one, the biggest change is the amount of growth the characters go through. Haruo in particular actually develops beyond just being obsessed with video games. They’re still core to his being, and there are still a lot of moments where you want to slap him so that he wakes up and realises what’s going on around him, but he does have a surprising amount of growth. He’s far less toxic now than he was before. Where in season 1 he purchased a console whilst searching for Ono, this time, when confronted with not being able to watch TV or play videogames in his hotel room during a trip to Osaka, he chooses to spend time with Ono just talking (well, he talks, she does her normal routine of expressing her opinions physically). He’s forced, by his mother and Ono’s sister, to consider the feelings of both Ono and Hidaka on multiple occasions whilst the pair compete for rights to his affections.
The supporting cast are given a bigger role too, particularly Haruo’s mother and Ono’s sister. They’re usually the comic relief, constantly badgering and mocking Haruo, but it’s their behaviour that leads Haruo down the path of actually considering his feelings for both girls and deciding what he wants from his relationship with either, though its Hidaka that, again, comes out of the whole show as the absolute star as she challenges herself, Ono and Haruo and constantly keeps the plot moving, ultimately showing just how mature she is when she realises where she sits within Haruo’s heart.
It’s this moment in particular that leads to the show’s finale, which I’m not ashamed to admit left me with a bit of a lump in my throat that wasn’t actually related to the heart-burn I’ve been getting a lot of recently.