US Distributor: Funimation
Production Studio: AIC Build
Was this provided by the publisher? Yes
More Info: Anime News Network
Hanagai is an anime which answers the question, “Do outcasts have to be alone?” Not to mention the question, “Where do baby robots come from?” If either of those have kept you up at night, or if you’re looking for a series that is as fun as it is ridiculous, check out Hanagai: I Don’t Have Many Friends.
I must admit, I love a good “guy with resting bitch face” trope and – oh, happy day – this one had one for each sex. Not to mention a compulsive liar, ombre man hair, and invisible friends – and that’s just the first episode. Wait until you hear the robot sex jokes, and see the war between vampires and nuns.
Kodaka Hasegawa (our poor main character) is staring down a new life at a new school. After a bad first impression, word spreads that he’s a troublemaker, and he soon finds that making friends isn’t so easy. Yozora appears to have a similar problem. She has the ultimate resting bitch face. Furthermore, she has an aura about her which seems to say, “Bitch, I will cut you.” Needless to say, both of them are socially awkward and standoffish. In order to remedy their situation, the two decide to start “The Neighbors Club” with the premise of making more friends. Much to Yozora’s chagrin (and Kodaka’s surprise), the most popular girl in school, Sena Kashiwazaki, decides to be their first recruit.. She wants to make sincere friendships instead of shallow, vapid connections. Slowly but surely, their group of outcasts and misfits gets a little bit bigger and their hijinks get a little more outrageous.
Haganai has plenty of dirty humor (outrageous Rika is definitely a favorite) and fan service. At the same time, it also touches on a handful of other topics and concepts:
- social structure and popularity hierarchy in school settings,
- the unfair prosecution of newcomers and outsiders who are different,
- classic gender roles, and
- what it means to be a true friend.
Of course, the saddest part of the whole series is, none of those topics really get resolved, save for the mystery of Kodaka’s childhood friend. (Surprise! It’s not really a surprise…)
Haganai loves toying with the idea of traditional gender roles and sex. One of the characters, Yukimura, was born a girl but identifies as a guy. Yozora “remedies this” by having her dress in a maid’s outfit. No, it doesn’t make any sense but just roll with it. Of course, no matter what she is dressed in, everyone refers to the character as a “he”. This is a refreshing take on gender, a controversial topic that has been on the tips of everyone’s tongue lately. There is even a locker room scene where Yukimura is naked with poor Kodaka, who is surprised to see Yukimura doesn’t have a [beep]. Am I allowed to say [beep]? Nope, guess not.
I also found it interesting that Kodaka wasn’t the character which was proficient at video games. Sena – the popular, pretty socialite of the bunch – is the character which is the most talented and skillful gamer. Way to crash the stereotype mold on that one, guys!
In addition, Kodaka isn’t the normal harem-building male main character. There is a surprisingly low percentage of nosebleeds, despite the fact he is constantly at the wrong place at the wrong time. He also plays a pretty convincing gentleman – as far as trope-y protagonists go. When faced with a situation where he could either embarrass a girl, say something awkward that would make the situation worse, or listen to her and say a conscientious comment, he chooses the latter. No wonder everyone is falling for him.
I didn’t fall for all of the characters, though. My sympathy for Yozora’s character flew by the wayside as soon as Sena appeared because – let’s face it – Yozora isn’t a nice person. If that’s how she treats people, no wonder she doesn’t have any friends. Sure, she might not like Sena because of a bad first impression but she faults her classmates for doing the same to Kodaka.
That being said, in the first episode, Yozora declares “You only give nicknames to people you consider your friends” and then she proceeds to give Sena a nickname as soon as they meet (haha) – despite the fact that she says she hates her.
Haganai doesn’t set out to be a thought-provoking experience. This is merely an entertaining show which aims to be funny and enjoyable. If you’re not an admirer of fanservice stuffed harem shows, this definitely isn’t the program for you. That said, though, if you don’t mind a bit of crude humor, some panty shots, and some sans-panties, I would recommend Haganai. It’s cute. It’s funny. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s basically me in a nutshell. So go check it out, Meat. *resting bitch face*