Amongst Autumn 2019’s rich selection of titles to check out is the second season of High Score Girl. Taking place in the early half of the 1990s, audiences are treated to the story of Haruo Yaguchi, an academic underachiever who obsessively excels at games. During the sixth grade, his reign at Street Fighter II at the arcades is put to the test as he is given a rival in his classmate, Akira Oono, the non-verbal daughter of a rich family. However, their rivalry is by no means bitter as it allows them to become best friends. During their junior high years, Akira moves overseas while Haruo gains a new rival and romantic interest in Koharu Hidaka. With the trio now in high school and Akira finally back in Japan, not only do they still enjoy going to the arcade but find themselves in the middle of an intense love triangle. So allow us to share why you NEED to watch High Score Girl II.
As crazy as it sounds, High Score Girl can be an educational experience as it pertains to Japanese games and pop culture between 1991 and 1996. Many non-Japanese viewers that represent the younger Generation-X and older millennials likely grew up going to an arcade during their youth. However, arcades have been dying out in many nations outside of Japan since the end of the 1990s but they still continue to thrive there, which is portrayed in High Score Girl as the arcades in that anime are full of businessmen and minors.
Through High Score Girl, domestic and international audiences alike can see what the gaming scene in Japan was doing over 25 years ago. As portrayed in the first season, non-Japanese audiences can see that the PC Engine (or the Turbo Grafx-16 in other regions) and the Sega Saturn were big hits in Japan despite being abysmal failures outside of it. In addition, audiences can get a glimpse of how competitive the scene was between certain regions, which began during the time when Daigo Umehara, one of the world’s greatest Street Fighter players, also started to get into the scene. In this season, the second season of High Score Girl highlights the rivalry between a Shibuya arcade and an arcade based out of Mizonokuchi, a district located in the neighboring city of Kawasaki.
Last, the series makes references to some unique trends that were beginning to happen in Japanese youth culture at the time such as the beginning of the “gyaru” (a way of saying “gal”) subculture (a style involving artificial tans, bleached hair, and excessive makeup), and how Japanese high school girls were starting to wear loose socks as a fashion trend of the time. In addition, this part of the series also portrays how Shibuya was not only a place where people could enjoy the arcades, but how it has always been the center of the country’s fashion trends, and viewers can see how Haruo’s time there affects his fashion sense.
Further Expands Character Relationships
Considering where the first season ends as it pertains to Haruo, Koharu, and Akira, audiences sure want to know what happens next. Despite Akira remaining non-verbal for comedic purposes, viewers can get an immediate sense that she has her own feelings for Haruo based on traditional textbook tsundere tropes she expresses. Koharu being someone who speaks, she’s very open with her feelings for Haruo. So it makes the audience wonder where Haruo could go next in terms of romantic relationships. For most of the series, he sees these two young ladies as friendly rivals and he’s never expressed such interests. Will Haruo open his heart? Or will he only see them as his playmates (at the arcade)?
As the series expands with the timeline, we are positive that the series will show more games in correlation to the story’s progression. At the beginning of the first season, audiences were treated to the original Street Fighter II upon its debut in 1991. As for 1996, the series emphasizes on Street Fighter Zero II as the key Street Fighter series, and eventually, maybe the series will get to the debut of Street Fighter III, Virtua Fighter 3, and other hit titles of that time! If the series goes as far as 1997, could we get glimpses of Final Fantasy VII (considering that Square Enix publishes the original manga)? Watch to find out!
High Score Girl is certainly for those that love retro gaming. For Gen-X’ers and older millennials, this is certainly a series to check out if they want to go down memory lane. For the younger viewers, we still recommend this anime to give them an idea of how gaming has evolved over the past 30 years. Not only does it help inform viewers of how gaming has changed, it can also provide international viewers with an accurate depiction of what appeals to Japanese gamers and how their tastes differ from non-Japanese gamers. Last, for audiences that love romantic comedies, then this anime is progressively full of tropes of rom-coms compared to last season, which set the seeds for what is now to come. Granted, the designs and animation are simple but put that aside as it has a story viewers can still get a kick out of.