In this week’s installment of Haganai, Yozora gets to play an otome game which is the gender reversed version of the game played early in the first season. After that comes to a bad, but satisfying end, the plot resumes in the final third. After having her inventions called plain by Kodaka, Rika creates what she says is a time machine, but really only creates vivid dreams. Unfortunately, it doesn’t prevent Kodaka from talking in his sleep.
There was a moment at the end of Yozora’s playthrough of GirlsKira that had me thinking about how profoundly cultural norms shape writing a successful product, and how that plays against any sort of deviancy in society. To set this up, Yozora plays through with her character maxing out her stats and embarks on pursuing a relationship with a character remarkably like Kodaka. Because he is a social outcast, and because she never looked to pursue even a friendship with any of the characters in a game it was deemed a bad ending by the creators.
The societal bias in the story is shockingly obvious. As she develops herself into an elite character, she is compelled by the writer into pursuing relationships with girls and boys in the elite tier of school society. What she really wants is the relationship on her terms, and not one decided by society. The only reason she came upon the character like Kodaka was because she had no friends in game and could be cornered by thugs in an alley. Because if she had a boyfriend by then, she never would have been in a situation like that, etc. Finally, in the end, after playing through the story in her way she’s just arbitrarily told that she had a sad 3 years of high school because she didn’t follow the plan set out by society.
Alright, if that is too deep for you I’ll move on to more Yozora and the overall story. It’s quickly become apparent that the reason the club was created solely for Yozora to spend time with Kodaka and perhaps rekindle the friendship they had ten years earlier. With each new character entering the club, or semi-romantic development with Kodaka and the other girls, her control over her one link to a better time is diminishing further and further. Yozora is inherently a character dishonest about her own feelings. She can’t articulate whether she wants to be friends with Kodaka and the others or if she is in love, or merely wants to spend time with them. So she acts in passive-aggressive ways against the others all while the others look comfortable and grow closer are members of a club, if not friends.
That’s why Rika plays an important role in the story. She is for all intents and purpose the polar opposite of Yozora. Where Yozora shuns attention and attempts to be friendly with the others, Rika is bringing the club together with their activities and even playing peacekeeper when the others get out of line. Rika also hides nothing from the rest of the group at all. Her pursuit of Kodaka is obvious to the others and she also knows how to interact with other people. If she had a sense of withholding her feelings when appropriate, she would be completely normal.
So ultimately, without Rika, this series probably goes nowhere. Yozora and Sena bicker continuously over Kodaka without realizing it. Yukimura refuses to recognize her own gender, and Maria and Kobato pretty much keep doing the same thing. Basically, there is no character development in this show without Rika.
After that, here are the less important items I had from this episode:
- There is a rare cliffhanger as Yozora and Kodaka’s childhood friendship is exposed via Rika’s dream invention. I still have trouble believing this would alter anything, in fact, it probably makes Yozora look even better for not having taken any advantage of her position with Kodaka.
- Despite what I had thought going in, Rika only changed hair styles 3 times in this episode. I was expecting many more.
- The extended Mayo Chiki! insert into the episode was a bit odd. I’m sure it applied to girls being butlers, but in Yukimura’s case it would only mean becoming more of a woman than before.
- How great is it that Sena still held a grudge for the terribly named character in her eroge from the first season? That her revenge was quickly punished by Rika made it all the better. Normal people don’t hold on to things that long.
Next week, it looks like lots of fawning over Kodaka as Yozora and Sena compete for his attention as maids. Does that mean Yukimura wearing normal girl’s clothing then?