Both of these series have something to offer, but they share some of the same problems.
Boku Wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT - 02
Both Haganai and Oreshura are going on blogging hold for now, and there’s definitely overlap in the reasons why. And no, I’m not just talking about the ridiculously long titles, though that’s admittedly not one of my favorite anime trends of the moment. If nothing else, they both air at a time of the week that’s seriously overcrowded with shows I really like a lot – and for me to dedicate the time to adding another show to the list, it can’t be one I’m feeling as ambivalent about as I am these two series.
Why am I ambivalent? Well, first off, there’s the matter of the humor becoming repetitive. That’s certainly a bigger problem in Haganai than in Oreshura, but then, Haganai has an entire season under its belt – the fact that this is an issue with Oreshura at all after only three eps is a bit worrisome. I also find watching both shows a somewhat demoralizing experience. Haganai seems to have crossed that elusive line from being edgy to being downright mean-spirited, and I find the whole three-way scenario on which Oreshura is based to be rather unpleasant. If you feel that way watching a comedy, it certainly doesn’t make you want to blog about it.
Beyond that, of course, there are some specific issues for each series that weigh in on the positive and negative side of the equation. I’m not quite sure anymore what the point of Haganai is, though I suppose it would be fair to argue that it doesn’t have to have one. The show seems to have regressed into creative as many humiliating and really outrageously ecchi situations as it can cram into an episode, which is a long way from what started out as a fairly incisive look at what it’s like to be socially isolated in high school. Oddballs like the cast of Haganai can make very good characters, and shows about them can be both entertaining and carry a little weight, too. And I think that was what Haganai was for maybe the first two-thirds of the first season, but I see a pretty consistent downward trend since then. Whether the author ran out of ideas, the premise lost its momentum or there have simply been poor choices made in adaptation I don’t know. But at this point I think the series has to be hilariously funny to really work, because it’s not bringing much else to the table character-wise – and it isn’t reaching that level very often.
As for Oreshura, I don’ think the issue is a premise that’s been strayed from so much as a questionable premise around which to build a series in the first place. The issue for me here is more fundamental – I simply don’t like the characters all that much, or care about their situations. Chiwa annoyed me more than anything else in the premiere, and while I’ve come to feel a certain sympathy for her, feeling sorry for a character isn’t the same as liking them. Masuzu started off as a pretty interesting case, but her kind of cruelty for its own sake doesn’t hold a whole lot of appeal. Just because Chiwa is an easy target doesn’t mean she deserves to have her emotions toyed with, and as for Eita, well – he’s a perfectly nice guy and Ohsaka Ryouta is one of my favorite new seiyuu, but he’s looking more and more like a classic dense male lead.
I see some potential in Oreshura – I do in Haganai, too, but that’s because I saw it realized in S1 – and there’s a chance this thing could find its legs and become pretty interesting. There’s undeniably an honestly warm quality to the relationship between Eita and Chiwa, but that’s of limited value unless the series can make me really care about either of them. This episode just felt like a lot of Chiwa wailing, Masuzu trolling and Eita being clueless – and we’ve already seen a lot of that in three eps. Even in anime, is it really possible to ask us to believe Eita has no idea why Chiwa is so upset with him? Maybe there’s a meta-quality to Oreshura, where it’s setting itself up as a parody of the sort of show it appears to be itself – time will tell – but for now, I feel like I’d need to meet it more than half way to really give it the benefit of the doubt.
I’ll be watching both series for now, and hopefully one or both of them will show me enough to demand that I blog it again. It’s only the shows that have the potential to be more than they are that have the power to be disappointing, but sometimes those shows surprise you with their resilience.
Oreshura - 03