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Haganai: I don’t have many friends (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 26, 2013 by  



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For those wanting a harem anime series that is not overly perverted but is fun and crazy, we’ll enjoy the adventures of the characters in “Haganai: I don’t have many friends” in their quest of learning how to make friends.  An entertaining first season and I can’t wait for season two!

Images courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Haganai: I don’t have many friends

YEAR OF FILM: 2011

DURATION: 13 Episodes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 16×9 HD Native, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 5.1, Subtitles: English

RATED: TV M

COMPANY: FUNimation

RELEASE DATE: August 13, 2013

Originally Created by Yomi Hirasaka

Original Character Design: Buriki

Directed by Hisashi Saito

Screenplay by Tatsuhiko Urahata

Music by Tom-H@ck

Character Design by Yoshihiro Watanabe

Art Direction by Yuka Hirama

Anime Production by AIC Build

Featuring the voices of:

Kanae Itō/Jad Saxton as Sena Kashiwazaki

Marina Inoue/Whitney Rodgers as Yozora Mikazuki

Ryohei Kimura/Jerry Jewell as Kodaka Hasegawa

Kana Hanazawa/Alison Viktorin as Kobato Hasegawa

Misato Fukuen/Alexis Tipton as Rika Shiguma

Nozomi Yamamoto/Ashleigh Domangue as Yukimura Kusunoki

Yuka Iguchi/Kristi Yang as Maria Takayama

Yozora’s an abrasive loudmouth whose only friend at school is imaginary. She knows she’s difficult – which makes her better off than Kodoka, a new transfer student who picked up an undeserved bad reputation the second he stepped on campus. Inspired by their shared status as social catastrophes, the two loners unite and start the Neighbors Club, an organization dedicated to finding other misfits and making friends.

In no time, a third member joins their ranks: Sena, a pretty, popular rich girl who annoys Yozora to no end. With Kodoka in the middle of the chaos, the brash brunette and the blonde boy-magnet go ’round and ’round, even as the Neighbors Club begins to grow. Hopefully, the girls can get past their rivalry, because sometimes the friendship you’re looking for is right in front of you, and sometimes the best friends are the friends you never even wanted.

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From light novel author Yomi Hirasaka comes a mature comedy series titled “Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai” (I Don’t Have Many Friends), in shortened form titled “Haganai”.

Originally illustrated by Buriki and published by Media Factory in 2009, the light novel story would receive several manga adaptations written by Itachi and another by Misaki Harukawa and Shuichi Taguchi.

In 2011, a 12-episode anime series was adapted by AIC Build and in Japan. The series is directed by Hisashi Saito (“Fantasista Doll”, “Heaven’s Lost Property”), a screenplay by Tatsuhiko Urahata (“Aria – The Natural”, “Ichigo 100%”, “Monster”, “Nana”, etc.), music by Tom-H@ck (“K-ON!”, “Katekyo Hitman Reborn!”), character designs by Yoshihiro Watanabe (“Bamboo Blade”, “Heaven’s Lost Property”) and background art by Yuka Hirama (“Gurren Lagann”, “The Big O”, “Boogiepop Phantom”, “Gad Guard”).

An OVA was released in Sept. 2012 and a second season titled “Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT” recently aired between January through March 2013.

With a live action film in the works, FUNimation will be releasing the first season of “Haganai” on Blu-ray/DVD in August 2013.

“Haganai” is a series that revolves around Kodaka Hasegawa, a student who just transferred to St. Chronica Academy, a private Catholic school.  But because of his natural blonde/brown hair and his serious looking eyes, the students think he must be some sort of  thug and during his first time in class, he trips and nearly falls on the teacher, which rumors immediately begin in class that Kodaka must be some kind of deviant.  So, the students avoid him like the plague.

One day, he watches a teenage girl named Yozora Mikazuki talking to herself.  He wonders if she is talking to a ghost and approaches her about it.  Yozora, who has a cold attitude tells him that she is talking to her imaginary friend named “Tomo” which Kodaka thinks is weird.  And as the two talk, they discuss how they have no friends in school.

So, in order to change things for them, Yozora starts a new club in school titled the “Neighbor’s Club” for people with no friends but also find ways to get friends.  Immediately, the club starts to bring in others who have no friends and together, each try to experiment in various activities that teenagers are taking part in and see if it can benefit each member in making new friends.

From playing the latest cool multi-player video game, going to the beach, going to the public pool, going to karaoke or a cultural festival, from these new experiences, what will they learn?

But as each club member begin hanging out each other trying to learn how to make new friends, they are totally oblivious that each have made friends with each other and may not need to make friends outside of their circle.

But also, the longer they stay together, the more each tends to have some sort of attraction or bond with Kodaka.

The Neighbors Club consist of the following members:

Kodaka Hasegawa – The main protagonist who is naive about social activities but he is good-natured.  He has been watching over his young sister Kobato since his mother passed away and his father is working in the U.S. as an archaelogist.  Because the family has moved so many times, he has not had many friends but one person from his childhood named Sora.  Kodaka treats everyone with kindness.

Yozora Mikazuki – Very brash and can be very mean or manipulative to others.  She can be physically and emotionally abusive towards others and has a rivalry with Sena Kashiwazaki, who she keeps calling her “Meat”.  She is the founder of the Neighbors Club.

Sena Kashiwazaki – Known for her blonde hair and large breasts, Sena is the daughter of the school’s headteacher and because she is attractive and successful in academics, she can be a bit arrogant.  She sees the male students as servants and she is obsessed with video games, especially dating games and those with adult content.  She and Yozora have a rivalry, but despite each trying to have the upperhand against each other, they try to get along for the sake of the club.

Kobato Hasegawa – Kodaka’s younger sister who is a junior high student at St. Chronica’s Academy.  She has a brother complex and always wanting attention from her brother.  She is addicted to an anime series known as “Fullmetal Necromancer” and wears a red contact lens in one eye and often calling herself a vampire that drinks blood (tomato juice).  She is rivals with Maria, because Maria calls Kodaka her brother.

Yukimura Kusunoki – A male student that has been stalking Kodaka.  A guy with low self-esteem but also one who wears female clothes and acts like a female.  She has been stalking Kodaka to learn how to be more manly, but somehow Yozora tends to make her wear female clothing. Often wearing a maid outfit and cooking food for Kodaka.

Rika Shiguma – The mad scientist at the Academy who is addicted to stories about sex.  When Kodaka saves her after she falls from a bad lab experiment, she wants to repay Kodaka with sexual favors and joins the Neighbor’s Club to get closer to him.  While a genius, she is very unusual but also a big fan of fujoshi (boys love) and mecha intercourse.

Maria Takayama – The supervising teacher of the Neighbors Club.   A ten-year-old nun and a child genius who can’t stand Kodaka’s younger sister, Kobato. She looks up to Kodaka as her older brother.

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VIDEO:

“Hagenai: I don’t have many friends” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Colors are vibrant, very good shading when it comes to the characters, art backgrounds are well-done and the good thing is because each character are often visiting different locations, there are no repetitive backgrounds featuring clouds, trees, and roofs but actually seeing various locations that the characters visit.

I didn’t notice any major banding issues or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO:

“Hagenai: I don’t have many friends”  is presented in English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0.   This type of series is primarily dialogue driven.  But dialogue and music are crystal clear.  I didn’t notice an abundant use of surround channel use, but you do hear it during the more action-driven scenes (during their fantasy video game gaming scenes).

The English dub is very well done, definitely good Americanized translation for the series in terms of character interaction (especially the bickering between Yoshizora and Sena).  But the English dub is well-acted and the Japanese soundtrack is also well done.  But in terms of comparison, the English dub is much better because of its DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack and features a better dynamic range.  But both soundtracks are well-done!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Haganai: I don’t have many friends” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 2 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Jerry Jewell (Kodaka), Jad Saxton (Sena) and Whitney Rogers (Yoshizora).
  • Episode 8 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Zach Bolton (ADR Direct), Alison Viktorin (voice of Koboto) and Kristi Yang (voice of Maria).
  • Blu-ray and DVD Spots – (3:40)  The Japanese Media Factory Blu-ray and DVD TV spots.
  • Original Commercials – (:50) The original Japanese commercials for “Haganai”.
  • Promotional Videos – (2:36) The promotional videos for “Haganai”.
  • TV Spots  – (:49) Japanese TV spots for “Haganai”.
  • Textless Opening Song: Zennenkei Rinjinbu
  • Textless Closing Song: Watashi no Ki-Mo-Chi
  • U.S. Trailer – (1:35) The FUNimation trailer for “Haganai: I don’t have many friends”.

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“Haganai: I don’t have any friends” has the elements of an anime series that resembles the usual harem anime series.

Typically with a harem anime series, it’s a story about one guy as the protagonist and a lot of female characters that are attracted to the male character.  And quite frequently, the type of harem anime series that we see here in the United States are mature series that involve sexual humor.

But before anyone thinks this is an anime series with the overplayed, banal cliche storyline, “Haganai: I don’t have any friends” is different for the fact is that the male protagonist, Kodaka Hasegawa, is not a pervert, he’s like a big brother or good friend that cares about people.  But most importantly, this is not a storyline that deals with sci-fi elements, this is not a series in which fan service is the primary factor of watching the series.

It’s the fascinating storyline of a group of people who become members of a club because they can’t find any friends.  They are without any social experiences that they try to integrate themselves of what people are doing today and see if they can find friends that way or learn the way to become more social that they can attract new friends, not really knowing that within their club, by hanging out together often…they have become good friends.

But because of the mature rating of this anime series, does it fall within the category of other FUNimation perverted harem anime series such as “Sekirei” or “Heaven’s Lost Property”?

The series does feature a character, Sena Kashiwazaki, who happens to be well-endowed and yes, always in scenes where her chest is often bouncing or somehow her boobs become a revolving joke because she is often despised by Yozora Mikazuki, the founder of the club, that each member belongs to.

But where “Sekirei” or even “Heaven’s Lost Property” features multiple women in scantily clad outfits with huge breasts, “Haganai” only features one character, which is Sena, often featured in those situations.

The adult situations are more about the humor within its other wacky characters such as Rika Shiguma, a mad scientist who is addicted to boys love anime/manga and just wants to see Kodaka engage in certain acts that will turn her on.  The other is Yukimura Kusunoki who is a boy but yet looks like a girl and acts like a girl and is often dressed in female’s clothes.  Because he tries to hid his chest like a girl when changing into a swimsuit, because of his feminine ways, it’s too much for Kodaka to even look at him.

But then you have two other members who are younger.  Kobato is Kodaka’s younger sister who has a brother complex (ie. has a crush on her brother) and Maria who is a child genius and she looks at Kodaka like a brother.  But these two are often squalling as Maria is in her nun outfit and Kobato is always in vampire mode and both are often at each other’s throats.

So, in terms of a harem anime series, it’s not so perverted in the sense of other anime series but there is adult humor and a few times where there is nudity featured.  But compared to other anime series where fan service is continually used in every episode, “Haganai: I don’t have many friends” focuses on its characters really trying to learn how to make friends.  Trying to take on varies fads and hobbies that friends take part in, may it be video games, karaoke, going to the beach, going to the public pool, etc.

To see how socially awkward each of them are as they try to experiment with various social activities.  For the video games, we often see the characters in their fantasy form and having fun but its so fun and hilarious because most often, they fail in trying to learn why these things are popular, but not knowing that doing these activities as a team, actually brings them closer together as friends.  In other words, they are trying so hard to make friends that they don’t realize that each of them have become friends with each other.

As for the Blu-ray release, colors are vibrant, very good shading when it comes to the characters, art backgrounds are well-done and the good thing is because each character are often visiting different locations, there are no repetitive backgrounds featuring clouds, trees, and roofs but actually seeing various locations that the characters visit.  But the series does look good on Blu-ray and as for audio, this type of series is primarily dialogue driven.  But dialogue and music are crystal clear.  I didn’t notice an abundant use of surround channel use, but you do hear it during the more action-driven scenes.

Both voice acting on the Japanese and English soundtrack are well-done and there are a good number of special features included with this first season of “Haganai: I don’t have many friends”.

Overall, for those wanting a harem anime series that is not overly perverted but is fun and crazy, we’ll enjoy the adventures of the characters in “Haganai: I don’t have many friends” in their quest of learning how to make friends.  An entertaining first season and I can’t wait for season two!

 






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