Do you like Capcom? More specifically, do you like Street Fighter and Final Fight? Do you like an anime completely done in bad CG? Do you like a musical score done by the same guy who made Street Fighter II’s OST? How about little moe characters as the stars of the show? Well, if you said yes to even one of those, then I welcome you to the elusive anime known as High Score Girl!
The year is 1991. Haruo is a god at the arcades, namely maining Guile in Street Fighter II. He racks up an impressive win streak when someone challenges him as Zangief. Snickering at the thought that someone would pick ol’ Zangy against him, he goes into the fight not expecting much and gets his streak broken. Person after person attempts to take down this new player and each and every one of them fail. It isn’t until Haruo uses Guile’s turtle technique in order to take her down, drawing her ire.
Enter Akira Oono. She’s a popular girl in school who excels at her studies. Obviously, she has a secret passion and skill for games… or more accurately, getting the highest score in a video game. After her loss to Haruo, she begins to follow him around everywhere. The best part about Onoo is that she doesn’t even say a single, solitary word in the entire first episode but she doesn’t have to. Just her facial expressions, her actions, her body language… everything that she does conveys her emotions and speak louder than any words could.
It’s a nice change of pace to a main character and it’s working really well for this first episode. In fact, I wouldn’t mind it if she ended up not speaking the entire season and then mutters something in the final episode. That would be pretty awesome! Outside of this, the show’s first episode was pretty straightforward. It built this rivalry between Onoo and Haruo but at the same time, you can see an inkling of a friendship beginning to build between the both of them. The fact that the show also goes into techniques used in Street Fighter II and Final Fight also make this show appealing to gamers as well. The details they go into go far beyond the generic stereotypes that most people will experience in a typical otaku-centric anime.
The bag CG I eluded to in the introduction isn’t really all that bad. While some of the movements are a little clunky, the show, overall, looks and feels pretty good. The fact that there were moments where I forgot that the show was even in full CG is a testament to how well they pulled it off. Actual game footage from the games the play is also a welcome addition as it makes you feel like you’re watching a Twitch stream at times.
OP and ED Thoughts
“New Stranger” by sora tob sakana serves as the opening. It opens in a glorious fashion and feels a bit different than your typical J-pop opening. Sadly, when the vocals kick in, I’m instantly turned off. There’s something a bit grating about the way the vocals sound and instantly take me out of the song. Add in the random string of dissonant notes in the middle of the song and it REALLY takes you out of it. What started out as something that showed promised quickly turned into something that just didn’t sound good at all. This one is a “pass on it” from me.
“After School Distraction” by Yukushimaru Etsuko is a calm and serene ending theme that, like the opening, is completely ruined by the vocals. It sounds like the entire song is sang out of tune and the actual sound of the vocals themselves are just as bad as the opening’s. In fact, I can’t really decide which of the songs is actually worse. They both fail to capture my attention but that’s fine. There are plenty of other good openings and endings to look forward to this season.
YES – Despite the poor music to open and close the show, High Score Girl itself is rather good. Given the fact that the anime is set in the 90s, it has that old-school feel of making a rival at the arcade. This show actually feels like a reverse Teasing Master Takagi-san where the main theme is Capcom video games. I actually enjoyed Takagi-san and while the interactions are as cute in this one, you still get those vibes from it. The show is funny when it needs to be and it’s serious at all the right moments. It has great balance, a great premise, and great entertainment so far. If you can find it, give it a shot, especially if you grew up on Capcom games.