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On the surface the story of "Haganai" is that of a typical Japanese "gakuen comedy" genre, comedy based on everyday school life. The difference is that most characters (including one teacher) are "misfits" at high school St. Chronica Academy, who are not very good at making friends.
The comic begins with the "yaminabe" ("nabe in the dark") episode, a prologue in which the club members and advisor are introduced. If you find it confusing, skip it and go directly to the first episode. The protagonist is a male transfer student Kodaka, who overhears his classmate Yozora, a girl always looking grumpy, talking to her "air friend." Then Yozora forms "Neighbors Club" so that she can recruit those who are inept at making friends, and the first one to join, albeit reluctantly, is Kodaka himself, who is often mistaken for a delinquent.
The comic's premise reminds us of "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" and "Toradora!" and like these popular series (both started as hit light novels) the strength of "Haganai" lies in the two strong-minded heroines, Yozora Mikazuki and Sena Kashiwazaki. The club's activities (like playing a dating sim game) often results in hilarious and unpredictable consequences.
Seven Sea Entertainment's comic "Haganai," illustrated by Itachi, is based on the on-going light novel series by Yomi Hirasaka. "Haganai" (four-syllable abbreviation frequently used in Japanese anime/manga) stands for "Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai" ("I Don't Have Many Friends"), which is the original title of the hit novel/anime/manga. Illustrator Itachi has a unique drawing style that may divide opinions, as unlike the anime version, the characters of the comic "Haganai" are drawn in an exaggerated way, giving an emphasis on their facial expressions.
I for one liked the manga version for the interesting characters and solid storytelling thanks to the simple and effective panel layout. This is a very entertaining read with a few clever offbeat jokes.
I've not seen the anime or read the light novel of this series, so I went into the manga blind. I found the plot description above amusing and saw potential for this as a series. I was not disappointed. The plot follows a group of students who, well the title "I don't have many friends" seems a bit misleading as they don't seem to have any friends. One of them gets the idea to start a new club, "The Neighbor's Club," to find people who are as desperate for friends as they are.
The first volume does a good job of introducing a few of the cast members (and shows us a bit of a preview of who will join later). It sets up the personalities well and does a good job of showing not only how desperate these people are for friends, but also why they would have trouble making friends. It should be noted that someone going into this series looking for a lighthearted manga with cute characters making friends will probably be disappointed. Some of the characters are rather unpleasant. I do not say this to insult the series, in fact I applaud it for this choice, these are rather damaged people looking for friends, but lack the social skills to keep one.
For a first volume, we mostly just get our standard character introduction chapters (which are handled rather well) and there are two chapters involving video games as a way of socializing. My favorite was chapter four in which they play a dating sim game in order to developed social skills. The choices they make in game were utterly hilarious, and I refuse to spoil it here.
In terms of the look, the art style is a little rough at times, but good.Read more ›
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I will admit that I've read the scanlated version of this series, so I knew going into it that I'd like this series. My reason for reading the official release was to see whether or not that charm would translate into an official version. For the most part, it did.
As a whole, this is a very cute series and a decent start. The characters are all fairly endearing in their own ways, although I will say that at times they're your typical character tropes. What saves this from completely fading into the background is that the series tries to have fun with this idea as well as throwing some new stuff into the mix. One of the things that keeps Yozora from being unlikable is that her introduction comes from her talking to an "air friend" because she can't really manage to make them on her own. I rather liked that this was handled in a way that was neither a "totally sad" type of thing nor played up entirely for comedic value.
I will warn readers that the charm of the volume might wear with repeated readings, which is why this wasn't a perfect read for me. The artwork is really wonderful, so even if you tend to get a little bored with the story after the initial reading, there's lots to look at. The female characters are pretty lovingly drawn to appeal to the reader, but without it being too overly fanservice-y. The lead male character? Well, let's just say that unless you're a pretty boy or a cute girl, the artwork won't be as detailed at times. But hey, the artist knows that in the end the cute girls are what people are really here to see.
Overall this is a nice series and one that I'll probably end up keeping up with in the future. It's a bit slow at places, but it does pick up later in the volume and does get better as the series progresses.
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