High Score Girl Ep. 5: Love at its most difficult

You can’t help but feel bad for Koharu. If she can’t even compete with Akira when the latter isn’t around, what is she gonna do when the great ojousama finally returns from America?

— At the start of the episode, Koharu bumps into Haruo, and she’s happy to see that he’s wearing the gloves she had made for him. But of course, the guy has no awareness for such sentimental frivolities. Haruo’s a nice kid, but the only thing he ever has on his mind is games. You need to beat him over the head if you want him to pay attention to anything else. For instance, Akira is the only person who seems to be able draw out his kindness, and that’s because she’s so pitiful. She’s not pathetic, mind you. She just has it hard, and this makes Haruo care. Nothing’s wrong with Koharu, and that’s great. But at the same time, it also makes her unnoticeable to a guy like Haruo.

— Anyways, she accompanies him to a game shop, and you can just see the excitement on his face.

Mortal Kombat somehow manages to catch the girl’s eye, so Haruo is more than happy to continue her video game education. Honestly, he’s happy to teach anyone about games, but for some reason, the only two people who can tolerate his endless chatter are two cute girls. What a lucky dude.

— I mean, let’s face it… it would’ve been a dream come true for a lot of us in middle school if we had found a girl who not only liked us but also liked video games as well. But back in the early 90s, I rarely heard girls talk about video games.

— Haruo drags Koharu to the arcade, and the girl admits that she’s never been to one before. Nevertheless, since she’s so curious about Mortal Kombat, they’re going to give the game a shot.

— Speaking of Mortal Kombat, I got it for Christmas one year, and I thought that game sucked hard. My friends all loved it, though. They loved the fatalities, they loved the gore, they loved the movie. On the other hand, I just didn’t get it. I had Street Fighter II way earlier, and Mortal Kombat looked uglier and felt clunkier. Everything about it just felt cheap.

— For instance, there’s a legitimate laugh-out-loud moment in this week’s episode involving Raiden’s ridiculous battle cries. The kids try to decipher the lightning god’s gibberish battle cries, and it’s the funniest thing I’ve listened to all series. But this is exactly what I’m talking about! Not only do the fighters in Mortal Kombat look dumb, they sound dumb. I guess this is why the series never stood the test of time like Street Fighter.

This is a good analogy.

— Anyways, like before, Koharu seems to have a preternatural talent for fighting games. Haruo can’t help but hang his jaw in shock when the girl pulls off a fatality on her very first try. Is it luck or is she full of untapped potential?? Probably the latter, but it’s still funny. Until she met Haruo, she had no interest in video games whatsoever. Now that she wants him to notice her, she’ll probably have to become a fighting games expert herself.

— Haruo’s pissed off that someone who loves games like him has to work so hard to “git gud.” On the other hand, girls like Akira and Koharu seem to be blessed by the fighting games gods themselves. As a result, he decides to vent by picking on someone else.

— He proceeds to crush that weird kid in Samurai Shodown. You remember him. It’s that rager who can’t stand to lose. He used to have a girlfriend two years ago. I wonder what happened to her.

— In the process of humiliating the other kid, Haruo ruins his gloves. Button-mashing will do that. This ticks Koharu off, but he’ll never understand her feelings unless she spells it out to him. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care. It just means that like all of us, the kid has blind spots. We can’t notice what we can’t see.

— In the end, the rager goes to pick a fight, but Haruo’s ready for it. In fact, it looks like he was aiming to get this exact reaction out of the rager. I’m told that boys need to roughhouse and playfight in order to get a grasp on their aggressive impulses. Don’t quote me on that, though. I’m no expert on raising children. It’s just something I read somewhere, but I’m too lazy to look it up. It wouldn’t surprise me, however, if this is exactly what we’re witnessing right now. Frustrated by his seeming inferiority, Haruo goads someone with a short fuse into starting a fight. He gets to let off some steam in the process.

— We later see Koharu leaving the arcade alone. She has nothing positive to say about Haruo. All he cares about are games, he doesn’t care about her gift, and he picks fight. So why does she like him so much? But the key here is that she’s thinking about him. Even if she’s thinking negative thoughts about him, she still can’t get him out of her mind.

— So later that night, as Koharu lies in bed, she starts to do all sorts of mental gymnastics to defend Haruo’s actions. The mind can justify all sorts of things. It just needs time, and as long as the girl is unable to get the kid out of her mind, she’ll come around eventually. The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference. You only break up with someone when you just don’t care anymore.

— The next day, she’s told that “her boyfriend” is outside the family store, playing games in the cold. She debates whether or not she should go down to see him. On the one hand, Haruo is probably only here for the games. On other hand, maybe he’s here to see her! Maybe! Of course, we know that’s silly, but like I said, given enough time, the mind will play all sorts of tricks on itself.

— The longer Koharu thinks about Haruo, the more she tries to convince herself that maybe he’s waiting for her to come down and greet him. It’s cute how she hops in place, torturing herself over her first crush. She wishes he would just call out to her, but that’s not happening. Eventually, the girl relents and brings him a cup of hot tea. He’s so busy playing games that he even asks her to pour it straight into his mouth so he doesn’t have to stop gaming. She’s so happy to share this moment with him, though.

— Unfortunately, the happiness is short-lived. When Koharu asks if he had something to do with her, he says no. As we all thought, he’s just here for the games. In fact, he’s happy that it’s snowing, because this means he’ll be left alone. Ah, look at the poor girl. She’s trying so hard, but boys like Haruo don’t get hints. She ends up retaliating by unplugging the cabinet, but that won’t get her any closer to his heart.

— After the commercial break, we learn that Haruo has given himself a cold. As a result, he’s not in school for Valentine’s Day. Despite all her frustrations with him, Koharu still wants to give him a box of chocolate. Their classmates joke that only an idiot would like Haruo. She can’t help but admit that this is true; she’s that idiot.

— Speaking of chocolate, Onizuka is wild.

— Koharu is so obstinate about her crush that she decides to drop by Haruo’s home just to give him the chocolates. As always, Haruo’s mom is like the perfect wingman.

— Koharu’s mistake is even bringing him a video games magazine. As a result, her box of chocolate just ends up being ignored much like her. But to be honest, even if all she brought him was the chocolates, he probably wouldn’t have cared about it all that much.

— Haruo’s mom drops by with a tall stack of pancakes. Man, Haruo doesn’t realize what a boon he has. Lots of girls would love to have a mother-in-law that they can get along with.

— I also keep all of the boxes that my consoles come in. Also, I can’t believe he chooses to play the PC Engine over the SNES. What a gaming hipster. There’s a reason why Nintendo won the 16-bit era.

— I’m also surprised that his single working mother could afford him so many consoles. Granted, the games sound dirt cheap. Haruo goes on and on about how he can get PC Engine games for just 50 yen.

— Again, Koharu just wants to watch Haruo play when he seems to prefer if someone plays with him. It’s a small but important distinction that sets the girl apart from Akira. Maybe she’ll get good at fighting games one day, but it might be too late at that point.

— For instance, when Koharu starts playing Kung Fu on her own, this only serves to remind Haruo of Akira. In fact, he keeps his skills in Street Fighter II sharp just in case she ever comes back to Japan. That’s some real dedication. Hell, that’s love. He won’t admit it now, but Akira is his first love. People rarely forget their first love, and unless she rejects him, he probably won’t ever move on. There’s no reason for her to reject him either.

— This also reinforces the idea that Koharu is fighting a losing battle. She’s a nice girl who hasn’t done anything wrong. It’s just bad timing. Maybe if she had met Haruo first, he’d be obsessed with her natural talent instead.

— As Koharu walks home later that night, she sadly admits to herself that Haruo doesn’t really care about her as a person. He treats her like any friend, and that’s it. Nevertheless, she doesn’t want to give up. Hm.

— Haruo won’t give up either. Even though he’s sick, he gets up and starts practicing at Street Fighter II again. Meanwhile, Koharu’s chocolates continue to remain ignored.

— And as luck would have it, Akira is back. She doesn’t look any happier than before. In fact, she looks even worse off, but maybe things will look up when she’s finally reunited with Haruo.

5 thoughts on “High Score Girl Ep. 5: Love at its most difficult

  1. ramon3ljamon

    What a cute show, I’d have missed it if not for your posts. The show has been very good at portraying the head space of a young teen with an unrequited crush.

    I’ve grown quite fond of Koharu, what a kind girl. She’s also pretty perceptive, it won’t take long for her to notice how strong Haruo’s love for Akira is. Do you expect her to confess?

    That aside, I sure hope Akira has learned to talk… Some romantic banter would be nice…

    1. dsprizer

      Part of the fun of Akira is that she doesn’t talk! Besides its obvious comic potential, the fact that Haruo intuitively understands her even without words is a terrific way to demonstrate the depth of his connection to her.

    2. Sean Post author

      Do you expect her to confess?

      The losing girl always confess.

      It’s hard to imagine that the girl has made it this far in life without talking. It’s easier to assume that she just doesn’t feel the need to talk to Haruo in order for them to communicate, and as a result, we never see her talk onscreen.

  2. Cozy Rogers

    Ah yes, the Mortal Kombat days. I actually played that in an arcade before. I distinctly remember spamming “Raiden Gambate” all the way up the challenge tower. I thought I was so~ clever.

    I’m sad for Koharu, but at least this show is playing it straight so far. Thus far there’s never been any doubt that Akira was the one for him, so any attempt by the show to pretend that wasn’t the case would have just felt artificial. Haruo’s dedication to one girl is a nice change of pace in this age of indecisive harem-lords (even if he is a complete ignoramus without a clue), and I can get down with cheering for the hopeless underdog.

    Maybe if Koharu’d shoved her chocolate in a video game box it might have gotten Haruo’s attention. Really though, who opens the plain-looking paper bag first, without even so much as glancing at the wrapped present? Whether he knows what Valentines Day is or not, fancy wrapped presents should pretty much be a universal language… Jeez.

    1. Sean Post author

      Ah yes, the Mortal Kombat days. I actually played that in an arcade before. I distinctly remember spamming “Raiden Gambate” all the way up the challenge tower. I thought I was so~ clever.

      I played Liu Kang all the way to the end of the first game and never touched the series again.


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