Somebody finally subbed the latest episode of High Score Girl. It’s far from the best translation, but it’ll do.
— It’s cute how happy Koharu looks to be in the same class as Haruo. This also makes it even sadder when she doesn’t end up with him.
— Haruo’s friend suggest that they scope out some hot transfer students, but our hero passes on the opportunity. Sucks for him. One of the hot transfer students is probably Akira.
— He and Miyao then start talking about how Capcom kept reiterating on Street Fighter II instead of coming out with an actual sequel. Hell, they even did the whole Street Fighter Alpha nonsense for a while, didn’t they? Not that it matters, but Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike is still my favorite fighting game. I just love the parrying system. C’mon, you have to admit nothing is more hype than that video of Daigo parrying Justin Wong’s Chun Li. I don’t even care for fighting games as an e-sports, but that was a classic moment in gaming history. Hell, I can only imagine how Haruo would have reacted to that clip. It probably would’ve melted his mind.
— I also really wish they’d come out with another version of Capcom vs SNK. My favorite character in the second game was Hibiki Takane, oddly enough. I really wore out that Dreamcast game.
— Onizuka just doesn’t know when to quit.
— After school, Koharu is shocked to learn that there are so many video game magazines. Are those still a thing in the US? Probably not. I used to have a subscription to EGM back in the 90s. Plus, whenever my mom went to the supermarket to buy groceries, I’d just hang out in the magazine section and read about games. Yeah, I was a huge dork as a kid.
— Yep, this is the guy you like. Burn this image into your retinas.
— We soon find out the only reason why he’s even here.
— Haruo breaks down the process of how one might remember whose turn it is to play next. It’s not complicated, but it still sounds like a hassle. I don’t think I would’ve had to the patience to wait in line this long just to play a game. Again, I never really was into fighting games. Thank God my favorite genre (JRPGs) never even touched the arcades. At least, I don’t think they did.
— The girl can’t help but admit that her crush is both immature and childish, and yet, she just can’t stay away. I don’t think I’ve ever had a crush like that.
— For the first time ever, I think, Koharu verbally expresses her wish to get better at fighting games. When did that internal decision come about?
— There’s a scene where Haruo finds himself talking to Guile. Apparently, the latter has gotten nerfed in later games. He still has his super, but it’s a bit tricky to pull off. I think that’s probably why I never got too far into fighting games. I’m not the most dexterous guy on this planet. Reading guides on fighting games can be ridiculous. People are like, “Oh, it’s simple. You just want to do this 12-hit combo that juggles them while they’re in the air, then end with a super complicated super move!” Pulling that stuff off just doesn’t come naturally to me.
— Someone in the peanut gallery mentions a superior Zangief player. This instantly piques Koharu’s interest, because said player also happens to be a high school girl. C’mon, we all know who it is. Unfortunately, Haruo is too enraptured with the game to pay any attention to the chatter behind him.
— The early part of this episode focuses a lot on Street Fighter II and fighting strategy. This is not exactly all that interesting to me. I’m eagerly anticipating the reunion between Haruo and Akira, and all this gameplay is just making me antsy.
— Koharu starts wondering how her crush might react to her being good at games. Well, only one way to find out.
— These button commands are exactly what I was talking about earlier. They’re just not fun to do on a controller. Sure, I could’ve bought a joystick, but why get one when I don’t even enjoy fighting games all that much? That’s why I stayed away from Dragon Ball FighterZ. It looked cool, but damn, I know it isn’t really worth an investment. On the other hand, if Persona 5 Arena ever gets announced…
— Man, the girl’s already wondering what it would be like if they got married. I don’t think he ever ate her Valentine’s Day chocolates, did he?
— When a teacher decides to scope out the joint, Koharu offers to swap places with Haruo so that he won’t get in trouble. This act of kindness sends some of the audience members into tears. Koharu doesn’t mind that others mistake them for a couple either. Ah, adolescent love is so simple.
— Man, Koharu still manages to win for Haruo. Again, her only fault is that she met him second. If she had met him before Akira, who knows where’d we be right now?
— Akira only gets in a single match before her butler drags her away, so Haruo won’t return in time to find her. Ah, damn.
— It turns out the teacher actually came here to play games. Welp.
— I like how Koharu says she lost to a pretty girl even though she never got a good look at Akira’s face.
— Apparently, Haruo has yet to hear about Akuma, so this is what he visualizes when Koharu tries to describe the character. I’m kinda surprised that someone as obsessed with Street Fighter as he is wouldn’t know about the secret character already.
— Haruo desperately wants to meet this mysterious player (Akira), and as soon as he runs out of the arcades, he’s struck by a curious feeling of deja vu.
— Haruo may not have noticed Akira, but she definitely noticed him.
— The next day, Onizuka brings Akira up in a conversation, so Haruo finally knows that she’s back. He stays silent, though. There are probably feelings there he can’t quite verbalize. He’s normally so chatty, but when it comes to talking about Akira with other people, what can he really say? They shared a connection that no one else knows about. They shared a connection that Haruo himself can’t fully comprehend. Then all of a sudden, their friendship was snatched away from them. This isn’t really a topic that he can open up about with anyone. No one is really that close to him.
— Honestly, Haruo’s a pretty lonely kid. He doesn’t really have any close friends. Koharu is trying to get to know him, but despite her ability to openly talk, there’s ironically a huge communication barrier between the two of them.
— Meanwhile, Akira ends up driving by once again. I wonder if Haruo noticed.
— Once Haruo is finally alone, he admits that he’s trembling at the prospect of meeting Akira again. He hasn’t just been waiting for her; he’s been training for this exact day. For a carefree guy, he’s suddenly dealing with feelings he’s never had before.
— Haruo can’t wait any longer; he can’t just sit still when he knows that Akira is back. At the risk of running late to dinner, the kid visits all of his usual haunting grounds to see if he might run into Akira. Man, the days before cellphones and social media are so far gone. I lived those days as a kid, and yet, I no longer remember what it feels like to not be able to reach out to someone instantly. If High School Girl had instead taken place in the 2000s or 2010s, it wouldn’t even be that big of a deal for Akira to move overseas. They would’ve been able to keep in touch every single night. He would’ve been able to play fighting games with her online. Likewise, she would’ve let him know about her return months in advance. But because this is the 90s, all of those things are virtually impossible for the average kid. As a result, Haruo can only hope that he magically bumps into her at one of the many arcades around him.
— Fittingly enough, Haruo finds Akira where he first met her — where she first school him in the art of Zangief.
— Man, her look has changed at all. To be fair, Haruo still looks mostly the same, but at least he’s wearing a button-up shirt right now. He looks slightly more mature.
— There’s a nervous sort of happiness on his face. Like he’s happy that she’s back, but he’s also scared because he doesn’t quite know what he should do next. There are no guides to love, unfortunately. We are often left to bumble our way through puberty.
— Well, well, well, it is Zangief vs Guile again.
— Unfortunately, the rematch never happens. Akira has fled the scene. Haruo looks crestfallen…
— …only to find that she has switched over to Final Fight.
— Maybe Akira would rather have the two of them play together than against each other. This is the first game they played together, after all. Not only that, that first time was marred by him not realizing that she had really wanted to play alone. But things have changed.
— Akira stares at the second joystick with a distressed look on her face. Personally, I think she’s pleading with him to join her, but Haruo has a different take. He is afraid that she had wanted to play alone, but since he accidentally pressed the two player button, he pretty much has to join her.
— I don’t think this is the case, though. I bet more than anything that she wanted him to join her. Why else would she just get up in the middle of a winning streak in SFII just to play this exact game — this exact game which hasn’t received any updates in the past two and a half years?
— As they play Final Fight, Haruo notices that Akira is being especially hard on him this time. He can help but think that she’s mad at him. She might be. After all, she saw him with Koharu the other day. If you think about it, if Haruo was trembling just earlier, think how Akira probably feels. Sure, she’s quiet and never talk, but she’s probably as normal as they come on the inside. All those confusing feelings that Haruo was dealing with are probably shared by Akira and more. Nervous to meet him. Nervous to play with him again. But also nervous to understand what he’s been up to lately. Does he have a new friend to play games with or what? If Haruo can’t fully comprehend his feelings for Akira, I doubt she fully comprehends her feelings for him either.
— When Haruo tries to apologize to Akira for making it a co-op affair, she retaliates by hitting him in the game. At least she isn’t hitting him in real life anymore?
— It’s just another classic example of two individuals who can’t properly communicate. The sad part is that Haruo understands Akira better than most people, but he still doesn’t really understand her at all. He said it himself that their perfect co-op play from years ago has fallen apart. So maybe that’s what she wants. When they first played Final Fight together, he had no idea what she was aiming for (reminder: she was shooting for the high score). But as they got to know each other, they started to play well together. Well, two and a half years can change a lot. For most relationships, a break that long would necessitate an extended catch-up session between friends. But this is not exactly possible for Haruo and Akira, is it? Because she never talks, they can’t have a friendly chat. Nevertheless, they need to get to know each other again. It’s almost as if Final Fight is the perfect medium for exactly that: “You understood me back then by playing this game, so you can understand me now by playing it again with me.” And if Akira’s frustrated with Haruo, she can’t keep punching or headbutting him over and over. But hey, it’s not so bad if you do it in a game, right?
— Haruo starts tearing up because his feelings aren’t getting through to Akira. He has trained at SFII for this exact day, but she won’t play that game with him. But to be fair, he hasn’t verbalized any of his intentions to her, so how does he expect her to understand what he wants — that she’s the fighting game partner he has always needed? Use your words, man. Say what you want to say. Unfortunately, he’s just a kid, so we can’t expect much from him right now.
— He starts thinking that maybe she turned him down because she has so far surpassed him that they shouldn’t even bother with SFII. I dunno about that, dude.
— As Haruo watches Akira leave, he notes that her home life hasn’t changed. It’s still miserable as ever.
— To complicate things, Koharu is right across the street when the car pulls away.
— Meanwhile, we see that Akira now wears that ring around her neck as if it’s the most important thing in her possession. The truth is that she’s been waiting for this exact day, too. She wanted this as much as he did (maybe more). But as much as she doesn’t understand him, he doesn’t understand her.
— Their reunion didn’t exactly play out as swimmingly as Haruo would’ve hoped, but at least there isn’t the largest ocean in the world between them anymore.