The kids are now high schoolers, and as such, a lot has changed. Haruo soon discovers that it’s not just his studies that he can’t keep up with.
— It looks like Haruo went and got a Sega Saturn. He seems to prefer underdogs. Last generation, it was the PC Engine, and now it’s the Sega Saturn. He’ll probably be all over the Sega Dreamcast, too. I wonder what he would do when it finally dies out, though. Would he really pick the Nintendo Gamecube over the Sony PS2. As for the X-Box, this is Japan we’re talking about.
— Oh my, Koharu grew her hair out. I think she was cuter with short hair. Nevertheless, here she is, turning a guy down because he isn’t Haruo. I guess her crush is still as strong as ever.
— According to her friends (with Onizuka being one of them), Koharu gets confessed to all the time. Well, people generally like longer hair on girls. I don’t know why I prefer short hair.
— Ah, she’s going to an all-girls school. Sounds boring. More importantly, it seems like everyone just went their separate ways after middle school. Akira no doubt got into her top school. Koharu is at an all-girls school. And as for Haruo, well…
— So Koharu walks by Haruo’s home and gets invited in by his mother. What luck. Even though he’s invited Akira over to his home, I bet she’s only been over that one time he was sick.
— It sounds like Haruo has been staying cooped up in his home ever since he failed to get into Akira’s school. He’ll probably use the Sega Saturn as an excuse, but I’ll bet you anything that he feels like a loser. He probably feels like he doesn’t have the right to face Akira, which is… disappointing. I mean, they had that moment in the car and everything. He told her he wanted to experience all the big moments in gaming with her. So what if he failed? But that’s how these anime romances often go.
— Haruo admits that he’s struggling in high school, but hey, he has a part-time job. He seems like the kinda guy who would be content with any blue collar job that comes his way right after high school. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it would be a shame if he never bothers to explore his fullest potential.
— And look, if you want to create games for a living, you’re going to have to study something. Whether it’s programming, art, or writing, you need to gain some sort of proficiency. All the kid does, however, is play games. He studied hard for a short period of time, failed, and he’s already given up. Akira sort of inspired Haruo to try and achieve more, but I wonder when these two last hung out.
— Koharu looks so happy just to listen to him gush on and on about games.
— She tries to ask him about Akira, but he starts badgering her about her Playstation. She invites him to come over to her house to play, but he claims he can’t cheat on his Saturn. Dude is such a gaming hipster.
— So Koharu invites him to go visit a nearby arcade. She knows he hasn’t been to his usual haunts, because she herself has started hanging out at arcades on a regular basis. Sounds like she’s been working hard to get better at games. Sounds like she wants to show him how good she’s gotten.
— Why hasn’t Haruo been to any arcades? He says it’s due to money, time, and the Saturn, but I dunno. I think he’s not being entirely honest. I think he’s afraid to bump into Akira.
— When the kid gets to the arcade, he looks around nervously. He is legitimately surprised to see how much has changed. I still think he was checking to see if Akira was around.
— Right off the bat, Koharu challenges him to a match in Super Street Fighter II. The gauntlet has been thrown. She even picks Gouki (Akuma). Why do I get the feeling she’s going to mop the floor with him?
— Haruo is already giving himself an excuse by picking Honda instead of Guile, his main.
— Yep, she destroys him. Now what? Unable to accept his defeat, Haruo challenges Koharu to another game only to lose again. For a guy who claims to love gaming as much as he does, he seems to lose to anyone who tries. Like I said in the previous post, I just don’t think he takes life very seriously and this includes games. He needs someone to push him before he starts giving his best effort. Akira inspired him to study, and now, Koharu will inspire him to… get back into arcade gaming? Is this what’s best for the kid?
— She’s so happy to flash her skills, though.
— Haruo admits that you can’t get very good if all you do is play against the CPU. Well, in just another generation, he’ll be able to play against actual people without stepping out of his home.
— He’s so distraught over losing that he’s literally shaking. That’s hilarious in a sense, but I get why he’s in despair. He’s not the best at anything. He’s not top tier in gaming, and he’s not top tier in studying. What can he do? For now, all he can do is slink back home with his head down.
— Haruo suddenly sees Akira in front of him on the streets. He quickly hides behind a corner, because he’s too ashamed to face her. This is why he was so nervous at the arcades. I dunno, I guess he has his own pride to worry about, but this kinda ticks me off. The chauffeur opened up to the kid in the previous episode, going on and on about how the kid served as Akira’s emotional support. The old man said it himself that she could forget all her hardships at home when she hung out with him. So with that being said, I can’t help but feel as though Haruo is abandoning a friend just because his ego got bruised. Suck it up, dude.
— In bed later that night, the kid tells himself that there’s no way he can beat Akira if he’s not even good enough to beat Koharu. But I mean, why does he have to beat Akira at all? Why not just hang out with her because, well, you want to?
— Even Guile has to tell Haruo not to give up. Essentially, the kid’s talking to himself, so even he knows he can’t throw the towel in just yet. But I just feel like nothing has changed if Haruo just throws himself back into arcade gaming and lets everything else in his life drop. I had really hoped that he would get serious about studying, but I guess not.
— During the commercial break, the show shills for SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy. Lemme tell ya, the official artwork for Female Terry is false advertising. She looks nowhere as good in the actual game. Well, none of the heroines do.
— Yeah, I dunno much about Street Fighter Zero (Alpha in the west). I kinda stopped paying attention to fighting games during the Saturn/Playstation/N64 days.
— Even though Nash (Charlie) has the same goddamn moveset as Guile, Haruo goes with Guy instead. That’s hilarious. It’s no Dan, at least.
— Haruo even puts himself in the zone by listening to gaming music at school.
— Oh hey, Doi is back, and he’s still interested in Akira. But hey, she’s the type of girl who would probably be forced into an arranged marriage by her family, so it’s not like he would have a shot anyways.
— Being a bro, Miyao asks Haruo about Akira. He then realizes that Haruo feels inferior as a result of failing to get into Jouran High. Nevertheless, he tells his best friend that he’ll always lend an ear. Miyao is rather perceptive for a kid.
— I just feel like we’re back to square one. Haruo wanted to be in Akira’s world by proving that he can be smart enough to go to the same high school. But since he failed, he’s just going to revert back to being as good as her in video games? Eh. So what have we learned if anything? I guess the best I can say is that he isn’t giving up… entirely. He’s giving in one sense (his studies), but he hasn’t given up on gaming…? But that’s too easy.
— Haruo feels a presence behind him, but when he turns around, it’s “just” Koharu. Having said that, he’s still no match for the blonde girl.
— He even reveals that she’s been appearing in his dreams, but not in the romantic sort of way. Well, I dunno, someone out there might find this romantic.
— God, look how happy Koharu is to hear this. Every tiny progress with Haruo makes her beam. But at the end of the day, the kid’s only rededicating himself to gaming so that he can get to Akira’s level. Koharu might have been the catalyst, but she isn’t the desired conclusion that he’s hoping to find.
— The ever-perceptive Miyao also realizes that Koharu still likes Haruo. He starts wondering how Akira might feel if he sees Haruo playing with another girl. Did he get advanced copies of this manga or something? Is this why he knows so much about these characters’ feelings?
— Huh, I didn’t know there was a Gameboy version of Samurai Spirits. Aren’t there just… two buttons on the Gameboy? How would you even play fighting games on that thing?
— Koharu is so much sassier in high school.
— She keeps going on and on about that one day they spent together on the school trip, but all he’s worried about is how he’s getting his ass handed to him again.
— So Haruo resorts to cheap tactics like distracting the girl just to win a round. For shame, man, for shame…
— But she still wins. And when they move to a different game, she wins again. They keep switching cabinets only to have the same results: Koharu wins. She wins so much that she starts taunting the guy, telling him to go back to some old Famicom game.
— She admits that he has no feelings for her, but maybe if she keeps pounding him into the ground, he’ll start caring. It’s like when you’re used to getting nothing, even table scraps will do. But I mean, there’s one trick left in the bag that she hasn’t tried: confessing her feelings.
— Thoroughly humiliated (in a joking sort of way), Haruo storms out of the arcade to do some more training at home (and probably pity himself some more). Even Miyao has to admit that the girl has a sadistic streak.
— Meanwhile, all Doi cares about is how Haruo keeps hanging out with cute girls. Well, dude, maybe if you tried to connect with them on a personal level instead of pretending to be cool all the time. Hell, Miyao gets right to the heart of the matter and basically tells Doi to stop being a poser. Haruo is not fascinating to everybody. Obviously not. But he is fascinating to some people, and that’s because he is genuine. The kid is always himself. He isn’t afraid to talk your ears off about video games, and certain people — namely Akira and Koharu — like that. Akira has always liked games, and by hanging out with Haruo, Koharu has come to realize that she kinda likes them too. It’s not such a crazy concept.
— When Koharu goes to the money changer, she bumps into Akira. Now that she’s beaten Haruo at every single fighting game in the arcade, I bet you she’ll want to challenge to challenge her rival in love next.