High Score Girl Review - Is it any good?

High Score Girl Review
Yaguchi and Oono

In this review I will be discussing the anime as a whole, meaning the story, the main characters, how it looks, and if its worth your binge. Also giving it an overall score, I have been looking forward to this anime for a while so let's get into it.

About High Score Girl

Not your typical slice of life, this anime is about the world of gaming in the 90’s era from arcade moving into the home console era that we currently living in now.  Being released in Japan earlier this summer, unfortunately, us Americans weren’t able to watch until Christmas Eve thanks to Netflix. Based on a manga and produced by Warner Bros. Japan, this 12 episode and 3 Ova anime had been highly anticipated by a lot of gaming fans. Though I’m sure we’ll hear more about it after everyone has successfully binged it.

High Score Girl Story

The year is 1991, Yaguchi doesn’t care much about studying, only interested in games, so much so that he always brings home bad grades, it wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t in elementary school. Spending all his time in arcades that he is almost unbeatable until fellow classmate Akira Oono comes in and takes him down. Unable to beat her, rivalry blossoms into a friendship and possibly more as they grow together and share of love of games.

The minute I found out about this anime I knew I had to start watching it, having to wait a whole 6 months was probably the worse part, but once I started watching I couldn’t stop. I was thrown off at first, while the people are CGI and the background and settings are drawn I was a little uncomfortable as I usually end up not liking the art style, but it was worth it.

Though being born in ’95, I couldn’t say it was full on nostalgia for me as it would have been for 80’s babies, I was still just as excited to see the PlayStation towards the end, as seeing the loading screen for the original PlayStation and Sega made me think of a simpler time.

At first, I wasn’t sure where the story was going to go, especially because of the simple fact that Oono doesn’t talk. That's right, she’s doesn’t talk, she’s not mute, she just chooses not to. Only showing affection or feelings by using violence or nodding with a couple of noises on special occasions.

But even with her lack of speaking, the animation makes it so that by the end of the anime you understand how she feels, though her facial expressions are limited. This was the type of romance anime that sort of snuck up on me, going in knowing it was going to be a slice of life, Though I had an inkling that there would be some romance I still wasn’t expecting the warm fuzzy feeling this anime had left me. With the amazing open ending, all I can do is wait for the Ova’s and hope for a season 2.

High Score Girl Main Characters

Haruo Yaguchi

The main character and POV we go from he is obsessed with games, even going as far as wanting to be a pro gamer when he grows up. We meet him in elementary school and follow him until he gets to high school. Not interested in friends or school, he sneaks off to the arcade to feed his obsession, not worried about being scolded. Aiming to stand on equal footing with Oono he’s eager to get better at games. I liked following him as the main character because he was okay with who he was, not ever constantly needing to fix himself, but he was pretty dense. Being labeled a delinquent but just wanting to have some fun I could relate to him now more than ever, with constantly being engrossed in gaming and saving up to buy a new game.

Akira Oono

Loved by everyone in class, and deemed the prettiest, Oono doesn’t seem to care much about school life or anything else other than games either. Never uttering a word and still attracting friends to her. She spends most of her time at the arcade trying to escape her busy home life. Coming from a rich family, when Oono isn’t at school or the arcade she is forced to take Piano lesson, flower arrangement lessons, and extra studying. Though  I wasn’t fond of the fact that she barely talked, she wasn’t hard to warm up to. I think that talking would have made things a lot easier but at the same time, it seemed that the anime probably might not have been as interesting. But also as a female gamer myself, I was happy to see another one, especially since she’s so badass.

Hidaka Koharu

Not coming into the picture until a later, Koharu starts off as a just another girl who happened to notice Yaguchi, being told that she often doesn’t know how to have fun. She decides to join in the fun at the arcade one day, not being good at first she works hard and hones her skill. I wasn’t too sure how I felt about this character, and I’m still a bit neutral about her. What I can admit though is that I like that she’s speak’s and says what she wants, though she spends a little time holding back, I feel as though this character had the most growth out of everyone.

High Score Girl Villains

The School/Classmates

Though there are so specific villains this in anime, or too many antagonists for some strange reason the school and all the children have a strange dislike towards video games, while this could be a cultural thing. The school is so strict that students aren’t even allowed to hang out around arcades, even after school and if they are seen there they can be punished. The classmates all seem to not play video games, even the boys find it a little childish in 6th grade.

Oono’s parents

Not caring about what Oono wants, they leave her disciplining up to her home tutor, allowing her to treat their daughter anyway. While we never see them and they are only mentioned, they are a constant in the series as we see that they have no issue taking things out of their daughter's life.

High Score Girl Animation

As mentioned earlier I wasn’t really fond of the animation style, as I personally just don’t like watching CGI animes. While it has nothing to do with the content I find it a little disorienting to see CGI characters on a drawn background. While I know some people don’t mind it and others prefer it. Overall though after the first episode, it stopped bothering me. I feel as though it loses some of its fun though because the facial expression come out a little awkward, but you get used to it after a while.

Is it Fun to Watch?

YES, YES, YES. If you are an 80’s or 90’s baby you will have nothing but good times with anime. Seeing all the old games that you were spending your long nights on. Which each game a new memory and if it was a part of your childhood, then I highly recommend it. If you're a gamer at all I think you can still enjoy it, just because it’s got that great gaming culture feel that we all know and love. And even if you're not a gamer, its a cute slice of life, and romance that can keep you busy.

FINAL VERDICT: 7/10

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Everyone's favorite recluse, when Kaytlin isn't attempting to win loot boxes you can probably find her sitting on her computer attempting to live her "best life."
Gamer Since: 2000
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