Oct 2, 2018
Pipe (All reviews)
Summer 2018 will pass as one of the most mediocre seasons for me, but it was saved by High Score Girl.

The video game story concept is one of the most popular but also one of the most difficult to create. It requires an unusual plot to satisfy a difficult and demanding audience. Gladly, High Score Girl does a marvelous job and delivers one of the most amusement stories in this field. The series mixes the historical video game developing (the 90s) with an amazing plot where the memories of any gamer will have some empathy. In this world, we are all experts but also we are ignorant, and sooner or later our talents will meet challengers as happens in this fascinating story. But what can I tell you about the 90s? This decade is one of the most important technologically speaking. The internet was born on 1990, the CPU (first Pentium) and GPU (shading and rendering) appeared as we know them today. The video games transcended thanks to those hardware advances, Google appeared in 1995 and many other tech stuff that we use day after day saw the light in the 90s. We need to thank the 90s for our actual technology, and this anime is a tribute to all those developers that shaped our world. High Score Girl is one of the best gaming anime representations that follow a real historical timeline.

The story is straightforward and very easy to follow. It creates relationships from usual clichés such as video game challenges. The plot occurs in a casual world filled with arcade machines and game centers; it creates a magnificent 90s ambiance where the main characters converge and interact refreshingly without the need of the average slice of life comedy story. The plot is hilarious, dramatical and romantic. However, the most amazing part is the characters' synergy with a well-elaborated plot. We have three main characters, the typical gaming freak, the challenger that never speaks but she is very expressive reminding me of the phrase “action speaks louder than words” and the converted. All the three characters in some way are rivals with certain personal interests but also friends. I like that idea of rivalry; it is not the typical garbage where the rival is awful, boring and pedantic. It is a rivalry where the main characters want to be noticed between them as rivals, friends and more.

Another great factor, the gaming references. The plot utilizes some games to boost the narrative. Perhaps the biggest reference is with the Street Fighter franchise. The series uses characters such as Guile to propel the narrative, and they do it very well. We can say this game character is an active part of the story. Additionally, all the arcade and classic game references are just amazing. I almost lost my breath after watching Bomberman and Elevator Action, and I am not that old. Furthermore, I am surprised that several companies agreed to allow the anime to use a massive group of references. It is not normal because the rights and licenses are a pain or ask the author because the manga was in a hiatus for a dispute with SNK.

On the other hand, the characters. In one word synergy. Perhaps the chemistry between the characters is the most important when you design a group of characters. As one of my old animation co-workers said: “First create a background, then figure the synergy between the characters, and if you can't do it, the story will be a fiasco.” We have three main characters, the freak, the challenger and the converted as I said before.

The freak is Harou Yaguchi. The typical gaming lover. He likes the challenges and wants to be the best. Also, he has a charming side, and he cares of his friends.

The challenger, Oono Akira. For me, she is the most amazing character because never talks, but the actions and expressions help us to understand how she is feeling. She is Harou’s main rival, very lonely and I think she suffers a lot. I want to add a parenthesis here; it is unrespectful mocking the seiyuu because she never talks. If you pay attention, she needs to recreate some particular sounds or minimal sound ambiance to add emotion and action to the scene, if you think that it is easy you do not value all the work of a voice actor.

The converted, Hidaka Koharu. I am not going to spoil about her. I consider her as the story breaking point.

About the art, it is good. The use of CGI is smooth. They combined some 3D and Live2D techniques creating a very appealing series that has a nice palette color, good lighting model and a very reasonable camera angle use. Furthermore, they add old video games references that improve the story flow and adds nostalgic feeling. The art, in general, is amazing, and I liked and enjoyed it

The sound and music are great. The ED for me is the best; I love those lyrics, no idea why :3. The VO is good, and the score and games sound is perfect. In general, the sound timing is good and does help the plot outcome and the main events.

As a negative aspect, we have the overuse of the CGI. The transition between CGI and 2DLive could be rough, but it is one of the small limitations between the techniques. I understand some spectators try to avoid the CGI shows. However, High Score Girl deserves a try no matter if you love video games or casual comedies.