Saturday, December 3, 2016

High Score Girl Continue, vol. 3 review

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

High Score Girl Continue, vol. 3 (SquareEnix, 2015-16), by Rensuke Oshikiri. Grade: B+.
Koharu gets a Super Famicom machine and a copy of Mortal Combat, and she fantasizes about having Haruo visit her house to play against her in her room. But, all the boy does is ask her for the game so he can play by himself at home. Koharu is crushed, while Haruo is trying to deal with Hina's ignoring him at the game center. Some days later, the class takes the bullet train to Kyoto for a school trip. Haruo has his PC Engine and a handful of games stuffed in his carry bag. Unfortunately, one of the chaperones, the kung-fu styled Numata, suffers motion sickness and asks Haruo to get some cans of cider for him from a vending machine when they stop at the next station. Koharu follows the boy to the platform, and when he drops the cans down the stairs, the two of them find themselves stranded as the train pulls out from the station. Haruo discovers that the town here has arcade machines he hasn't seen before, or hasn't seen in a long time, and he spends the next few hours burning through the money Numata gave him, playing games. Koharu wants to think of this as a date, but the boy is still clueless. Eventually they take an express bus and catch up with the others at the inn the class is spending the night at. Haruo tries to get the other boys to play against him on the PC Engine, but one of the other teachers catches them and confiscates the machine.

(Haruo fantasizes about spending the entire class trip playing games in the inn.)

The next day, everyone has a few hours to spend as they like, and Haruo and Hina both travel to Osaka to participate in a Super Street Fighter II X tournament. The grand prize is a trophy and a watermelon-shaped shower set (wash cloth, soaps and shampoo). The two of them work their way up the ranks. At last, it's Haruo versus Hina battling for first place. Haruo wins, then is horrified to discover that an earlier loser had smashed the console in anger at losing, and had damaged several of the buttons. Hina had been playing on a crippled machine and had never told anyone about it. This wasn't a fair fight, and Haruo feels cheated in his victory. He tries to get Hina to explain why she's ignoring him, and they get into a tussle while going back to the train station. Haruo gets his face punched in. He stops when he sees that Hina is still wearing the necklace he'd given her in volume 1. Everyone who participated in the tournament got Street Fighter t-shirts, and Haruo lets Hina have the watermelon shower set (he keeps the trophy). The class takes the bullet train back to Tokyo, and Koharu feels jealous that Haruo had so much fun without her.

(Haruo gets his trophy, but is disappointed in Hina's lack of spirit afterward.)

The chauffeur discovers that Hina has gone to another game arcade, and Haruo talks the old man into letting his charge stay with him for the day, while the old man leaves to play pachinko. The two kids play games and eat ramen, on Haruo's money, but Hina's heart really isn't in it. In part, it's because they're getting to the end of the year, and Hina is slated to go to one of the best high schools in the country. Haruo hates to study, so she knows that they're not going to be together next year. Later, when the chauffeur drives her home, Hina smiles at the memories of her with Haruo. Meanwhile, "mom" is pleasantly surprised to discover that Haruo has fallen asleep at his desk, with his workbooks and notebook open in front of him.

(Hina plays video games on her own, and Haruo really tries to study for the first time in his life.)

Time goes by, and Haruo is so focused on his studies that he's stopped going to the game centers, to Miyao's and Koharu's consternation. Mom is quietly rooting for her boy to get good grades, but even Hina wants him back at the arcade to play against. Eventually, the chauffeur talks Haruo into spending another day at a game center with Hina, and when he takes them back home, Hina grips Haruo's hand as they sit together in the back of the limo. The school year wraps up and everyone takes their high school entrance exams. When it's all over, Hina is accepted into Jouran High School, and Haruo isn't.

Summary: Koharu is falling more in love with Haruo, while the boy finds himself pulled closer to Hina. To stay with Hina, Haruo vows to knuckle down and get accepted to one of the most elite high schools in the country. And fails. But he tried, and that's all his video game heroes, including Guile, can ask from him. That doesn't ease the pain much, though. Highly recommended if you don't mind the character designs.

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