Saturday, December 10, 2016

High Score Girl Continue, vol. 5 review

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

High Score Girl Continue, vol. 5 (SquareEnix, 2015-16), by Rensuke Oshikiri. Grade: B+
The next day, Miyao breaks a girl's heart by saying that he doesn't want to go out with her. Haruo asks him for advice, but it turns out that Haruo is the kind of guy that doesn't know what his own feelings are. He had no idea that Koharu liked him, although Miyao had witnessed the interaction between the two girls at the game center, and he'd seen something like this building up. Meanwhile, the chauffeur takes Hina home after school, and we finally get to meet her older sister, Makoto. Makoto refuses to take over the family's responsibilities, and has run off to university to become a professional slacker. She's the reason why Ms. Gouda is riding Hina so hard to carry on the family's inheritance.

(Hina splash page.)

Speaking of which, Gouda goes to Haruo's house to tell him to keep away from Hina. The boy arrives home to find his mother entertaining the woman over tea and snacks. The weather turns bad, and mom runs outside to rescue the laundry from the rain. While she's gone, Gouda calls Haruo trash, who is dragging down Hina's grades and distracting her from her studies. Mom returns to the room, indicating that she's heard everything. While she's very lax about how she raises her son, buying him games and letting him slack off as he likes, she's fiercely protective of him, and refuses to let anyone claim that she's raised a bad kid. She shows Gouda to the door, gives her a cheap plastic umbrella, and tells her to not catch a cold on her way back to the estate. Mom then asks to help him with his studies, and attacks him when she sees his grades.

(Mom returns from bringing the laundry in out of the rain, and defends her son against Gouda.)

Back at the estate, Gouda confronts the chauffeur over her having found a game console in the car, and announces that she has the power to get him fired. Later, the driver takes Hina to Haruo's house for one last play date. The driver tells the boy that this is his last day as Hina's chauffeur, and before his replacement can take over, he's giving Haruo the chance to have a day together with the girl. They have a great time at the game centers, and spend the evening at a local festival, shooting pop guns and eating cotton candy. In the end, they each go their separate ways.

(When Hina met Haruo.)

Hina flashes back to 1991. Her class took a battery of tests, and Hina got perfect scores on everything. She hoped her tutor would be impressed with the results. Instead, Gouda acted disgusted, and claimed that of course she should have gotten perfect scores - the tests were too easy for someone at the Ohno family's level. Gouda doubled up the girl's homework on the piano, koto, ikebana (flower arranging), violin, horseback riding and karate lessons. Finally, in desperation, Hina ran away, and found herself in a game center for the first time. She watched some boys playing Street Fighter, and everyone kept on laughing at how pathetic the Zangief character was. Hina imagined seeing him crying, and she felt a bond between them. She then amazed everyone in the center by beating them all with Zangief on her first try. That's when Haruo arrived, and came close to making Zangief cry again while playing Guile. That's why she beat up Haruo so badly at their first meeting, causing both of them to be ejected from the arcade. Then it's 1995 again, and Hina cries as the old chauffeur drives her home.

(When Felicia meets Koharu.)

Time passes, and Koharu plays The Night Warriors against another player at the arcade, and her opponent uses Felicia to defeat her. Koharu retreats to eat lunch next to the center's announcements board. A goth-loli girl approaches her, and says that she's the one that played Felicia. If Koharu wants to get better as a player, she should go to a specific game center after hours, and enter through the back door. Koharu reluctantly does this, and finds herself being introduced to the world of underground professional players (Felicia's father owns the shop). Everyone has nicknames (like Futago Tamagawa Felicia), while Koharu just gives her own full name. Felicia offers a few suggestions that aren't much improvement. Months go by, as Koharu memorizes special attack tables, and Haruo spends more time watching TV with his mother. Mom likes the attention, but she knows that her son would rather be playing with Hina. Finally, Haruo comes to a realization. While the current raft of games are more of the slaughter genre, what initially attracted him to the first wave of games (like Zelda and Street Fighter) was that the heroes all had something that they fought to protect. Then, at the end of summer vacation, Koharu sees a note to her on the notice board. Haruo has set the date for their rematch. The day arrives, and Felicia accompanies Koharu to the game center. There will be three rounds, on  Shin Samu, King of Fighters 95, and Hunter. The two kids both have flashbacks to happier days, then sit down at the first machine to face off in versus mode.

Summary: Young love gone off track, and unsure of how to recover. Highly recommended if you like old video games.

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