Wednesday, April 3, 2019

High Score Girl Continue, vol. 10 review

(Image from Used here for review purposes only.)

High Score Girl Continue, vol. 10(SquareEnix, 2015-16), by Rensuke Oshikiri. Grade: B+.
Ok, well, volume 10 finally hit the shelves, and with this the series is over. It was nice while it lasted, but at some point you always reach the final boss in the game, and then that's that.

When we last saw them, high school student Haruo Yaguchi was in the middle of a video game tournament being held in Osaka. He'd won his first round only to learn that his girlfrenemy, Hina Ohno, hadn't made it to the second round herself. Stunned, he's standing around, trying to come to grips with this situation, when Hina walks up and angrily bumps into him. The competitors around them recognize the two as the co-winners of the previous year's competition, and a special match is set up for just Haruo and Hina, on a pair of Street Fighter arcade consoles on the main stage. They both work themselves up into frenzies, with the boy convinced that this is his only way of showing his love for the girl, by defeating her once and for all. After two games, they're tied 1-1. As the final game is nearing Time Up, a pair of huge arms reach out of the screen and grab Haruo out of his seat.

A few days pass, and Haruo has completely given up on all games, and is now throwing himself into his work at a warehouse. His friends all worry about this change in him since his loss in Osaka. At the Ohno mansion, Hina is preparing to fly to California on July 24th to meet her parents and the guy they're arranging for her to marry. She removes her necklace, and has the crane arm catcher ring Haruo gave her sent back to him. On receiving the ring, and the news that Hina is permanently leaving Japan soon, Haruo sinks further into a funk. Finally, the date of departure arrives, and the boy just hangs out in his bed. His mother berates him in an attempt to get him to go to the airport to see Hina off, and he just leaves the house to get away from her. He finds himself outside Koharu Hitaka's parent's shop. As he's looking at the machines he used to play with both Koharu and Hina, Koharu comes out and asks what's going on. Haruo tells her, and Koharu says that while she's in love with him, that's nothing like the bond between him and her rival, Hina. She then literally beats sense into the boy, demanding to know where his original faith in games has gone. Through the tears, blood and torn flesh of his face, Haruo realizes that she's right.

He grabs his helmet and jumps on his scooter, then tries to race for Haneda airport. He keeps getting stuck at traffic lights, which helps fan his fury at himself. All he's ever had going for him were video games, so why did he let himself fall into this funk like this? As he gets more determined, various Street Fighter characters start appearing and running alongside him. Eventually, Haruo realizes that all the lights are going his way, and the street is completely devoid of cars. Unseen by him, every game character he ever played with is at work messing with the lights and diverting traffic. Unfortunately, at the same time, Hina has boarded her plane, which has taxied for takeoff, and is now in the air. Hina is staring forlornly out the window next to her. Harou vows to not give up, and all the game characters throw their fists in the air, sending up hundreds of energy blasts into the sky. Hina is amazed as the clouds light up in front of her.

Haruo crawls through the airport terminal doors, torn and ragged, obviously way too late to be useful. The Ohno mansion staff are standing around in their grief at losing the only one still living in the mansion. Suddenly, the PA system announces that one of the planes had to return to the gates because of demands by a passenger. The departures doors open and Hina walks through them. Haruo launches himself at her, professing his love. Hina hugs him back, and as everyone cries, Haruo promises to get a passport and join her in the U.S., no matter what it takes. The chapter ends with Guile looking down approvingly from the heavens.

Summary: Well, this never was a life-and-death struggle adventure series, and the artwork was always below average. It started out as a nostalgia piece revolving around arcade games in the mid-1990's, and never really outgrew that, even after it turned into a love triangle culminating in a "Street Fighter battle for the boy." Regardless, it was a fun romp, and I enjoyed reliving some of my time in game centers in Tokyo when I first came to Japan (although, I never did get that interested in Street Fighter). Oshikiri doesn't have anything else in the pipeline I care about, but I do look forward to seeing something I do like from him in the future. Recommended if you like game centers and arcade consoles.

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