It’s been a while since I had an Anime pick, but over the next few weeks I’ll be pumping out some stuff for everyone to check out. Up first has to be one of the best new animations from last year for sure. It’s the same studio that adapted Oreimo (My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute) and I’ve come to really appreciate their work and storytelling. The anime is based off the light novel series by Yomi Hirasaka volumes 1-3 and the beginning of volume 4. I’m hopefully that they’re will be a second season of the show that will continue the story of the next three volumes. The series is also known as Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai which translates to "I don't have many friends." The series follows the character Kodaka Hasegawa who has just transferred back to his home town after traveling all over Japan with his father. He and his sister are left alone in their house as their father has travelled to America to work on an archeology dig. Now it’s not uncommon for Japanese animations to have characters with blonde hair, but Kodaka is the first to have dirty blonde hair. His hair, clumsy nature and his voice gives everyone in the school the impression of him being a delinquent when in fact he’s a super nice kid.
At school he’s completely friendless and the other students run in fear of him wherever he goes. One day after school he returns to his classroom to gather his things when he finds a girl from his class talking to herself. After watching her for a few moments he decides to enter the room and see what’s going on. She clams up instantly, embarrassed that she was caught. Kodaka asks if she was talking to ghosts, but the girl Yozora Mikazuki professes that she was talking to her air friend (similar to an air guitar). The two begin conversing about their lack of friends and that they shouldn’t join any clubs this late into the school cycle because they would just mess up the chemistry between other people in the club. This gives Yozora an idea though as she runs off, but not before telling Kodaka that she’ll she him later.
The next day after school Yozora asks Kodaka to follow her. She leads him to an activity room in the cathedral on campus (It’s a catholic school) and along the way tells him about their new club… The Neighbor’s Club. The goal of the club is to make friends with other people and in the meantime practice what to do when they make these friends. They hang up banners with a code, “I want friends” written diagonally in the banner so that only people smart enough can decipher it. As the two sit down in the activity room they're soon greeted by the school's President’s perfect daughter wanting to join the club. Her name is Sena Kashiwazaki and even though an entourage of boys follows her around all day she desperately wants friends. Too bad Yozora instantly hates her and denies her access to the club.
I suppose that this anime would be classified as a "harem" comedy since Kodaka is consistently the only boy in the series. What’s different though is that he’s honestly just trying to make friends and never thinks of any of the girls in a romantic way. The girls on the other hand slowly develop feelings for Kodaka, but they're never that obvious about it (except for in one characters case). The other key charm of the series is that even as the club grows and the group begins to hang out more and more with each other they never acknowledge that they themselves are friends. They’re all just looking for other people to be friends with which makes the twelve episodes different and enjoyable; Kodaka’s personal story that runs more as a subplot to the main story is amazingly heartfelt and definitely the reason to watch the show.
The character interactions are very humorous and enjoyable, particularly between Yozora and Sena who is nicknamed “Meat” due in part to her large chest. They constantly squabble and until Yozora makes Sena cry and run away. Even still Sena continues to try and be her friend even if they never say it out loud. The other great interaction is between Kodaka and his little sister Kobato who dresses up as her favorite anime character that is a vampire; even to the point of wearing a color contact to look like the character from the show. Kobato is absolutely adorable and their interaction is just touching at times since you can tell that they’ve only had each other to rely upon a lot of the times in their life.
I really rank this Anime right with Oreimo which I previously said was one of my absolute favorites. I blew through this series is one night staying up incredibly late just to see the end and loved every moment of it. It has a lot of heart and soul to the story and the animation is great as well. Will everyone love this animation as much as me? Probably not, but if you’ve ever felt like you didn’t have a friend in the world or had to transfer schools and start all over again; then you’ll probably enjoy this animation as much as I did. I have no idea if the books will ever be translated and brought over, but I would love to read them after experiencing this adapted version of them.
If you’re interested in watching the series then check it out on Funimation’s website or on Hulu, hopefully they don’t drag their feet on a DVD/Bluray release so that I can watch this puppy commercial free.