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Anime Review: Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai (I don't have many friends)
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai or, in English, "I Don't Have Many Friends" is a harem style comedy that brings together a group of misfits that have trouble fitting in around other people for one reason or another. The perspective is from the only (confirmed) male of the group, Kodaka Hasegawa.
It begins with Kodaka transferring into a new school with high hopes of making new friends. Kodaka has blonde hair and in Japanese culture that usually indicates that the person in question is a delinquent. When he is being introduced to the class he accidentally trips and it makes it look like he attacks the teacher and from then on everyone in the class fears him.
Depressed at his luck, he goes through the days feeling alone until he randomly stumbles across a girl talking to herself. The girl, Yozora, also has difficulties making friends and after talking with Kodaka decides to form the "Neighbor's Club" which is a club with the goal of trying to make friends.
Shortly after a few more people hear about the club and decide to join and this is where this anime really takes off. After the initial set up the characters start turning mundane events into grand contests and comedic antics ensue.
This anime is entirely character driven and actually has very few plot points, at least in season one. What is impressive is that the characters are incredibly quirky yet each one gets a fair amount of airtime. In fact, the only character that really lacks a lot of depth is probably the protagonist himself. He essentially just goes with the flow and the conflict may arise because of his presence but rarely does he involve himself in its conclusion. That may sound like a bad thing but in this anime, it works.
Yozora is the one who decided on the idea for the "Neighbor's Club" but her original intention was to be able to spend time with Kodaka. The two used to be childhood friends but Kodaka himself doesn't seem realize this.
Yozora is an incredibly cunning character and is always trying to trick her rival and fellow club member, Sena into doing something ridiculous. She also seems to have an answer for every problem they encounter and she does act like a true leader. Almost every activity they do as a club starts with Yozora and she is the real driving force of the series.
Sena is the first member to join the club much to everyone's surprise. Sena is beautiful, rich, smart, and the envy of all her class mates. Yet her beauty attracts all of the men's attention and leaves the girls of her class bitterly jealous of her, leaving her friendless.
Despite her book smarts, Sena is incredibly gullible and is almost always set up to do something embarrassing or is taunted into doing something she really doesn't want to. She never backs down from a challenge and when she sets her mind to something, she completes it to the point of perfection.
She also is a bit obsessed with anything cute and even H-games. This makes for great jokes at her expense as she'll constantly be playing some gal game or another in their clubroom. Sena will defend that it is art but when she is asked to read dialogue from the game out loud the results are hilarious.
Rika is a prodigy who does not even attend class. She actually has her own lab on the school grounds and simply invents things from there. Kodaka stumbles across her and she catches wind of the "Neighbor's Club" and decides to join.
Besides being gifted and constantly creating devices or games to help out in the club, Rika is a total pervert. In fact, that is pretty much what her character is. She throws herself at the protagonist without feeling any embarrassment and also has fantasies about all the other characters from time to time.
Yukimura claims to be a man and after seeing Kodaka's fierce appearance, wishes to be his disciple to become manlier. Although Yukimura says that he is a man all other evidence points otherwise. From the feminine physique, voice, and cute face, it would appear that he is actually a she.
Kodaka also believes that Yukimura has to be a girl yet at the same time he sees Yukimura enter the men's restroom and even bathes without any commotion. It is a great mystery to him.
Kobata and Maria
Finally we have the two younger members of the group, Kobata and Maria.
Kobata is Kodaka's younger sister who attends their academy's middle school. She will come to the club from time to time to be with her brother and also tends to be harassed by Sena who is obsessed with her.
Kobata is also obsessed with a gothic-themed anime and even dresses up as the main character. She is always saying lines from the show and puts on a tough act. She also likes to "fight" Maria since she is a nun.
Maria is an apparent child genius and is a nun at the school. Yozora tricks Maria into being their club's adviser in order to make their club official. Maria tends to just laze around the clubroom and tries to have a good time.
This anime is based off of the light novels of the same name. After 2 seasons, the anime has actually caught up to the light novels so no new season is even in the works yet, although it is planned. Just keep in mind that if you do watch this anime, no conclusion will be reached for awhile.
Although this is a Harem anime it actually has reasoning as to why the protagonist does not act upon any of the girl's feelings. Most of the time Harem series will have no rhyme or reason but this one does and it is pretty solid as well. I won't spoil it for this does not come up until season 2 but it is a nice change of pace in this genre.
Although Funimation did get the rights to the anime for an American release, as far as I can tell, no release date has been set yet. So if you don't mind it, the Japanese version is just fine.
It is hard to put into words how funny this series is without spoiling it. Really this anime made me laugh a lot. It had a brilliant sense of humor and great characters. It is even incredibly touching at times and if you choose to watch this you will be kicking yourself waiting for the next season, I know I am.