There’s something utterly enchanting about the mechanisms of childhood socialising. There’s a certain point, before societal standards weigh down too heavily, that you start to create your own rules. A sort of shared fiction between friends, Chinese whispers of society filtering down into something twisted yet uniquely beautiful.
This is the subject matter of the delightfully low-key anime series, Haganai. It’s structured like a harem anime, in the sense that it’s one guy (Kodoka) surrounded by girls, but despite occasional feints towards ecchi content, it’s more interested in low-key socialising than anything steamier. The “Neighbours Club” – a group formed in an endearing effort to make friends – play video games together, go to the pool, and just generally hang out. That’s pretty much the entire premise of Haganai.
But the series works because of how warmly it crafts its characters, how generously it establishes its comedic content. Anyone who’s struggled to understand the ‘rules’ of making and keeping friends will be able to relate to its characters’ misshapen attempts at connecting to other people. The second season loses some charm by frontloading its romantic undercurrent, but for the most part this is an entirely pleasant way to spend a few hours.