Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai – Episode 2
There is no God in an Electronic World
Yozora declares that in order to make friends you need to play games. Though Kodaka argues that playing games in order to make friends only exists when you’re kids, Yorzora argues that he is behind in the times – nowadays everyone is playing games together on their “Playingstates Portables.”
After witnessing a groups of high-schoolers playing Monster Hunter together on their PSPs, Yozora decides that the following Monday everyone is to bring their PSPs and copies of Monster Hunter so the three can play together. As everyone boots up, Yozora asks if everyone has learned the basics of how to play, and though Sena claims to have been very busy, she’s somehow managed to gain the highest rank. After snatching away her PSP, Yozora discovers that she has logged in some 53 hours of game play, practically every hour since the club meeting ended before the weekend. Curiously enough, Kodaka notes that they seem to be taking their first club activity it quite seriously.
The scene transitions as the trio prepares to play a game in co-op mode, placing the characters in the fantasy world of Monster Hunter where they don armor, weapons, and usernames. While they are supposed to be defeating monsters together, Yozora and Sena spend their time fighting against each other rather than worrying about the games true objective. Because of the constant in-game player kills and ignorance to the rules of play, the trio fails in their quest. Afterwards, Yozora and Sena decide that games wont work and are a waste of time. However, they both agree on the “annoyance” that all recent portable games have multiplayer modes, both preferring to play on their own rather than have to deal with other people. Later, Kodaka attempts to make friends with a pair of his classmates he overhears talking about Monster Hunter, but when he asks if they want to trade items, his delinquent atmosphere makes the exchange appear threatening and a rumor quickly spreads of him extorting classmates in broad daylight.
The next day, Sena brings a TV and “Playstates 3” to the club room along with a dating sim game (Kirameki School Life 7) that Yozora agrees might be good practice in learning how to have conversations with potential friends. Despite their constant bickering, Yozora and Sena agree on what types of in-game choices to make, both gaining an attachment to the shy Nagata Yukiko (any one else seeing a connection to Nagato Yuki) and hatred for the “slutty” Fujibayashi Akari. By the end of the episode, Sena has completed all the routes and gives the game to Kodaka telling him that he must play it (turns out poor Akari was just misunderstood), while in the background unknown character sneaks behind pillars unseen. In the end, the experience with games has allowed Sena to make 7 new friends, even if they are all 2-D.
I don’t own an PSP nor have I ever played Monster Hunter, but I’m familiar enough with the mechanics of the game from watching friends play to be impressed by the tribute to the game. Ironically enough, I ended up watching this episode with Rocket, who pointed out the various aspects that were pulled straight from the game: the menu screen, stats displays, armor, creatures, bombs, power-ups, Kodaka mining ore, etc. This makes the episode completely relevant to the popular culture of Japan, a culture which as produced games that we in the US are also familiar with. While the humor in the episode may vary depending on one’s interaction with the Monster Hunter game, it was still hilarious to see Yozora and Sena bickering with each other, using the in-game environment to fight each other on a scale beyond reality. The connection to PSPs and the game are also relevant in the groups search of attempting to understand how we make friends. It is very common for friends to get together and play games cooperatively together, from systems, to portables, to PCs. In our modern era, we bond over venues of virtual reality, and in a sense Yorzora is attempting to mimic what she’s seen others do – she saw a group of friends playing PSP together, so in order to achieve friends then perhaps they should also play.
I have a feeling that inevitably, Yozora and Sena’s fighting will become a means by which they show affection for one another, following the “even though they fight, deep down they are friends” sort of scenario. This was most evident in their unwavering agreement over what choices to make in the dating sim game ( i.e. telling the “slut” to back off, believing in Yukiko). The two are more similar than they care to admit, or perhaps even recognize at this point in the show. However, it is clear the constant arguing leaves space for the two to develop into genuine friends, a desire the girls also have in common.
It appears that perhaps next week we might see the introduction of a new character to the group (last week I mistakenly thought that Yukiko might have been an addition rather than a 2-D simulation), perhaps someone that is overtly shy. I enjoyed the humor and pop-culture references in this episode; it was light, funny, and provided insight into how those “without” friends perceive how friendships are formed. As of yet, I’m finding the theme and presentation of his anime entirely relateable, and in the end that may be its greatest strength.
Pools? Childhood Friends? Embarrassment over body image? ” Next week its: “There are no Flags at the Pool.”