A thoughtful response to current anime.

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai – Episode 2

Last episode on Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai (I hate having to type that whole long name out, but apparently the official diminutive form is “Haganai” which doesn’t make sense transliterated) Kodoka and Yozora founded the Rinjinbu, a club for people who don’t have enough friends.  And already they have one member joining… and it’s the school’s idol?!?!? What a shocking twist!  This show seemed to have potential, but the pace at which it made jokes was maybe a little slow.  I’ll be looking for them to speed things up in episode 2 of Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai.

…thirty minutes pass…

The social games revolution has left us anti-social gamers in the cold. How can you play facebook games if you refuse to use facebook?

Ok, this show is looking good.  That’s the episode chock full of jokes that I wanted.  I guess Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai is a full-on otaku-oriented show?  It didn’t sound like it from the description, there’s lots of reasons someone might have trouble making friends, but you figure they wouldn’t spend half an episode having their characters play a dating sim if they thought that dating sims would not be familiar and relatable to their audience.

This show continues to make interesting points about the nature of social interaction, such as when they played a “co-op” game but spent most of it hitting each other with swords.  Well, I’m sure everyone has had that experience.  The problem is, you can give the characters in the game cooperative goals, but those characters are being played by players, and while they might want to achieve the game’s goals, they also have to be mindful of their real-life goals.  The status games of our social group are a game we can never stop playing, and they don’t really have a “co-op” mode.  (Sometimes people will support each other, but it’s more akin to forming an alliance in a free-for-all game mode.)  This is why Sena had to stay up all night playing the game: she had to have an advantage over her social rival Yozora, she had to be the one with the cool faerie wings beating up the monsters and looking cool, so that she would be the impressive one and not Yozora.  To prevent this sort of behavior, a game with a co-op mode and RPG elements should really normalize the co-op character’s levels.  Or, if you want, you can be be evil and exploit this behavior for financial gain.  For example, in hit indie medieval fantasy wizardry simulator Magicka, there is DLC you can purchase to give your wizard a machine-gun.  So instead of staying up all night working for an advantage, you plop down your $5 and be done with it.  The spreading sickness of the cash shop MMO threatens to consume all gaming.  The only way to be safe is to play single player games only, on a machine disconnected from the internet.

The dating sim bit was excellent.  I loved how the girls were completely misinterpreting all the various dating sim tropes.  “What sort of girl just comes up and starts talking to a guy like that out of the blue?  She must be a huge slut.” (Hey, girls, I think I may have discovered why you have so much trouble making friends.)  It’s interesting how people who are new to a particular genre and are just exploring it are more likely to “roleplay” what their character would do or what they want their character to be like, as opposed to genre veterans.  They didn’t say “ok, I am going for the bookish girl ending so I need to spam the library afterschool option”, they say “dumb people should all just die, I need to raise my intelligence high enough to ace all the tests”.  I guess it makes sense – it’s easier to engage with the mechanics when you’re more familiar with how they work.  As a genre virgin you have nothing to engage with but the flavor text, so of course you’ll be more engaged with the flavor text.


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