Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends, Vol. 10

By Yomi Hirasaka and Itachi. Released in Japan as “Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai” by Media Factory, serialization ongoing in the magazine Comic Alive. Released in North America by Seven Seas.

There is always a certain level of frustration in a harem comedy, which its audience tends to want resolved immediately and its parent company tends to want to have it go on indefinitely. The author is usually caught in the middle somewhere. Harem fans love the romance to a point, but after around 6 or 7 volumes the voices start creeping in, wondering why the hero doesn’t understand that all these girls are all over him, why isn’t he going after (girl who is not the lead girl), why isn’t he manning up and showing all these girls who’s boss? (I will get into the inherent sexism of much of the harem manga fans at a later date.) Haganai has always been a bit meta about such things, and here the face of that fan becomes Rika, as she has finally had enough of Kodaka’s act.


There’s actually a nice buildup to this the entire volume. Sena’s attraction to Kodaka has been obvious, as has her frustration, but Kodaka has been very good about hiding his desires for anything to go further with anyone. Now we see that he’s starting to become more obvious – ending up shopping with Sena on what is clearly a date, at least until she presses the issue of whether he wants a girlfriend or not. Later on, when Kate and Maria (look, if I say ‘Zoro’ and ‘Ryouga’ I’m allowed to say ‘Kate’ as well) show up at his house, and we get the inevitable full frontal nudity fanservice that seems to be this titles way of driving away any readers I might lead to it, Kate observes that she’s like to go after him, but it’s no real use – after all, he has Sena. His ‘huh?’ is used as the cliffhanger here, but when it’s followed in the next chapter by ‘I knew what she was trying to say’ we know that he’s started to stop lying to himself, at least.

The Friends Club is, to a degree, inhabited by people who are socially inept and have difficulty communicating in ways that society considers ‘normal’. This manifests itself on Kodaka’s end both by his desire to have the club stay together no matter what, but also his denial that he has any friends, the purpose of the club. Staying in a comfortable place where you can quietly hate yourself and hang out with friends without risking anything. If you admit you’re friends, then why have a club? If you admit you’re falling for Sena, then won’t everything fall apart? And is this club more important to someone like Yozora than it is anyone else?

This culminates in the maid cafe scene, where the girls all do their best to show why a maid cafe is a disastrous idea. For Rika this involves acting like a stereotypical ‘tsundere’ maid, but in reality it’s a way to work off some stress about Kodaka’s dumb act. Earlier in the volume, we heard her say out loud that no one can be that oblivious, and his response was, naturally, “What’s that?’. Readers of this series should know that’s almost a catchphrase by now, and it’s not because he’s hard of hearing. So when Rika ‘serves’ Kodaka as a maid, her service turns into 15 minutes of abuse and torture, which the others observe is a way to get her frustration out of her system. Kodaka admits to himself he knows what she was trying to do. But he still doesn’t say anything.

Can a harem comedy, especially these days, go on forever without making a choice? If Kodaka admits his feelings for Sena, will the readers abandon ship the way Yozora might? It’s a high-wire act that’s really hard to achieve, but a little meta makes it enjoyable.

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