Hige o Soru. Soshite Joshi Kousei o Hirou

Title:Hige o Soru. Soshite Joshi Kousei o Hirou
Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway
Keywords: , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - project No. 9
OKITSU Kazuyuki
26-year-old Yoshida is an employee at a major IT company. He meets a high school girl on his way home after drinking. Yoshida's crush had decisively rejected him after he pined for her for five years, and he had decided to drink his sorrow. Sayu, the runaway high school girl he meets, says they could sleep together if he lets her stay with him. Yoshida chides the girl for the suggestion but eventually lets her stay with him.
(Summary Courtesy of Anime News Network)

TV anime that premiered on April 5, 2021.
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Watch 7 6 7 5 5 4 Ggultra2764 [series:4285#1552]
(Watch-/ Avoid+)

Higehiro was one of two anime that aired this season alongside Koikimo whose premise involved adult male leads getting involved in some sort of romantic situation with a high school girl. While Koikimo opted to go for a more comedic direction with its premise, Higehiro attempted going the more serious route with male lead Yoshida encountering teen runaway Sayu and having her tend to household chores in his apartment while she tries overcoming whatever mental trauma led her to leave her family.

While the series is careful with having Yoshida not become romantically interested in Sayu overtime throughout Higehiro, it still has the trappings of a wish fulfillment series in that the plot feels laid out specifically for Yoshida to be the "nice guy" character needed for Sayu to overcome her personal troubles by letting a number of things in its plot developments slide so it doesn't take the viewers out of said wish fulfillment fantasy, making much of the plot feel kind of manipulative and superficial with how the story plays out with Yoshida not getting in any major trouble for his living situation with Sayu. This also seems to extend within Yoshida's work life as two of his female co-workers are implied to have romantic interest in him to extend the wish fulfillment scenario elsewhere with Yoshida as the "nice guy." A few other characters introduced also seem like they were made specifically to be completely unlikeable and irredeemable to make Yoshida come off looking that much better off as the "nice guy" as well.

On the subject of Sayu, some may get uneasy with how the series tries to blur the lines of her being a high school girl and being a sex object of sorts, as there are instances she appears in states of undress, involved in sexual situations, and attempts seducing Yoshida. Outside of the sexual object aspect of her character, Sayu does otherwise come off as an okay character, though doesn't make a strong impression on me compared to other teenage characters within anime coming from some sort of troubled background. Her home situation plays out plot tropes found in a number of recent high school dramas involving troubled school and family life, which comes off rather underwhelming in what is revealed about the reasons surrounding Sayu running away and how the anime ultimately goes about resolving things. In essence, her character is mostly defined by being the troubled girl that "nice guy" Yoshida has to help out. The ending to the series felt like a cop-out in how Sayu's situation is resolved and adding ambiguity on whether or not a relationship between her and Yoshida even happens, though even this left me feeling indifferent with how shallow both their characters had been throughout Higehiro.

In short, Higehiro is, more or less, a wish fulfillment series that sets up a scenario where Yoshida is made out to be the ultimate good guy in helping troubled teen girl Sayu overcome her personal problems and deliberately sets up its story developments and secondary characters in such a way to allow its intended scenario to play out without providing any genuine depth or believability to complicate things. Fans of this sort of pandering may feel at home with a title like this. But anyone looking for more deeper storytelling and character development will be left feeling underwhelmed with how Higehiro chooses to play things out with Sayu and Yoshida's living situation.

Last updated Monday, June 28 2021. Created Monday, June 28 2021.
Watch Stretch [series:4285#628]
(Watch+ or Rent-)

(All episodes watched):

After Sayu offers to let Yoshida 'do' her in exchange for a night's lodgings, the thought occurred to me that there were two directions this show could go: a cheap, shallow story replete with fanservice and ecchi, or an intriguing and moving one about a guy who takes in a homeless girl but refuses to exploit her (replete with fanservice). Who wouldn't be titillated by a scenario of a young man with a hot teenage girl at his disposal? The question is whether he'll be able to resist temptation. I had my fingers crossed, and for the most part Hige- went in the correct direction, namely the latter one. Yoshida seems like a guy with principles who can't bear to return Sayu to the streets to live a life of prostitution. If I were in his place I think I would feel good about myself--that I had done a good deed. He considers Sayu 'spoiled', but she is reluctant even to accept his gift of some clothing. It's kind of hard to believe that she has been living like this for six months, but that's not a big deal. Early on she had seemed to have a very casual and repellent attitude towards sex, but with time it becomes clear that she has personality as well. She says her parents are happy to see her gone, and for the time being he doesn't try to pry. As I watched all sorts of lines which the characters might say came to mind, which is a sign of an interesting and engaging show. Notice how Yoshida has small, simple eyes while Sayu has big, expressive ones? Don't screw it up, Hige-; you are looking pretty good so far.

In episode two we learn that Yoshida's love life isn't quite dead as his female boss takes him out to dinner and another girl in the office clearly likes him. It turns out that Yoshida's love life is not only still alive, it is recovering rapidly, as he now has two potential girlfriends plus Sayu. This episode was not quite as moving and exciting as the first one as things have settled down, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. Though there is some fanservice this show is clearly about genuine romance as well. All but one of the main characters have already assembled. Sayu fears that if Yoshida ever gets a serious girlfriend she'll be thrown out. She seems to assume that her body is the only thing of value she possesses. As I watched a certain scene I would frequently pause the recording to compose lines of my own for the characters to speak, because it was fairly deep and moving. Yoshida isn't very good at keeping secrets, and one by one the other main characters (including the final one, Sayu's convenience store coworker) learn that he has an unrelated girl staying with him. But they, too, pity this stranger and are supportive.

Thankfully, this show did turn out to be of the intriguing and moving sort rather than cheap and tawdry, which would have been all too easy. There are clever touches, like where Sayu starts to think about her future rather than just the present day in episode six. We hope she'll manage to make something of herself and not always be reliant on Yoshida. Plausible and intriguing problems for Sayu occur, like a guy she once slept with turning up at her job and her estranged family coming looking for her. How old do people have to be in Japan before they get to decide for themselves where they will live and what they will do (and who they will marry)? It seems that Sayu's brother (who is leading the search for her) is a fairly wealthy CEO, which makes us wonder just why she ran away from home. In episode nine we finally learn the answer. I was disappointed; what happened seemed kind of stereotypical and unconvincing. I got the feeling that whoever wrote this story was quite unfamiliar with trauma and mental illness and was largely guessing when he/she made up this explanation. All things considered, I think the story would have been better off to leave Sayu's past a mystery than to explain it this way, but maybe that was not an option. Fortunately, Sayu's brother's explanation of things in episode ten makes a lot more sense. I was excited in episode ten when Yoshida decides that instead of just shipping her back to her family he will take a very commonsense and clever action himself to ensure things go well for her. The argument that was made to convince Sayu's distant mother to treat her better was OK but not brilliant, and brilliant would have really helped, this being the climax after all.

In the end, this wasn't a cheap, shallow story, but at the end it almost seemed as if it regretted not being one. Sayu makes an awkward proposal which makes us wonder if she has really learned much of anything after all. And the very last event is inexplicable--the show seems to be going with base urges rather than wise choices. It makes us wonder what the real message was, since this seems to contradict the one we were being taught previously. The series might have been better off if it had ended with episode twelve. Early on I had thought of Hige- as an unusually powerful show, what with the question of 'will he or won't he' and the moral questions. But that power gradually bled away, and the lack of a definitive message at the end was frustrating.

Last updated Tuesday, January 25 2022. Created Thursday, April 08 2021.

Other Sites
Official Japanese Series Web Site http://higehiro-anime.com/

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