Manga / High Score Girl

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"The world wavered in 1991...and a bond with that girl began."note 

"Watch out sister, here comes THE TWISTER!"
—the tagline

1991: the renaissance of arcade gaming. 6th grader Haruo Yaguchi, an unpopular boy at school, would rather spend time playing Street Fighter II at the local arcade than take his daily life seriously, earning him the (self-appointed) moniker "Beastly Fingers Haruo". However, things would take a turn one day when he encounters honor student and rich girl Akira Oono dominating everyone else at his favorite game with Zangief. Having lost to her 7 times in a row and eager to break her 29-win streak, he resorts to underhanded tactics with his own favorite character Guile, an act which earns him a solid right hook from the otherwise quiet and aloof girl—and ultimately sparks their rocky relationship as she brazenly follows him from arcade to arcade after school.

Written and illustrated by Rensuke Oshikiri, High Score Girl is a Seinen coming-of-age romantic comedy manga that chronicles the Odd Friendship between the under-performing delinquent Haruo and Lonely Rich Kid Akira as they slowly bond through their shared enthusiasm for video games. It was first published in Square Enix's Big Gangan Monthly magazine in 2010 and is still ongoing. It was rumored to have an anime adaptation in 2013, but apart from some merchandise nothing concrete has surfaced.

In 2014, SNK Playmore attempted to file a lawsuit against the publishers for alleged copyright violation, citing the illegal usage of their trademarked properties in the manga. As a result Square-Enix was forced to temporarily pull out all printed volumes of the manga until a settlement was reached in August of 2015, allowing the manga to be republished under the new title of High Score Girl: Continue.

In February 2017, the author launched his own Twitch gaming channel.

Now has a Character Sheet which is currently under construction.

Not to be confused with High School Girls.

The manga contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Hand Hold: When a fight breaks out in an arcade due to a couple of ill-tempered Scrubs losing to the two of them, Haruo drags Akira away to avoid getting caught by the management and security. Once they're well outside the premises, Haruo is embarrassed to discover that he's still clinging onto her hand. Akira didn't seem to mind, though.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Both Akira and Hidaka fall in love with Haruo, whose Jerk Ass tendencies only served to annoy them at the start.
  • Always Someone Better: Akira is better than Haruo at almost everything, from academics to sports and—you guessed it—video games. Later Hidaka also becomes his better at fighting games, much to his chagrin.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The Virtual Boy. The Oono family butler is unhealthily obsessed with getting one and Haruo's mom is somehow aware of its release date even without Haruo telling her. When Akira finally gets her hands on one, she immediately gets nauseated from the graphics.
  • Berserk Button: A few characters have their own variants.
    • Don't try to "invade" Haruo's "personal sanctuary" (i.e. the arcade), one-up him at fighting games or act condescendingly towards him.
    • Don't try to cheat Oono at video games. And for that matter, don't try to steal Haruo away from her, as Hidaka and a bunch of hapless Virtua Cop mooks found out.
    • Never threaten Haruo within earshot of his mother.
    • Never mention video games or arcades around Gouda-sensei.
  • Betty and Veronica: Hidaka is the Betty, while Oono is Veronica.
  • Brand Name Takeover: Lampshaded by Haruo after receiving a brand new Twin Famicom consolenote  from Gouda-sensei, as an apology after the latter trashes his Super Famicom:
    "This is what happens when adults call every console a Famicom..."
  • Butt Monkey: Haruo. Between being on the receiving end of Akira's martial arts training, his mother's wrestling skills, the Oono family limousine and Hidaka's Tsundere tendencies, the poor kid just can't seem to catch a breather. Doi is also one due to his Handsome Lech tendencies, and the hapless Oono family butler also counts at times.
  • Caught the Heart on His Sleeve: Akira does this to Haruo early on. Hidaka later attempts the same with him, but to no avail.
  • Chick Magnet: Surprisingly enough, not his Handsome Lech classmate Doi, but Haruo himself. Both his mother and Miyao note that his kindhearted nature would be sure to make him a lady-killer in the future; they're both right. Miyao is also this, although he's more reluctant about it.
  • The Conscience: In a hilarious twist, Guile is this for Haruo—admonishing him whenever he gets into a tight spot, chastising him for his poor decisions and encouraging him whenever he's down in the dumps. It is later revealed that the equivalent figure for Akira is Zangief, who ends up convincing her that Haruo isn't the bad boy he makes himself out to be. And at the end, Hidaka also gains her own conscience avatar in the form of Huitzil. Among the human characters, Miyao is this for Haruo.
  • Covert Pervert: Doi really, really wants to get to fourth base with Akira. Thankfully for her, his plans often get foiled. Haruo's mother is also shown to be one after she discovers how popular her boy has gotten with the ladies. Much later, Akira's older sibling Makoto is shown to be this turned Up to Eleven.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: One of the central plot elements. Akira starts off a completely aloof young girl who hardly communicates with others, but meeting Haruo begins to open her up to the outside world little by little.
  • Dead All Along: The owner of the Cracked Skull arcade, which is why Haruo got "creepy vibes" from him.
  • Death Glare: A number of characters pull it off.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita: Futako, an underground pro gamer whom Hidaka meets later in the story. Akira herself is a more subdued example.
  • Everyone Can See It: Almost all of the characters can see that Haruo and Akira have a thing for each other including Gouda-sensei after her Heel–Face Turn.
  • Gamer Chick: Akira Oono, Futako, Hidaka after the timeskip and much later, Akira's sister Makoto herself.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Poor Haruo suffers from this several times.
    • When Haruo realizes just how much better Hidaka has become at fighting games than he is, he shuts himself in his house and ponders over whether he should stick to console games instead, which he gets over quickly.
    • Later on he has a minor one after Hidaka demonstrates that she knows how to pick the Boss Team from KOF '95, which gets two of his characters eliminated. Thankfully he recovers quickly in the last round and makes an amazing comeback.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Haruo has two of them during the best-of-three match against Hidaka: the first one when he snaps out of his Heroic B.S.O.D. to go on and body Hidaka's Boss Team in KOF despite losing both Robert and Takuma, and the second after falling victim to Hidaka's trump card in Night Warriors, leading him to use a reflex-based defensive playstyle to shut her approach down for good.
  • Hope Spot: Haruo diligently studies to try and get into the same upscale high school as Akira. His efforts seemed to bear fruit and he was confident in making the list until it is revealed at the end of the chapter that he actually failed the entrance exam.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Both ways during the best-out-of-three match between Haruo and Hidaka.
    • In the second match, everyone expected Hidaka to use the Women Fighters team in KOF '95. Imagine everyone's surprise when she uses the cheat code to pick the Boss Teamnote  instead. Unfortunately for her, she's not as familiar with the boss characters, allowing Haruo to body her with only Ryo Sakazaki once he snaps out of his Heroic B.S.O.D..
    • During the tiebreaker round, Hidaka's Huitzil is known to be outclassed in the tier lists by Bishamon, a close-range rushdown monster, but Hidaka manages to overcome this weakness using fast pokes and Guard Cancels, eventually forcing Haruo into the corner and finishing him off by spamming Huitzil's Confusioner special. Haruo, not to be outdone, gets the upper hand in the last round by guard canceling and punishing Huitzil's pokes in return, utterly destroying Hidaka without resorting to abusing Bishamon's Oni Kubi Hineri, which he only used once in the entire match. Hidaka even lampshades it at the end.
  • I Let You Win: One of Haruo's biggest Berserk Buttons. During the Kyoto SSF2 tournament, Haruo finally manages to defeat Akira—only for the arcade technicians to discover after the tournament that some of the buttons on her side of the machine had been broken by an earlier contestant. He first mistakes her silence on the matter as an act of condescension towards him, but Guile later muses that Akira may have simply let the issue slide so as not to cause a fuss during the finals.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Haruo has an episode of this when playing Street Fighter Alpha for the first time, as Guile was not present in the prequel. Guile then advises him to play as Charlie since they both have similar movesets, and Haruo thinks carefully about it...until he decides to play as Guy because "Guy and Guile are similar-sounding names". When he is forced to search for a runaway Akira later on, he keeps thinking of video game levels while wondering where she could have gone off to. He chastises himself for it though.
  • Invisible Parents: Akira's parents are never shown at all, with the possible exception of the lady at the airport who may or may not be her mother. Instead, Gouda Moemi and the family butler have more prominent roles.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Haruo may have very little redeeming qualities on top of having a Jerkass Façade, but one thing everybody consistently notices about him is his kindness. Makoto, Akira's elder sister, also displays this attitude.
  • Just Toying with Them: Both Haruo and Akira are prone to trolling scrubs in fighting games by spamming dirty tactics until their opponents blow their top.
  • Little Miss Badass: Akira. Having been trained in karate, mixed martial arts and traditional Japanese weaponry since childhood, she's more than capable of holding her own in a fight, as poor Haruo can attest to. To a much lesser degree, Hidaka is this after the Time Skip.
  • Loser Protagonist: Haruo. He's Book Dumb, incredibly lazy when it comes to schoolwork, isn't physically attractive and has no ambitions in life whatsoever apart from video games. Meeting Oono slowly breaks him out of this mold.
  • Love Triangle: Haruo and Oono clearly like each other, while Hidaka has eyes only for Haruo, which he realizes late in the story.
  • Magical Realism: The story has elements of this. Things such as fictional fighting game characters appearing in dire situations to encourage or warn the protagonists may be explained away as merely whimsical imagination on their part but the haunted arcade with the creepy old owner who turned out to have been an actual ghost was most certainly not imagined, and no explanation is ever given for the incident.
  • Memento Macguffin: No less than two appear in the story:
    • Haruo manages to win a toy ring from an old crane game machine inside the Cracked Skull arcade and give it as a gift to Akira before she went to the States. After her return and subsequent defeat at his hands during a tournament, they get into a fistfight sparked by a misunderstanding—and it is only stopped when Haruo sees that she had been keeping the same toy ring on her necklace all along.
    • At the conclusion of the Runaway arc, Akira invites Haruo inside a photo booth to take a picture together. Her elder sister Makoto eventually discovers the photo and hatches a plan to reunite Haruo and Akira after the latter had been grounded by Gouda-sensei.
  • Mood Whiplash: The story begins as a gag manga with loads of slapstick violence. However, as the plot unfolds it takes a more dramatic turn; midway through the first volume Akira is implied to have a troubled childhood and Chapter 9 onwards fully unleashes its dramatic aspect beginning with the airport scene, which is one of the saddest moments in the manga.
  • Nice Guy: Miyao, the sensitive guy to Haruo's manly man. He's polite to a fault, is always ready to lend a helping hand to anyone, and is empathic to the point where he's able to read his friend's true feelings. In fact he's one of the few to recognize that Haruo is a Nice Guy himself despite his Jerkass Façade.
  • Not So Different: A crucial plot device in the series; characters who appear to be foils to one another often share traits that make them more identical than they would like to admit.
    • While Haruo and Akira appear to be worlds apart in terms of prowess and family background, they both tend to gravitate towards video games as a means of escapism.
    • Both Haruo and Hidaka are described as being quite unmotivated and lacking ambition, despite the latter initially deriding the former for "being an idiot who only loves video games". Later on Hidaka herself becomes infatuated with gaming due to her attraction towards Haruo.
    • In a hilarious example, Haruo's junior high homeroom teacher Reiko tends to warn her students from getting addicted to video games and even confiscates the PC Engine Haruo snuck into his bag for their Kyoto field trip. An Omake reveals that she actually used it to play Bomberman with the other teachers—and shows just how poor of a sport she is after losing, just like Haruo.
  • Off Model: A meta example as most of the licensed game characters look like cartoony versions of themselves; justified due to Rensuke Oshikiri's quirky art style, but it sometimes crops up when traced screenshots are involved, such as Billy Kane's sansetsukon turning into a short billy club in chapter 30.
  • Only Sane Man: Miyao seems to be the most grounded character compared to everyone else in the cast, with the additional perk of being perceptive enough to read his friends' feelings at a single glance. Interestingly enough, the main fighting game characters involvednote  are also this.
  • The Power of Love: A major contributing factor to many a Character Development in the series. It defrosts Akira's cold demeanor, elevates Hidaka to the level of a pro gamer and goads Haruo into taking life more seriously instead of wasting it all on gaming.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Haruo's mom may be strict when it comes to his grades, but at least she encourages her son to love his video game hobbies, noting that it would be hard for him to excel in anything else if he can't even do one thing right. Also, Akira's chauffeur and personal butler, who recognizes her need to cut loose after witnessing just how harsh Gouda-sensei can be—even going so far as to buy her a Game Gear after Gouda-sensei actively prohibits Akira from going to arcades.
  • Red Baron: "Beastly Fingers" for Haruo, and if the manga's tagline (and her favorite SF2 character) is anything to go by, "The Twister" is this for Akira. Later on in the manga, Hidaka meets several pro gamers who all have Tokyo subway stations as their callsigns.
  • Reference Overdosed: Taken Up to Eleven with the sheer amount of Shout Outs to both well-known and obscure video games. This is mostly justified due to how they are used as Framing Devices, although some of them can come off as ridiculously out of place.
  • Rescue Romance: Played with. Akira overhears Haruo talking to another gamer about the existence of a legendary 10-Yen arcade, and when the latter gets on his bike to check out the rumors she immediately hops on the back uninvited. Despite Haruo's protests, he agrees to take her with him out of kindness. It's then shown that she was actually trying to run away from Gouda-sensei's overly strict mentoring at the time, and it's this act of Haruo's that truly begins to cement their relationship. The trope is played straight later on when Akira runs away from home and Haruo voluntarily tracks her down at a secluded arcade in another city.
  • Retro Gaming: The Manga. With a hearty helping of romantic comedy!
  • The Rival: Haruo to Akira over video games, Akira and Hidaka over Haruo.
  • Rousing Speech: Guile gives several to Haruo over the course of the manga, with the most notable one being his "Always Save the Girl" speech. Miyao also does a rather Hot-Blooded one when advising Haruo about his Love Triangle, to the annoyance of several girls in a nearby swimming class.
  • Running Gag: As befits a gag manga.
    • Haruo getting struck by the front of Akira's limousine almost every time it shows up. It gets dropped later in the story once things get serious.
    • Mrs. Yaguchi performing seemingly impossible stunts just to peek in her son's bedroom, like sliding across the doorway vertically and peeking from the ceiling while upside-down.
    • Guile beating up on Haruo whenever he does something stupid, usually via Sonic Boom.
    • "Fani-foom!"
    • Several characters' infatuation with the Virtual Boy, which ends up becoming a Brick Joke later on.
    • Mrs. Yaguchi's trademark "pancakes straight out of a picture book" dish.
    • Ryo Sakazaki admonishing Haruo to "use Haoh Sho Ko Ken in times of need" is a minor example. It eventually becomes a Chekhov's Boomerang in Haruo's favor, though.
  • Sadist Teacher: Gouda Moemi, towards Akira. It is later revealed that she became this after Makoto, Oono's elder sister, decided to opt out of becoming the Oono Zaibatsu's next heir after realizing just how burdensome it would be, which in turn caused Moemi-sensei to become harsher towards Akira in an effort to prevent a similar occurrence. On a somewhat lesser scale, Haruo and Akira's teacher from grade school, who keeps threatening enemas on misbehaving students.
  • Secondary Character Title: Akira isn't the main character despite driving the entire plot, getting top billing in the tankobon covers and promotional material, and being the titular High Score Girl; the real hero of the story is Haruo.
  • Shout-Out: See Reference Overdosed.
    • A Heiankyo Alien cocktail cabinet is seen inside the Cracked Skull arcade, along with the original "rubber buttons" version of the first Street Fighter game.
    • Raiden is seen calling down lightning bolts outside the Yaguchi household during a thunderstorm.
    • When Haruo rushes after Akira towards the airport, Bub and Bob, Ryu, the R9 fighter and King Fossil all show up to cheer him on, among various other characters.
    • Akira accidentally knocks Haruo into the trash compactor at the end of Mission 1 in Undercover Cops, killing his character instantly. However, instead of acting all haughty about it as she is wont to do, Akira displays an apologetic and troubled look which alerts Haruo to the possibility that something was wrong.
    • Haruo's examinee number during the Jouran High entrance test is 1942, leading him to lampshade the fact that if he fails even once here, it's over. Unfortunately, he does fail.
    • During the Rescue Romance mini arc, Edi is shown spitting out his infamous chewing gum, after which Guy picks it up and eats it in front of a disgusted Guile.
    • When Haruo looks out of a hotel window, the streets below look like a scene straight out of Capcom's old top-down Beat 'em Up Hissatsu Buraiken.
    • During Akira's ride home after her first day at a video arcade, the Vic Viper is shown flying alongside her limousine, while Strider Hiryu, the R9, Zangief, Mike Haggar and several other characters are seen surrounding her in the passenger seat.
    • In the last match against Hidaka, Air Man is shown trying to blow Haruo away with tornadoes during Guile's Internal Monologue on Haruo's Character Development.
    • Haruo admits to being bad at shmups after failing to do a no-bomb run in DonPachi.
    • Akira's elder sister Makoto gifts Haruo with a copy of Tokimeki Memorial in an effort to teach him about how guy-girl relationships work.
    • At one point, Zangief utters a very familiar line while trying to convince Akira of Haruo's goodness:
    "Since I know very well what it feels like...to be labeled the bad guy..."
    • Haruo's self-appointed nickname is "Beastly Fingers", a play on Daigo Umehara's "The Beast" moniker.
    • Guidance Counselor Numata-san, a minor side character from the second and third volumes, resembles Lau Chan and even shares his fighting style.
    • The "I must use Haoh Sho Ko Ken" meme from Art of Fighting is referenced a few times in the story for comedic purposes. This comes back in a triumphant way when Haruo bodies Hidaka's Boss Team during their KOF '95 match using none other than Ryo Sakazaki himself, and guess which move he opens with against Hidaka's Saishuu right after wrecking Rugal?
    • Haruo demonstrates the Super Famicom port of RPG Maker to Makoto, when she asks if a game specially made for Akira could possibly exist.
  • Shown Their Work: Rensuke Oshikiri is very passionate about video games, and it shows. He includes many references to console and video game release dates, mechanics particular to certain titles like Space Gun, and even beginner, intermediate and advanced techniques used in fighting games like Guile's tick throw methodnote . At one point a win-ratio chartnote  for Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge is shown, and the topics of zoning and fighting game frame data of all things are discussed in brief. Even the Console Wars are brought up by Haruo regarding the PlayStation and the Sega Saturn.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Hidaka, towards Haruo; also Haruo and Akira for each other.
  • Sore Loser: A lot of characters in the manga tend to be this, perhaps owing to the rather salty nature of the topic.
    • Haruo. The kid cannot take defeat in fighting games casually, an attitude which he later ditches.
    • Even Akira shows signs of this whenever Haruo gets the upper hand in a fighting game, but it's milder compared to the insanity that often erupts when someone loses badly...unless you count their first meeting.
    • Haruo's junior high homeroom teacher Reiko-sensei is this of all people, as it turns out she doesn't take well to being soundly beaten in multiplayer Bomberman.
    • Hidaka gets reduced to Berserker Tears after losing her bet against Haruo.
  • Through His Stomach: Haruo inadvertently gains Akira's friendship due to his encyclopedic knowledge of gaming and his home console collection, both of which are banned in her household. The non-gaming Hidaka later attempts to do the same for Haruo using her family's Neo-Geo MVS machine, albeit reluctantly at first, until she later becomes a Gamer Chick out of her infatuation with him. Since he views their relationship as merely platonic, however, it largely fails.
  • Time Skip: Several are used throughout the story. The first one happens after Akira leaves for the States and is used to introduce Hidaka; the second happens after Haruo fails to enter the same school Akira was going to study in after returning to Japan.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Hidaka became much more competent at fighting games after the second Time Skip, to the point where she could consistently beat Haruo in both Darkstalkers and Samurai Shodown II. Similarly, Haruo himself begins taking both work and play much more seriously after Akira's butler implores him to "become her pillar of support". Even Futako notices that his attitude was very different from Hidaka's during their decisive match, a fact which allowed him to emerge triumphant.
  • Training from Hell: All over the place. Gouda Moemi, the Oono family's private tutor, exposed Akira to this at a young age in order to prepare her as the future heir of the Oono Zaibatsu. Hidaka also submits herself to Metagame training in order to try and defeat Haruo, under the guidance of Futako and several other pro gamers. What she didn't count on was that Haruo also subjected himself to one for Akira's sake, which allowed him to defeat Hidaka in the end.
  • Trash Talk: Par for the course.
  • Tsundere: Amazingly, both Haruo and Akira are this towards each other. It's just as awkward as it sounds. Hidaka is also this toward Haruo, which doesn't work out well since he only views her as a friend.
  • 20 Minutes into the Past: The manga was serialized in 2010, but the story itself takes place during the early 90's and even references certain events such as the Gulf War and Bill Clinton becoming US president. More relevant to the plot are the release dates of specific consoles and games of the era, since they form the primary framing device of the series.
  • Twice Shy: A variant. Haruo is Oblivious to Love and doesn't know how to socialize with girls. Akira is a Shrinking Violet with some kind of social anxiety disorder. It only makes their awkward displays of affection all the more adorable.
  • Unbroken Vigil: Early in the story, Haruo falls sick as a result of Akira's violent pranks. Due to a twist of fate she ends up visiting him in his room, and it is while watching over him that she first realizes her attraction towards Haruo. Hidaka mirrors the same vigil later on after the first timeskip...which in turn causes Haruo to realize that he misses having Akira around.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Haruo and Akira may find each other annoying, but when push comes to shove they'll be there for each other.
  • Video Arcade: The whole premise (and main setting) of the story!
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Haruo and Akira's friendship isn't exactly smooth sailing, made more complicated by the fact that Akira finds it hard to communicate apart from video games or physical violence.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Tossed around a few times.
    • Hidaka eventually gets fed up with Haruo's obliviousness towards her advances and corners him into facing her in a mini fighting game competition, on the grounds that if he loses to her then he'll have to date her. She loses. Miyao later echoes her assertions, but in a much more constructive manner.
    • Haruo gives one to himself when trying to review for an upcoming entrance exam, since up to that point all he could think about was gaming.
    • Even Akira isn't exempt from receiving a scolding from Haruo of all people after she runs away from home and into a distant city without thinking to bring any pocket money besides spare change, even noting that the neighborhood she decided to hang out in is a dangerous place especially at night. Repeated later after they check into a nearby hotel and Haruo brings up the possibility of the authorities mistaking their plight to be that of attempted kidnapping on his part, which gets Akira thinking about her deed.
    • Akira's elder sister Makoto gives one to Gouda-sensei after Akira becomes bedridden from the excessive disciplinary actions she faced due to running away from home. Subverted in that Gouda-sensei isn't exactly heroic.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: On the video game side, Akira's favored fighting game characters are all grappler types like Zangief, and Haruo later picks up her habit by maining King in Tekken. More realistically, Mrs. Yaguchi's preferred method of chastisement for Haruo involves German suplexes and a scorpion lock.
  • You Are Grounded: Haruo's mom locks away his PC Engine console after seeing his report card. Even more seriously, Gouda-sensei forbids Akira from being around arcades later in the story and replaces her old butler with a more strict bodyguard to make sure she never tries anything funny.

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