Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, aka Haganai, was the second anime I ever watched. Back then, when I was still innocent, I was shocked and delighted by how extreme, vulgar and shameless the show seemed to be. Yozora’s and Sena’s open hostility toward each other, Rika’s sexual innuendo, Yukimura’s gender, and Sena’s lust toward Kobato were completely new things for me. I also liked the numerous references to other shows and phenomena, even though I didn’t quite understand them(I knew of Excalibur in general, but not of the Fate/Stay Night significance of it) at the time.
As I’ve watched more anime and become more familiar with the tropes and cliches inherent to the medium, however, I’ve come to realise that the things I appreciated about Haganai are not held in very high regard among most of the anime fans that I now interact with. The fanservice is one thing, but the fact that there is fanservice of the loli characters is worse. At one point I thought Rika’s sexual innuendo was really offensive, but after seeing stuff like Seitokai Yakuindomo and Shimoseka, maybe it isn’t as bad as I thought. Her references to rape, on the other hand, are in my opinion very inappropriate, as is Sena’s and Kobato’s relationship. I know that many shows have this thing where the high school girl lusts after the younger girl, but Haganai takes it to creepier levels than most. I now also understand that the jokes about Yukimura’s gender are kind of transphobic instead of just jokes made in good spirit.
And, last but not least, someone recently pointed out that Yozora’s and Sena’s hostile relationship was more aggressive and abusive than these kinds of anime relationships usually are, and I kind of have to agree: It’s obviously there for the sake of comedy, but it comes off as incredibly mean-spirited. The second season even ends on a particularly sour note. That said… I have a feeling that my eagerness to agree with this criticism of the series stems partially from my desire to disconnect mentally from the “trashy” shows that I watched – and enjoyed – when I was new to anime. To put it simply, I want to dislike Haganai. I want to dislike OniAi. I want to dislike Sakurasou. And this actually presents a dilemma for me when it comes to rating and re-rating shows. Do I stick to my original ratings that I gave back when I had only watched a few shows, or do I rate them again now, based on my larger amount of experience and knowledge? At the moment Haganai is somewhere in the middle, because I still have no absolute answer to this question.