Haruo isn’t good at much—his grades are poor and he doesn’t have any innate talent, except his skill at video games. He consider the arcade his domain, a practice facility for a career playing games, the place where he can excel at something, but that fortress is impeded upon by Akira, the all-everything ojou-san from his class, who shows herself to be a gamer of extraordinary talent (and with low levels of patience). While he starts out bitter at Akira, who bests him easily at Street Fighter II (the story takes place in 1991) until he hits below the belt, when Haruo opens his mind to her, he finds that he understands a bit about how Akira thinks: after all, she’s even more a gamer than he.
In 1991, I was in elementary school and doing precisely what Haruo and Akira were doing—playing games, though it wasn’t at their level and it would be a while before I played Street Fighter II. This opening episode was like walking back in time—I felt like I was at my friends’ houses, playing on their consoles, or at the arcade using up quarters. And beyond the nostalgia, the series seems to be a wonderful combination of gaming and romance—which is what I’ve heard about the well-regarded manga. Not even the weirdness of the CGI can dim my thoughts on episode one—in fact, it works well with the tone of the story, though I kept wondering how a more traditional animated style would look. Still, COUNT ME IN (as long as WB finds a way to get this series to us, that is).