Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou otherwise known as Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway is a romantic drama produced by the studio Project No.9. I suppose by reading the title of this anime coupled by the fact it is a romantic series will have some people running for the hills. It is certainly a bold decision to not only cast the primary relationship with characters of such differing ages but also make the girl a teenager. Alarm bells will ring but the older Yoshida and supporting cast adds a maturity and balance to the overall dialogue and plot progression that ensures Higehiro avoids the worst pitfalls.
When Sayu is introduced, it is made apparent that she has run far away and is leading a very rough life; so much so that there are some pretty clear signs that Sayu has been adversely affected by her recent experiences. It is certainly a unique and risqué premise that is quite hard to stomach and leaves a lot to unpack. This start, coupled with some very intense early scenes, is bound to turn people away. Higehiro deals with numerous issues that can make for very uncomfortable viewing.
If you can get through the opening few episodes however, you will find that there is a decent amount of character development in Sayu and even Yoshida. For the latter it is a fact that is picked up by various secondary characters. In the early parts of the series the various exchanges between Sayu and Yoshida make are charming. It would probably garner a more universal appeal if the age gap was not so big. What should be stated, and I feel this is necessary point to raise is that over the course of the whole show Yoshida never does anything perverted towards Sayu. The relationship they have for each other takes on a more paternal relationship than romantic although there are undertones of the latter. This being a drama series there are various obstacles thrown in to keep things exciting and at times it is used to promote character growth.
In terms of the overall cast Sayu has been given the best treatment with her getting the most character growth out of everyone. Yoshida also develops and grows but it is more subtle in nature. As for the rest of the cast, it is more of a mixed bag. Whilst it is refreshing to deal with an older cast as their age means we do not fall into the usual anime tropes that pervade other series there are still instances where characters do things that seem childish and even juvenile but I suppose that can hold true in real life. I mean, even adults can act like kids, right?
Animation for Higehiro is strong throughout and there are only a few scenes where you can see any significant decline in quality and even those dips don’t tend to happen until around the final third of the show. Both opening and ending are good so overall on a technical level this shows delivers a solid standard.
Overall giving a score for this will prove to be a tricky affair. The basic premise, the age gap and the early disturbing scenes will turn a lot of viewers off. If you can handle those scenes and have thicker skin then you can appreciate that this is a good series that, for the most part, handles the difficult topic matters with some skill. You get a good story with a very satisfactory conclusion that ties up many of the earlier loose ends left hanging at the beginning. Character development is good particularly with Sayu. I do feel if the age gap was not so high and they had casted Sayu as a 20-year-old instead of 16 then Higehiro would have been regarded more highly. As it is it will have a more niche following.
Story 8 – After the initial premise it takes a while for the story to progress but when it does, we get intrigue, drama, more drama and then a climatic revelation that explains earlier events.
Characters 7 – Sayu is an interesting character who grows slowly but surely throughout. Yoshida also experiences changes but the secondary cast is more static and the personalities of some may not appeal to all.
Animation 7 – A good standard that is maintained throughout the series with decent openings and endings to boot.
Overall 7 – By its very nature this will be a controversial series. If you are uncomfortable with romances where the primary relationship centres on a teenager and adult then I would subtract three points from the score. If you are not so heavily impacted by such things then you will get more mileage out of Higehiro as behind the risqué premise is a good story.