Eriko and her friends finally make it to an exclusive high school and they're ready to make the most of it! For these girls, having fun is priority number one. Right from the start, they're causing trouble, meeting boys, forging friendships, making enemies - you know, typical teenage girl behaviour. The hit series GIRL'S HIGH gives you a raw, hilarious fly-on-the-wall peek into the lives of these girls as they experience for the first time the awkwardness, embarrassment and camaraderie of high school life.
I've said before that the world of Japanese school girls scares me, in the sense that as bad and petty as fellas can be, the universe that the girls are in is infinitely worse. Case in point: Girls High or High School Girls if you only read the manga.
Written and drawn by Towa Oshima, Girls High is a 12 episode series directed by Yoshitaka Fujimoto and released in the United States by Media Blasters under their Anime Works label. It follows the (mis)adventures of six friends who all go to Saki High School. Eriko, Yuma and Ayano all transfer in from another school while Himeji, Kouda and Ogawa all came up through the middle school at Saki. At first this looks like an a-typical show about girls and their trials and tribulations, right?
I first heard of this series on fansub and after seeing an episode (I think it was number 2 or number 3), I tuned out. But the manga, which I had been reading at the same time kept my interest up, and I eventually got the box set from Media Blasters. This is one of the most perverted series I've ever watched and I've watched the first three episodes of Koi Koi Seven! Faux lesbian sex scenes, body hair gags, body-oil massages with girls crotch areas (!?), its all go in this series. In the first episode alone, Eriko decides to go to Saki High before school officially starts. She sets into motion a wacky chain of events that has Kouda hating her guts, the rest of the newly formed "Moron Group" looking for her and Kouda and her ending up in an embarrassing 69 position (hey, I'm just saying what happened, OK?) together!
Eriko comes across a ditz and that's what she is. If she's not running to make each medical exam or getting the wrong train and not even noticing then she's making life incredibly hard for the rest of her friends. But the creators give her a wonderful sense of loyalty to her friends despite the fact that sometimes they let her down and full marks have to go to her seiyú, Hitomi Nabatame, for giving a great performance. Kouda and the rest of the originals (who were already at the school) do get fleshed out in further episodes but for the most part the series' primary focus is on Eriko. Ayano and Yuma get their stories padded out, with Ayano's, frankly embarrassing, blossoming relationship with Shimotakatani or Yuma getting resolution with her little sister, Momoko, respectfully. That does not mean the show in any way sacrifices the rest of the cast. Far from it, of all the girls only Ogawa gets the shortest amount of time but I can't have everything, I suppose. Full marks have to go to the rest of the cast as they all give solid performances whether it be serious or funny moments. They are their characters and never do I feel they hand in a "today is wash day" performance.
Are you getting how this series is going to pan out? Good, because it is one of the best series I've watched in a long time. Nobody is moe, nobody has breasts so big that they need structural support and no one gets punched into orbit (well almost nobody). Oh happy days. The writing is spot on capturing the spirit of the manga, in some places replicating shot for panel, with the girls describing embarrassing bodily functions with no reserve or decorum. But it's not done in an overly-crass way. In other manga and anime, when they go into really, really, personal stuff, it's done for "OH MY GOD! SHE'S/HE'S TALKING ABOUT BREASTS! QUICK, GET A MIC!" but here it's in such a fast paced, stream of consciousness way that nobody even takes time out to put breaks on the conversation. The animation has a lot of bland generic repetition cycles but the good news is that since the show focuses on the character interplay and word wars, then it's OK for the animation not to be amazing. HOWEVER, where the animation does excel is when it mercilessly parodies something like Maria Watches Over Us, Lone Wolf and Cub or the Tokimeki Memorial game right down to art style. And that's only done as a gag or the teaser for the episode. This leads me to believe that the blandness in the background may intentional on the studios part. The show's opening and closing music is peppy and catchy and you will love the closing animation as it's a nice way of leaving each episode.
The DVD's put out by Media Blasters in the US for this are a nice little affair and I can't help but stop and thank everyone (including my brother) who bought the Voltron boxsets that Media Blasters released as MB owner John Sirabella said that a lot of their licences that year were paid for by the fans who bought Voltron. For their efforts, MB were able to port over the decent Japanese seiyu interviews and also the bonus three part mini episodes about the school trip that goes wrong. No English dub but the fact the series was released is enough for me to not be upset. The usual trailers and clean opening and closing sequences round it off. Currently it's around the $35-45 mark for all three volumes so fans watching their wallets will be OK with this release.
This was released the same year as other low key affairs, Simoun and Kashimashi (both put out by Media Blasters) with all three disappearing, it seems, without a trace. The shows have their fans (me included) but with things like Gurren Lagann and Haruhi riding high, I feel it's important that we focus on show like Girls High because they give a great counter-balance to the REALLY IMPORTANT AND MONUMENTAL SHOW THAT PEOPLE CARE ABOUT AND WRITE ABOUT IN CAPITALS! I highly recommend this show to everyone.