The following post was kindly written by my very good friend Jack (illintelligence). Please show him all the support you’ve always given me and don’t forget to check his blog out here!
It is no secret to my friends that the two things dominating my anime watch time are slice of lifes and shorts. I am a man of simple tastes, and the easiest ways to my heart are “slice of life/comedy” tags and an episodic runtime of under ten minutes. It was these exact traits that drew me to Nexus Studios’ Wakaba*Girl in the first place, and when realisation struck that the source manga was created by the author of one of my favourite series of all time, my interest was piqued; I knew I had to watch this show!
Created by Yui Hara (a mangaka best known for blessing Japan with the aforementioned favourite of mine, the heartwarming and hilarious Kiniro Mosaic), Wakaba*Girl had its start, like most slice of life comedies, as a 4-koma (yon-koma or four panel) manga telling the tale of four first-year high school girls and the things they get up to in their everyday high school lives — as with all 4-koma manga, the characters are developed, story told, and jokes delivered through separate strips of, you guessed it, four panels. I like to treat and think of 4-koma manga as a sort of written equivalent to sketch comedies, so perhaps that helps you understand the style of comedy to expect.
The anime adaptation was picked up by Nexus, a studio whose anime credentials are so barren they make my WordPress look active — their only other substantial work to date is Chivalry of a Failed Knight, and that was a collaborative work with Silver Link! To add to this inexperience, Wakaba*Girl was their first show, having aired in Summer 2015 and Chivalry of a Failed Knight coming a season later in Fall 2015. However, enough pre-amble and introduction; with the background laid out, let’s discuss the show itself!
Wakaba*Girl was given an episodic airtime of seven minutes (which, over 13 episodes, is a total airtime of approximately 90 minutes), and as such quickly introduces us to the four characters: the titular (and hence “main character”) Wakaba is a rich girl from a high-class family who led a sheltered childhood — a traditional ojou-sama — but now finds herself fascinated by gyaru culture; Mao is a childish and free-spirited girl who still refers to herself in the third person; Nao is the tomboy and class otaku, who spent her childhood playing sports but now occupies herself by reading “boys love” or BL stories; and Moeko, the pure and innocent soul, dainty and girly. Whilst a lot of people might dislike shorts, I like shorter seven minute episodes, as this allows the show to really get to the point — there’s very little downtime in Wakaba*Girl, with constant jokes and goings-on to keep the viewer entertained. Some may consider this rushed or hectic, but all slice of life shows run the risk of dragging on and getting boring; the shortness of the show ensures that it never feels boring or tedious.
Like many slice of lifes that came before it, and those that are yet to come, the characters themselves are relatively uninspired. However, where this show really shines for me is the presentation and animation. The mangaka Yui Hara has a distinct soft and colourful art style that I absolutely love, and like Kiniro Mosaic before it, this art style is faithfully adapted into anime form, in many cases looking better than the manga! The characters are unique and colourful, with Yui Hara has a real knack for amusing and adorable expressions and character reactions which continues across all of her works, and this is one of the standout points for me of Wakaba*Girl. The reactions the three other girls have to Wakaba’s antics and misunderstandings are consistently entertaining, with a personal favourite of mine being the blank, glazed over look of confusion and shock that often crops up whenever Wakaba says something ridiculous.
The comedy of the show relies on Wakaba’s unfamiliarity with so-called “normal high-school life”, and the disconnect between that and her sheltered upbringing, as well as an odd out-of-place fascination with Japan’s gyaru fashion and culture. There are many cute scenes of Wakaba being super excited to do mundane, everyday things like playing video games or wearing a miniskirt that are incredibly endearing and sweet — the screenshot above is taken from a scene in which the girls plan to go and buy ice cream after school and Wakaba spends the day freaking out that the shop might close due to the store relocating or aliens invading, and thus decides they must leave school now to go and get it as soon as possible! Another scene has Nao lending Wakaba a BL video game for the first time, and Wakaba playing it openly in her family home not registering or realising that 18+ boys love games aren’t suitable for playing in public. All of the humour is family-friendly, sweet and inoffensive such that the whole show just feels… lovely. That’s a really nice word to summarise the show: lovely. Even the more dubious jokes get swatted out of the sky and shut down before they develop, such as one in episode 2 where Moeko is trying to guess Nao’s bra size, predicting that she must be “about a D-cup”. She then throws the question over to Wakaba: “What do you think, Wakaba-chan?” she asks, to which Wakaba, being so engrossed in ice cream, replies “I like cones, but cups are good too!”
I could say an awful lot more and go into detail about the voice acting and soundtrack (the opening theme, Hajimete Girls! is one of my favourite OPs and really sets the tone for the show, being cute and cheerful and peppy all the way through), the general presentation and quality, or even go into gyaru culture (think glamorous and buxom figures, bleached hair, fake eyelashes, over-the-top nails and full orange face of makeup — examples being Galko from Oshiete! Galko-chan, Yukana from Hajimete no Gal! or, for Western culture, your typical Jersey Shore woman), but this review is long enough — I don’t want the review to be longer than the show itself!
For their first real foray into anime, Nexus did a really great job with Wakaba*Girl, giving us adorable characters (if a little bland or uninspired) and charming humour presented with cute and colourful animation and art. It is a really feel-good show and an easy, relaxed watch thanks to the shortened length of the episodes — if you enjoy moe slice of life anime but tend to find they can drag on and get a little samey, Wakaba*Girl might just scratch that itch and be the show for you!
Recommended for fans of: K-On!; Kiniro Mosaic; Lucky Star; Aiura (n.b. I could write a whole recommendation post for Aiura alone!)
This post was written and submitted by a guest athor as the sixth installment in my #12DaysOfAnime posts! #12DaysOfAnime is a challenge taken on by loads of anime bloggers, vloggers, podcasters and other people on many different platforms. We just have to post twelve consecutive posts about anything anime-related for the twelve days leading up to Christmas!
Keep an eye out for my other posts that will be a part of the #12DaysOfAnime Challenge! These will cover a variety of topics such as anime reviews, conventions and much more, so there’s going to be something a little different every day!
Hope to see you around!