ANIME REVIEW | "Girlfriend, Girlfriend" a Laughable Idiot Love Triangle
We are living in a time where polyamory — the act of openly dating more than one person with the consent of everyone involved — is being more accepted in society. So naturally, there would be a time when a polyamorous rom-com would peer its head in the anime realm. (Well…one that’s not a hentai, specifically.) This season, that polyamory comedy is Girlfriend, Girlfriend, the latest series from Tezuka Productions (Astro Boy, Black Jack). And despite its somewhat questionable premise, this threesome relationship has a secret weapon in its arsenal.
Girlfriend, Girlfriend focuses on the lovey-dovey couple Naoya (Junya Enoki) and Saki (Ayane Sakura). They’re childhood friends, meaning their relationship is deep and filled with layers that could never bend or break by outside forces. But when a shy student Nagisa (Azumi Waki) confesses to Naoya, the guy does not have the heart to turn her down. That’s when he comes up with an idea: date both Saki and Nagisa with each other’s consent.
Saki reluctantly agrees to the arrangement, mainly because even she thinks Nagisa is cute and appreciates Naoya’s honesty. The three decide to live under the same roof, thereby making their three-person relationship secret while allowing it to blossom. Naoya, Saki, and Nagisa find out new things about one other, with some reveals good and others bad. However, thanks to the blunt honesty of Naoya and Saki — as well as the kind mentality of Nagisa — the love triangle perseveres, despite certain hang ups and outside interference.
On the surface, Girlfriend, Girlfriend sounds like it could be a bad premise. While polyamory is gaining traction in today’s society, one can imagine that it’s not yet at a point where it’d been seen as an acceptable story for mainstream media. The idea of Naoya two-timing between two girls would make anyone question his morals and values, as most characters like this in entertainment are portrayed as shitty people. But then, you see that its manga creator Hiroyuki also created AHO-GIRL, and it all starts to make sense!
Hiroyuki has this knack of crafting some of the dumbest people imaginable. This aspect made AHO-GIRL one of the funniest anime of Summer 2017, thanks in part to its protagonist Yoshiko being unapologetically stupid. Naoya and Saki in Girlfriend, Girlfriend both share this quality, as their dumbness not only has layers, but also a level of brilliance to it. Sometimes it takes brains to go idiotic lengths, and Hiroyuki has become a master of that.
The anime adaptation showcases that stupidity with glee. Naoya’s blunt apologies for being a two-timer, Saki unwittingly diving deep into a sex-craving hole on the internet, and even Nagisa’s dimwitted perspective of love and romance are showcased with knee-slapping flare and unexpected (and sometimes literal) punchlines. And yet, their derpiness manages to keep them together, thanks in part to the level of heart they place into the relationship.
But like any rom-com, there’s always someone that’s trying to throw a monkey wrench into everything. That person is Rika (Ayana Taketatsu), who makes a living by being a vlogger when not at school. When the trio finds out about her secret, Rika attempts to get in on their tripling, going so far as to live outside of their home in a crappy tent and a MacGyvered shower. Rika also has her fair share of stupidity, which makes her a perfect match for this threesome. Her addition brings about gags making fun of famous YouTubers, especially those who use their “assets” to gain viewers and followers.
However, Girlfriend, Girlfriend is one of those anime where you need to see it to truly understand how funny it is. Merely describing what happens on this show does the comedy a disservice. It’s like attempting to explain a stand-up routine, without the punch and unexpectedness that was showcased by the original performer. It’s what makes this anime something of a hard sell, especially to those who aren’t open to the concept of polyamory relationships.
A lot of the show’s comedic punch comes from its voice cast, who play their characters in both expressive and over-exaggerated ways. Enoki’s portrayal of Naoya is that perfect blend of angelic honesty and moronic brilliance. Sakura’s Saki delivers a sweetness that mixes with anger in the right places, especially when Naoya goes above and beyond with the dumb. Waki gets the cuteness and inexperienced views of love right as Nagisa, making her performance the most heartfelt. As Rika, Taketatsu showcases a stubborn kind of stupid that makes her performance feel surprisingly sincere and believable.
Tezuka Productions isn’t the same company it was when the God of Manga was still around. Recent productions like The Quintessential Quintuplets and How NOT To Summon A Demon Lord Ω were not highlights of their respective anime season, with their only good work occurring with MAPPA (Kids on the Slope, Dororo). However, Girlfriend, Girlfriend is certainly one of their better productions as of late, as it has a lot of expressive moments and colorful characters & scenes. It’s not the best of the season, but what it delivers is far more passable than what their portfolio was cranking out as of late.
The trio of Miki Sakurai, Tatsuhiko Saiki, and Sayaka Aoki take helm of the anime’s soundtrack, which does a good job punching up the show’s humorous moments. Outside of that, the score is pretty basic, especially for one that took three people to churn out. Thankfully, the show’s theme songs make up for the lacking score, with end theme “Pinky Hook” by Momo Asakura being a catchy pop melody. However, Necry Talkie’s “Fuzaketenai ze” brings grrl riot vibes to the opening, with a heavy bass and sweet vocals that brings to mind early TsuShiMaMiRe and Sleater-Kinney.
Girlfriend, Girlfriend is a hard comedy to recommend, simply by its premise alone. However, it delivers many laugh-out-loud moments. Love can be dumb, and Girlfriend, Girlfriend demonstrates this aspect to a tee. It may have a couple of flaws, but the latest comedy from Hiroyuki shows why he’s truly a master of stupidity.
Final Grade (not an average):
Girlfriend, Girlfriend can be viewed on Crunchyroll and VRV. Episodes 1-8 were observed for this review. Promotional consideration provided by Ellation.