HomeAnimeANIME REVIEW | Combating the Cold With Warmhearted "Hokkaido Gals"

ANIME REVIEW | Combating the Cold With Warmhearted "Hokkaido Gals"

ANIME REVIEW | Combating the Cold With Warmhearted "Hokkaido Gals"

I both love and hate snow. On one hand, snow is good for warming up at the fireplace with hot cocoa and cuddles with your gal. But if you’re a Bostonian like me, then you’ve had to deal with the endless losing battle of clean up a driveway at four in the morning because of an unexpected blizzard! And yet, while watching Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable!, I can’t help but forget the bad things about snow and embrace the beautiful parts of Jack Frost’s gift to the world.

Based on the manga by Kai Ikada, Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable! focuses on Shiki (Nobunaga Shimazaki/Matt Shipman). He’s a Tokyo teen who just moved to Hokkaido in the middle of Winter. Upon first experience, he realizes that the cold is unlike anything he’s ever imagined. After stupidly being dropped off too far from the town of Kitami, Shiki finds that he’s bitten off more than he can chew. Fortunately, he stumbles upon a blonde-haired, long-nailed angel named Fuyuki (Ayane Sakura/Mikaela Krantz) by the bus stop.

With Fuyuki’s help, Shiki becomes accustomed to Hokkaido life. Whether it’s going on school trips, experiencing town festivals, or simply spending time at each others’ homes, Shiki starts to find his true self in the cold tundra. However, Fuyuki often finds herself teasing Shiki, in a way that sends mixed messages to the newcomer’s brain. If the schlub had the ability to read between the lines, he’d know that Fuyuki isn’t joking; she’s got the hots for him!

Of course, the title Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable! is plural, meaning there are other girls for Shiki to interact with. There’s Akino (Yumiri Hanamori/Brittany Lauda), a slight introvert who bonds with Shiki over video games. Then there’s Natsukawa (Reina Ueda/Jill Harris), an upperclassman whom Fuyuki idolizes that also has certain feelings for Shiki. However, the main pairing is between Shiki and Fuyuki, and the series painstakingly does its best to showcase why.

At first, one would be forgiven if this series reminds plenty of My Dress-Up Darling. Although there’s no focus on cosplay here, the pairing of Shiki and Fuyuki is very similar to that of Goto and Marin. Unlike Goto, Shiki tends to be a bit braver when it comes to going out with Fuyuki, although he may internally be ready to explode at any moment. Unbeknownst to him, the feelings are mutual, with Fuyuki trying her best to express her love to him.

Much like My Dress-Up Darling, Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable! is secretly educational. Where the former teaches about the art of cosplay, the latter is an animated infomercial for the Great North of Japan. Surprisingly, it does it so well without feeling like it’s pandering the prefecture. Rather, this anime brings out the best of Kitami, Okhotsk, and other parts of the north in ways that’d make anyone want to experience it for themselves.

But this anime is first and foremost a rom-com, and as a rom-com, it does a great job with building the relationship between Shiki and Fuyuki. Yes, there are some entendres and teasings between the two, many moments of which are very funny. A highlight involves the two checking out a snow bank, of which Shiki’s grandmother (Yoko Imaizumi/Linda Leonard) overhears their entire conversation. And yes, the wrong idea is had, and it’s handled hilariously.

Yet it’s when it enters sweeter territory when Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable! shines the brightest. What could’ve been a stereotypical Valentine’s Day episode winds up being the big moment when Shiki graduates to giga-chad. When he sees how heartbroken Fuyuki is after a baking incident, he delivers a gesture that’s filled with love, in a way that’d melt any person’s heart. It’s an episode that aids in pushing this anime as one of this season’s best shows.

That emotion is showcased strongly in both the Japanese and English dubs. Shimazaki and Shipman do great as Shiki, as they capture his heartfelt, nervous, and — yes — horny sides of the character. Sakura is cute and brimming with emotion as Fuyuki in the Japanese dub, with a good gyaru accent that aids in bringing her personality to life. However, Krantz deserves an award for going full Minnesota with Fuyuki’s English voice, adding a twist of Valley Girl in the personality that’d make anyone swoon to every syllable she utters.

The partnering of Silver Link and Blade (who also worked together on The Maid I Hired Recently is Mysterious) is once again a match made in Heaven. There’s a great amount of detail placed in the characters and their reactions, with Fuyuki and the other girls showcased with pure gorgeousness. But when it comes to the scenery — especially the mountains and Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park — it can reach jaw-dropping levels of detail. This is a show that knows how to bring about the perfect amount of brightness to a prefecture that’s more known for its white power than its color.

Sonosuke Takao is still something of a newcomer to the anime soundtrack world, but he knows how to bring about a good rom-com score. From jazzy piano pieces to full-blown zydeco composition, the songs do a great job with fitting perfectly with the scenes they’re paired with. ASAKA delivers one hell of a pop song for end theme “Wayawayawaa!”, capturing gyaru culture and romance with plenty of sweetness. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the opening theme song.

While I usually love the works of Masayoshi Ooishi, “Namaramenkoi Gal” is perhaps his most laziest anisong yet. For someone who has delivered gold with themes for Love After World Domination and Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun, this song goes to great lengths to basically rip off Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk”. So much so, that I think he’s dangerously close to risking a lawsuit over it. Thankfully, this is the only major flaw this anime has, even if Hokkaido is as "uptown" as one can get in Japan.

Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable! has plenty of heart, beauty, and soul. While some may call it a clone of My Dress-Up Darling at first sight, those who stick around will witness a rom-com that’s both unique and sweet. It also helps that it makes the Great North of Japan look like a wonderful place to vacation, one that’s filled with gorgeous sights to behold. In fact, it almost makes me miss the winter snow that’d blanket the grounds of Boston in the winter. Well…almost.

Voice Acting: (Japanese & English dubs)
Final Grade (not an average):

Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable! can be viewed on Crunchyroll, and has been licensed by Crunchyroll. Episodes 1-11 were observed for review. Promotional consideration provided by Crunchyroll.

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. Born & bred in Boston, he achieved his biggest dream yet by making the big move to Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2023! For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@b3crew.com. For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com. (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)