Mixing comedy and drama is a risky proposition. Lean too far into comedy and it’s impossible to take a story seriously, lean too far into drama and the funny bits just become a distraction. This is particularly tough with anime comedies, which are better known for colorful visuals and outlandish premises than for nuanced storytelling. When a series get the right balance though, the results are often sweet and heart warming in addition to getting a few good laughs.
Binbogami Ga! hits you with an initial burst of high energy, reference fueled humor using all the subtlety of a cartoon anvil dropping from the sky, and yet it quickly becomes clear that sweet spot is exactly what they’re aiming for. Rebranded as Good Luck Girl! for home video release, does the series succeed in mixing that perfect blend of silly and sweet? I think you’ll be feelin’ lucky you decided to check it out.
Good Luck Girl! (Binbogami Ga!) The Complete Series
Release Date: November 19th, 2013
Good Luck Girl! follows the story of Ichiko Sakura, a rich and beautiful high school girl that seems to have nothing but good things happen to her. This is no coincidence – in reality she’s been unknowingly absorbing happiness energy from the people around her for her entire life. Her situation become so unbalanced that the gods take notice, dispatching a poverty god named Momiji to straighten things out. Not too pleased with the idea of giving up her good fortune, Ichiko uses it to fight back and HILARITY ENSUES.
Good Luck Girl! is a comedy above all else, and for the most part the humor succeeds. Perhaps the series’ most recognizable hook are the references to other anime and manga, with the cast randomly donning costumes from shows like Dragonball, Lupin and other easily identifiable classics. Ironically I find these to be the weakest element of Good Luck Girl’s humor though, as they are often barely connected to what’s happening and just there to say, “Ha! I know that guy!”. Thankfully the references are dialed back considerably after the first couple of episodes and only carted out when they are relevant, like one particularly timely Death Note skit to appropriately mirror Ichiko’s paranoia. Instead, the majority of the humor comes from more traditional means, mostly through the characters annoying, harassing and teasing each other.
While the series keeps a silly and overall lighthearted tone, where Good Luck Girl! shines is in the characters and watching them grow. This means occasionally getting serious and introspective, but the show handles it with aplomb. Ichiko’s evolution from an insufferably selfish brat to a caring friend may not be the deepest life lesson out there, but it’s still very satisfying to see how much she changes by the final credits. In fact the entire cast is extremely likable and multi-dimensional, each going through their own personal growth and never falling into the anime stereotypes you might expect them to… well except Bobby, he will always be a perv. The end result is a perfect blend of humor and heart that is simply a joy to watch.
Like many other anime comedies, Good Luck Girl! explodes with color and energy, moving at break neck speed and switching art styles for comedic effect. It’s not the most artistically inspired look, but the animation is solid and always on model and you can tell Sunrise assigned a decent amount of resources to making the series look good.
The soundtrack is appropriately goofy and pops in when you need it, but your ears will mostly be trained on the fantastic all around performance from the voice acting cast. Popular actress Kana Hanazawa (known primarily for her soft spoken or cutesy character voices) is a revelation, flexing her considerable range in both the high decibel fight scenes and the softer, introspective moments. To quote Yoshiaki Sukeno, the manga’s author, it’s as if the “the fairy turned into a valkyrie!”. Yumi Uchiyama’s schizophrenic turn as Momiji and Haruka Tomatsu’s pseudo-genderbent take on Ranmaru also contribute to the strong performance. Dub fans will be pleased to hear the English localization is also spot on, with Brina Palencia and Colleen Clinkenbeard delivering performances right on par with their Japanese counterparts.
For this release there are the usual clean opening and ending songs as well as three commentary tracks, one of which is actually video commentary with the director and the three lead voice actresses. These fun little extras give you some behind the scenes insight and the cast even takes questions during the audio commentaries. The collector’s edition comes in a sweet hardcover case with a collage illustrated by Sukeno himself, so overall the home release is a simple but very attractive package.
Good Luck Girl! is not the deepest, most creatively ambitious series out there, but it sure is good. Watching Ichiko and her ever increasing band of weirdos learn the power of friendship has been one of my most satisfying anime experiences in recent memory. It achieves that perfect mix of screwball comedy and emotional punch that many lesser shows fail to achieve, and I highly recommend any anime fan give it a look.