I like talking about the complications, the underlying message, and the overall phenomenology of anime that I watch. But sometimes, I just have to put theory aside and say “this was good,” and leave it at that because I usually don’t. Well this is a series that was included in Ultra Super Anime Time’s first time block, alongside Miss Monochrome and Wooser’s Hand-to-Mouth Life. And unlike those reviews that I had done, I will acknowledge this one as simple and fun.
But let’s be honest: I will also be sharing a brief view of my criticism, to which you can laugh at and say “that’s just dumb!”
Wakaba*Girl is a series of animated shorts about Wakaba Kohashi and her friends, Moeko “Moe” Tokita, Mao Kurokawa. and Nao “Shiba” Mashiba. Wakaba is a rich girl whose dream was to live the life of a high school girl… and she did just that.
Completely out of tune with the rest of the world, Wakaba joins her new, colorful friends on her quest to become more gyaru (I’ll get to what that means in a moment). But when this rich girl gets with the fairy tale-loving Moe, the cool girl with attitude Mao, and the athlete gone BL fan Shiba, nothing seems right and hilarity ensues.
In case you weren’t sure, gyaru is a trend among Japanese girls and women that has a variety of sub genres. The broadest way I can describe it is that the style aims to look more youthful (gyaru is the Japanicized word for the English “gal”). Some characterize the style as “doll-like,” where girls lighten their hair and widen their eyes, much like that of anime and manga characters. Other gyaru trends include skin tanning, which also influenced the ganguro subculture.
This anime doesn’t go into the details of gyaru culture as a fashion trend, but it does express the gyaru lifestyle: these girls express themselves as individuals.
I do admit that getting into this show as a fan was kind of slow for me. Compared to so many other cute anime about young girls doing cute things, there isn’t much to work with to say that it is different or cutting-edge. I’ll admit that it occasionally goes over-the-top, but overall it is a very normalizing show.
However, I think something mild like Wakaba*Girl is a show that’s good for anime beginners who aren’t quite ready to dive into the more extreme facets yet, or for old school fans who haven’t gotten used to the newer trends in anime. It may be mild and short, but it offers a good balance in terms of its sense of humor. And in the year since it first aired, Wakaba*Girl is one of those shows that has grown on me.
I suppose the only other criticism I have with this anime might just be Wakaba herself. Considering my other positions on worldviews in general, following the life of a rich girl is the last thing I would want to do! But blaming Wakaba for being rich isn’t what I take away from this series. If anything, it only serves to be funny because she and her family are so out of touch with everything else!
Wakaba is often under the impression that she can buy her way out of things, including hospitality from her friends. But for Moe, Mao, and Shiba, money can’t buy their friendship. In fact, it’s not necessary.
I’m sure that money can get people out of a lot of things, but true friendship isn’t one of them. In fact, these girls learn to trust one another beyond their welfare or personal interests. They enjoy each other’s company, and will stick together no matter what happens to them. After all, they are still friends.
There are a lot of times when I get ahead of myself, bringing up theories, experiential comparisons, or social critiques to these anime reviews. But sometimes, even I need a reminder that anime has an entertaining side to it, too.
So here’s to a very playful series that follows the lives of high school girls who have a lot of fun just being themselves. But even if they are different, they still enjoy each other’s company. That’s what friendship is all about.
I mentioned it in the middle of the article, so I’ll say it again. If you are looking for a relatively mild anime to ease your way into anime today, check out Wakaba*Girl. May it be fun for you as it was for me.