Gokicha! Cockroach Girls
A cute cockroach girl moves to Hokkaido in order to make friends with humans. But the humans don't see a cute girl: they see a cockroach, and react accordingly.
I've stumbled upon a surprising number of anime via the AMV Hell comedy series, with Hanada Shounen Shi probably being the cream of the crop; now that the series has more-or-less ended, Gokicha! counts as one of the last oddities whose existence I know of solely because of it. And it is indeed an obscure piece. While the prevailing opinion about cuteness in anime is that Japanese animators can and will try to render literally anything into adorable anthropomorphic characters, be it guns, The Axis Powers, or battleships, I think that few people predicted that cockroaches would be the next target. But there we have it: a strange little two-episode web animation in which Rie Kugimiya and Mamiko Noto voice anthropomorphized versions of everyone's favorite creepy-crawlies and hope against all odds that people will find them cute and not repulsive. In my case, I'd say that their little struggle paid off; there's not a whole lot to see here, but since mangaka Rui Tamashi did a pretty damned good job of accomplishing that one goal, I'll cut the show some slack.
Gokicha!, as far as I know, is about as low-budget as anime can get; in fact, I'd be willing to argue that some of the scenes in this two-episode ONA have less animation than one of those so-called "Manga 2.0" that crunchyroll used to carry. There's a lot of digital panning and a lot of jerky movement, with the color scheme being rather ugly and the background music being quite clearly recorded on a cheap synthesizer, but given that this strange little series began life as a doujin, I guess it's appropriate that its animated form is the equivalent of a student film, though I'd be curious to know how Mrs. Kugimiya and Mrs. Noto ever became involved. Whatever the reason for their contribution, they do a fine job breathing life into a strange little show, and that, combined with the bizarre and unexpected cuteness of anthropomorphized cockroaches, whose "shells" are rendered into hair and whose "antenna" resemble those seen on, say Naru Narusegawa, is enough to carry it. The first episode consists of Mrs. Noto's character lamenting always being hungry and having a hard time avoiding being swatted, while in the second, said character encounters her more feisty and tomboyish friend, who takes a sort of masochistic pleasure in making herself visible to human eyes and fleeing from the ensuing rolled-up newspapers. Terribly-animated, simplistic, and silly as this is, it's still rather cute and worth an occasional chuckle, and given the kind of material this is, that's all I can really ask for.
I've never exactly been afraid of cockroaches, but they aren't my favorite insect as they go, either. Still, while Gokicha! doesn't change my opinion too much, I now have to admit that because of this show, it's possible for me to conceptualize them as being cute. I suppose that's the magic of anime, if nothing else is....
It's silly, cheap, and not that funny as 4-koma go, but it's wonderfully weird in its own way, and it successfully moefied cockroaches, thus fulfilling its purpose. So three stars seems appropriate. — Nicoletta Christina Browne
Recommended Audience: Some mild moments of peril, though the cockroaches are struck by blows that should but don't kill them. Entomophobes need not apply; the girls don't look that much like bugs, but "regular" cockroaches are all over this show, still.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital Source (Japanese with English Subtitles)
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Gokicha! Cockroach Girls © 2012 Rui Tamachi/Movic
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