Takahashi Eriko was a recent junior high graduate looking really forward to going to an all-girls high school with her two best friends, Suzuki Yuma and Sato Ayano. That is, until she finds out that being around a bunch of girls isn't as comfortable as she thought it would be, and any ideas she had about high schoolers being more mature than junior high schoolers (the reason she was excited to go to high school in the first place) is blown away in the wind. Still, though, that doesn't stop her and her friends from still having fun, along with three new friends that also are new to high school.
Girl's High was based on a manga by Towa Ohshima, who herself has said that it is based on her experiences as a high school student. However, she probably only meant the manga was based on her high school chronicles, because the Girl's High anime is a pretty loose interpretation of what was a decent, if not guilty pleasure of a manga. In fact, aside from the same characters, similar character designs, and the name, the two are basically nothing alike at all, unfortunately.
After introducing the characters (the ambitious Eriko, the calm Yuma, and Ayano, the one with glasses), as well as Eriko's new friends (oddball Kouda, the mature Himeji, and the loli-tastic Ogawa), the series seems to go straight to Cheesecake City. Population: Panties. Lots and lots of panties (and crotch shots, too). It's a barrage of panties I haven't seen in an anime series since Najica Blitz Tactics, and that's quite a powerful statement. Even Colorful didn't flash this much butt in your face. Episode 2 continued the fan-service fun of the first episode by putting all the girls in nothing but aprons almost the entire episode (on account that it's physical examination day), and yes, Eriko does fall down. And yes, we do get more psuedo-naked exposure of her body than necessary. We also get to see Ayano and her VERY disturbing take on getting one's breasts measured, a scene I won't go into detail due to the fact that I'm still trying to suppress the memory of it.
After the first two episodes the series takes a turn for the better and tones down the fan-service for a little while (though it shows up again in episode 4, but has been mostly absent since except for episode 7), but only because the series dives into, of all things, drama, ripping off of other, better source material, much of it done by other series before ("how the cast met" stories, dealing with a crush on a teacher, ce-razzzzy antics at the beach, manipulative little sister of one of the central female cast, etc.). It actually takes these common staples of other high school anime and manga and uses them fairly, if only because it avoids confusing love triangles (only one of the girls has a boyfriend, and he's actually consistently devoted to her), "comedy" involving girls hitting guys, and busty American blondes (why are all Americans in anime and manga blonde, anyway?). Still, though, the show remains hard to stomach, such as when Eriko loses her top in a water park slide in episode 7, only to have her male homeroom teacher land right on her breasts upon his arrival down the slide she lost her bra in. Stuff like this is just plain creepy, and makes you wonder if the series is really trying to provide with a take on the lives of high school girls, or something for guys to jerk off to. Even the most perverted anime fan would find stuff like this hard to stomach unlike he's so desensitized to it that it doesn't affect him one bit.
Another problem comes from one of the main girls: Ayano. In the manga she was just a weirdo with some occasionally perverted fantasies, but now those fantasies are taken to the extreme, and instead of laughing at them, most people watching anything to do with her will probably wince. And don't forget how everyone makes fun of Himeji's big breasts and the fact that she's the only one of the girls who ever lost her virginity; oh yes, that's all kinds of hilarity right there. But you what else I also find more amusing than stuff like this? Watching sound files backwards and misinterpreting what they're saying (which is actually pretty fun, in retrospect).
Thankfully, the rest of the cast are much better. Eriko might be involved in some of the most disturbing or tasteless scenes in the series, but Eriko herself is actually not that bad of a character. She doesn't stand out as an anime heroine, but she gets the job done, without all the needless "I am awesome, GRRL POWER RULEZ!1!!" vibes one would occasionally get from Kotobuki Ran in Super GALS!. Yuma is the straightforward calm, collected girl of the bunch, but she's thankfully more pleasant and helpful than most of her kind. Kouda is a lot like Takino Tomo from Azumanga Daioh, including some plain outlandish tastes in fashion (such as an idol costume that has flashing bulbs on it, as well as one with feathers, the latter she wears at her school's sports festival). She also provides probably the strongest voice acting of the crew courtesy to Satsuki Yukino, who can make Kouda sound goofy and carefree most of the time, but also make her sound worried and sound when the need arises as well. Ogawa looks more like she's 13 instead of 16, but unlike most moe girls of her kind, Ogawa is virtually absent from any and all fan-service this series provides. An in the case of this series, that is a very big relief.
Ayano's oddball boyfriend aside, the only major male characters are teachers, mainly two: Yuuichiro Odagiri, the homeroom teacher who looks at himself in the mirror as much as he spends teaching the girls in his class (a trait that disturbs Eriko and the others to no end). There's also the gym instructor (whose name I forgot; guess he isn't that memorable), who couldn't care less about teaching. He attends his swimming class in a Speedo and never shaves his body hair, much to the disgust of the female cast as a whole.
Artistically speaking, Girl's High won't be winning any rewards any time soon. The character designs are inconsistent and bland, the backgrounds are mediocre, and the animation is barely passable; even the OP doesn't contain any decent animation. The music is also, as a whole, forgettable, and there isn't much in the variety of music anyway. Thankfully, what this show does have is decent voice talent, and much of the female cast are voiced by some of the more well-known seiyuu, such as Hitomi Nabatame (Sou Mikoto, School Rumble, Torii Eriko, Maria-sama Ga Miteru), Noto Mamiko (Miyazaki Nadoka, Negima, Angol Moa, Keroro Gunsou), Satsuki Yukino (Kaname Chidori, Full Metal Panic!, Otohime Mutsumi, love Hina), and even seiyuu veteran Hikami Kyoko (Momoko, Wedding Peach, Rabi~en~Rose, Di Gi Charat). It's such a shame that such fine voice talent is wasted on such a lame script, and though the series has its moments of more than just being yet another fan-service laden "comedy", it never truly gets beyond mediocre. Too bad, considering the source material that could have made it into a decent, though not great, anime instead of a mediocre one.
Hey, I got to give the show credit for the few times it didn't make me feel like some creepy otaku with a panty fetish for watching it. Those who read the manga beforehand and enjoyed it could easily subtract a star. Those who hate fan-service can ignore this series completely. — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: Considering the series throws around terms like "pubic hairs" more than once, not to mention the huge amounts of panties and crotch shots in the introduction episodes (and some more scattered across the rest of the series), only older teens and up would be allowed to view this.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source.
Review Status: Partial (8/12)
Girl's High © 2006 Towa Oshima • Futabasha / Girl's High Production Committee
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