good_luck_girl

Good Luck Girl Complete Series (Cert 15)

2 Discs (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 297 minutes approx.    

The late Robert Palmer famously sung “some Guys have all the luck” but it seems the fairer sex get their share of it too, such as high school girl Sakura Ichiko. Good luck is on her side – she’s wealthy, intelligent, good at sports and blessed with god looks which endear her to all the boys and men of her neighbourhood – although this makes her unpopular with the other girls.

However this abundance of fortune energy in Sakura is creating an imbalance throughout the rest of the world, so a God of Misfortune, Momiji, is sent to Earth to relieve Sakura of some to share with everybody else. Momiji initially appeals to Sakura’s better nature, explaining how she can make the world a better place by sharing her fortune energy, but, despite her external sweetness, Sakura is a selfish spoiled brat who likes the idea of having all the luck in the world while everyone else suffers. This enrages Momiji, and she vows to get the fortune energy from Sakura one way or another!

This riotous comedy is an adaptation of the manga by Yoshiaki Sukeno and while it may sound like a deeply philosophical work it is wonderfully madcap, often poignant and occasionally meta in both its self-referential humour and nods to various other popular anime and pop culture figures. I won’t list them all (some are unfamiliar to me) but Dragonball Z gets a few nods so have fun spotting them.

The first major subversion this show throws at us is by making Sakura such a morally bankrupt and unpleasantly selfish character. One automatically expects her to leap at the chance to share her good fortune with the world and win over all the girls who are jealous of her in series of comic misadventures which resolve themselves with a happy ending. We certainly get the comic misadventures only they revolve around Momiji’s unsuccessful attempts to get her hands on Sakura’s fortune energy.

With her mute stuffed toy assistant Kumagi for help, Momiji tries everything from emotional manipulation to physical violence to defeat Sakura, largely to no avail, although slight progressive is made via the former method, with thanks to the near death of Sakura’s erstwhile loyal butler Suwano and impoverished classmate Keita Tsuwabuki and his younger abandoned family. Of course, Sakura isn’t inherently selfish as we learn, being the victim of a childhood trauma which has left her distrusting of people.

For now though, Sakura’s issues with Momiji turns into a fierce rivalry to see who can get the upper hand, taking in tennis matches to baking contests in everything in between. The biggest competition however is the conflicting sizes of their chests – Sakura is well aware of how plentiful her bosom is, earning her the crude nickname “Tit-chiko”, while Momiji is teased for her flatness. While it is presented humorously it isn’t easy to not squirm when an often repeated message being sent is that a woman has no worth is she is flat chested. Stay classy anime!

While this may be a recurring theme, the show itself is not as fan service heavy as it could be – aside from a few bathroom related scenes – relegating it to the end credits artwork. Any cosplaying is done in deference to other shows as mentioned earlier to great comic effect. not all the verbal humour will translate, but the visual gags are a hoot and the various guises the cast adopt in chibi-form require a steady and keen observation not to miss them.

Possessing a fantasy premise at its core, many of the characters are as outrageous as you might expect. We have Inugami is a masochistic dog demon; Bobby the perverted monk who gives Sakura a special staff to fight off Momiji; Ranmaru Rindo the karate expect girl who was raised and acts a boy; and the various gods sent down to aid Momiji, about whom I will see little else except they are to be seen to be believed! Finally there is Nadeshiko Adenokouji who only appears after the end credits to point out her fleeting cameo appearances in the main episodes, providing the show with one of its funnier running gags.

Humour is very much the order of the day and it doesn’t get any zanier or random as this but it does sidetrack into more serious territory to scratch away at Sakura’s hard surface to find the kind and caring girl that is assuredly hidden deep below. Amazingly, considering the overriding madcap nature of the show, when it does get serious the shift is subtle and the change in the personalities isn’t so drastic that there is an inexplicable clash; the intensity is still the same, it is just focused in a different direction.

This a rare occasion where the balance between chaos and pathos is deftly handled and makes for an enjoyable show when accommodating both aspects. Visually the show is a cornucopia of bright colours, fast moving comic effects and distinct character designs, ranging from the cute to the creepy. Sakura is the de facto sex symbol although her silver hair and voluptuous curves ages her beyond her purported 16 years old while Momiji is scruffily attired, her long blonde hair covering half her face and he right hand permanently sporting a giant bandage.

Unfortunately the disc authoring by Anchor Bay has once again left these discs with irregular chapter markers, so skipping the opening credits will take you five minutes into the episode while skipping the end credits means you miss Nadeshiko’s segments and other fun coda moments.

In Good Luck Girl we have a wickedly funny series which knowingly plays up to every anime cliché with its tongue firmly in its cheek while offering us a fresh story ideas around which this madness ensues. Well crafted and full of manic belly laughs, it would be your misfortune not to pick up this show!

 

Extras:

English Language 5.1

Japanese Language 2.0

English Subtitles

 

Disc 1:

Episode 4 Commentary

 

Disc 2:

Episode 12 Commentary

Episode 8 Video Commentary

Textless Opening Song – “Make My Day!”

Textless Closing Song – “Koiboudou”

Textless Closing Song – “Make My Day!” (Episode 13)

US Trailer

 

Rating – ****

Man In Black

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