Judge William Lee is not calling for an encore.
Our review of Girls Bravo: Volume 1, published June 9th, 2005, is also available.
Never a dry moment.
It should come as no surprise that an animated, teenage sex comedy with aliens would come from Japan. The realm of anime offers something for everyone's tastes. While some fans may be enticed by the promise of high school high jinks and titillating situations, Girls Bravo: The Complete Series is unfunny, unsexy and dull. Geneon Universal Entertainment produced an English dub that was released as a six-volume DVD set in 2006. Funimation has licensed that same translation for this four-disc set.
Facts of the Case
Yukinari is a short, timid teenage boy who is literally allergic to girls. He breaks out in a rash whenever they touch him. Yukinari also has a knack for inadvertently discovering girls when they're undressed and this gets him into a lot of trouble. One day, his neighbor, Kirie, is so upset by his peeping that she kicks him into another world via his bathtub.
In Seiren, a mystical land where females make up 90 percent of the population, Yukinari meets Miharu. This bubbly girl with pink hair also seems to be the only member of the opposite sex who can get close to Yukinari without setting off his allergy. Miharu has a birthmark on her forehead, three dots in a triangle, which is the source of her magical powers. Helping Yukinari return home through a magic portal, she ends up stranded in Japan so she moves in with him.
Soon enough, other visitors from Seiren come looking for Miharu and end up staying with Yukinari too. Among them, a magical pet named Ebi. The main villain of the series is Fukuyama, a lecherous rich kid who fancies himself the tallest and best looking male in the school. Obsessed with getting into the pants of Kirie and Miharu, he'll go to great lengths to set up traps such as co-ed pools, private hot springs, mud wrestling matches and strip mahjong. The girls just want to be left alone to enjoy the water.
Girls Bravo began as a shonen manga, a graphic novel marketed to a teenage male audience, serialized between 2000 and 2005. The characters in the story belong to the same age group as its audience and certainly the theme of sexual curiosity and anxiety would appeal to the demographic. Yet, it's somewhat shocking how much the show blatantly panders to that audience's juvenile fantasies. Perhaps it's a cultural difference, but unless you want your boys to develop a very questionable set of behavior toward girls, this is definitely for mature audiences only.
Yukinari and Fukuyama represent polar opposites along the spectrum of horny adolescent males. The former is so submissive and awkward around girls, he's practically bullied by them. The latter is so determined to dominate them, he will brazenly grope a target or even rip her clothes off. The clash of personalities between these two boys might have been an interesting examination of male sexual awakening but here they're treated in a very black and white, good versus evil, manner. Yukinari is the impotent protector—he never even defends himself from Kirie's unwarranted bashing—serving as the most boring protagonist in an anime series ever. Fukuyama is the degenerate predator, though he really is the driving force behind many of the episodes.
The biggest problem with Girls Bravo is that the characters are not engaging and fairly passive. The main characters, Yukinari, Kirie and Miharu, are one-dimensional at the start and their personalities are pretty much the same at the end of the series. The girls are content to relax in a pool and Yukinari simply tags along always keeping his distance lest he breaks out in a rash. There is the blossoming romance between him and Miharu but there isn't any reason to have a rooting interest in their relationship.
The episodes are mostly self-contained installments involving Yukinari and his harem walking into one of Fukuyama's traps. In addition to the rich boy's perverted desires, the other interested parties are his sister Lisa, who wants Yukinari, his bodyguard, who wants Kirie and his maid, who wants to beat up Kirie. It's not a stretch to assert that the audience for this show actually wants Fukuyama and company to succeed and have their way with the heroes. Indeed, even before Kirie's fate is certain in any given episode, there are "fantasy" cutaways wherein she is envisioned in various humiliating costumes or degrading acts.
Girls Bravo is all about showing lots of drawings of naked girls. Topless female nudity is abundant and any full frontal drawings are obscured by shadows or scenery. There is plenty of jiggle animation as well. That's where the animation budget is spent, apparently, since other movements are pretty limited. The animation quality is about the same in the second season though it concludes with a pretty impressive fight scene. I was a little uncomfortable at how the camera lingered on the nudity considering that these are supposed to be teenaged characters. There's even a pre-adolescent girl who joins the gang later and she is likewise drawn topless sometimes. None of the characters engage in sex but this is far from an innocent rendering of nudity. The artwork invites viewers to ogle and there is a strong element of sexual suggestion throughout. This is abundantly clear in the scene where Miharu discovers bananas. She eats them voraciously in a manner that mimics fellatio. If that's the sort of thing that turns your crank, then bravo to you for finding your kind of cartoon.
Funimation has crammed six half-hour episodes onto each of the four DVDS, covering the 11 installments of the first season and the 13 episodes of the second. Four textless openings and songs are the only extras, included on the last disc. The video looks decent in its 1.33:1 full frame ratio. The image is clean but colors are muted at times. A lot of the action takes place in pools, hot tubs and showers so there is a visual effect that approximates the look of steam that is applied to much of each episode. The result is a haze that dulls the colors and renders the image slightly soft.
The two stereo audio options are the original Japanese dialogue or the adapted English translation. Both mixes sound quite good with clear dialogue in the foreground and active musical underscore. The music, by the way, is very enjoyable as it ranges from light and bouncy to dark and threatening, as the mood of each episode requires. Purists will appreciate the original language track but I found it hard to tell characters apart by their voices alone. The translated script makes the dialogue friendlier and smoother to the ears of English speakers. It's a run of the mill English dub, complete with shrieking line readings from the women, that doesn't add any dimension to the bland characters.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
I wonder if this series would have been more interesting with Fukuyama as the protagonist? Clearly, he's the most interesting character even if he is a total sleazeball. It's his plotting that drives most of the series and there are times when it's suggested that he has a better side to him. There could be a story somewhere in here about an unapologetic horndog who gradually learns to mend his behavior. The theme of molesting teen girls still has to go though. Likely, an anime series of that sort already exists and hopefully it's funnier than this one.
If you're going to commit to a 24-episode series, hopefully the characters are interesting or the premise is entertaining. Girls Bravo gives us boring characters that do not grow in any significant way and storylines that are stupid and inconsequential. The show's only real draw is seeing artwork of naked anime girls. The female character designs in this show are indistinguishable from any other television anime girls, but you get to see their giant boobs.
For some perverts…err, anime fans, this may be a guilty pleasure; in my view, it's simply guilty.
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