Shinomiya Kyouya is forced to become a new member of the GJ, an unidentified club that dwells in a room of the former building of a certain school. Here he meets the club leader, Mao, a short girl with a big attitude; Mao's younger sister, Megumi, who has the heart of a bipolar angel; the recognized genius with a lack of common sense, Shion; and the always-hungry and mysterious Kirara. Time flies with these unique girls around.
Being as frank as possible, I found the Winter 2013 season to be quite weak, despite having a lot of bright and colourful ideas. The majority of them only proved to be average, slightly above even, and they definitely won't be memorable for long. Now, this talk may portray to be a little irrelevant and bias (and apologies if it is), but the point I want to get across is that I was hoping that 'at least' one show in the season would be in a state without having to be stalled, being both enjoyable and interesting every episode and with no actual problems dragging it down. In other words, a hidden gem.
Thankfully there was one, and funny enough it's about a school club with absolutely no purpose or theme whatsoever. Wait, what?
The anime is about... as stated earlier, nothing. Kyouya is in a club called the 'Good-Job Club', and their activities involve having various discussions, eating food, laying around the room being struck by lasers of heat, biting each other, lewdly brushing hair, bringing little sisters in and many more things. The other members of the club are four girls; the childish club president Mao who has a short-temper, the refined angel-like Megumi, the genius Shion lacking common sense and the mysterious cat-like Kirara.
You'd probably be thinking that... it sounds like a pretty generic slice of life without actually anything going on, which would naturally sound really boring to watch. To top it all of though, it sounds like a harem! There's no doubt it's harem-like with the boy:girl ratio of 1:4, and you'll probably agree that nearly all harem shows fail to be remotely good. And guess what? I found this much more interesting than all the other shows, and I'm not close to devoted with slice of life shows in a school setting. So... how, and why, did I find this more entertaining than the rest of the season?
Because GJ-bu does something a lot of normal slice of life shows fail to do - restraining from pushing itself to far.
Or in other words, it didn't try to hard to be what it is. GJ-bu acknowledges fairly well that it's a full slice of life series with the given setting; there's no unnecessarily technical writing involved and it doesn't forces the contents or intentions of the show onto the audience in a demanding way - it just does what a slice of life is supposed to be. It really does take a slice of one's life, and converts those everyday actions into animated form. Because of this, everything feels natural, both pacing and scenery, and without having to feel boring too. None of the jokes feel dragged, and neither does the dialogue, so the conversations and spacelessness you'd feel in real life are portrayed rather nicely here.
But who wants to watch some guy's life in a club in the first place? Who'd find that interesting? Which brings me to my second point. The natural flow in the entire show gives of a really, really lovely relaxing pace. The pacing does feel rather slow at times, but because nothing is so dragged along or forced, it makes the audience quite relaxed whilst watching each episode, and so the slowness isn't something to be weary of (well, depending on your preferences but I'll mention that later). Although the speed of the pace is noticeable when you start the series, it starts getting less obvious and time starts to fly by so swiftly you'd be completely used it over the course of the series.
That said, looking at a specialist's point of view, GJ-bu really isn't that unique at all. It just stands out because it does what most slice of life anime doesn't do, and that is to keep the viewers actually engaged without a plot in mind instead of building up their bore meters. The show is just about five members in a non-specified club, enjoying their time there whilst they can, so if anyone is expecting some actual plot, romance, drama, tragedy, deaths, epicness, inspiring moments and so forth, then I'm afraid your expectations are at risk (though, there is a sweet semi-closure which was done really well). But if you thought that it'd be a bore-pumper and something immensely non-memorable whilst choosing your seasonal shows (and, admittedly, that was me), then you should pretty much give this a go for a change of pace, and especially if you're a big fan of the slice of life genre.
The animation isn't so remarkable as from the outside, but during the course of the show the art department actually does get handled as greater than what you'd expect. On one hand, the budget doesn't seem so noticeable and it's understandable since it's a slice of life. The outlines of the characters can be inconsistent in terms of thickness, which is a rather rare problem in anime in general. On the other hand though, there's certain scenes where the budget goes remarkably high, in both backgrounds, atmosphere and animation (which applies to 95%+ of the last episode). Regards to the budget, there's no rubbish or quality moments in which effects the series in any way. Talking about animation, the area which it's taken in full consideration is the EDs, which used the budget pretty wildly.
Well actually, scratch that. GJ-bu wins for the best ending sequence in 2013 so far. And second place. And third place...
...and fourth place too. The anime consists of four ending sequences, one playing every two episodes and the fourth one playing throughout the second half of the show. Each ED is based around a certain character or two, provided with a theme; the first ED being based around the Amatsuka sisters (Mao and Megumi), the second being based on Shion, the third being Kirara's ED and the last one centered towards the entire club. The collection of EDs varies in the type of songs and mood, being from extremely high-spirited with a fast-paced rock style, to a more contemplative mood in J-Pop form. All four songs are outstandingly well-composed, being catchy and vibrant in their own ways, and the studio probably blew 90% of their budget in the EDs to make them as visually attractive and fluent as possible, even coming with a unique summer atmosphere and funky dancing. They're extremely fun to watch and I doubt you'd regret having downloaded the full songs of all four endings, because I know I didn't regret it.
So... in conclusion, the four EDs are the best parts in the animation and sound department, in both the entire show and the Winter season. Woops, it seems like I dedicated a whole paragraph to the GJ-bu endings, so I should start on the actual sound department now. Uh... anyway, the opening sequence plays throughout the entire show, sung by the main VA cast. It's a really catchy up-beat song, and probably not so unexpecting in a slice of life. A lot of the time the OST doesn't play, mainly for the cause of the relaxing pacing and atmosphere. The soundtrack isn't at all incredible in stand-alone, but they're very cutely composed with simple and/or retro instruments, fitting the very light mood for the show. The voice actors do a good job (haha pun) with the characters, generally fitting well in their roles. Not to mention that several of the voice actors are actually teenagers, the youngest being Kirara's VA, at the age of thirteen.
Now, despite the relaxing mood and atmosphere to the plotless show, it couldn't be as interesting as it is with just the aspects I described several paragraphs ago. Of course, we can't have a club without its members!
Nearly the entire cast consists of female (the male being Kyolo, the main character), and they're divided into two groups; the members of the GJ-bu, and the little sisters of those members. Let's introduce the main members the second (or third?) time, since I think it's a little necessary too; there's presisdent Mao Amatsuka, the orange one, who acts rather childish despite her rich background, and bites Kyolo when she's angry. But her younger sister is quite the opposite - Megumi Amatsuka, the pink one, is both refined and well-mannered, described almost as an angel, although it's not the case when it comes to weight. Shion Sumeragi, the purple one, is somewhat clever in lots of ways, but it seems common sense isn't her strong point. And then there's Kirara, my personal favourite member. She acts less human and more cat, structuring her sentences uniquely, and does lots of things the other members don't usually do, like eating meat all the time. And of course, we can't forget to mention Kyolo, our main man. He's presented in the series as a kind, caring and laid-back guy, though usually questioning whatever actions the other members perform (and usually on him too).
Oh and there's the green one. She doesn't appear in the beginning though.
All of the members are, firstly to say, stand-alone in their own way. You get a variety of personalities (and hair colours), and each have their own qualities for themselves in which both benefits and non-benefits them. However, it's the way they're presented that fleshes out the personalities further - The features of each individual becomes clearer and fresher with certain tropes and actions happening on-screen. Basically, the characters are in a club room, talking and in different ways interacting with each other. Whether it's conversations or actions, each individual would perform any kind of action which adds up as the evidence of one of the features in the characters, and it fleshes out into the characterization of the members (some of those actions may reveal one of the tropes at first shot though, depending on how obvious the feature is). In other words, characterization happens in the course of events, rather than having them explained, which feels both natural and less lazy.
The more fun thing about this though is that each of the characters has quite distinct personalities and different features, fears, knowledge, preferences and so on compared to each other, so it's pretty fun seeing them hang round together as a group. You get a lot of times when they all agree to tease Kyolo in the most entertaining way for them to watch, and then scenes where they all take their turns to do a certain activity, from having their hair brushed, to arm-wrestling, to guessing whatever picture Kyolo drew and so on. There's no real hatred, drama and problems going around in the GJ-bu, so it's hard to start hating a character in the series, though of course it's not the case for everyone. Also, need to mention development. Well, there isn't much development since the anime starts during the middle course of Kyolo's time being in the club, but he does get a well-hidden development in the entire series, to both towards the other members and personality. It's just not so easy to notice and stretched out.
Did I enjoy GJ-bu? Considering that the entire show felt really natural and relaxing, and seeing each characters with different kinds of features interact with each other and Kyolo, of course I did. I had a really hard time debating whether or not to rate GJ-bu a solid 7 or a low 8, but it seemed like it was the latter (though honestly, I still can't decide). For anyone who just regarded this as some moe anime with really bland episodes might want to give this a second thought; this was the only show I started in the season which I didn't decide upon my full plan for the season, and it turned out it was the only show I actually thoroughly enjoyed in the entire show. If it wasn't for my brother I would've never encountered this gem, so it was lucky I didn't pass on this. GJ-bu was a enjoyable and relaxing ride for me, and it seems like I've grown fond to the series more than I expected to be.
I just wish that more school slice of life anime was like GJ-bu.read more
Aaah... I suppose it's a little difficult to write a review for a relatively aimless slice of life anime like this, where there's no real plot or any kind of conflict - but I will give it a vague stab, as GJ-bu turned out to be a surprisingly sweet, heart-warming, amusing, and actually rather subtle series, which hooked me from the very first episode.
So, as I mentioned above, the story is relatively... non-existent. GJ-bu follows a chronological order, spanning a year, and documents the lives and various antics of the members of the GJ (Good Job) society - a school club that seems to have no real purpose other than to eat cakes, drink tea and have fun. This might sound rather dull - and, in lots of similar slice of life anime, such a formula has proved to be dull; but GJ-bu shines in... not trying too hard, I suppose. Or, rather, not trying /so/ hard it becomes unrealistic, contrived and pointlessly melodramatic.
The events it showcases are all fairly mundane, as the members of the GJ-bu eat junk food, dress up, try to get an old TV to work or are frightened of spiders - but these are events that most people can probably relate to. For instance, most people have probably been afraid of a large spider at some point or another - and most people have probably played silly dressing up games with their friends. The situations the characters find themselves in are relatable, and the characters react to these situations as you would expect normal teenagers to react - and that is what makes the 'story' of this anime really compelling (in my opinion). Even though there's a lot of oddness going on, the majority of the show is grounded in reality, and it never feels like it's really trying too hard to be funny - it merely draws on a lot of minor irritations or fun past times regular people experience, and that is where the humour can be found.
There are a lot of zany elements in this show, too, that a lot of people probably can't relate to; for instance, there is a genius girl who claims she can beat the world pro chess champion, and a short, tsundere girl who bites anybody who disappoints her (typically the poor chew toy male lead...) These are clearly exaggerations; real people generally don't have such extreme personalities. However, as the majority of the show is rather mundane, this makes the more unrealistic elements seem even more humorous, as they're being set against a fairly realistic scenario. This show actually managed to get me to laugh out loud a handful of times, which is quite a feat!
Moreover, the anime is structured very nicely; each episode being broken up into about 5 or 6 short stories, featuring a certain scenario or a certain pair of characters interacting with one another, and they all build up to some kind of punchline. This method of story-telling is very effective in showing a lot of humourous moments to the audience very clearly, in 3 or 4 minutes, so the anime never seems to drag or become dull like a lot of slice of life anime can. This means an over-arching story is somewhat sacrificed for the sake of rapid-fire comedic scenarios; but this is a good thing, considering slice of life anime typically don't have plots anyway - and, as several jokes reoccur throughout the series (e.g. Kyoro brushing the girls' hair; Mori-san the maid; cosplaying), it serves to link these seemingly unrelated sketches together in a way that does show some kind of progression of time. The anime is structured a little like a comedy sketch show in this regard, and it works to the anime's credit, ensuring, even if you don't find one sketch funny, it'll be over in a few minutes and a new one will start, so the pacing is always very fast.
The pacing of the show is also improved in that it doesn't waste time showing how the club was established, giving unecessary character backstories, showing how everybody became members of the club, etc, etc - which is common in a lot of these 'forming school club' type anime. Instead, GJ-bu jumps straight into the action by already having the club established, and the 5 main characters are already members, who already know each other. Some people might dislike this - suddenly being thrown into a scenario without a real introduction; but I found it enjoyable. In this kind of show, which is basically a comedy sketch show, setting the scene is entirely unecessary, isn't amusing, and eats into the time to make jokes. The reason behind the club's existence; the back-stories of the characters; how they came to know each other - it's all irrelevant. The personalities of the characters are revealed through the humour; and it is by being amusing these characters become endearing - not by having useless, oh-so-tragic pasts that try to force the viewers to cry. That's not what GJ-bu is about at all; and I'm glad for it, as it means there's more time for humour.
Another big plus to the humour of this anime (that can be called the 'story', I suppose, as the primary purpose of this anime is to make you laugh) is that, although it has a lot of physical gags and can be quite over-the-top, it can also be very subtle at times. The biggest example of this would probably be the scene where the male lead drinks from a can, then offers it to a girl, who instantly starts blushing and saying she can't accept it. The 'i-indirect kiss...!' is a common gag in anime, and the moment this scenario started up, I sighed, and thought 'oh, okay, I've seen this before. When is she going to say it?' But, the girl never actually said 'indirect kiss!' or spoke about how embarrassing such a thing was. It was never mentioned verbally - but it was obvious this was the problem. Showing restraint like this, and not explaining a joke, was very refreshing for me - and, even though the gag has been done to death before, not having it explained to the audience like they're idiots made it seem... fresh, somehow. Or, if not fresh, then not cliche or irritating. GJ-bu doesn't explain it's humour a lot of the time, and it doesn't spell out the punch line of its jokes for you, which makes it more rewarding to watch then a lot of other comedic animes, and doesn't make the viewer feel like their intelligence is being insulted. This subtly, and this trust in the script writer that the viewer will be able to understand the punch line on their own, was a great asset to GJ-bu.
Because of these factors, I feel the 'story' of GJ-bu was told in the most effective manner, which made it very enjoyable.
The characters, too, are all very diverse and amusing, and this adds to the humour of the series. Although a lot of the situations the characters are in are mundane, the characters (apart from maybe the main male lead) are not; they all have distinct personalities - and although they should not be unfamliar to people who have watched a lot of anime (the tsundere, the ditzy genius, the cute yamato nadeshiko, the 'onii-chan onii-chan onii-chan!' obsessed little sister), they are all very likable. Many of the short sketches of the anime involve showing small, specific traits these characters have - for example, the tsundere cannot stand eating tangerines with the pith left on them - which helps add some slightly individual 'quirks' to them, which helps the characters break free from their stereotypes, and makes them a little more realistic. And, in addition... these little quirks are fairly realistic, and they're fun to watch. As the show unfolds, and more sketches are presented, more and more minute details are given about the characters in the form of humour, which is a lot of fun to observe. It's not a case of the characters developing (they don't develop really); it's a case of more information about them being disclosed; which is still just as entertaining.
I liked the male lead of this show an awful lot. I heard complaints that he wasn't 'manly enough' and shouldn't have put up with the girls harrassing him - but, really... what do these people want; for the main character to punch all the girls? Yeah, that'd show them how strong and manly he is!!! -sighs- But, really... I found Kyoro to be something of a sweetheart. Surrounded by a cast of girls with very anime-like, strong personalities, he is distinctly more 'ordinary'; the every-man - but this works /well/, as Kyoro... actually acts like a real, normal person, and not the anime-type 'normal guy' who's about as interesting as a paper towel with no personality, whilst girls fall in love with him for no adequate reason and/or he gets violently abused by other characters and doesn't react to it at all for the sake of comedy.
For a start, this anime isn't really a harem, despite the one male character surrounded by women, and the girls never show any romantic interest in him whatsoever (and Kyoro doesn't really show any romantic interest in them, either); apart from maybe Mao. The simple and easy presentation of one male character being content to be friends with a circle of girls, and not hoping or expecting anything more - and the girls, meanwhile, not falling over his feet or fawning over him for no reason - was incredibly refreshing; and it's just kind of touching that this anime shows merely having a friendship with a girl can be fulfilling, without needing any romance to justify it. So, I enjoyed that a great deal. Thus, the 'dull harem lead with zero personality wowing all the girls for no justifiable reason' /thing/ which crops up in a lot of anime protags isn't an issue with Kyoro.
Secondly, Kyoro acts like a real human being - not a cheap character that exists only for comedy. He tolerates a certain amount of teasing from the girls (mostly Mao), but when they go too far, he genuinely gets upset. This seems very naturalistic - as opposed to a lot of anime, where guys will routinely get beaten up by girls for the sake of comedy, but they don't react appropriately to this abuse (which can sometimes be very violent) and never seem overly bothered. In contrast, the fact Kyoro actually does get upset when pushed too far seems very 'human' to me, and relatable, in a way a lot of other anime characters aren't.
So, the art... The animation is quite fluid at certain points (mainly to express the 'cuteness' of the female characters), and the character designs are all quite charming - although the super-short tsundere club president, Mao, does look an awful lot like Taiga from Toradora. But, it's not a big issue. The art fits the nature of the show perfectly, and is very enjoyable to watch. There are a lot of bright colours, and it's quite eye-candy-ish. Also, I really enjoyed the way the characters' eyes were drawn.
In conclusion, I found GJ-bu an incredibly likable slice of life of anime, which respects its audience and doesn't spell out all its jokes. The script seems slightly more mature than a lot of other comedic anime, and was more subtle in its humour. The contrast between whacky, high-energy characters and mundane situations was enjoyable, and it was fun to watch the characters interact with one another and their environment. The characters might not have been anything special, but the script of this anime seemed so refreshing, and genuinely amusing, to me, that the characters didn't seem as sterotyped as they might have done in a show of lower quality, so this flaw is easily overlooked. The art is cute, too!read more
Personally, I find this anime, basically, a cute, simple, slice-of-life anime. It reminds me a lot of several other slice-of-life anime like Lucky Star, Working!! or Acchi Kocchi. Why? Well it's mostly because GJ-Bu doesn't seem to have a real plot of its own.
But despite that, I find it entertaining. Sure, there's no story behind it. But seeing Kyoya and the stuff that happens with the girls in the club room? I can't help but smile while watching it.
The art is bright and colorful. The anime screams a rainbow of colors, which is a good thing. It's also clear and the animation flows rather smoothly.
I personally like the characters. Though, Mao reminds me (in a way) of Aisaka Taiga from Toradora. But all the characters can easily be described as "Kawaii." Maybe that's a personal opinion, but I'm sure a lot think that way.
I don't really see anything to dislike this anime for. Maybe I missed a few things, but small things won't stop me from watching good anime.
This series is still airing, so there's more to be expected. I don't know where this anime will lead to-- but for now I'll give it an 8/10read more
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