Girl Friend BETA

Girl Friend BETA

IMG_1055.PNGShiina Kokomi is a hard-working and even-tempered high school girl who is the lead performer in her school’s rhythmic gymnastics club. The Girl Friend Beta storyline follows her and her growing circle of friends as they support each other through the various trials and situations that comprise high school life.

Girl Friend Beta originated a few years ago as a Japanese smartphone dating simulation game for iOS and Android (sadly not available in the UK – I’ve looked). As of earlier this year, the game has over 5.3 million users.

I don’t know what I was expecting from a female-focused anime named Girl Friend Beta, having never been aware of its dating sim/otome franchise, but it certainly didn’t turn out to be anything that I anticipated.

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The very first episode could be summed up as follows: Kokomi has to get up early to get to her rhythmic gymnastics practice. After being flustered by a girl taking pictures of her, she’s rescued by upperclassman Lemaire, who speaks with a kind of criminally adorable faux-French-Japanese accent. Unfortunately, Lemaire drops a family photo when she leaves, which is picked up by Kokomi, who spends the next seventeen minutes attempting to return her photo.

I couldn’t blame you for thinking that I have completely condensed the episode plot until it was just bones. So I also couldn’t blame you for reading that and thinking that it sounds like nothing at all happened. Nothing really did happen but, for some strange reason, I didn’t particularly notice until I came to the end of the first episode. And then I watched another. And exactly the same thing happened.

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This is because of Girl Friend Beta’s origins, and that a male main character that is usually planted at the core is nowhere to be seen. Instead we are slowly beginning to see some of the franchises more memorable ‘potential date’ girls. Judging by the first few episodes, I imagine that this show will slowly begin to introduce more of the 60 plus girls that are available to date in Girl Friend Beta. Whilst I highly doubt that we will see the entire potential cast in the anime, I imagine the immediate fan-base is waiting to see how many cameos this series will have.

Due to the astounding amount of potential characters, we don’t get to see much character development. Whilst I would have liked to have seen more of Kokomi, the episodes have progressed to other viewpoints and stories of the other girls. But what is useful, and plays to this animes strengths, is that each girl has certain ‘personality attributes’ that help them stop getting lost in the sea of cute anime girl faces. They attend certain school clubs, have certain hobbies or distinct personality traits and hairstyles that help define them.

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But there are a few things that they all have in common: they’re  cute, inoffensive and downright pleasant all the time. And in this particular anime, I don’t consider this to be a bad thing. Girl Friend Beta is never going to be this season’s top drama-heavy show. It’s supposed to be a slice of fluffy lightness that gives your brain 20 minutes off to watch a group of cute girls go about their daily pastoral business with pleasantly mild musical accompaniment

It’s the most docile, mild-mannered anime I have seen in quite some time. It’s normally not my sort of thing, but… it’s just so simple. The visuals are pretty, the humour is mild and the plot is fluffy and linear. It’s an anime to take at face value and one that you can just sit back and enjoy. You can appreciate the small sound effects, music and designs because the action isn’t constantly trying to grab your attention. You can let your mind wander around the Girl Friend Beta universe and literally enjoy the scenery.

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