Wakaba*Girl

Wakaba*Girl

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Wakaba Kohashi is a young ojou-sama from a well-to-do family that is, because of her opulent upbringing, slightly out-of-sync with everyday life and situations. Though she looks like an elegant rich daughter of an esteemed family, she admires the trendy ‘gyaru’ fashion subculture and junk food, teen magazines and ‘hanging out’ with friends are all very novel for her. Her three close friends are the cute and innocent Moeko, the excitable and capricious Mao and Nao, an athletic girl with a secret love for BL.

Taken from the four-panel manga series by Yui Hara, Wakaba*Girl is Nexus’ latest production in the anime-short style – though perhaps stretching itself a little over the usual duration, clocking in at around seven minutes per episode. The manga completed its storyline back in 2013, so the anime has plenty of story at its disposal, and those extra minutes really make a difference in handling episode concepts with a bit more detail and give us a breather between gags.

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The show focuses on Wakaba, who has just started high school and quickly finds a small group of friends. Wakaba, however, stands out from the others at times because of her rich-girl ways. She is polite, well-dressed and knows very little about pop culture and being a normal high school girl. Having transferred to this school because she didn’t make it into the rich-kid school (“I’m kind of dumb,” she admits), she tries to adjust to a slightly different way of living.

The characters all have their different quirks, which come thick and fast in the first episodes. Mao refers to herself in the third person, Nao is great at sports but is a really bad public speaker, and Moeko is sweet, unassuming and surprisingly old-fashioned. For Wakaba, these girls are her chance to make some real friends, and she’s super excited about this.

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We see Wakaba getting consumed with excitement on the idea of visiting her first ice-cream parlour, taking her cordless house phone out with her and believing this to be her mobile and not being able to swim when she accompanies her friends to the local water park (she doesn’t even own her own swimsuit). She gets to indulge in everyday things that seem alien and novel to her, such as baking cupcakes and reading teen magazines.

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Anime shorts just seem to be going from strength to strength. I’ve grown to really appreciate them and enjoy the variety and experimentation that’s going on with this genre at the moment and how much things have developed over the past year. Some shows just really suit this type of format and it helps to bring peoples attention to four-panel manga that would otherwise go unnoticed.

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Wakaba*Girl boosts its value with some nice-looking animation and character designs. Some of the girls’ facial expressions sometimes are just adorable and, for me, Moeko and Mao steal the show visually here. The group is certainly a good mix of silly and sweet, with some great internal dialogue from Wakaba. The opening and closing sequences are rather catchy and just contribute to the overall fun-and-pleasant atmosphere.

imageWakaba is certainly an amusing character. She’s very kind and earnest, but not exactly the sharpest tool in the box. She is poised and proper most of the time, but often tries to be outgoing and friendly, which makes for more silly moments and fun situations that we get to watch unfold. Things are kept short and sweet and the cast are introduced early to give more focus on cute and fun moments. It’s never going to win any prizes for depth or for breaking new ground, but it’s an enjoyable time investment that gives your brain a break from the heavier and more involved shows by offering just pure entertainment.