Review for Good Luck Girl! Binbogami ga! - Complete Series
Once I’d upgraded Ben-To to Blu-ray, it was practically inevitable that I’d upgrade Good Luck Girl as well. Both were titles that Manga Entertainment initially announced as Blu-ray only in the UK, and both were titles that were downgraded to DVD only before release. What’s more, Manga wound up authoring the titles locally, with their usual haphazard approach to chaptering and subtitles. This time, I’ve imported the Good Luck Girl Blu-ray from Australia, and have had it on my to-watch pile for quite some time now, thanks to one of Madman Entertainment’s clearance sales. It’s just taken this long to get around to watching it.
Japan as we all know is a divine nation, a culture of small gods, where every aspect of life, of the country, of nature is imbued with some aspect of divinity, all working to keep life in balance for all. And so it is that there exist gods of destitution, to apply a little bad luck, ill fortune for when life is going a little too well for some. For Ichiko Sakura, life goes very well indeed, she’s a rich heiress who has everything go her way, she’s adored at school by all the boys, envied by all the girls, and she finds life a breeze, effortless, problem free. That’s the kind of life that a person could take for granted, and so it is that Ichiko’s personality is haughty, aloof, selfish and shallow. It’s got to the point where she’s a happiness black hole, sucking out everyone else’s good luck and keeping it all to herself, unaware of the misfortune that others suffer as a result.
That’s a situation that cannot stand, not for the gods of destitution, and so it is that an obnoxious, unmotivated and selfish god of ill-fortune named Momiji is assigned to Ichiko to restore the balance. She doesn’t remain unmotivated for long, as simply comparing Ichiko’s ample cleavage to her own washboard chest is enough to get her thinking of murder, not just rebalancing. She has to extract all that surplus happiness energy from Ichiko and redistribute it, but she needs Ichiko’s compliance, and that isn’t going to happen all that easily. All Ichiko wants is to get Momiji out of her life, but instead with all the other oddball characters that Momiji brings with her, Ichiko’s life just gets more and more complicated. But through all this mayhem, she might just learn to be a better person.
Thirteen episodes of Good Luck Girl! are presented on two discs from Madman Entertainment.
1. Are You Sure You Haven’t Confused Being a God Of Flat Broke-ness with Being a God of Flat-Chestedness?
2. This, Indeed, Has the ‘The Battle Between God and Girl Now Begins’ Feel to It
3. Taking Orders from You Kinda Ticks Me Off!!! What Do You Mean, Kinda?!!
4. He Shrank, Didn’t He?!
5. Which One of Us Is Flat-Chested Again? Hm? Hm!? Hm!!?
6. Open Your Eye-es!!!!
7. Is This That So-called Boy-Raised-As-a-Girl Pattern?
8. Call Me By My Name
9. Eh?! You Said, ‘After All This’?!
10. It’s Like Secretly Mixing Pumpkin Into a Stew in Order to Feed It to a Child Who Hates Pumpkin
11. ... Who Are You?!
12. Sometime, Call Me By My Name
13. You Already Know the Answer to That
Good Luck Girl gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on these discs. It’s not the best transfer. Certainly it’s clear and colourful, with no sign of visible compression or even banding to my eyes, but it does feel as if it’s been converted from a 1080i source, and badly converted at that. This is a show that is prone to juddery pans and scrolls, most notable during the credit sequences, and it can be distracting at times. It is better than the DVD, but it really needed a smoother presentation. Good Luck Girl is a zany, Looney Tunes inspired animation, full of spit takes and eyes popping out of sockets in surprise, and the world and character design is comparatively simplistic to allow for the more energetic and wild cartoon sensibilities of the show. In this respect it can at the same time look a lot older than other modern anime, yet more vibrant too. When you first encounter Good Luck Girl, you might be tempted to think that it doesn’t even tax the DVD format, especially in terms of its design simplicity, but once you see it in motion, you’ll realise that despite the issues with the transfer, the BD is the way to go.
You have the choice between Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English, and 2.0 Japanese, with translated subtitles and a signs only track locked during playback. The dialogue is clear, the action comes across well, and the music suits the show adequately enough. I particularly like the end theme to the show. The actors are well suited to their characters, and while I went with the Japanese audio, what little I sampled of Funimation’s dub was agreeable. One problem is a couple of missing subtitles, 1:09:08 into disc 1, and 1:13:57 into disc 2. However, the problem with Manga’s muddy audio isn’t an issue here.
You get 2 discs in a BD Amaray, with one on a centrally hinged panel. Madman have some nice artwork on the inner sleeve too.
Both discs present their content with animated menus.
Disc 1 autoplays a trailer fir OniAi and the sole extra is the episode 4 audio commentary.
On disc 2, you get the a trailer for Maken-ki when you put the disc in, Once more you get the textless credit sequences as usual, including two end sequences, as well as the US trailer.
Episode 8 gets a Video Commentary, while Episode 12 gets the traditional audio commentary.
Finally there are Funimation trailers for Ikki Tousen, Fairy Tail, One Piece, Haganai, High School DxD, Is this a Zombie? Of the Dead, and Sankarea.
Good Luck Girl offers a lot in the way of variety, plays on more than one level in terms of its comedy. And for a show that isn’t at all subtle when it comes to its Looney Tunes aesthetic, the low rent nature of the boob and washboard gags, the shamelessness with which it employs the usual anime tropes (perverted monk and masochistic dogboy, I’m looking at you), it can hit you with surprising depths to its characters. Seven episodes in, stock anime humour in full flow, I was shocked to feel a little tightness in the throat, a little moistness in the eye... I was actually empathising with the characters, the last thing I expected from a show that began with a boob gag.
So you have the flat-chested poverty god Momiji, sent to Earth to deal a little ill-fortune to stupendously endowed Ichiko Sakura, who has turned into a good luck vacuum cleaner, is rich, selfish, self-centred, opinionated, haughty, and rich, eases her way through life on the force of her good luck, and also manages to suck the good luck away from all around her (to the point in episode one that her butler Suwano, the one person she cares about, suffers a heart attack). Momiji has to redress the balance, extract all that extra good luck and redistribute it. That the difference in breast size and the difference in personality (Momiji is a motivated slacker god) is enough to induce her to want Ichiko dead is really just the icing on the cake. What ensues is a war of attrition as Momiji comes up with a new scheme each week to extract Ichiko’s luck, and Ichiko finds a new and exceedingly violent way to deal with her new nemesis.
Pretty soon, all manner of zany characters show up to make Ichiko’s life all the more complicated, not least a perverted monk named Bobby who’s mission in life is to exorcise Ichiko’s breasts. Tsuwabaki, the boy who sits next to Ichiko in class finally wakes up and is revealed to be a pretty nice guy, until Ichiko meets his family, four younger siblings that he takes care of in a poor, down on its luck household ever since their parents ran off, and Momiji uses that as an object lesson on the shallowness of Ichiko’s own life, and the effect of her good luck vacuum on nearby households. Momo’o, the Chihuahua shows up next, another weapon for Momiji to use in her attempts to get to Ichiko, but who turns out to be a dog eared masochist in disguise, who soon learns that he prefers being beaten by Ichiko than obeying Momiji. Then there’s Ranmaru, the girl raised by her father as a boy as he wanted an heir to his karate dojo, who transfers in and develops a crush on Tsuwabaki, and when Ichiko helps her discover her feminine side, becomes Ichiko’s first real friend.
That is where the heart of this show lies. It’s full of zany antics and ridiculous characters (wait until you smell the bathroom god!), getting ever more absurd as Momiji tries again and again to get Ichiko’s luck, but the real point of the story is getting this isolated, and emotionally distant rich girl to open up and start to engage with the world. Ichiko may have all the good luck there is, but her past is a sad and emotionally traumatic one, and she’s been closed off ever since. It takes the kind of adversity that Ichiko and her allies offer, the view from the other side of the tracks that Tsuwabaki offers, the stubborn friendship that Ranmaru gives to get Ichiko to start caring again. The show is all about the growth of this character into a functional and engaged member of society, and that is why, despite all the show’s clichéd zany comedy, it still manages to connect on a genuine, heartfelt level. If all that isn’t enough for you, you’ll love the pop culture references, with countless other anime and manga referenced with jokes and sight gags, so there’s yet another level on which to enjoy the show.
I enjoyed the show the first time around, but I found Good Luck Girl to be one of the rare comedies that was even funnier the second time. I got more of the references and winks to the audience, while the slapstick and the ribald humour meshes with the heart of the story and the character arcs even better. Every episode put a smile on my face, and had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. Good Luck Girl is one of those shows where you wish that they didn’t stop at just one season. Just like the best sitcoms, you can watch the antics of these characters again and again,