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GENRE: Anime ORIGINAL AIR DATES: July 4 - September 5, 2018
// review by EscapeRouteBritish

Back Street Girls, ALL RIGHT!

The media often portrays the Japanese Yakuza as anything but mobsters, as keepers of the peace with a heart of gold. Just look at the Yakuza series of games, with dream daddies Kiryu and Majima as men of glory and virtue. It's nice to see an anime like Back Street Girls -GOKUDOLS- refreshingly portray the Yakuza in a more realistically twisted light.

Three sworn brothers (Kentaro, Ryo, and Kazuhiko) bring shame to their family by messing up time and time again. They are no doubt about to receive punishment from their boss Inugane. Is it going to be three fingers or four? No amount of fingers being cut off would make up for what they've done. But boss Inugane, he's not a monster, at least that's what he'll tell you. He's heard that idol groups make a lot of money, so he gives the three failed Yakuza an ultimatum - either die like men by committing seppuku and having their internal organs sold, or take a plane to Thailand and get reconstructive surgery to become idol group "GOKUDOLS".

Reluctantly, the three men get reconstructive surgery and become Aily, Chika and Mari, the GOKUDOLS. With the Yakuza spirit still burning inside of them, they want nothing more than to make their boss proud, however hard it gets.

That's the underlying concept, and everything else builds on top of it. Their struggling to come to terms with their decision, the effect of this upon their family and friends, the difficulty of being idols; all of this while their crazy boss breathes down their necks the whole time, forces them through horrendous training regimes, and ultimately destroys them from the inside. Probably to compliment how much he's also destroyed them on the outside.

While it plays out like a gag show, everything piles up. Through their bumbling and idiocy, GOKUDOLS manage to completely destroy lives one after another. It's a window into how one simple mistake can lead to many others and spiral completely out of control.


Nick Carter in a wig.

I never really got on with the visual style. There's a lot of close up shots of faces and everyone looks like they were traced from photographs at weird angles. There's a degree of uncanny valley, with characters that look neither human nor like they belong in the show's aesthetic. The colours are very washed out and dull, for a series about idol culture they sure decided to go for a drab and sad pallette. I perfectly understand that's the point, bright colours wouldn't suit a show about people becoming consistently more depressed, but it could have at least used a few more colours.

One of the more interesting things about this particular show is the use of male and female voice actors for the lead characters. Typically the female voice actor is used during conversation, but the inner monologues are spoken by the male voice actors. The English dub produced by Netflix themselves is of decent quality and everybody hams it up which works exceptionally well. In the Japanese voice-over, certain references and curse words are censored with sound effects while they're uncensored in the English. Despite this, the sound effects still play on the audio track, which I'd have personally removed seeing as they no longer line up with the words that were being censored in the Japanese dub.

Back Street Girls -GOKUDOLS- is certainly a tough recommendation to make. While it is actually an incredibly funny show with some top-notch jokes that had me laughing until I physically hurt, I can't deny that the show is otherwise quite a boring and painful show to watch. Your mileage may certainly vary, I'd recommend watching the first two episodes and making a decision from there if you'd be interested in watching the rest. It all continues to go downhill spdctacularly, it's quite a stunning trainwreck of a show.


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