Dozens of new anime series premiere every year, and it’s easy to get lost in the sheer volume of them. Plenty of shows get swept away with the flow and don’t get the kind of attention they deserve, ending up as those hidden gems you come across only so often.
Good Luck Girl! is one of those gems.
Self-centred schoolgirl Ichiko Sakura has everything good going for her: looks, popularity, money, and literally anything else she might ever want. It doesn’t seem at all strange to her, but as it turns out, for her whole life she’s been sucking the good fortune out of everyone around her, leading to her perfection as she has an overwhelming excess of so-called ‘happiness energy’ that she can’t get rid of.
Here enters Momiji, a god of misfortune, who seems to be, unsurprisingly, the very embodiment of misery. She comes down with one purpose: to stick Ichiko with a giant needle and suck out her extra happiness energy, so that the world can be in balance again and Ichiko made into a normal girl. Naturally, Ichiko doesn’t take too kindly to this, asking why she should give up her own happiness so that others can have it. This doesn’t exactly make for a great start to their relationship, and they develop into fast rivals, finding every opportunity they can to insult each other, all during their cat-and-mouse game around Ichiko’s glut of happiness energy.
After Momiji’s entrance, a small host of major and recurring characters enter the fray over the course of the anime; Good Luck Girl! banks its success on its characters before anything else.
Ranging from Bobby, a perverted, homeless monk, to Ranmaru, an adrenaline-fuelled tomboy, the funniest moments in Good Luck Girl! come from its unique and fun characters. Without the supporting cast rounding out the main pair of Ichiko and Momiji, this series wouldn’t be half of what it already is.
Thankfully, these likeable characters turn the humour from groan-worthy to worth a good laugh, each and every episode. The jokes range from one-liners to sight gags and perversion, and at times this range can be really hit-or-miss, with some moments meant to be funny but just falling flat. Luckily, when it does get a good line in or a clever pop culture reference – done with loving expertise all over the place here – it makes everything worth it.
In that light, it’s definitely true that Good Luck Girl! is a comedy through-and-through, and it does this well, but if it were only a comedy, then it wouldn’t exactly stand out. It’s funny, sure, and the characters are great and well-developed, but that only goes so far. Momiji can’t chase Ichiko around through increasingly bizarre strategies and antics for a full thirteen episodes without something getting stale, and that’s where Good Luck Girl! shows its deeper, more engaging side.
Believe or not, beneath all the fun and zaniness, there are threads of a serious story, running through every episode, occasionally surfacing – and to good effect.
From the outset of the anime, when all the comedy is established, serious moments arise to show that Ichiko isn’t entirely the selfish, ignorant girl she appears to be. Living alone at home with her butler, Suwano, she’s not shown to have any friends. Despite good fortune pouring out of her ears, Ichiko doesn’t have anything to truly be happy about, no matter how good her life looks to people seeing it from the outside.
At school, other girls shun her because of her easy popularity with guys, and when Momiji arrives, her life actively begins to worsen with all the trouble the god gets her into. Past her rich, haughty exterior, Ichiko doesn’t have much going for her.
As the series progresses, more emphasis is placed on Ichiko’s developing personality and perspective of the world around her. Most episodes come with a sort of moral lesson for her, sometimes intentional and sometimes not, all integrating the whole cast in diverse and unique ways. No character feels left out or underdeveloped, and they all have their own roles to play in Ichiko’s story of personal improvement.
Now, that doesn’t mean the comedy gets killed off in favour of drama; some of the best, most hilarious moments in the show come in later episodes, and thankfully – unlike so many of its peers – Good Luck Girl! avoids a permanent shift into a dark, dramatic tone, instead remaining playful even as it ponders important questions about selfishness and friendship, and what really matters in life.
With characters that get more attention than just one-note gags, and drama that doesn’t completely overwhelm the show, Good Luck Girl! presents a uniquely entertaining dramedy, a rare feat, and worth watching just for that alone.
All of this is underscored by a dub cast that, while shaky at times, manages to make the jokes hit home, and the emotional lines come across as genuine.
The worst part about Good Luck Girl! is that it hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. Based just on the premise, it doesn’t seem promising, but it’s worth watching at least one episode. If only one or two don’t manage to catch your interest, then the series – being, again, hit or miss at times – might not be for you, but definitely don’t judge it by its cover. There’s so much bad, generic, time-wasting comedy anime out there that Good Luck Girl! might not particularly stand out amidst them all, but once you start watching, it’s easy to get hooked.
Good Luck Girl! is nothing if not unique, a refreshing watch that keeps its various elements of comedy and drama in a harmonious balance with each other. Is it the best thing to come out of Japan in recent memory? No. Does it have the prettiest animation, or the smartest dubbing? No. But is it worth watching? Without a doubt, yes. Whatever you do, don’t pass Good Luck Girl! up – it really can (and hopefully will) surprise you, in a very good way.
Good Luck Girl! is out March 16th on DVD in the UK, released by Manga Entertainment.