Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Back Street Girls – Gokudolls

Original Run: July 4, 2018 - September 5, 2018
Number of Episodes: 10
Genre: Comedy
Based on the Series Created By: Jasmine Gyuh

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Back Street Girls: Gokudolls. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

The infamous Inugane Yakuza group is best known for its iron-clad discipline. Anyone who makes a mistake will not be forgiven. However, they will, instead, be given a choice.

Following a recent failure, bosses Kentaro Yamamoto, Ryu Tachibana, and Kazuhiko Sugihara (voiced by Daisuke OnoSatoshi Hino, and Kazuyuki Okitsu) must either choose death or become part of the Inugane group’s latest business venture — idol singers. Begrudgingly, the three settle for the latter.

After a quick trip to Thailand to undergo a full sex-change operation, the hardcore Yakuza men become Japan’s newest idol stars, the Gokudolls; made up of now Airi, Mari, and Chika (voiced by Yuka NukuiKaori Maeda, and Hikaru Akao).

Although the trio now look like beautiful young women, a face change and a new pair of breasts won’t take the gangster out of a person. Old habits die hard, and in such an opposite environment, they are sure to make a scene.

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Series Positives

Back Street Girls: Gokudolls was a series I was looking forward to. Granted, I was looking forward to it for the wrong reasons.

When I first came across this one, I pegged it to be a show filled with cringe humor, uncomfortable situations, and hollow weirdness. Back Street Girls seemed so misguidedly raunchy that my interest was piqued.

Here was the perfect set-up for a beautiful disaster, and I wasn’t going to miss it for the world.

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Having now seen this series, as I expected, I am still trying to make sense of what I sat through. Back Street Girls definitely had cringe and discomfort, and yet, there was something else. It has been that something else that has left me puzzled.

I figured I would get enjoyment out of Back Street Girls, but I never expected to legitimately like it.

Just to be clear: No, this series was nowhere near the best anime of 2018. This was no surprise masterpiece. Back Street Girls was silly and — to be frank — dumb as hell. However, it was the type of dumb that required a lot of thought and talent to get right.

To start off, two aspects of this show I normally have huge issues with, somehow managed to work.

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First, the art style in this series was more realistic than it was stereotypical anime. Back Street Girls character designs and visuals were reminiscent of both Prison School (another J.C.Staff produced show) and Gantz.

For those who have not been following this site long, know that Prison School and Gantz are at the top — or rather, bottom — of my most despised list. Although their respective art wasn’t their worst quality, it sure didn’t do them any favors either.

Since Back Street Girls wasn’t dissimilar to Prison School and Gantz in this regard, what was the difference?

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Along with Back Street Girls’ premise being as absurd as can be, it was also incredibly awkward for most of the characters involved. This series’ visuals, mixed with a healthy dose of high-energy moments, helped add to that sense of awkwardness.

Additionally, when this show decided to go bat s@&$ insane, the not-at-all cutesy anime style made certain scenes hilarious because of how suddenly graphic they became (I’ll just leave it at that).

Before moving on to my next point, I need to admit that I assumed this series was going to go crazy with ecchi fanservice. Although there were some things of note, Back Street Girls was shockingly subdued in this area. The unwilling sex change operation the leads went under, took a lot of the bite out of almost every eye-rolling up-skirt shot and quality “girl time.”

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The second exception-to-the-rule detail of Back Street Girls was the unusually tolerable scream-talking.

What I mean by scream-talking is: Instead of reacting with their inside, civilized-and-rational-people voices, characters shout whatever it is they are saying. This is often a telltale sign a show is operating under the adage: The louder something is, the funnier it must, therefore, be.

I’ll tell you now, scream-talking is hardly ever funny. Regardless, the reason it worked in Back Street Girls was due to this show’s context. In this series, characters were often in a state of pure panic or astonishment. As a result, everyone’s raised voices fit with what was going on.

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Branching off from scream-talking, the voice acting in this show was outstanding. To take this one step further, I would go so far as to say Back Street Girls had some of the best, most committed performances I’ve heard from 2018 so far.

Nowhere was this more evident than with the three main characters.

Note: For the sake of ease, I will use the trio’s post-surgery names.

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From beginning to end, Airi, Mari, and Chika were always guys on the inside. More than that, they were always hardcore Yakuza bosses. Helping to maintain that image were the talents of Mr. Daisuke Ono, Mr. Satoshi Hino, and Mr. Kazuyuki Okitsu. Even after the operation, these three actors remained prevalent players in this series.

That was great and all, but the linchpin to Back Street Girls, as well as the reason – or rather, reasons – this show worked were the performances given by Mr. Ono, Hino, and Okitsu’s female counterparts, Ms. Yuka Nukui, Ms. Kaori Maeda, and Ms. Hikaru Akao.

These ladies did an incredibly convincing job of portraying their respective characters. They sold the idea that Airi, Mari, and Chika were men transformed into women against their will. Ms. Nukui, Maeda, and Akao had a difficult task, and each of them pulled it off brilliantly.

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Also, I want to make sure I give credit to Mr. Keiji Fujiwara, the voice of the Inugane group’s leader, Kimanjiro Inugane. What a fantastically psychotic individual. Inugane was definitely my favorite character, so kudos to Mr. Fujiwara.

Finally, and although this is speculative, the actors all sounded as though they were having a good time.

I believe this to be the case because almost everyone had to say something ridiculous at one point or other. The level of vulgarity in Back Street Girls and the conviction coming through in the actors’ voices, told me either everyone was the most professional of professionals or they were having a blast. Possibly it was both, but I like to think the latter played a crucial role.

In fact, that is a pretty apt way of describing Back Street Girls. If you’re okay with and are willing to laugh at off-the-charts immaturity every now and again, this series is perfect for you.

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Series Negatives

I want to apologize at the start of this section because what I am about to say is a complete cop-out. Most everything that was good about this series was, simultaneously, everything that was wrong with it.

Back Street Girls isn’t the type of show you can just be okay with. Either you are going to roll with what this show is offering, or you are not. If that sounds like a given to you, shall we test it?

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Just answer yes or no to the following questions:

  1. Are you okay with staring at skin-tight briefs around a guy’s junk?
  2. Are you fine with the word penis or dick being shouted constantly?
  3. Can you tolerate numerous highly graphic close-up face shots?
  4. Do large man-child fanboys make you want to wash your hands?
  5. Will you accept over the top violence as humor?
  6. Can you laugh at cartoonish levels of cruelty?
  7. Is the thought of an in-depth account of a person’s hemorrhoid problem alright with you?
  8. Will you freak the f&@$ out if said hemorrhoids suddenly burst?

If you said “no” to most of those questions, consider this your warning because I could keep going.

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Supposing you are still someone who is on the fence about Back Street Girls, then I suggest you try getting past the first half of the first episode. Doing so will tell you everything you need to know about this show. Depending on whether you enjoyed yourself or not, this series will only grow better or worse from that moment on.

While Back Street Girls may have had some – objectively – positive qualities to itself (the voice acting, for example), it used its great talent to create something rather silly.

I’m afraid I can’t be of much help this time around. You’re just going to have to trust your gut.

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Final Thoughts

It would be a downright crime to deny how much this show impressed me. At the same time, though, if I ran into someone who thought this was one of the most insufferable things ever, I get where they’re coming from.

This is not the kind of series I will risk tooth and nail to defend, but I will strongly urge people to not disregard it before they give it a fair chance.

There was a lot of good stuff here — great acting, effective animation, total commitment, the right pieces were all here.

Nevertheless, Back Street Girls: Gokudolls is a hard show to recommend flat out. Thus, please exercise your best judgment.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Back Street Girls: Gokudolls? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

Post Editor: Onions

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