Shinomiya Kyouya is forced to become a new member of the GJ, an unidentified club that dwells in a room of the former building of a certain school. Here he meets the club leader, Mao, a short girl with a big attitude; Mao's younger sister, Megumi, who has the heart of a bipolar angel; the recognized genius with a lack of common sense, Shion; and the always-hungry and mysterious Kirara. Time flies with these unique girls around.
Along with its entire affiliate media, anime seems to have dedicated its existence to the exploration of one great question: When will there be so many high school slice-of-life shows that the genre reaches critical mass and implodes in the form of a never-before-seen cultural supernova? If GJ-bu is to be believed then the answer is still ‘not yet’. It would be treading old ground to say that GJ-bu is treading old ground – the path it’s walking is so safe that Fox News might even endorse it – but somehow, perhaps beyond all reason, this show is just amusing enough, just different enough that I honestly can’t say I hated it. GJ-bu is like an old car; the ride is bumpy and that lingering smell of old fast food is never going away but it gets you where you want to go. GJ-bu’s material is tired but you can get what you want out of it.
One of the reasons GJ-bu works, to a degree, is that the characters are quite fun despite lacking in originality. The girls, for example, fill very familiar archetypes a little too comfortably but still interact in an amusing enough way to be worth watching for the most part. Most of what goes on is focused very heavily on Kyouya and his interactions with the girls and most of the humour derives from their little personality quirks like Shion’s ignorance of the common world or Mao’s rather sadistic flirting/teasing. One of the things that makes GJ-bu stand out, however, is that it also sports a strong harem element for better or for worse and a lot of the humour comes from the sexual tension between Kyouya and his “harem”.
What makes this actually interesting is that all the girls are fully aware of their own and each others’ feelings meaning that their unrealistically mutual crush manifests itself in various strangely conspiratorial ways like the hair brushing challenge that is used as a running joke throughout the show. As a novelty it more or less works, I’ve not seen many shows use harem elements as well as GJ-bu and it gives the show some more mileage than it might otherwise deserve, enough to keep it watchable for twelve episodes at least. The side characters are mostly one note compared to the two or three note main cast but they rarely overstay their welcome in any offensive way.
Everything else about this show is entirely standard. In terms of art the show is unremarkable. The designs are simple and cute, a common phrase describing the art of a slice-of-life show, and the animation is minimal thanks to the show’s predictably limited action. The music exists... for a lack of a better term.
To be honest, aside from the stale premise, the only major criticism I can level at this show is that I expect my slice-of-life shows to be funnier; Azumanga Daioh this is not and for a show that exists as comedy, whether I can recommend it or not is entirely dependent on that one point. GJ-bu is not that funny. The jokes are either classic staples like diet jokes or short jokes or amusing but awkward harem related antics but there is no cutting wit or streak of bizarre cleverness to lift it out of quiet chuckles to gut busting laughter. It is quite amusing, I have said as much, but not enough for me to give it any kind of serious recommendation. Watch GJ-bu if you want but there are so many shows of its type out there that are better. Go watch them instead.
Gj-bu falls into that deep pit called 'alright'. If you really like slice-of-life shows then you’ll probably like GJ-bu but I wouldn’t go out of my way to catch this if I were you. — Aiden Foote
Recommended Audience: It is pretty tame for the most part but a lot of the humour is based around Kyouya not understanding his club mates’ barely concealed lust for him. I suspect younger audiences won’t appreciate that part of the show as much.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream from Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subtitles.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
GJ-bu © 2013 Nippon Television Network Corporation
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