Reviewby Carl Kimlinger, Jan 7th 2008
Sub. DVD 3
Eriko and her buddies have gone through a lot together, but nothing can prepare them for Kouda's imminent death. Only she's not dying, just auditioning for the part of someone who is. Perhaps the name of her disease (acute bone marrow hemolytic hepatitis B myocardial infarction syndrome) should have tipped someone off, but quite naturally no one catches on until total pandemonium has been wreaked. Then Shimotakatani must face the music for making Ayano fall for him; her scary mother has decided she needs to meet the boy, and then even worse, decides she likes him. Things get even uglier when it becomes known that he has a glasses fetish—who does he love, Ayano or her glasses? Meanwhile Eriko pretties herself up for a reunion with a childhood sweetheart—not an easy task for a perpetual slob—and tries to earn piles of cash during the school cultural festival, with predictably extreme results.
If the frequency with which it happens is any indication, the temptation to end comedies on a serious note must be powerful. Girl's High doesn't resist the temptation so much as it misplaced the urge somewhere about halfway through. But the result is just as felicitous. The final volume balances, as gracefully as its strong leaning towards silliness allows, on the line between silly and serious, not wandering drunkenly across it the way the middle volume did—pushing itself into drama that its characters aren't prepared to support and rebounding into far-out comedy too extreme to comfortably coexist with the series' honesty.
It kicks off another four stand-alone tales of girls behaving badly with a standard "terminally ill person who isn't really terminally ill" story. The episode quickly undercuts itself by revealing the "secret" within moments and focusing on how Kouda's misplaced self-confidence keeps inflaming the situation, twisting the farce such that the straighter it's played, the funnier it gets. And it's played very straight. The Shimotakatani episode gives ample playtime to the operatic shoujo-manga mushiness of the series' favorite (okay, only) couple while exploring their relationship enough to make it something more than a running joke. Eriko's childhood friend episode goes exactly where you know it's going, but takes time along the way to dwell on some of the arcane tortures people will put themselves through in the name of beauty, while the final episode is a study in mercantile one-upsmanship gone horribly awry.
The final third doesn't skimp on the series' signature raunchy humor either. The filthy things that can come out of cute girls' mouths still have the power to shock and amuse, and their behavior is almost as extreme. Eriko resorts to full-body massage in her fervor to out-compete the neighboring class during the cultural festival, Yuma plays her stomach cramps as a dying-soldier war cliché (complete with blood), and Kouda invents a, shall we say "direct," seduction technique that can only tastefully be described as "Kouda-esque." Even girly-girl Ayano's family are hard-bitten hostess-bar owners with a very practical view of sex, something that Shimotakatani (whose name is a great joke in and of itself) discovers much to his dismay. Yuma's bad-seed sister Momoka runs away with the volume's best line though when she tells Eriko not to underestimate the "brand-name" power of being a high school girl: "Just by stepping on guys you can make a decent amount of money."
Fan-service remains an integral part of the series. You can almost see the budget rising when Eriko starts rubbing herself on her customers, but that's less a budgetary preference for racy material than an extension of a strategy that takes advantage of lots of minimally animated scenes (dirty talk doesn't cost much to animate) to beef up the animation during key sequences. Many of those sequences involve jiggling busts and panty shots, but as much care is given over to Eriko chasing a wayward scarf, a zoom onto a stubbly leg, or the superb curve of a nosehair stuck on the end of some eyebrow clippers. Its animation technique is never anything special, and during less important sequences can be downright bad (panning stills is a favorite shortcut, and character proportions can be inconsistent), but thanks to allocation decisions is generally sufficient to its own unambitious ends. Designs for the girls are pretty but undistinguished, and background artistry is instantly forgettable. Both are a tad too colorful for their own good.
Setting aside the pleasant but forgettable opening and closing themes, the series' music remains, in a word, bad. Kouda's "death" episode makes good, possibly unintentional, use of the score's broadness and lack of subtlety, but otherwise the music is loud, intrusive, and occasionally awful to listen to (that circus music needs to be smuggled from the studio and dumped in a lake somewhere).
This volume includes the last installment of the extra episodes (in which everyone on the school trip is happily reunited), and the final round-table talk with the cast. "Moe" is discussed this time, and the ladies chime in on male moe, an edifying experience, especially when Satsuki Yukino (Kouda) describes exactly the kind of butt she prefers on a man. Don't feel bad if you don't make the cut though, you're not alone.
As if learning its lesson from the dreary stab it took at drama last volume, Girl's High returns to what it does best for its final installment: serving up a plain old good time. Frequently hilarious, often frank, and more honest than it has any right to be, it deserves a look, if only because it has the nerve to at least try to demythologize the high school girl.
Overall (sub) : B
Story : C+
Animation : C+
Art : B-
Music : D+
+ Funny, entertaining end to a funny, entertaining series that sagged a little in the middle.
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