The Spring 2023 Anime Preview Guide
Rokudo's Bad Girls
How would you rate episode 1 of
Rokudo's Bad Girls ?
Community score: 3.2
What is this?
Tо̄suke Rokudо̄ is a timid high school boy who gets bullied by delinquents. He receives a scroll from his late grandfather, leaving a mark on his forehead. The mark's effect causes a delinquent girl named Ranna Himawari to fall in love with him.
Rokudo's Bad Girls is based on Yūji Nakamura's Rokudō no Onna-tachi manga and streams on Crunchyroll on Fridays.
How was the first episode?
You know, I really should like this show – I certainly wanted to. I like harem anime. I like delinquent anime. I have been jonesing for some good sukeban content for years. I'm even okay with the show's blocky, somewhat ugly art style. I was fully ready to pick this as a dark horse of the season, yet by the end of the episode, I couldn't deny that Rokudo's Bad Girls is more like Rokudo's Bad Show.
A lot of it comes down to the characters. Rokudo is just a spineless weenie in the vein of anime nerds from the mid-2000s or Western high school comedies of the 80s. He just stumbles his way through life, taking to occasional beating or swirlie, and while that makes him sympathetic, it doesn't mean he's particularly interesting or entertaining. Add in that all of his titular Bad Girls are essentially being magically brainwashed into loving him. It sucks away any fun from your typical harem setup since none of the girls have a personal reason to be into him. So we have a harem lead who's less engaging than that already low standard and girls who fall for him because magic.
It doesn't help that even if I find some charm in the art style, it's not conducive to a lot of action, comedy, or animation in general. The premiere gets by with a lot of mugging and still shots, neither of which do much to sell either end of the delinquent harem pitch. That aesthetic and those comedic sensibilities pair to make a show that feels like a relic of the early digipaint era, and a particularly musty one at that. It's dated, cheap looking, and altogether unable to offer anything from its unique setup that you couldn't find elsewhere, done far better.
I have some seriously mixed feelings about this one. I mean, I get it. It's another long string of male empowerment/wish fulfillment anime where a nerdy, unpopular guy accidentally uses magic and suddenly becomes popular with the girls. The spell only works on delinquent "bad girls" since it's a comedy.
It's not like Rokudo did this intentionally. All he did was hold the scroll his grandfather left for him. Now, this magical spell is going off constantly whether he wants it to or not. But he's also mind-controlling people, robbing them of their free will. He either doesn't care about it or doesn't realize the moral implications of this.
I get the joke they're trying to set up: the scariest person in town is now completely smitten with him, and high jinks ensue. But it's way more than that. He's enslaved her—giving her commands on what she can and can't do. She follows these commands even when it results in her getting the crap beaten out of her. Yet, Rokudo's response is not, "Oh no! I need to undo those orders so she can protect herself." It's "She's trying so hard to be non-violent, so I should fight my own battles myself." He misses the point. She didn't "choose" to be non-violent; she was doing it because he told her not to fight for any reason.
Moreover, I fear where this is going. Is this series going to be about Rokudo "reforming" his harem of delinquent girls through his commands, at which point the spell will be broken, and they will be free? If so, there is some seriously misogynistic subtext there.
When it comes down to it, even though this is just trying to be a silly rom-com, I just can't get over the ethical implications of the whole thing. I'm sure there are many who will enjoy the comedy in this one and not be bothered by the subtext—more power to them. It's okay to like the things you like. But as for me, I'm out.
You know, based on the trailers for Rokudo's Bad Girls—not to mention the whole "vibe" of the first couple of minutes of the premiere—I was convinced I was going to hate this show. Its shrill, clunky approach to delivering "jokes" combined with its paper-thin premise spelled utter doom for me. There's also the fact that the anime is, on a visual level, pretty hideous to look at. The intentionally goofy character designs, stilted animation, and flat artwork all give me PTSD flashbacks to those early-2000s American cartoon parodies of anime, like Kappa Mikey. Needless to say, I had a strong cocktail at hand, just in case I had to drown out the memories of Rokudo's Bad Girls immediately upon finishing.
Luckily (?) for me, though, it turns out that this show is just your normal, everyday kind of bad anime. I don't even know why I didn't end up rejecting this premiere like a bite of rotting shellfish, because all those problems I listed above still apply to the show's final product. Maybe this is just one of those "Preview Guide Week" days when my mind begins to numb itself to the terribleness as a kind of automatic defense mechanism. Maybe I'm just a sucker for a tough-ass delinquent girlfriend who will beat up your enemies and walk you home from school, no matter how poorly she is drawn and animated. Or maybe I am just grateful that I could get through this premiere without instinctively reaching out to grab my computer and toss it out of the nearest window. Who's to say?
Anyway, I wouldn't recommend Rokudo's Bad Girls to anyone for any reason. That said, considering some of the terrible shows this season, I guess this isn't the absolute worst comedy you could check out this spring. I know, I can hardly be damning the show with more faint praise, but I give even the worst-looking anime a fair shake. If you're somehow in the market for an unfunny and poorly-executed take on classic anime tropes that might only be entertaining in an old beat-'em-up arcade game rather than on screen: Then sure, give Rokudo's Bad Girls a shot. Otherwise, just do what Rokudo himself does when he encounters a cartoonishly evil teenage psychopath approaching him on the street: Steer clear, don't make eye contact, and don't stop walking until you find yourself in safer territory.
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