by MrAJCosplay/Cartoon Cipher,
How would you rate episode 1 of
Girlfriend, Girlfriend ?
How would you rate episode 2 of
Girlfriend, Girlfriend ?
How would you rate episode 3 of
Girlfriend, Girlfriend ?
As someone who is ethically non-monogamous, I feel like I'm both the best and worst person to be reviewing this show. Nowadays, the whole idea of being romantically intimate with more than one person at the same time is often seen as a fantasy at best by most people or unethical at worst. Everyone has their own different preferences and ideas with regards to what kind of relationship they want to have. Personally, I think that everyone should be given the opportunity to explore those options with other like-minded people in a safe, open environment. If this was a story about a group of teenagers discovering that they, too, were ethically non-monogamous and tried reconciling that need with what they might typically expect from a relationship, then I think I would be criticizing these first three episodes a lot more.
Maybe the show will actually get to a point where it wants to sit down and have an honest conversation about the difficulties and struggles of multiple people dating at the same time. In fact, episode three ends on a bit of a cliffhanger where the main characters are going to hopefully confront some of the shortcomings that have cropped up from this arrangement. There's a part of me that actually wants to see that development blossom, because I genuinely think the three leads have good chemistry with each other, and the show actually presents little glimpses into what a truly polyamorous relationship between them could eventually look like. However, given the foundation that was set up at the beginning and the narrated introspection of the show's main girls, I really don't see that happening. In fact, the show would need to do a lot of legwork for me to be on board with that idea from an ethical and practical standpoint.
Even though Girlfriend, Girlfriend's selling point seems to revolve around the idea of Naoya, our loud and honest self-insert lead, being intimate with two girls at the same time, the dynamic is presented very much like a typical love triangle with just a slightly different coat of paint. Saki and Nagisa very much care for our main lead, and despite the fact that they get along very well, it's made very clear that they see their current situation as more of a temporary thing and do want the main lead all for themselves. The only reason they're going along with the situation is because it's currently better than the idea of not being with him, and it's almost framed as a compromise for the sake of his happiness – which honestly isn't healthy in the long term. The problem is the show doesn't really justify that need to be with him as much as I think it should at the start, and while we get foreshadowing regarding why these two girls like Naoya, it doesn't look like it's going to pay that off until much later.
So instead, I just have to go off of how the show presents him, and it's admittedly not great. While I do like his honesty and the absurd lengths he'll go to help people that he feels bad for can be charming, it's also overbearing both on the characters and sometimes on me as a viewer. This literally all started with him being unable to turn down a girl that he thought was attractive despite already having a girlfriend. He is very much the inciting incident for this whole setup, and I genuinely felt bad for everyone because I'm sitting here, halfway through the first episode, thinking that there are like half a dozen different ways this could have been handled better. Yeah they're all inexperienced teens, but past the setup, I don't think the show focuses enough on the fact that Naoya is kind of compromising the least out of the three. There'll often be times where the show will point out his selfishness and the fact that he doesn't want to neglect either of his girlfriends is a start I guess. But it also feels like we gloss over how we got here without much discussion, and I cannot realistically take this show seriously unless that gets addressed more.
So no, unless the show establishes a clear change in focus from this point moving forward, I don't think it's a good idea to view it as a serious commentary on adolescent dating life or the difficulties of realizing that you're ethically non-monogamous in a primarily monogamous society. Sometimes the status of the relationship will be used as a framing device to highlight attributes about the characters that they need to improve on, which can lead to some pretty funny yet surprisingly wholesome exchanges. I thought it was cute how Nagisa spent so much time chasing after Naoya that she saw doing well in school as an oversight, and seeing Saki wonder if she's actually doing enough as a girlfriend hit surprisingly home for me. But so far, those moments are few and far between, leaning more on the comedy than any genuine pathos.
This is a show that is all about the loud, punchy humor and when it comes to that, it succeeds a lot more than I thought it would. I might've just complained about how Naoya's selfishness led to such a difficult situation, but it is actually funny when the show goes all-in on the sometimes relatable desires of its characters. Whether it's in how far some of the characters will go for each other or even just simple one-off gags, there were a good amount of moments throughout these first three episodes that left me laughing. I want to be proven wrong, but I don't see this show necessarily pushing boundaries outside of the comedy anytime soon. Anytime Girlfriend, Girlfriend gets close to having a quiet moment specific to this situation, it almost feels like it's getting there by accident. I do think this setup has a lot of comedic potential though, and at the very least, I hope to be entertained in the crazy triangle antics.
Girlfriend, Girlfriend is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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