Wakaba Girl

April 8, 2016

Do we need more of this? Cute girls doing cute things? Oh yes. The way such anime series is being churned out every season shows that this genre is not likely to die anytime soon. And so is with the case of Wakaba Girl. Our titular character is a rich girl experiencing her time with her commoner friends. Ah, I guess you can guess where this is going. As you can tell, when you have a wealthy character, they are usually of a different status and class. Or even world. And when they descend down to the lands of the commoners, things can get pretty awkward as they try to fit in or rationalize what is going on. It is no different for our main girl here as she experiences her first time doing many things with her first real friends in a world and time she has never experienced before. To put it shortly, cute girls doing cute things lah…

Episode 1
Super rich girl, Wakaba Kohashi attends her first day at a normal high school. She quickly makes friends with Mao Kurokawa, Nao Mashiba AKA Shiba and Moeko Tokita. They discuss why they pick this school and they certainly thought Wakaba accidentally enrolled in the wrong school. I mean, a normal high school is so out of place for an elegant lady like her, right? Wakaba admits… She is a little dumb! After deciding what to call each other, they get ready for PE class. The friends notice Wakaba wears a long skirt. Wakaba tries out a shorter skirt and is ecstatic. Even more ridiculous, her friends find out her dream is to become a high school girl. Yeah, you can say she’s literally living her dream now. Wakaba is interested to become a gyaru. So she believes this is what she will write down in her assignment of what she wants to become in the future. She thinks Moeko is the epitome of what it means to be a gyaru. Wakaba goes home and happily tells her mom, Yuzuha and sister, Otoha that she definitely can make friends. She also writes in her future assignment that she wants to go to this school forever.

Episode 2
Wakaba is invited to join her friends to go eat ice cream after school. So happy that she is crying! It is one of her dreams to buy junk food. Oh yeah. Rich people don’t eat junk food, right? Wakaba is so eager beaver that she cannot wait till class ends. When Mao teases Shiba about her bra cup, Wakaba thinks about ice cream cup and cones. She really wants ice cream, huh? When class is over and the tired friends want to postpone the ice cream visit, Wakaba is super devastated! I guess this means they can’t put it off. So the girls are here at the ice cream store. Wakaba makes an order but she might have confused it with Shiba’s bra cup! She also takes a commemorative group photo. Moeko allows Wakaba to take a bite of her ice cream flavour but she chomps off the entire top! That counts as one bite, right? Wakaba really enjoys herself and wants to do this every day but her friends remind her that it is only fun because they do it occasionally. So they have her research on other places she wants to go. She has Yuzuha and Otoha help out. So the next day in class, she suggests all those places (complete with thick guide booklets): Hokkaido, Okinawa and even France! Does next weekend sound good?

Episode 3
When Wakaba hears Shiba and Moeko trading games, she too wants in. She plays games? Wakaba shows the new game she bought. She thought it was a galge because she heard several boys recommending it and snuck into a store in a poor disguise to buy it. Shiba whispers the true nature of this game. Shock! Shiba then rants about the otome games she needs to try. Taking down notes? It makes Wakaba believe she is a real otaku race. Moeko asks Wakaba if her mansion has butlers, maids, horses and pumpkin carriages. Sort of. Like in a fairytale? They notice her cute hair accessory so Wakaba explains it is a keepsake from her late grandma to be handed down to her generation. Such a heavy burden to shoulder… Shiba lends a game for Wakaba to try. At home, Yuzuha and Otoha watch her play but then it gets more intensive… Oh my… Next day, Wakaba returns the game to Shiba because it is too advanced for her! Turns out this wasn’t a gyaru game but more of BL.

Episode 4
The friends are supposed to meet at the park. But Wakaba isn’t here yet. Maybe she’s got the meeting place wrong. They try to call her number. Shiba realizes this is a fixed line number but Moeko remembers she has a handphone. Well… Wakaba brought her cordless phone… No signal… When they finally meet, Wakaba is overcome with emotions that this is outing wasn’t a dream!!! They then visit Moeko’s house. Wakaba thought she offended her when she says her room is small and cute like a fairy’s house. With everybody reading their own manga, Moeko thought they should have just gone to a manga café. So they decide to make cupcakes but Moeko won’t let them help out and finish baking them from scratch. Tastes good. At the end of the day, Wakaba wants to thank their hospitality by paying them!!! Sorry, girl. Your friends don’t want to be friends for hire. In class, Wakaba has baked a cupcake based on Moeko’s recipe with minor adjustments. Obviously it is black and burnt to a crisp.

Episode 5
Mao is sighing like hell. Want to tell us what is bugging you? Seems there is a cute guy she likes who commutes with the same train. She secretly likes to stand close to him and even secretly takes his photo! But one day she sees a hot girl talking casually with him. So that’s the problem? Couldn’t she be just over-thinking that she might just be his friend? Since she can’t give up, she thinks of an image change. I don’t know why she wants to have a rich girl persona (girls, guys are after your boobs! Haha!) so who could be the best rich girl she can copy? Ah yes… We have a genuine rich girl here. Mao observes Wakaba’s every move. She might be even seeing things of how rich girls do things because she sees how Wakaba is walking on air when in reality she is not! More observations has her conclude rich girls like commoner foods and animals (I think Wakaba got the wrong idea about crows being cute little birds). Now she tails her to her mansion. Stunned to see how big it is? Even more stunning is about her talk with Otoha about tomorrow’s party and she has narrowed down to 50 dresses to choose from! Feeling the goal is too high to achieve? Giving up? I suppose. Mao would prefer to be herself. The next day, the friends wonder why Mao and Wakaba are acting the same. Did Mao take after Wakaba? Actually it is the other way around. She realizes Wakaba has always been trying to copy her. This means Mao is the ultimate girl, right? Yeah. The ultimate of the ultimate.

Episode 6
A week into summer holidays and Wakaba is already bored staying at home. Miss her friends? So when Moeko calls to invite her to the pool, she is so freaking relieved, bursting into a fit of happiness. Since the last time she wore a swimsuit was during elementary, I guess Moeko would gladly lend hers of last year since it doesn’t fit anymore. The friends meet up to buy theirs. They wonder why Wakaba is taking so long changing till they realize she doesn’t know how to put it on! Since it fits her, Moeko would gladly give it to her so Wakaba fears it may be cursed! We see the girls having a swell time at the pool. At the end of the day, as they plan to go to next week’s summer festival for the fireworks, this invokes a childhood trauma in Wakaba as she got lost during that time and thus her curfew. Poor Wakaba? Are they going without her? The answer is obvious…

Episode 7
Wakaba’s friends are outside her house. No, Moeko. You can’t just break down the gate to enter. Luckily Otoha is there and invites them in. When Wakaba sees her friends, it seems they have something they need to talk to not just her but big sister as well. It is about the festival. They want Wakaba to come along. They know about the curfew and promise to bring her home safely. Sure. If they can convince mom. Looks like the negotiation succeeded since we see Wakaba in her yukata meeting up with her friends. Moeko is good with the goldfish scooping so Wakaba wonders with this bundle of cash, how many tries she can get… Shiba is good at the shooting gallery while Mao aces at the crane game. The night ends with a great display of fireworks. Next day, fun is over. Back to school. Don’t even remind Mao about her homework. You think that’s bad? Wait till you see Wakaba. She is still in vacation mode, bringing her float and candy floss with her. Someone is not over the fun yet.

Episode 8
Wakaba is happy the school cultural festival is around the corner. She has been keeping a countdown date. Since a year ago?! The class is doing a play and Mao is the super director. Then check out Shiba who is sewing clothes although she is not in the play. Seems the costume is for herself in a play known as ‘life’. Or maybe it is this Miss Clover beauty pageant she wants to win. Shiba thinks highly of herself as beautiful but her friends don’t sound so convincing in rating her highly. Think taking off her glasses will make her look prettier? Not much of a reaction from her friends too. What about putting makeup? Too much of it! She is attracting stares for all the wrong reasons. Moeko wonders why Wakaba is so eager for the cultural festival. Her past record dictates she usually transfers away or develops fever from the excitement. Could it be she is coming down with one now?! Say it isn’t so! They see Shiba pouring a bucket of cold water on herself as some sort of superstition to win the pageant. She realizes too late it just looks stupid. Back home, Wakaba is so excited for tomorrow’s cultural festival that she cannot sleep and calls Moeko. It is 3 in the morning for God’s sake!

Episode 9
Wakaba is excited for the cultural festival but when she gets lost in the sea of crowd, she is seen cowering in trauma at some corner. Too much to handle, eh? Although she is a noob with many of the festival stuffs, she has lots of stamina to go everywhere. When they realize Shiba is not around, they think it must be that bucket challenge. She got sick. But because she doesn’t want to ruin her 100% attendance record, here she is! Sick and weak. Since it is impossible for her to participate in the pageant, they need to find a replacement. Wakaba? She is already wearing a dress that makes her look like a winner. So they settle and borrow next door’s maid café’s maid uniform (now this is much better!!!!!). Shiba is the one reeking with nervousness during the competition despite she is just at the backstage. Yuzuha and Otoha arrive just in time for the pageant to announce Wakaba as the winner! See?! The maid outfit always seals it!!! For her victory speech, she dedicates this win to her late grandma! So it’s not Shiba? But later she thanks her although Shiba can’t accept the trophy because it is not her who won it. She’ll keep trying and win it on her own. If she doesn’t win, she’ll just smash the trophy! Wakaba’s win soon spreads. Now she has legions of fan girls admiring her! It only serves to make Shiba feel more regret.

Episode 10
Well, what do you know? Wakaba can actually run fast in the relay! But it is Moeko who is the slowest and as the anchor, everyone zooms past her and they end up last. Eventually as Moeko reveals she sucks at any sports. But I’m not sure about this training to make her do a loop around the bar. Maybe it’s the most basic? She is having a hard time doing so. Mao does an easy flip but I’m not sure if we could understand how she explains it. Shiba tries but cannot do it and Moeko felt assuring there is a ‘comrade’. Now it’s Wakaba’s turn. She makes it look so easy with many multiple flips! As it is getting late, Moeko remains adamant to try till she gets it. Even her hands have blisters. Wakaba will even stay and accompany her till she is successful since she is trying so hard. Finally Moeko manages to perform one. Yeah, big success. Realizing Wakaba’s curfew is close, they quickly rush back and Wakaba makes it back in time. Phew. Then all the security barriers start erecting, turning this mansion into a high security prison?! So this is what a curfew is like?

Episode 11
Winter break is here but why is Wakaba feeling sad? No school means she cannot see her friends! They suggest visiting the shrine on New Year’s Day and this brightens Wakaba’s day. So when the friends converge on New Year’s Eve at Moeko’s place, Wakaba brings a box full of gold ingots as payment! Wakaba doesn’t know what a kotatsu is and she thought it was some dangerous creature. But after experiencing its warmth, it’s not so bad, eh? And of course the feet fight beneath it and I guess some got too comfortable that they might miss the shrine visit at midnight. At the donation box, Wakaba almost tosses a stack of notes into it! They pray that they will have fun again this year. Wakaba introduces the kotatsu to her family and they love it. Otoha has already ordered a bunch of them in different designs. Now they’re addicted to it. Wakaba fears the true nature of this ‘machine’ is to make people lazy!

Episode 12
Yuzuha and Otoha are fretting whether to tell Wakaba or not. Wakaba is surprised to see… Snow! Yup. This is her first time as every time it gets cold, the family will travel south where it is warmer. Shiba prefers to stay warm but Wakaba is doing a weird ritual to make it snow more! Then there is talk about moving up a grade next year and hoping everyone will stay in the same class. Wakaba is thinking of using her money as authority to keep that!!! Out in the snow, the friends have a snow fight. Then Wakaba starts thinking back all the fun times she had with them and it even goes as far back like as though her life is flashing before her eyes! Fun is over when Wakaba catches a cold. Shiba thought she made an insensitive remark that idiots don’t catch cold because Wakaba starts crying. Actually she is happy that they are her friends. Because of her father’s work, she constantly had to change schools and resigned to the fact she will be lonely. Thanks for being her friends. When they reach her home, they see giant decorated snow figures of Yuzuha and Otoha! The friends quickly remind her that they are her friends not because of money! Wakaba overhears her mom talking on the phone about dad needing to move abroad for work again. The shock has Wakaba collapsed with her eyes open!

Episode 13
Wakaba has been missing from school for 3 days. The friends make Shiba call the residence and she is panicking after putting up that cool display. Seems she is down with fever. After school they visit her home and they are still at awed at the mansion. So much so Yuzuha had to bring them in to see Wakaba. In her room, Wakaba tells her friends about her family moving again. Don’t worry. They’ll come to see her. What if it’s abroad? They’ll buy a plane ticket to see her! What if it’s on Mars?! WTF?! They suggest Wakaba to stay behind because she is a high school girl, she can live alone. Shiba is made to go help convince the family and again she is so nervous that it sounds like she is asking for Wakaba’s hand in marriage! But they reveal that only dad is going overseas. The family is not going and can stay. What a big relief. So it’s Wakaba’s part in misunderstanding? With that over, Wakaba orders heaps of pizzas to celebrate. They think she is still far off from being a gyaru this way but Wakaba mentions she may not want to be a gyaru all this time but rather a regular girl. How touching. Next spring, even better news that the friends continue to be in the same class. Wakaba is so happy that she faints!

OVA
Best episode ever? Because Wakaba and friends are working in a maid café!!! Banzai meido! It all began when the friends discussed about wanting to go to a hotspring inn but have no money. What better way than to work their share via maid café. Although Shiba was against this part time job, I guess in a democratic society… On the first day of the job, the friends realize the head maid is no other than Otoha! OMG! Only Wakaba doesn’t recognize her?! The friends get to know this place has been running as part of Otoha’s hobby. Oh, there’s Yuzuha hiding and recording every inch of Wakaba in action. Yeah well, Wakaba is so freaking clumsy at every step. I don’t know how this happened but Shiba who is already nervous donning the maid outfit did some magical girl service to customers who ordered rice omelette. So embarrassing as it is lame. Wakaba’s klutz continues as she even tried to become a customer! When a customer thanks her for a good meal, she is overcome with so much happiness that she wants to pay her with stacks of money! At the end of the day, Otoha hands them their pay. A big stack of notes! The friends can’t possibly take this much cash and hand them back! Except for Wakaba who might be getting the wrong idea that her first day on the job pays this much. The only unhappy person is Yuzuha because she wants to film more of Wakaba in action. But what is even better than that? The next day, Otoha introduces a new maid recruit. The friends are shocked that Yuzuha is in on this. Wakaba, you can’t even recognize your own mother?!

Wakaba, Wakata?
And as expected… It was hardly surprising that kind of ending. I mean, after watching this kind of predictable series season in and season out, you could have actually guessed what was coming and seen it from halfway round the universe. Really. Because here I was actually predicting there was going to be some sort of twist in the penultimate episode and true enough it came out as the ‘threat’ of Wakaba going away again. And when that really does happen, I also predicted and bet 100% that it will not come true. Believe it or not, accurately I predicted that it was only her dad that was going. Oh heck. It was like I was writing the script of this series, no? Why not? For a character that does not even appear or being heard in this anime, what a better way to send him away, eh? Despite the predictable nature of the plot of this series, it still does have some laughs and fun.

With the genre of cute girls doing cute doings in the midst of being done to death over the seasons, perhaps this factor is the one clouding the character development of such characters in the genre. Although not many characters in this series, you can’t help feel that they are not that deep. I mean, let’s think about it. For this kind of genre, would you rather have one of the characters with a deep dark tragic past or one that harbours a secret identity? No, right? I won’t go so far as to say the characters are shallow or maybe even one dimensional but if you are looking for deep character development, you’re looking at the wrong anime. Sure, each of the characters has their own unique personality like the BL loving Shiba and the whimsical Mao. But that itself doesn’t differ much. The only reason why you could feel the friends bond throughout the episodes is because, well, there are no other characters!

Of course the most amusing one is Wakaba herself as she is the star of the show. It is sometimes funny to see her trying to fit in and understand what common people do. To sum her up, she is a rich girl but with poor social understanding. She is like what a country bumpkin is when arriving in the big city. Naïve but sweet. Sometimes you want to laugh and mock at her naivety of things but you have to remember her circumstances that made her so. Because at one point too, we were generally like that. Albeit for most of us it happened during elementary school when we were still exploring and be at awed at the magnificent of things. Wakaba just took a little longer. That is why thankfully she has true friends whom she can stick with for a long time to guide her through the thick and thin of this thing we call society. Be prepared to be in for more shocks, Wakaba. The road to be a normal girl seems long. As long as she got the money, it will be even longer… Get what I mean?

I thought Wakaba is such a dreamy girl and her naivety compounds it. But I also keep wondering if this runs in her family because Yuzuha and Otoha seem to project a similar atmosphere. They might have less screen time and they sure look kind and polite but at the same time also have that dreamy feel too. Sometimes it makes me wonder if the entire family is retarded. Just loaded with cash. Oh sh*t! Did I say the wrong thing?! Or is it money that dumb them down because you know, they can just get everything and anything by just dishing out a stack of cash. Which is of course some sort of a running joke because from time to time we see Wakaba trying to fight her conscious as she takes out her stack of cash in hopes of getting the desired outcome. Because when you are this rich to even have a house that transforms into some sort of creepy high security prison, everyone is going to think that those close to your are just after your money. And thankfully Wakaba’s friends, despite they cannot get over the awe of how majestic her mansion is, they have to keep reminding Wakaba that their friendship is genuine and nothing to do with money. Ah, if only more friendships in this world were like this. Yeah, they’re trying to tell us here that money can’t buy friendship. How I wish that was so true…

Art and drawing are nothing to complain about. In line with the cute girls genre thingy, our female friends are looking as cute as ever and for those hardcore, they’ll definitely make your heart go ~kyun every time they flash a smile. I know. Big cute eyes and doll-like face, you can’t go wrong with your moe here. Produced by Nexus, this relatively new anime studio so far has only produced a handful of animes like Rakudai Kishi No Cavalry and Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai Yo Ne.

The voice acting is rather okay and nothing that extraordinary as the main characters are voiced by relatively new seiyuus. They are Ari Ozawa as Wakaba (Sakura in Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun), MAO as Mao (Akane in Jitsu Wa Watashi Wa), Mikako Izawa as Moeko (Satsuki in Locodol), Rie Murakawa as Shiba (Hotaru in Non Non Biyori), Juri Kimura as Yuzuha (Eruna in Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku) and Azumi Asakura as Otoha (Asia in High School DxD). The opening theme is Hajimete Girls by Ray. At first I thought it was the main quartet singing together but apparently not. Although there is an episode with a version of the quartet. Either way, hearing this song some makes my hair stand on ends! I don’t know. Maybe it is the way this cheerleading-like song that sounds too girly especially when they start singing the opening and chorus lines of “Ippo dashite, ippo dashite~”. Seriously, I just couldn’t stand it.

Overall, not the best anime of the season or will it be remembered in the long run but if you want something casual and funny or perhaps to brighten up your mornings on the weekends, this is the perfect tonic for that perfect relaxing mood for the day. Even though the morning is raining. It won’t take up lots of your time as each episode is around 8 minutes so I’m sure this could be the coffee fix for moe anime fans. It would be nice if this had another season. But too bad I suppose Wakaba didn’t flash her dollar notes at the face of the producers to make more. I mean, wouldn’t she want to continue to be animated in more adventures with her friends? Come on, Wakaba! Flash the cash for another season! Who says money can’t buy you friendship or another season now?