Girl Friend BETA – 07

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After careful deliberation and due to impending scheduling conflicts, I’ve decided that this will most likely be my last review of Girl Friend BETA, though I’ll still be watching it. Coincidentally, this last episode I’ll review is about an ending…the ending to Natsume’s novel about a kooky collection of ridiculous characters who save the world that she’s been working on since elementary school.

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I must say, this story hits very close to home, as I myself have written a novel and, related to a lot of Natsume’s troubles, including hitting backspace again and again! I had the hardest time finishing it, and ended up resorting to the same strategy that Natsume’s friends recommend: setting deadlines. I also created a rough outline of how the story was to end, giving a basic framework for the novel that I could tweak as I filled in the details. Granted, my novel didn’t have anthropomorphic dogs, monkey bartenders, or drunk cyborgs!

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Natsume first confesses her writer’s block to library assistant Fumio, who reads it and really wants to know how it ends. She then accidentally shares it with four other girls (Chloe, Erena, Chizuru, and Emi, if you were wondering) who all gather ’round Natsume to urge Natsume to finish it.

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The five seek to aid Natsume by researching the nature of her characters, and end up wrangling four more girls into the operation (Isuki, Tsugumi, Yuzuki, and Miss Monochrome) This follows the Girl Friend BETA formula of solving a problem with an ever-increasing, dizzying array of colorful characters, some we’ve seen before, others we haven’t.

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It’s all quite a bit of attention and pressure placed on Natsume, but as the other girls continue contributing their assistance and support, Natsume finds she’s stopped hitting backspace all the time; the block is lifted, and she has an idea how to end it!

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Again, I have felt the joy of that “Eureka Mode” before, where the words just pour out of your hands and onto the laptop, to the point you don’t stop even if it’s well past the time you’re usually asleep. I have yet to replicate the awesome feeling one gets the moment the final words hit the page.

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Natsume’s is an ending everyone ends up loving, for different reasons. But it’s a bittersweet moment, because she had had so much fun living in the world she was creating. She’s arrived at the destination in tears, knowing the journey she loved so much is over. But hey, that’s what sequels are for, and she promptly starts work on a continuation of her story.

This was another nice little episode in a show that’s full of them. GF Beta is definitely doing something no other show is doing, and for that reason I’ll keep watching. It’s great “comfort food.”

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Girl Friend BETA – 02

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This episode is all about Kokomi’s anxiety about gaining weight as the day of her gymnastics competition approaches. Interestingly, all her conversations and even a question from the teacher all seem to be related to “weight” or “reaping what you sow.”

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As Kokomi mills around school enduring this kind of talk, Chloe is in a not-so-heated debate with Fumio on a wide range of issues, from fried chicken to the trends of Japanese teenagers.

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Kokomi ends up in the equivalent of the Dieting Club when they learn she’s interested in losing weight, and they start running and exercising furiously throughout the afternoon.

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Their plan backfires when they’re presented with a large supply of hi-calorie, hi-carb melon buns (Kokomi’s favorite) as thanks for Kokomi being on the radio show, under the mistaken impression the other girls are helping her train for the competition, not lose weight. The girls cannot resist the buns and eat many of them. I would have, those buns look goood.

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Kokomi goes to often-sleepy model Miyoshi Nao, who has never dieted herself but knows everything there is to know, and picks her brain, learning what she should have known all along: her weight gain was due to putting on muscle, not fat. The resulting plan involves balanced nutrition – no starving oneself. Kokomi ends up taking first at the prelims.

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When their classmates learn that Nao was Kokomi’s secret weapon, they all reach out to her, hoping she can help them, too. Since Nao admired Kokomi’s ability to make friends with girls outside her class and grade, Kokomi’s success ended up making Nao a lot more popular, and gave her the opportunity to talk with more girls. So everybody wins!

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Girl Friend BETA – 01

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With my schedule pretty much set at five shows plus one short, Girl Friend BETA was the last Fall show on my preliminary watchlist to check out, and, well, I’ll give it this: it’s a lot different from everything else I’m watching. By far, it is the most “slice-of-life-y” slice-of-lifes I’ve encountered this season, with very little in the way of conflict.

It’s just a typical school day from start to finish for Shiina Kokomi, member of the rhythmic gymnastics team. Ironically, she can’t get into a rhythm during morning practice because she is continually encountering other characters who want to have a word with her. During one of these conversations, the French exchange student Chloe drops a family photo, and it becomes Kokomi’s mission to track her down and return it to her before the day is out, or the world will end.

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Well, the world won’t really end, it will just be a minor convenience. Still, in her epic search for Chloe, Kokomi canvasses literally dozens of characters throughout the school. Like the mobile game it’s based on, this show is packed with characters and many well-known seiyus, leaving me to wonder if the point of said game is to “collect ’em all.”

The separation between “girl” and “friend” in the official show’s logo also suggests this is more about making friends who are girls than having girlfriends, at least so far—though one such girl does make Kokomi blush, and when she finally finds Chloe and returns the photo, she gets a kiss, though Chloe’s French, so it’s not meant to be romantic. I actually like how Chloe’s seiyu tries to replicate someone for which Japanese is not their first language, though the effort is somewhat undercut by bad French.

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Girl Friend BETA is kinda like Oberto Beef Jerky: You get out…what you put in. Many of Kokomi’s conversations feel a bit stiff and formulaic, and the sheer volume of characters can be daunting, especially in a season full of shows with large casts to keep track of. Still, there’s nothing particularly awful or offensive about Girl Friend BETA, and has the makings of a passable “rest” show to spool up whenever you just want to turn your brain off and simply enjoy a school slice of life.

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