Back Street Girls -GOKUDOLS- – Anime Review
Synopsis: To pay for an epic blunder, three yakuza brothers are forced to alter their bodies, form a girl group and break into the underground J-Pop idol scene. (Official Netflix Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Back Streets Girls had parts of the anime fandom filled with apprehension. The very premise gives pause thanks to its haphazard handling of gender identity, sex change operations and perhaps the LGBTQ community as a whole. Japan doesn’t have a great track record in regards to any of these topics, and Back Street Girls seemed poised to deliver overtly offensive comedy. The truth of the matter is Back Street Girls lacks enough thought to be anything more than a bizarre, often strange, and only occasionally funny series.
On the surface Back Street Girls lacks stellar animation. Animation buffs better steer clear, as the Gokudolls are depicted in an entirely budget affair, often using still shots, and minimal animation (near exclusively for lip flaps) to tell the tale of three Yakuza turned into pretty, pretty idol girls. There’s nothing impressive, nothing that’ll have you oohing and awing like the new Dragon Ball Super movie. That said, the presentation fits with the series absurd, bizarre and not entirely understandable train of thought, and I don’t think stands as a true detractor.
Gokudolls is all about the comedy, or the attempts there of. Truth is that beneath its wacky, borderline offensive premise, Gokudolls is a series of increasingly bizarre strands of comedy that sometimes work, but more often fall flat. The first episode is pretty dry, taking a long time to build up to a single gag that actually had me letting out a good chuckle. Most of the time the series is merely amusing, or sometimes unintelligible, with goofs that left me scratching my head as to why someone being locked up and made to watch porn with a horny dog next to them was supposed to be rib-ticklingly hilarious. The series jumps wildly between unfunny, amusing, and sometimes, only just, hitting true laugh-out-loud highs.
What’s frustrating is that Gokudolls actually has a few longer plot threads that could’ve produced some really strong laughs. There’s an ongoing gag about individualizes who’ve ended up victimized by the Yakuza Idol Group, but the ultimate culmination of this story falls flat on its face, as do many other ongoing threads.
Much of the series is focused on our three leads, the titular Gokudolls, struggling to adjust to their new way of life. Since the show has no deeper thought applied to its central premise, this is where the series frequently flips between borderline anti-trans, to, oddly enough, staunchly pro-trans acceptance. It all depends how much you want to read into it, since nothing beneath the surface is at all coherent besides its stringent focus on trying to produce oddball hilarity.
In fact, Gokudolls best humor is actually when it starts to step further away from the sex change gags. When the series focuses more so on the Gokudolls trio accidentally letting their former Yakuza personas seep through, things can get pretty funny. But the last few episodes double down on sex-change absurdity (and really just bizarre body surgery in general) that really makes everything drag.
Ultimately I don’t think Gokudolls is terribly offensive, but it’s also not very worthwhile either. It’s best for people who just want an insane comedy that’s happy to go as far as anal bleeding and back (we actually skip right over feces humor). But Gokudolls isn’t at all a must watch for general audiences that perhaps want a little more from their comedies.
Back Street Girls -GOKUDOLS- is available for streaming via Netflix.