Hey guys, Josh here, and….hoo boy…do I have a one for you. I should’ve known that this new series would be something…special…when even after much discussion, NOBODY at Beneath the Tangles volunteered to take it on. But me being the foolish dope I am, I jumped at the chance…and I now question everything.
You would think that after trudging through Rent-A-Girlfriend’s premiere episode that I would know better than to mess with a show that has the word “Girlfriend” in the title that isn’t called Mysterious Girlfriend X, but I am a glutton for punishment it seems. Girlfriend, Girlfriend is…well…it’s not gonna win any awards this season, as far as I can tell from this first episode. I mean, if you’re into harem romcoms, this one MIGHT give you something to sink your teeth into as it is, admittedly, a somewhat unique take on the harem anime trope, but from my eyes, this show just leaves you with so many head-scratching, face-palming moments, that the idea of coming back every week for the better part of two months fills me with trepidation and fear. But is it REALLY that bad? Or does it fall into the “so bad it’s good” category? Lets find out. I’m Josh, and this is my First Impression of Girlfriend, Girlfriend.
Let us pray.
Our series starts with our protagonist,
Makoto Itou—sorry, I mean Naoya Mukai. Seems our boy is living the dream right now. He’s currently going steady with a cute girl named Sekai Saionji—sorry again, I mean Saki, who he has had a long-time crush on since childhood, and is FIERCELY devoted to. And when I say “fiercely”, I mean that literally—this dude confessed his love to Saki once a month every month since first grade…and only now that they’re in high school did she finally return his feelings and they started going out. You know, that’s dedication…creepy, CREEPY dedication. But hey, the heart wants what the heart wants, I guess.
While waiting on Saki to finish up with basketball practice on the school roof, a mysterious purple-haired girl comes up and rather abruptly confesses her feelings to Naoya. Because that’s where all the best confessions take place, of course. That or underneath a blooming sakura blossom tree. Anyway, our new girl’s name is
Kotonoha Katsura—oops, sorry again…Nagisa Minase, and it seems as though she has feelings for Naoya herself, putting in hours everyday to make herself look as attractive as possible, and spending 8 hours and tens of thousands of yen to make a perfect lunchbox for him. Because that’s what all girls do whenever they want to confess to a guy they only just got the courage to speak to! Naoya is taken aback by this showing of love, and initially does the right thing by saying that he can’t return her feelings because he already has a girlfriend (what any NORMAL guy would do). However, Nagisa is not dissuaded by this news, and says that she’ll never give up on him and will confess her feelings again one day. This seems to strike a nerve with Naoya; he doesn’t want to turn down Nagisa, nor does he want to betray Saki. So what does he decide to do?
Does he spend some time trying to come to grips with his feelings?
Does he talk with someone who could offer up some sage advise?
Does he tell Nagisa, “Look, I have a girlfriend and I’m really happy with her, but maybe we can just be friends?”
NOPE! None of the above!
This MoFo decides to go for the “Have Your Cake and Eat It Too” option, and ask Nagisa if she would mind entering a relationship with him AND his current girlfriend. Because WHY THE HECK NOT?! And of course, Nagisa does the right thing and turns him down; after all, what self-respecting girl would want to be in a relationship with a guy who already has a girlfriend. Who in their right mind is okay being the backup girlfriend? That would be just silly–
OH COME THE EFF ON, NAGISA!!! YOU MEAN TO TELL ME YOU’RE ACTUALLY DOWN FOR THIS?! REALLY!?!? Good grief…
Anyway, the two run off to tell Saki the news after her practice. At first, Saki she seems happy with this new “friend,” until Naoya reveals that he actually wants to bring this new girl into the fold as another girlfriend. Saki takes this news about as well as you would expect—she pulls a Saitama and One-Punches him. However, Naoya is not dissuaded by this and sees this as being the only real, logical solution to this “problem.” Modern problems require modern solutions, I guess.
When Saki understandably grills Nagisa asking is she really okay being part of this arrangement, our purple-haired cutie is totally down for whatever, really wanting to be part of this foolishness. Eventually, both Naoya and Nagisa begin begging Saki to at least consider his proposal, promising her endless meals, money and…ahem…other things…and eventually…she agrees to give this whole thing a try. Naoya then has the bright idea to improve relations between his two new girlfriends by inviting them to live with him in his house.
Oh, but what about his parents? I mean, surely they would have something to say about their son wanting to date two girls at the same time and let both of them live under the same roof, right? Well, in this particular show, Naoya states he doesn’t even live with his parents and thus can bring the two girls into the house with no problems, having to only speak with Saki’s mom to get the all clear. I know this is a common trope in anime, especially in harem anime—the parents are either away on a business trip, divorced, or caught an acute case of dead, and usually the anime makes a point in pointing out what the situation is. This time around, the show doesn’t even bother with explaining anything and Naoya says that he just doesn’t live with his folks!
Later that night, while the two girls are sharing a bath (because of course they are), they discuss the elephant in the room…sex. Saki admits, much to Nagisa’s relief, that she and Naoya have yet to have any love-love time; heck, they haven’t even kissed yet. It’s then when Nagisa confronts Naoya; what EXACTLY does he want the nature of this relationship to be? Naoya actually ADMITS that he eventually the three of them to have love-love time. However, Naoya admits that they should perhaps get to know each other better and thus decides to put that feeling aside for the time being. Wow. What a guy.
And in fact, I think that’s the prime failing of Girlfriend, Girlfriend. Our male lead is just not a very likable guy and, as weird as this may sound, has not earned this affection of either Saki or Nagisa. What has he done that makes us stand up and say, “Hey, he’s a great guy—he deserves having these girls love all over him!”? To me, a good harem anime has a protagonist that doesn’t seek out the harem, but rather deals with the personalities and situations that comes to him, and from that, makes a decision, all the while remaining equally considerate to the others. Naoya only seems to be in this situation because he WANTS to be. This is a problem of his own creation! It’s like unscrewing a lightbulb from a lamp, smashing it on the ground and saying, “Oh, dang! I can’t see! The room is too dark! What on earth am I going to do?”
With regards to the female characters in this show…well…I don’t really know what to say here. One thing that I had to ask while watching this is, “What are YOU GUYS getting from this?” I mean, all we hear about is what Naoya wants; we don’t hear about what the other girls want out of this and what Naoya can give to them…especially Saki, who has, for all intents and purposes, been coerced into this entanglement, and is getting no obvious rewards from this other than still being Naoya’s girlfriend. What does she gain from this? And with regards to Nagisa…why is baby girl so intent on being 2nd?! Why is she seemingly okay with the idea of sharing this BOY with another girl? Both of these girls need their heads examined, and I think I need mine examined at the end of all this.
So where does that leave us with Girlfriend, Girlfriend? Well, lemme put it this way–if you ever wanted a happy version of the video game/anime School Days, this is for you. If you want watch a show that is just going to be a mindless yet well-animated romp, this is for you. Other than that, stay the heck away. As someone who actually likes a good harem anime every once in a while, this one just feels like it’s just trying too hard to be unique and just ends up falling on its face. I may stick around with this one for another episode or two just out of morbid curiosity to see if it can get any worse, but other than that, I’m giving it a hard pass and it would behoove you to do the same.
Girlfriend, Girlfriend can be streamed through Crunchyroll. Read our thoughts on all the new summer anime series, in addition to comments from our other writers, on our Summer 2021 Anime First Impression master post.