Sora TokuiAkari KageyamaAina SuzukiNatsuko Hara
Crane Game Girls Galaxy
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2016: C
Also known as: Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Geeru Galaxy
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2016
Director: Tommy Hino
Writer: Kazuho Hyodo
Actor: Natsuko Hara, Rico Sasaki, Sora Tokui, Sarara Yashima, Aina Suzuki, Akitaka Mizutani, Akari Kageyama, Aya Uchida, Mikoi Sasaki, Hippo, Nao Fujita
Keywords: anime, SF
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: Season Two: 12 thirteen-minute episodes
Website category: Anime 2016
Review date: 19 April 2017
Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Geeru
You'd be hard-pushed to find anything more disposable. The animation's cheap and terrible, the storyline's silly and the show as a whole is a jumped-up advert for online crane games. I only watched Season 1 because each episode was only four minutes long and it took me six months to get around to bothering with Season 2, but even that derisory level of commitment is the best this show could realistically hope for.
I enjoyed it. It's quite fun, in a throwaway way.
The episode length put me off at first. Thirteen whole minutes? Good grief. What does this show think it is, a proper anime or something? I was only prepared to watch more of this show if it didn't take any significant time to do so. Fortunately, though, you can skip past over a third of its running time. Here's the episode breakdown:
(a) Opening credits = 1.5 minutes (skip)
(b) Story = 8.5 minutes (watch only if you really have nothing better to do, or if you're compelled through sickness to seek out everything silly and trivial)
(c) Blatant advert for online crane games = 1.5 minutes (don't even consider watching this)
(d) Closing credits = 1.5 minutes (skip)
The first crane game advert I watched was amusing for how blatant it was, but the joke soon got old. That's because it's not a joke. This show exists to publicise crane games, which are arcade games where you use a remote-controlled claw to try to get toys out of a glass case. These are everywhere in Japan and they're harder than they look. Season 1 actually built crane games into its plot, which involved protecting the Earth from destruction by playing arcade games that made asteroid-repelling laser beams shoot from your head. (This was mental, but also repetitive and kind of dull.) Season 2 can't be bothered with all that, though, so it has a main plot that's lacking in crane game action! Solution: a little bonus segment after the main show, talking about crane games and explaining how easy and convenient it is to spend your money on them! It seems that someone's invented online crane games, for all those potential gamers who can't face the stress of leaving their house and visiting a game centre. You can laugh, but this actually sounds like a reasonable idea. It seems more intuitive than computer games based on cricket or golf, anyway. Those robot claws are already remote-controlled. It's not a big stretch to make them remote-controlled over the internet. You're thus controlling a real claw in a real crane game, trying to win real prizes that will be delivered to your house.
I have no interest in playing it, though. I have even less interest in watching twelve badly animated conversations about the wonderfulness of online crane games and how convenient I'd allegedly find them.
As for the show's actual plot, this involves rival idols. (Run away!) Season 1's heroines (Mirai, Ayaka and Kyoko) have become an idol group that saved the world with their cute dancing and pop songs! Now, though, they're threatened by Dark Cherry! This is a rival idol group (Hikaru, Rumie and Rei) that works for Dark Gorilla and is trying to invade the world... in theory. In practice, though, they're a bit rubbish. One of them's a lazy, unmotivated nerd who just wants to spend all day on the internet. One of them's an airhead on a permanent sugar rush. The third one's actually trying to take her responsibilities seriously (i.e. invading the Earth), but isn't very good at it and will occasionally go into Devil Mode and start attacking her teammates if they're being particularly irresponsible.
In other words, it's fairly eccentric as an idol show. However it's certainly not an alien invasion show either. What it has instead are three villain protagonists who aren't particularly villainous even to start with and will be completely won over by their enemies before we're even halfway through the series. They just like hanging out together. Responsible Girl With Big Boobs has a conscience attack about this, but her friends immediately talk her around. There's also a B-story about the idol manager who seems to have switched sides from good to evil and will be going around in a gorilla costume while also dressing like the Three Musketeers.
Also, in fairness, the show isn't taking itself seriously and has imagination. Ep.4 is quite amusing, with the girls nearly realising that Saya's working for the enemy... but fortunately they're stupid. Ep.5 starts with a gorilla giving a press conference. Ep.7 has Dark Cherry deciding to retire, which ends with them all becoming shaven-headed nuns. Ep.10 has an interstellar idol tournament with all kinds of wild entrants: a sub-atomic idol group of elementary particles, a race of obelisks from Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 whose singing evolves you into superhumans, a Schwarzschild Horizon group from a black hole, etc. (Admittedly we never actually meet any of those groups, but I still got a kick from the show's light-hearted ideas.)
Then there's the super-cheap animation. It's so bad that "bad" isn't really a meaningful description. It's just itself. I got used to it quite quickly and soon it wasn't a problem. It's the computer-generated equivalent of cardboard cut-outs being pulled across a sheet of paper... but it's also quite watchable. The character designs are simple and appropriate for the level of movement and it actually works quite well in its way.
Is this show good in any meaningful way? Hell, no. It's amusing at best, but it's doing enough to keep your attention in nine-minute bursts. I also think it's genuinely playful and finding quite a good tone for the self-consciously silly story they're telling. I quite liked the rubbish villains who are soon rejecting their own villainy. I like the fact that Season 1's world-saving heroines aren't really the protagonists this time, instead being at best supporting leads. There's no real point in seeking out this show and it's proud to be a lightweight waste of time, but I did enjoy it in a low-intensity sort of way. The advert segments are a bit painful, mind, but you can skip those.