OP: 「ゴクドルミュージック」 (Goku Doll Music ) by Goku Dolls Nijigumi
「わしらアイドル始めました. / 親分! 先生? プロデューサー!? / 甘酸っぱい思い出 / わかってくれてる / 打倒!! ヤクザ!!」 (Washira Idol Hajimemashita. / Oyabun! Sensei? Producer!? / Amazuppai Omoide / Wakate Kureteru / Datou!! Yakuza!!)
“The Beginning of the Idols / Boss! Teacher? Producter!? / Sweet and Sour Memories / A New Understanding / Overthrow!! Yakuza!!”
Three Yakuza are punished to undergo sex change operations to become idols at the behest of their idol-fanatic boss. It’s an elevator pitch that is bound to raise eyebrows, and is at high risk of exhausting the novelty of its concept by recycling the same premise of seeing the “Goku Girls” work their way around keeping their cover as idols despite never really giving up their rambunctious Yakuza identities. It wants to be cut from the same cloth as Prison School as a series with hyper-realistic artwork and comically degraded characters who push themselves past their comfort zones to achieve their goals, but Back Street Girls doesn’t share the same level of quality in its animation or its cast.
One problem that becomes apparent is how the Goku Girls feel in-distinctive from one another, personality-wise. Sometimes they are passionate about their boss, and other times they can’t think of a single good thing to say about him. They often try to check each other in public when one is acting out their hot-headed Yakuza mind-set, but at the same time, are perfectly fine in acting out in front of their new coach. The boss seemed like the kind of character who would be comically depraved as he’s more than happy to act as the manager to his new idol group, but his humorous side is thrown out when they still have him act like a Yakuza boss. As the episode goes on, the boss is positioned more as someone whose violence and attitude against the Goku Girls is considered to be comedic because the characters used to be male Yakuza members who can take the punishment, but these jokes find a hard time sticking the landing when they feel too caught up in the boss’ cruelty towards them as he gets off on tormenting them.
Luckily, there are still many hilarious moments in the first episode, and the show really is at its funniest when the Goku Girls have to apply their street knowledge to the idol world. Much of this is brought out through the coach character, who is unimpressed with their Yakuza-themed lyrics and attitude, opting to try to get them to act more like the part. It was funny to see how the three were able to understand the coach’s “first love” pep-talk by relating it to a conversation they had with a mentor before his fate was sealed in prison, as well as the general imagery behind an idol pounding down an entire bottle of Jack. The hand-shaking event is easily the highlight of the episode as the Goku Girls have to begrudgingly shake their otaku fans’ hands up until they find out one of their fans was a high-level Yakuza member who tortured them. The trajectory of the scene was hard to predict as the tension started building and the impulse for the idols to attack him was at its peak until one brave otaku misunderstood a rigorous handshake with sexual harassment, resulting in an otaku mob ganging up on the Yakuza member.
If Back Street Girls plays its cards right, it could potentially be a comedy that would be hard to miss this Summer. However, it’s premise could also potentially result in one-note jokes that revolve around the Goku Girls having to face standard idol obstacles with shadows cast over their eyes and a desire to throttle everyone around them. The animation also doesn’t have what it takes to handle the manga’s photo-realistic character designs like Prison School did, and is undercut with visuals that look like each frame is a colored-in manga panel. Back Street Girls might be original, but it might not be the only one, isn’t all that sexual, and definitely isn’t everything you need.