Known in Japan as Binbo-Gami Ga! (translated in English to This Poverty God), the series has been brought to North America under the name Good Luck Girl! This series at first glance is an self aware over the top comedy anime parody. That only scratches the surface of this series though, yes this series is chalk full of crazy comedy and references to anime past, but Good Luck Girl! manages to intertwine a well developed story with a lot of different emotions.
Our lead character Ichiko (voice of Brina Palencia) just about has it all; She's beautiful, intelligent, rich, well endowed (something pointed out over and over again by the insanely jealous Momiji), she has all the guys fawning over her, and the women lusting to be her. The list of her qualities goes on and on, The point is Ichiko may be one of the luckiest characters in any form of media. Beauty, however sometimes only runs skin deep. Ichiko is one hell of an ugly human being. She's consistently a bitch to everyone around her, she rubs in her gorgeous looks to the other girls, leads on the guys and pushes everyone away that tries to establish somewhat of a connection with her than her mistreated butler, Suwano.
This is where Momiji (voice of Colleen Clinkenbeard) who is commonly referred to as "The Poverty God", comes in. Momiji is the opposite of almost everything Ichiko is. Momiji is unpopular, she is a loner, financially poor, filled with unhappiness, and unlike Ichiko, she is flat as a washboard(again, something that is pointed out quite a bit by Ichiko, which makes her snap.) Momiji is sent from a realm full of gods with the task of one mission. To sap the "happiness energy" from Ichiko and give it back to her victims to balance out the world. Ichiko is so overwhelmed with happiness, she is literally sapping happiness from everyone around her. Obviously being Vain, Ichiko is NOT cool with this and thus begins an all out war between the two, with hilarious results. The backbone of this show is the relationship between the two. With the insane chemistry these two characters have together, you want nothing more than them to end up together as friends.
When the series is not focusing on the main story, the relationship and feud between Ichiko and Momiji, A big part of the series focuses on the one thing Ichiko does lack, family. Ichiko has no one close to her and refuses to let anyone get close to her other than an abused butler who unconditionally loves her, this situation is something she is seemingly OK with. Episode 3 is a favorite of mine because the series grounds itself. The episode focuses on the family aspect of the series and that money does not equal happiness. At this point Ichiko is still completely ignorant to people, She finds the wallet of a classmate who is always sleeping in class named Keito Tsuwabaki (voiced by newcomer Clifford Chapin) and decides to return it to him at his home. Ichiko's invited inside for dinner because of the gesture and she comes to find a broken down home where Keito takes care of 4 kids after his parents abandoned them, working full time to support them (which causes his sleeping in class.) During the meal, Ichiko pompously throws money at them which angers Keito, which ends with him angrily throwing her out. During the course of their time together, he shows her it doesn't take money or objects to be happy, all you need is family, A concept that is completely lost on Ichiko due to never having one.
Over the course of a few episodes we're introduced to other members of the core cast. First is Bobby (voiced by Patrick Seitz), a wandering monk who turns out to be a pervert of the highest degree. Next is Momo'o (voiced by Todd Haberkorn), a masochist dog god who is summoned by Momiji to bring Ichiko down, and lastly at the halfway point we meet Ranmaru (voiced by Martha Helms), a tomboy who is initially an enemy to Ichiko, but ends up seeing through her facade and tries to befriend her.
If you don't like over the top comedy, or a show that parodies others, then Good Luck Girl! is definitely not for you. For example, in this series you will see a Momo'o turn Super Saiyan, Momiji doing pushups as Goku from Dragon Ball Z, Ichiko and Momiji studying each other in the form of Light and L from Death Note and Momiji making a hasty escape as Lupin (cameo from Sonny Strait) from Lupin III. It's a series filled with these brilliant moments. As a warning to fans who like or dislike fanservice. The show does mix in a bit of it with some random instances and the classic hot springs episode (which Momo and Bobby make fun of and sing about the trope in a glorious scene.)
In the end though, even with all of the parody moments, Good Luck Girl is a story about friendship and happiness. Ichiko wants so much to be loved by someone, but shes too scared to let anyone be close to her in fear of them leaving her. When her back story is fleshed out, it's quite touching and you feel for this seemingly vain woman. She's a person despite Momiji trying to take everything from her, actually doesn't want to lose her. Behind all of the gags, parodies and random craziness, Good Luck Girl is actually quite the touching story that has a lot of heart. I wish most series' that are set up like this succeed more often.
- One of the funniest anime I have watched. Ever! This show is so over the top, but somehow manages to stay grounded at the same time. A task that's not easy to pull off, but here it's done flawlessly. If you like stuff like FLCL, Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, Panty & Stocking, or Level E, I'd say Good Luck Girl is for you.
- The dub. I know I praise dubs quite a bit, but when FUNi is handling it, they almost never disappoint. With Good Luck Girl! that is no different. The standouts for me are Brina Palencia and Colleen Clinkenbeard as the 2 leads, they did a fantastic job with both of their characters. Todd Haberkorn and Patrick Seitz were both hilarious as Momo and Bobby. Lastly Clifford Chapin and Martha Helms round out the main cast, they're both newcomers in the professional voice over world (I believe in the commentary they say it was their first respective lead roles), they both did a solid job as well, I hope to hear more from both of them.
- The lead characters. Ichiko and Momiji are one of the best anime pairs I've seen in a long time, they click on all levels and their relationship in this series is very interesting to watch unfold.
- The Supporting cast. Somehow, I honestly don't know how, the supporting cast is actually just as funny as the leads. In particular, Momo'o and Bobby are an absolutely hilarious pairing, and they end up bringing some of the biggest laughs of the series.
- None, Other than there's no season 2. Good Luck Girl is one of the best anime I have watched in recent memory.
Video and Audio:
The animation in Good Luck Girl! is stellar in this department. The series is animated by Sunrise (Cowboy Bebop, Code Geass, The Big O and Tiger & Bunny) so it's not surprising how great the animation is in this. The bright and vivid colors are perfect for this show, and they really pop in the key scenes, IE Momo turning "super saiyan." The few action scenes this series have are typically beautifully done with the animation remaining constant and fluid. It really is a beautiful show.
For Audio, we're given a TrueHD English 5.1 dub track and a Japanese stereo track. As usual, I listened to the English track. The audio is crisp and clear throughout, I watched the series with no disruptions of dropouts or distortions.
For Extras we are given pretty much the standard fare from FUNimation, however the commentaries here are set up a bit differently than the standard we usually get. While the normal discussing the episodes happens, we're also at some points treated to Q&A's from a character of a past FUNimation title. During these commentaries you'll hear from some characters like Vegeta (Dragon Ball Z), Lupin (Lupin III), Zoro (One Piece), Soul (Soul Eater) and so on... I was really glad to see this format, as it fits the tone of the show.
- Episode 4 commentary with Brina Palencia (Ichiko) and Todd Haberkorn (Momo).
- Episode 8 Video commentary with Brina Palencia (Ichiko), Colleen Clinkenbeard (momiji), Martha Helms (Ranmaru), and Joel McDonald (ADR director.)
- Episode 12 commentary with Colleen Clinkenbeard (Momiji) and Martha Helms (Ranmary.)
- Standard FUNimation trailers.
- U.S. Trailer for the dub.
- Textless opening and closing themes.
The Limited Edition set comes housed in a nice glossy chipboard art box that fits the tone of the show quite well, capturing the randomness.
Good Luck Girl is easily one of the funniest anime out there. The series has an exceptional cast, TONS of laugh out loud moments, and a story that seemed like your standard fare that turned into something special. The re-watch value is extremely high as well, as long as you're a big anime fan then you will love going back to catch all the references to anime past! Highly Recommended.