One of the problems with these short-pull series is that they seldom get aired through the normal channels. You then have to hunt them down and that can sometimes be a workout. I can’t comments as to why they exist in the first place, as I don’t know the artistic reasons to bring forth a show that only has 10-minutes segments for its run of twelve episodes. I also don’t know why Adam Sandler is still making films, but there you go. In any case, “Kenka Bancho Otome: Girl Beats Boys” takes a seriously weird look at juvenile delinquents and cross-dressing.
Our heroic heroine, Hinako Nakayama (him/her in the center) is an orphan and is shocked to physically run into a person who looks JUST LIKE HER! In fact, it is more than a mere doppelgänger, but her long-lost, completely unknown, bolt out of the blue, twin brother Hikaru Onigashima (there is an older brother, Houoh Onigashima, but more on him later).
Hikaru is physically unable to attend Shishiku Academy, a private boys school infamous for its rough-and-tumble student body, where everything is decided with one’s fists. Because they are undetectable, Hinako shears her long locks (while Hikaru dons a wig) and they swap places. The series details the struggles that Hinako has in not only being accepted into this mosh pit of academia, but securing his/her place in the school hierarchy.
Now, lest you think we are sending a lamb into the lion’s den, Hinako is one tough customer. Older brother Houoh (I told you we’d be discussing palindrome brother, that’s him with the brown hair behind Hinako) basically runs the school. But he is a last year (maybe; educational priorities are a bit slack) and the crown has to be passed on….to the younger brother/sister, if they can earn it.
This reminded me a huge amount of “Cromartie High School”, in that we all come to school, almost learn nothing (they do have a study session!) and spend most of the time fighting. But Hinako is able to win critical support, with her victories over Totomaru Minowa (blondie, lower right), Takayuki Konparu (greenie, just above), Rintaro Kira (black hair, left) and Yuta Mirako (silver).
Although there are whispers that the school is being run by…a girl…things get more vicious. Hinako is able to stay atop of things, but it is a tough row to hoe. Adding to this it the decision to have a kind of ‘Survivor’ approach, when there is a caliber of aside that allows the person in question to speak openly and honestly about how they feel and what is going through their minds.
I have been noticing these twists and turns to the school comedy, as with “Prison School” and “Shomin Sample”, but not one taken to this degree. One might even get the impression that delinquents are not the sharpest bowling balls on the rack, but you cannot deny their loyalty, especially since Hinako has earned it.
The only drawback to the show is one that sat on my mind: would we see how well Hikaru gets along in the girls school? As funny as this one is, with the fights and the posturing and the machinations, how well did Hikaru pull off being a girl? Perhaps that is in a second season or its own spinoff show. The problems at Shishiku are far from over.
Binging? You had better believe it, as it brings a sense of tension and uncertainty that gets lost with a one- or two-hit approach. You can also relish the level of cluelessness they all possess.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (A bit too troped)
Plot 8 (Weird take on gender bender)
Pacing 7 (Seems too uncertain)
Effectiveness 8 (Good use of fight sequences)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Bingeability 9 (Work to its behalf)
Overall 7 (I wish the episodes did more)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. You have a girl leading you?