Up until last night, I never intended to rant about Gokujou. In all honesty, I try not to think about it too much, because the memory of the time spent watching it is still quite painful to me- if the truth must be known, I broke down and became unable to continue a few minutes into episode twelve. Nonetheless, when I read the news that ADV have licensed Gokujou, or as they call it, Best Student Council, I knew that I could stay silent no longer. For where the other five people who have watched the show would no doubt argue that it is a hidden gem bursting to the brim with hilarity, I must present the opposite view, the opinion of someone who subjected herself to episode upon episode in a vain search for entertainment.
Gokujou Seitokai is the tale of Randou Rino, a typical good-natured but generally dim-witted lead who goes around with a creepy talking puppet on her hand. Through a series of unlikely and most likely engineered circumstances, Rino ends up becoming a member of the student council (the titular Gokujou Seitokai) on her very first day at Miyagami girls secondary school. As it turns out, Gokujou Seitokai is more of an over-the-top special ops team than a regular student council, and now poor, clueless Rino is stuck in the middle of their antics.
Upon first hearing about Gokujou Seitokai, it sounded as if I was onto a winner. The crazy parodical humour of Excel Saga combined with the high school comedy of Azumanga- where could it go wrong? Unfortunately, within the space of a few episodes, it soon became clear that going wrong was something Gokujou had little to no trouble with.
Had Gokujou simply been a case of being completely and utterly clichéd, there would have been little need to rant; it wouldn’t have been a particularly inspiring experience, but at least it would have been an inoffensive way to pass the time on those dull days when you can’t think of anything better to do. Impossible as it seems, however, Gokujou manages to mess up even the standard formula; what should have been the obligatory swimming episode, for example, turns out to be about sixteen minutes of dull council meeting before anyone even goes outside. This kind of council meeting scene seems to permeate the entire series, meaning that before you can even get to the generic storylines and predictable punch lines, you must first wade through endless minutes of utter tedium. Of the episodes I saw, only the cooking competition in episode six offered much in the way of entertainment; episode twenty-two’s Yu-Gi-Oh spoof did look promising, but I simply couldn’t make it that far.
A sub par plot can often be compensated for by interesting characters, but here again Gokujou completely fails to succeed. Instead of developing a more manageable cast, Gokujou simply throws character upon character on the screen (the OP in itself shows about 14-16 named characters), each more bland and stereotypical than the last. Alongside the clueless Rino, the series offers such fascinating personalities as the universally beloved council president (effectively the leader of her own HARD YURI harem), the meganekko, the Engrish-speaking American girl, the hot-headed Assault faction types, the cool and calm Covert faction types, the loli landlady- all-in-all, a group so interesting and well developed that even remembering their names is something of a struggle.
Gokujou Seitokai could have been an amusingly over-the-top high school comedy in the vein of Ouran and School Rumble, but instead, it proved to be something far, far less. With ADV releasing the likes of this and Coyote Ragtime Show whilst leaving the excellent Kurau in permanent limbo, hope for the future is slim indeed.