Active Engagement Through Timed Comments: GJ-bu

Studio Dogakobo’s GJ-bu was a cute 2013 comedy show centered around a c-list high-school club. The production team did a good job at pouring in a little bit of extra juice while putting the show together, pulling out a lot of zingy final-act punchlines to polish off its preferred brand of character-skit comedy. I personally found the on-screen product to be a hoot, and was interested enough in the broader audience reaction to pull himado comments and do some basic analysis.

For more information on this analysis method, see this similar post on Ping Pong The Animation, or this introductory post covering particular episodes of Shingeki no Bahamut and Carnival Phantasm.

Comment data for each 10-second interval of show tape is assigned a z-score based on how it performed relative to the baseline of its episode. Data can be found on this doc and is plotted below. Unlike in other cases, here there are no time discrepancies between the himado videos and the official version:

gj1 gj2 gj3 gj4 gj5 gj6 gj7 gj8 gj9 gj10 gj11 gj12

Let’s take a deeper look at what these graphs are actually saying – what were the most engaging moments of the series? There are at least two ways to attack this question. One, which individual 10-second intervals had the highest scores? Two, over what periods did the show keep a positive score the longest?

Largest Z-scores:

Over the 1800 10-second intervals measured, there were a total of 22 intervals with a z-score in excess of 3. Excluding the 7 in Episodes 1 and 2 that were OP-credits comments, that leaves 15 total intervals which produced exceptional amounts of commentary. That’s 15/12 episodes; compare with Ping Pong’s 14/11 episodes, Arpeggio’s 26/12, and GochiUsa’s 16/12. These moments, ordered from lowest to highest score, are:

15. Episode 7, 710-720 seconds (3.01)

-Megumi jumps onto Kyoro in slow motion.

13a. Episode 11, 350-360 seconds (3.07)

-Shion goes “nya” while wearing cat ears and a tail.

13b. Episode 8, 1080-1090 seconds (3.07)

-Mao does her best to get Seira to play along with her “Maa-chan” persona.

12. Episode 6, 770-780 seconds (3.22)

-Geraldine reunites with Kirara, and tells her she met “a samurai master” (in reference to Kyoro helping her purchase a train ticket).

11. Episode 12, 900-910 seconds (3.28)

-After the graduation ceremony, Mao, Shion, and Kirara wear their high school uniforms for the last time, and twirl around to show them off. Kirara does a backflip.

10. Episode 4, 620-630 seconds (3.33)

-Shion wears a butler uniform, and the Mao ribs on Kyoro’s reaction.

9. Episode 2, 1120-1130 seconds (3.53)

-Kyoro experience the immediate aftermath of deciding to armwrestle Kirara.

8. Episode 9, 410-420 seconds (3.58)

-Kyoro awkwardly uses a stethoscope on Megumi.

7. Episode 6, 610-620 seconds (3.69)

-Kasumi sees Kyoro with Mao (in Maa-chan mode) for the first time.

6. Episode 4, 990-1000 seconds (3.82)

-Mori does a twirl for Kyoro.

5. Episode 9, 700-710 seconds (4.03)

-After the club forces him to crossdress, Kyoro examines himself in front of a mirror.

4. Episode 11, 1240-1250 seconds (4.07)

-Kyoro reacts with flat shock after Mori calls him a coward for refusing a hair-brushing rematch with her.

3. Episode 9, 620-630 seconds (4.32)

-Kyoro examines himself in a mirror after the girls put makeup on him.

2. Episode 10, 1060-1070 seconds(4.98)

-Geraldine converses with Kyoro using a whiteboard, elbowing Kasumi in the solar plexus when the latter points out that’s different from how her friend usually communicates.

1. Episode 8, 450-460 seconds (5.68)

-Mao shows up in front of Kasumi in her “Maa-chan” persona, and Kyoro asks why she’s doing the exact opposite of what she had intended (i.e. telling Kasumi that the Maa-chan act was fake).

By my count, that’s 7 fanservice scenes, 7 comedy scenes, and 1 other. I kinda didn’t remember GJ-bu as a a fanservice-heavy show when watching it, but this is less about average amounts of content and more about what drew strong reactions. GJ-bu is obviously a bit heavier on fanservice in that respect than GochiUsa, which had a fanservice-comedy split of 4-11 in favor of the latter. Certainly room to speculate about what that means (more on this at the end).

Longest Periods of Positive Z-score:

There are 7 total periods in the sample where the z-score stays positive for 2 minutes or more. Only 4 of these are not heavily padded by the opening credits, and those four are listed below. Clips are low-quality, no-subs versions I cut myself; you can check out better, official versions of each episode on crunchyroll.

4. Episode 7, 610-740 seconds

-Kyoro gets an ashiatsu massage from Mao, while Shion awkwardly looks on and Megumi (to Kyoro’s horror) tries to join in.

2a. Episode 10, 1040-1180 seconds

-Kyoro goes Ore-man on Geraldine while she speaks to him through a notepad. Seira reacts negatively to this.

2b. Episode 3, 580-720 seconds

-Mao fakes a confession of love to Kyoro to prove a point about how guys overestimate their own popularity.

1. Episode 12, 430-580 seconds

-Before graduation, Kyoro and Kirara have a one-on-one conversation via text-message, and Kyoro combs Kirara’s hair.

If there’s a consistent pattern linking those four, it’s not immediately obvious to me. 2b is the only one impressive from an animation standpoint, and they center on different cast members and different jokes. The only thing that might be there to point out is that these are more heavily focused on comedic appeal than fanservice-y appeal.

From its blips, GJ-bu comes off as a more fanservice-heavy show than I remembered, certainly compared to any of the other shows I’ve run this analysis method on thus far. One immediate potential point of connection there is that it also sold fewer units per volume than any of the other 3 (Arpeggio and GochiUsa were 10k hits, Ping-Pong averaged ~3500 to GJ-bu’s ~3200).

I had a guess as to how those might be related and checked it against a pair of adaptations of low-popularity LNs (Gaworare and Jinsei) with lower sales totals than the aforementioned two. I suspected they would have blips which more directly favored fanservice, which would be in line with what’s been previously observed about shows unambiguously built around fanservice. For the purpose of this analysis, I classified fanservice as the following:

-Showing off appearance/looks (incl. nudity)
-Showing off a new outfit
-Taking off clothing
-Breast/ass fondling
-Deliberately risque camera angles

By these criteria, Gaworare clocks in with 10 of the 26 3-sigma blips being fanservice-laced (~38%), and Jinsei at 9/20 (~45%). These ratios don’t factor in degree of exhibition – GJ-bu’s fanservice was mostly outfit-based, while both Gaworare and Jinsei featured one wet T-shirt scene among their blips – but they tell a story of shows in which the audience definitively reacts to them “showing off” their characters to some extent.

A cursory examination of the blips in Tsukimonogatari, the most recent installment of the Monogatari franchise, reveals that the same may not be true of better-selling shows with a definite fanservice component. Out of 8 3-sigma blips in the 4-episode special, only 2 are derived primarily from the visuals in the bath scene from the first quarter. The bigger blips in that sample actually come from two characters celebrating Valentine’s Day and another impersonating Sailor Moon poses.I’d like to stress that there’s nothing certain being shown here as yet. 7 shows (including ones dissected in prior segments) just isn’t a large enough sample to solidly assert much about larger trends. This data is suggestive, though, and provides some motivation for a larger, more comprehensive study of how engaged viewers are in the fanservice of successful versus unsuccessful shows.**Albeit one I don’t really want to take on at the moment. Classifying some of the scenes in some of these shows made me feel more than a little uncomfortable.

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