Best Student Council? More like Pretty Good Student Council

Wow, another school-life comedy about a bunch of girls. The main character is a clueless transfer student. She’s also an orphan supported by a mysterious wealthy benefactor. Her only friend a back-talking puppet with a mind of its own (but not the kind that solves murder mysteries). And the student council she joins comprises a bunch of stock characters whose varying talents and personalities somehow work in harmony to achieve their collective goals.

Let me cut to the chase: Best Student Council is the third most generic anime in the universe.

And I ate this shit up.

Finally, a bunch-of-girls school-life comedy that doesn’t hang its hat on flashy animation, shitty jokes, and pedophilic fanservice. Best Student Council focuses on what truly matters in a school-life comedy about a bunch of girls: interesting character interaction.

The characters may be generic, but they’re utilized extremely well. From left to right and top to bottom:

  • Data girl
  • Spy girl
  • Teflon girl
  • Brat girl
  • Ninja girl
  • Useless girl
  • Useless girl’s wise-ass puppet
  • Girl whom everyone has a lesbian crush on
  • Irrelevant puppet from that one episode
  • Foil girl
  • Budget girl
  • Broken-English girl
  • Little girl
  • Synonym girl
  • Glasses girl
  • Tough-with-a-cute-side girl

Even if you wouldn’t like their standalone personalities, you’ll end up liking all these characters because of the value they each add to the cast. Many shows waste the potential of their large casts by giving only a small subset consistent, meaningful screen time. In Best Student Council, no girl is an island.

Another reason I got a kick out of Best Student Council is that I watched it dubbed (which is why I haven’t been calling it Gokujou Seitokai). I saw the first two episodes in English and stuck with it for three reasons:

  • I speak English
  • New voices sound weird when you switch from the language of first impression
  • Comedy is better dubbed

When you’re watching a subbed joke, you’re trying to put together three elements: a funny written line, a funny tone of voice, and funny visuals. That can never have a stronger comedic impact than taking in the line, the voice, and the visuals as one. Of course, subs are fine when the crisp delivery of a dub won’t do you any good:

  • It’s a Japanese joke with no English equivalent
  • The joke wasn’t funny in the first place

Dubbing is a dubble-edged sword: good jokes sound better but bad jokes sound worse. Like all comedies, Best Student Council has its share of bad jokes, but unlike some shows, it doesn’t follow up each joke with a report on why the joke is supposed to be funny. Best Student Council sees no need to masturbatorily congratulate itself every time it delivers a punchline. If you didn’t laugh when the joke was told, you’re not going to laugh when the joke is explained. Or explained again. Or explained again. The show makes its jokes and moves on.

I’d like to think that Best Student Council is an average show, or at the very least, what an average show should be. But that would be too optimistic an opinion of “average.” A show that offers nothing particularly unique but excels at the fundamentals and does nothing particularly wrong is well above average, especially considering the genre. And no, don’t blame my cynicism on K-ON; I’ve been underwhelmed by bunch-of-girls school-life comedies for a long time. Lucky Star, K-ON, Hidamari Sketch, Maria+Holic, Girl’s High, and Otoboku (to name a few) were all unique—uniquely shitty. Best Student Council beats all those “unique” shows simply by being fun to watch. And for that it deserves my praise.

Final Grade: +

Note: You can watch Best Student Council dubbed on YouTube or Anime Network. Both are free. Anime Network requires you to register. YouTube has poorly timed commercial breaks. The choice is yours.

43 Replies to “Best Student Council? More like Pretty Good Student Council”

    • Slice-of-life? Who uttered that dirty word? Best Student Council ain’t no slice-of-life, nor is Lucky Star, K-ON, or any of those other comedies that are so bland that they’re lumped into the slice-of-life genre by desperate fans trying to justify their objective merit.

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed at a line in a dub anime that was intentionally funny. I have, however, laughed my ass off at many comedies in Japanese. I think it has to do with not being such a slow-ass reader that I can’t look at the image on-screen and read the words at the same time, as well as having some knowledge of Japanese, and being good with what their speech patterns mean from having watched so much god damn anime.

    If I watched this show in Japanese, it would make me laugh because the cliche personalities and lines would be things I’ve heard a million times and have a comedic pretense in m mind. If I watched it dubbed, I’d probably just try to jam icepicks in my ears.

    • Subs can certainly be funny, but dubs can always be funnier. Reading subs quickly actually makes the problem worse because you’ve already read the joke before the verbal delivery. Experience doesn’t really make a difference because experience only helps with stuff you’ve experienced before. Comedy is funny when you don’t see it coming. Regardless, it’s an indisputable scientific fact that comprehending a spoken joke gives it a stronger delivery than matching a bunch of written words to a voice. If you know Japanese, that can certainly help because you’re understanding the joke exactly as it was meant to be delivered.

      I rarely laugh at Japanese comedies, though the problem is really with the writing, not the delivery. I grew up watching a lot of American comedy, which is light-years ahead of Japanese comedy. After all, comedy is the tradition of American animation. When I do laugh at comedy in anime, I’m usually laughing a situation, not a punchline. The only exception I can think of is Detroit Metal City. When I laugh at Zetsubou Sensei, I’m laughing at the ideas behind the jokes, not the delivery of the punchlines. I can’t even think of another comedy anime that’s notably impressive in terms of jokes as opposed to situations. Golden Boy was hilarious, but I watched that dubbed. Long story short, Japanese comedy sucks.

      I don’t mean to sound condescending, but I’m right, so I’ll say it anyway: I have higher standards for comedy than you. In the search for stuff that can impress me, I’m willing to sacrifice a lot. I don’t care what I’m “losing” with a dub; if it makes me laugh at one more joke, I’m watching it dubbed.

      Anyway, the Best Student Council dub seems very faithful to the sub, so if you’re watching it subbed and you think you can find the humor in subbed punchlines just as well or better, no big deal. However, when you’re watching the episode with Cyndi’s (American) mother, I strongly suggest watching it dubbed.

      • Hey baka-raptor, nice post/comment. But there is one thing you’re missing though in your line of thought, the cultural factor.
        I’m brazilian and i hardly laugh on american comedy shows with subs (although i can understand english), most of jokes just doesn’t fit the situation for me to laugh, because our culture is different. but when they dub it to portuguese, oh hell, they’re much superior, because they don’t just simply “translate” the jokes, they try to change the jokes to something more appropriate to our culture, something that is similar and will fit the situation… but it still is a different joke however …in other hand, japanese culture is more similar to our than american is, so it is more easy to get the japanese jokes anyway…

        In fact, knowing the language and the culture of america or japan, can help.

        But i don’t agree when you say japanese comedy sucks, because of the cultural factor it was meant to be that way.

        I laughed as hell in Golden Boy for instance, specially in the first episode, because i work in a software development firm, and there were so many situations i could relate to, one example is people saying about basic programming is for amateurs, actually in the enterprise i work, (Visual) Basic programmers are considered amateurs by others who develop in C++ or Java, because of the limitations of the basic programming they can do much little, compared to what C++ or Java can do, and thus, we always make some jokes of malfunction systems being programmed in basic, even if they are not.

        Try to watch some Brazilian Comedy for instance, i doubt you’ll laugh 😛

        • Well, a lot of American comedies suck too. A lot.

          Cultural factors can certainly make a huge difference. Have you ever read Gaijin Smash? It’s a hilarious blog by a big black American guy living in Japan. He recently wrote an awesome series of posts criticizing his wife’s taste in TV shows.

          First post
          Second post
          Third post
          Fourth post

          It’s amazing how a difference in culture can be the difference between finding something extremely entertaining and extremely boring.

          One reason I say that Japanese comedies suck is that I can often see the punchline coming from a mile away. Assuming predictable jokes aren’t such a big deal in Japan, it’s common knowledge that predictability doesn’t make jokes funnier (there are a rare exceptions, usually when repetition is involved). Another thing I don’t like is the emphasis on reactions to jokes rather than the jokes themselves (one of my complaints about Lucky Star and Maria+Holic). Assuming reactions to jokes are more important in Japan than other countries, it’s common sense that better jokes make better jokes rather than better reactions making better jokes. I could tell a crappy joke and pay someone to laugh really hard; that doesn’t make my joke any funnier.

          Another cultural issue is that American animation has experimented with animated comedy for so long that it’s currently at a state that’s harder for other cultures to understand. By that same token, when an American sees foreign comedy, his reaction might be that the humor is basic, worn-out, and no longer enough to impress him. It’s the same difference between Japanese and American animated action shows. Japanese animated action has progressed much more than American animated action in recent decades. You show them Ben 10, I doubt they’ll be impressed.

          This comment was way too long. I’m going to sleep.

          • Yeah, dinosaurs are vulnerable to sleep aren’t they ? I started to watch Lucky Star a few days ago, and i was ROFL, the jokes in lucky star sucks, i didn’t laugh in any of them, but the anime is so stupid and most of the scenes i could relate to (cultural factor again), that i was laughing about how crappy and stupid those girls are, and their reactions in the scenes also made me laugh…for instance, how can someone keep a normal conversation about how is the right way to eat something ? you can’t take anyone serious when you star to talk about those stuffs, other scenes was how Konata was procrastinating all the time, that is something i could relate a lot, i always let everything to be done in the last minutes…but ok, i admit it, lucky star scenes are way too forced 😉

            I read gaijin’s blog, slurping noodles are normal around here, but no one will ever complain if you don’t do it 😉 About the horny sounds in sex, i don’t know, i guess porn in america is at another level…it reaaaly depends on the girls in real life, some will cry, others will stay quiet (believe me, it is like having sex with a dead corpse), and there are always the girls who will scream and be horny… but japanese people are really shy about hanging out, contrary to brazil, where almost everyone loves a good party and to be outdoors =)

  2. “Dubbing is a dubble edge sword”
    Nice pun there; that got more than a chuckle out of me. ^ ^
    Although this anime seems formulaic, there’s a reason cliche are cliche, and I agree that when done well, even generic anime can be entertaining.
    Not so convinced on dubs though, but I rarely try any anime with dubs.

    • These days, most of the dubs I hear are pretty good. The industry is growing better with experience. Best Student Council has some of the inescapable dub problems, like redundancies and awkward pauses to match the English lines to the characters’ mouth movements, but overall it’s done well.

  3. Great assessment of the show. I watched it subbed when it first came out a while back, but yes it’s basically THE MOST generic show I’ve ever seen, but it’s also very ‘family oriented’ as I don’t remember there being any yuri or fanservice at all.

    While the puppet is perhaps the 2nd most annoying side character ever (behind the ostrich in Tide Line Blue), the rest of the cast is great for what it is.

    Great show for those of us who love high school hijinks and student council wackyness.

    • This was pretty tough review to write because the review I linked to made all the points I wanted to make (except for the dubbing, which is why I devoted half of my post to it).

      There is some mild, implicit yuri, notably in episode 3 with the payapaya. Otherwise, you’re right, it’s very PG, and in a very refreshing way.

  4. So.. does no masturbatory self congratulations mean no running gags? cuz I can see those being wince-worthy in such a series.

    Pretty uncommon to see a dub complimented in any way at all though.

    And, well, for all it’s worth, Lucky Star wasn’t thaaaaaaaaat bad. It simply got hyperinflated and became overrated. Like a less brutalizing karui ongaku.

    • there are plenty of running jokes, but they’re spaced out broadly enough to not get annoying. By “no masturbatory self congratulations” means they don’t continue to dwell on the joke long after the punchline, which happened all the time in Lucky Star:

      Character 1: Why did the chicken cross the road?
      Character 2: I don’t know.
      Character 1: To get to the other side!
      Character 2: Wow, what a funny joke!
      Character 1: I know, right?
      Character 2: And here I thought the chicken had an ulterior motive for crossing the road!
      Character 1: You are so silly!
      Character 2: Chickens are funny.
      Character 1: Blah blah blah
      Character 2: Blah blah blah

  5. I have never watched a comedy dubbed….in fact I think the last time I watched a dubbed anime (not counting movies) was Ranma 1/2 a few months ago, because I had no choice (I don’t mind it dubbed though). Actually no wait, I’ve been watching Yu Yu Haksho (slowly) and I’ve been switching back and forth between dub and sub for Tenchi Muyo, because I can’t which I like more.

    Some dubbed anime really isn’t that bad, now that I think about it….usually shows from the 90’s tend to have decent dubs.

    As for this show, I almost want to watch it just for broken english girl, but I feel like that would be more fun to see subbed.

    • I tend to prefer dubs nowadays. Just watched Gantz dubbed. Lines like “Cock-a-doodle-doo motherfucker!” are simply irreplaceable.

      Broken-English girl is an interesting case. Speaking in broken English is her Japanese role. In the dub her role is better characterized as Ineloquent Hick girl. Sometimes I love her voice; other times it’s retarded. However, the only reason it’s retarded is because it’s trying to be true to the Japanese voice.

      If there’s any one episode you should watch, it’s the episode when her mother comes to town. For the most part, the dubbing on her mother is awesome, but you also feel the conflict between trying to make the most entertaining dub and trying to remain true to the Japanese voices and lines. One of these days, I may even do a post comparing the episodes in English and Japanese versions.

      • Holy shit I’m re-watching Gantz dubbed.

        And holy shit, Broken English Girl does sound like she’s a bit slow in the head. For the most part, I can’t take shows with a mostly girls cast dubbed. The voices are just….idk it’s just not for me.

        • It takes some getting used to. From what I’ve seen of the original, the voices are very similar to the dub voices. In theory, that means if it sounds ok in Japanese, it shouldn’t sound much different in English. Or maybe the problem is that all-girls shows are stupid (except Queen’s Blade).

  6. I think I recall seeing the OP for this parodied by live action Gunpla, and filing it away in my mind to the void where things are never thought of again. But here I am, in the midst of a pretty shitty season, looking for a decent comedy show and what does Baka-Raptor do but deliver?

    And I watched Excel Saga dubbed, have no regrets about that.

    • I haven’t seen Hatsukoi Limited yet. I’m planning to watch it during my winter break. You see, I have this annual winter break tradition of marathoning a drama in the hope that it’ll thaw my icy heart and make me care about stuff like love and happiness. So far it hasn’t worked, mainly because I know that happiness is a lie.

    • Negima is the perfect example of a show with a large cast that only gives a few characters consistent, meaningful screen time. Nothing like Best Student Council. Also, Negima was all fanservice. Best Student Council is all substance.

  7. I’m drunk, listening to depressing anime music, an reading your blog. Fuck my life.

    P.S. The uniforms look like the ones for… St. le Rim or whatever the fuck it is’s uniforms in Strawberry Pornic.

  8. I agree, a show that does nothing special but also does nothing wrong? These days it’s well ahead of the pack…

    Also, more shows should deal with well-developed characters and intricate character interaction. That is not “Nothing special”, I’m sad to admit, it’s quite exceptional these days.

  9. I remember that I downloaded a pack of 2ch’s top 100 anime songs, and when I heard the OP for this show I liked it so much I decided to watch the whole show based on the OP. I felt it was fun in small doses, but not something you could marathon – 1 or 2 a day was how I did it.

  10. You might like Sketchbook Full Color’s[sic]. Just sayin’: It has a lack of plot, overused stereotypes, and a halting character development curve. The director also strangely decided that the main character shouldn’t talk for whole episodes, all the while doing nothing constructive (or not even moving for that matter – reminiscent of my sex life, really). In other words I absolutely loved it.

    Plus it had puppets. You seem to be into puppets (if you know what I mean *wink wink*), so if there’s a recommendation for you, that should be it.

    Though you’ve probably seen it. Just putting it out there, though.

    p.s.: It has Mamiko Noto. For like 10 seconds.

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