God, you should see my writer cohort's Crunchyroll history. It's like a litany of... Well, exactly what you think he'd watch. Gdgd Fairies, that Wonder Momo anime, Teekyu, the list goes on. He even watched Yuyushiki once for some reason. Anyway, that's where we got almost all the screenshots for this one- 1080p screenshots from a premium Crunchyroll account. The one at the very bottom of the page, though, was taken from a textless version of the show's end music video, for the song テーマ「若い力 -SEGA HARD GIRLS MIX-. Oh, that's right, punks, wily ol' Ed can type Japanese now. Sorry, where was I going with this? Oh, yeah, the screenshots. You can click them for a much larger version, if that's your thing.
Also, we'd better warn you...
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE FINAL EPISODE OF SEHA GIRLS.
YOU WERE WARNED, PUNKS.
Who saved anime in 2014?
Well, we didn't see a second season of Nichijou, so not that.
Sailor Moon Crystal had many arcade scenes, so I am told, but also not enough.
And Jojo's is still on my list to watch, so the answer must be Hi☆sCoool! SeHa Girls, right?
[Wait a minute... This isn't anime, is it? I genuinely don't know anymore.
If you're confused- and believe me, that's understandable- SeHa Girls really stands for Sega Hard Girls, anthropomorphic representations of classic Sega hardware such as the Mega Drive, SG-100 and Game Gear as designed by Hatsune Miku artist KEI (with a separate series of girls based on Sega's arcade hardware designed by other artists). Created in 2013, these cute versions of Sega consoles have shown up in places like the PS Vita port of Samurai and Dragons, light novels, and Dreamcast even made a cameo in Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax's story mode, but in June 2014 an anime adaptation of the concept starring Mega Drive, Saturn and Dreamcast was announced... And I feared it was gonna be terrible. The basic concept- the three girls are in high school- didn't really sound that appealing, but then I found out the director of the series was Sota Sugahara, who also directed... Gdgd Fairies. If you never watched Gdgd Fairies, it is absolutely worth your time as it's a very strange show about three fairies who have run-on conversations and adlib over really cheap 3D animation, made with zero budget and 100% heart. Additionally, though I only found this out later, the SeHa Girls scripts were being worked on by Sugahara and Masayuki Kibe, best known for his work on Gamecenter CX. The final good sign was it was being animated in MikuMikuDance, ensuring it would look as close to a video game as possible (of course, the best application of MMD is to make things that look like video games). Even so, it could've gone either way.
So... Did it work?
Pretty much, yeah.
Broadcast on Animax in Japan and simulcast on Crunchyroll in the US between October and December 2014, Hi☆sCoool! SeHa Girls has Mega Drive, Saturn and Dreamcast enrolled in SeHaGaga Academy in Tokyo's Haneda Otorii station. To graduate, they need to enter various different Sega games and accomplish different tasks within to earn Credit Medals, under the instruction of the rabbity-thing Center-sensei. If they can each get 100 Credit Medals, they pass. That's about it- with thirteen episodes, and six of them devoted to two-part stories, there's not much else going on in terms of plot, which is probably what you were expecting anyway. The three main characters fit neatly into archetypes- Dreamcast is
genki [You don't know what this means, do you? - Ed] hyperactive and a little ditzy, Saturn is tsundere [You're bluffing with this one too - Ed] cool but rude, and Mega Drive is meganekko [Oh, that's not even close! - Ed] the smart and shy one. Expecting something that goes super in-depth with its characters isn't really on the cards for a show that's only got ten minutes to play with each week, although it turns out it's ample time to give each one their own running joke (Mega Drive can't dance, Saturn always draws the short straw on luck, Dreamcast still uses a modem for the internet). All you really need for a show like this.
Even if the three of them are walking, talking cliches, and the show itself settles into a formula from the off (the girls talk about general things, learn about the next game, enter its world, hijinx ensue), I got a kick out of SeHa girls because it's pretty silly, funny, and also a massive love letter to Sega of old. This was written by huge Sega fans, and it shows. What's neat is the references to other Sega games and jokes feel more authentic and honest than you'd expect- this isn't someone looking these up on Wikipedia to make incredibly obvious observations, this is what you'd call the real deal. Obviously, that sort of thing's difficult to quantify, but the net effect is these jokes reference fairly obscure, specific things, so you know this was made by people who really dig these games, but at the same time many of them work as jokes on their own. Dreamcast's head-dive attack in the Virtua Fighter episode, for instance, is funny by itself (it's a powerful attack because of her controller headgear, right?) but it's even funnier when you remember the dive attacks in the original Virtua Fighter did way more damage than you expected them to. The Space Channel 5 episodes also use the game's rating percentage for some great gags, and again they work whether you know SC5 or not. Although knowing the references is beneficial (obviously), they don't feel like they're just references, a passing 'Hey, do you remember...', possibly because the writers knew Roommania and the Sega Aiwa might be lost on some people.
I imagine some episodes might be impenetrable to some without at least some passing Sega knowledge- I'm mostly thinking of the Puyo Puyo episode- but there's some more accessible stuff too, like the photo booth jokes in the Jet Set Radio episode or Jeffry being interviewed on Space Channel 5. There's a nice mix of game-specific humour and more general stuff, with plenty of examples of the two being mixed in together in a single joke. It mostly skews towards simply being silly and goofy, so high-brow stuff this is not, but it's pretty good at doing what it does, and the short time the show has means there's little wasted time in joke delivery. The other thing is that, owing to being made in MikuMikuDance and using the original game assets and models, the show feels authentically video gamey. It's almost like it should be on a GD-Rom playing in your Dreamcast. Of course, this means it mostly deals with 3D games, which is a shame as I'd love to see more sprite art for the SeHa girls, but the 12th episode's brief 2D Space Harrier bits makes up for it.
Some of the episodes are misses rather than hits, of course. Episode 3 (the first Space Channel 5 one) has an opening half that feels far more like Gdgd Fairies than it really should, with Saturn reading a weather report (not that it's a bad joke, it's pretty great, but it feels more out-of-place as for the most part this show has its own identity), Episode 7 (the second Border Break episode) is action-heavy and dips slightly on jokes (also, Sonic, with a starring role, never speaks, which was a little odd) and Episode 11 (a crossover between Phantasy Star Online 2 and Shining Cross Something-or-Other) feels pretty flat and has a groping joke that feels very at odds with the series' general tone. I said to myself 'This joke is beneath SeHa Girls' as it played out, then 'did I really just say that'- there's a vaguely similar joke earlier where Saturn has to present Space Channel 5 in a swimsuit but at least it leads to a great joke at the end. But for each episode like that, there's more that hit in my book, like the Virtua Fighter episodes, the second Space Channel 5 one, and the first Border Break episode. And, well, I did enjoy the more reference-heavy ones like Episode 8 with the other Sega Hard Girls (Genesis likes people to call her Jenny, apparently) and Episode 9 with Chain Chronicle, which makes fun of mobile games and has a small role for the Bonanza Bros..
And then it got all heartfelt on me! That's not fair! The 13th and final episode (which, by the way, has by far my favourite gag in the entire series which I'll leave you to see for yourself) reveals that once they graduate, the girls must go their separate ways to become Sega consoles in the real world. As they say their goodbyes and vow to do their best, each of them leaves through a portal, shown flying through a montage of their greatest games before turning into consoles. Dreamcast is the last to go, but as she wavers before going in, all the friends she's met along the way like Sonic, the Virtua Fighter crew and Ulala, show up to cheer her on... And that includes me. Just a quick overview of friends on Twitter also watching the show revealed these final moments got a real emotional response from people. Pretty surprising for a gag show about really old Sega games, especially considering this is the standard 'we're leaving school now but we'll always be together with the power of friendship' shtick you've probably seen a million times. While I imagine each person's got their own reasons, and not everyone will get their heartstrings tugged by it, for me, it's because these consoles are the ones you want to win. You want the Dreamcast to succeed, even if you know that's not how things panned out in the real world. You want them to bring joy to video game players, as corny as it sounds! The show comes across as a really earnest love-in session for Sega's hardware days, and while I'm not normally the kind to bark 'GET BACK IN THE HARDWARE GAME' at Sega, I did get a little pang of 'well, what if?' in the final mid-credits scene where a father buys a Dreamcast to play with his son. For a show like this, something like this really shouldn't work, but it does. It's probably because of that undercurrent of enthusiasm beneath the whole thing- it's made by huge Sega fans, and it's effectively conveyed through this rather silly and short series about personified game console hijinx.
Obviously, not everyone's going to have that same emotional reaction at the end- probably just us Sega fans- and if you're looking for something particularly deep, you can forget it, but definitely give it a watch if you like old video games in some capacity. The concept could've gone wrong at pretty much any moment, but it mostly delivers silly, cute and downright endearing video-game related chuckles. Besides, if you ever wanted to a see a games-related gag show that involves Bruce Dillinger running to cram school, a fusion of Puyo Puyo and Fantasy Zone, and Gilius Thunderhead singing his heart out to win a girl's love, then SeHa Girls is the (incredibly specific) show for you.
The only downside?
Crunchyroll UK doesn't run it. Gotta get Crunchyroll US to watch it properly if you live over here!
Just before we go, let's throw in a photo while we're at it:
Yes, that's a notepad modelled after Mega Drive's 16-Bitpedia book.
The last thing we really have to say is damn, the ending song for this is catchy.
Say it with me now- SE~GA~!
So when do we get a spinoff chronicling the wacky adventuers of Game Gear and Master System, huh?