Ecchi Arcade Goodness!
- Mangaka : Okushou (story), MGMEE (art)
- Publisher : Ecchi, Romance, Comedy, Seinen
- Genre : Seven Seas Entertainment
- Published : March 2022 — present
Whether you should read Gesen No Kanojo (The Girl in the Arcade) comes down to two simple questions: Do you like arcade games? And do you like ecchi panty-shots galore? If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, then you’ll definitely find something to enjoy in this simple but amusing ecchi comedy.
As its title suggests, The Girl in the Arcade centers around second-year high-school student Yaegashi Nanora and her exploits in her local video game arcade. After befriending the story’s protagonist, Mobuo — a high schooler who works at the arcade — the pair explore the arcade together, developing a (potentially romantic) relationship, and having some simple (and fan-service-laden) fun at the arcade.
The Girl in the Arcade combines the luck and skill of arcade gaming with some ecchi comedy that kept us easily turning the pages. So grab yourself some loose change, and join us for our review of Gesen No Kanojo (The Girl in the Arcade), Volume 1!
Gaming arcades are becoming something of a relic in the West. Once a hallmark of any decent shopping mall or entertainment district, you’d be lucky to find a half-alive arcade anywhere, perhaps attached to a themed bar run by ’80s enthusiasts. Thankfully, the arcade scene is still very much alive in Japan, and easily affordable too — but for a foreigner reading The Girl in the Arcade, the setting is perhaps more educational than nostalgic.
This arcade-gaming story is brilliantly executed thanks to the artist’s imagination. Each of the arcade games are brought to life by Mobuo and Nanora being dropped down into each of them, from zombie-shooters to kart racers and more. This clever visual trick takes you away from the arcade itself and into the game, sort of like the VRMMO genre (but of course, this time it’s really just an artistic illusion). For other luck-based games, there are helpful explanations for those who’ve never played the machines, which we really appreciated.
There’s definitely a relationship brewing between Mobuo and Nanora; the type that can only come about from sharing a uniquely geeky hobby like arcade gaming. For her part, Nanora is a straight-laced student council member at school, but blows off steam by trying to collect plushy catfish mascots at the arcade. Mobuo claims that he’s always acted like a background NPC — hence the “Mob” in his name — but he’s surprisingly caring and thoughtful, when he isn’t accidentally getting a face full of Nanora’s boobs, that is!
Why You Should Read Gesen No Kanojo (The Girl in the Arcade)
1. Ecchi That Knows Where the Line Is
This might sound like a strange thing to compliment an ecchi comedy for, but The Girl in the Arcade clearly knows how to stop short of turning into hentai. It’d be a pretty easy step to take, but the art pulls back at the last minute, giving us panty-shots and nipple-slips, but never anything more. Mobuo might accidentally get panties or boobs in his face, but he always ends up getting slapped or beaten up by Nanora — she definitely doesn’t take it lying down!
Reminiscent of ecchi series like Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars!), there are ridiculous levels of fan-service piled into the visual metaphors of the games. There’s an obligatory panty-shot of Nanora every few pages, and she’s never wearing a bra for…plot reasons? It doesn’t really matter, does it? The Girl in the Arcade knows why you’re reading, but most importantly it knows how far to go, and how far not to go — something we found rather commendable for an ecchi comedy.
2. Geek Girls, Represent!
It’d be easy to write The Girl in the Arcade off as a male fantasy; after all, a hot girl who’s into games and always swinging her boobs around sounds like a lowbrow doujinshi. But The Girl in the Arcade joins a solidly growing list of manga that put fearlessly-otaku girls front-and-center, proving that women can be just as geeky as any man.
Far from attempting to make a political statement, The Girl in the Arcade just offers up a feisty girl who never quits, even when the odds are stacked against her! She’s also completely aware of her sexualization, rather than acting purely as the series’ fan-service mascot. It’s a subtle nuance, but one that doesn’t go unnoticed.
Why You Should Skip Gesen No Kanojo (The Girl in the Arcade)
1. Like, What’s Even an Arcade, Dude?
As we mentioned earlier, arcade gaming in the west is…well, something of an “old man’s” collectible. We’ve all got an uncle or family friend obsessed with collecting Street Fighter or Space Invaders machines from the 1980s. Game arcades that have somehow survived into the modern era feel more like daycare centers with prizes attached, or a place for a quick date rather than a serious hangout spot.
That’s not to say The Girl in the Arcade suffers from its setting at all — far from it! But, depending on your age and your experience or knowledge of arcades, there’s a certain level of enjoyment that might be lacking. If nothing else, the story is pretty educational, and there are clever homages to real-world game counterparts.
Gesen No Kanojo (The Girl in the Arcade) does a fantastic job of explaining arcade games to the uninitiated, and summons just the proper amount of nostalgia for those who spent their youth in those loud, bright environments. The ecchi fan-service is the clear drawcard here, but it stays clear of going overboard, dialing back just enough to be thoroughly enjoyable throughout.
The final few chapters of The Girl in the Arcade introduce an old childhood friend of Mobuo’s, and hints at a love triangle. Whether the series will continue to focus on the simple, slice-of-life arcade gaming chapters, or whether it’ll pursue a more dramatic romantic plot — well, we’ll have to keep putting in 100 yen coins to find out!
Do you think you’ll read The Girl in the Arcade? Leave a comment below, and as always, thanks for reading!