This season has only proven how great and essential a supporting character Soos is to the world of Gravity Falls. His role as a handyman/perpetual man-child is vague enough that he can slot into whatever function the story needs him in. And as written and voiced by show creator Alex Hirsch, he’s a lovable doofus in the grand tradition of Homer Simpson.
This week’s new episode, ‘Soos And The Real Girl,’ throws our favorite guy wearing a punctuation mark shirt way outside of his zone. Shoved into the realm of dating, he stops and starts, but finds his way in a journey that’s equally hilarious and heartwarming.
While kicking back and playing video games, specifically First-Person Puncher, Soos’ grandma hands him a postcard announcing that his cousin Reggie, briefly mentioned last season, is engaged and having a party to celebrate. Grandma tells him to try and find a girl to take to the party, saying she’d like to see him settle down before “I leave this earth to ascend to be with the angels.” When Soos reminds her that Grandpa will be there, she simply replies, “No, he is…not there.” This moment is so deadpan and brutal that I had to pause my computer until I could stop laughing.
Nervous as all get out, Soos tries talking to a female customer in the Mystery Shack, but it doesn’t go well. Stan and Wendy give him advice–with Stan saying he should “get rich or lie about being rich” and Wendy telling him to ignore Stan (although she evades answering Stan’s pointed jab about whether she’d date Soos)–and Dipper and Mabel agree to help him out.
They go, in Mabel’s words “where romance lives and where fashions go to die,” the mall. That backfires repeatedly and, despondant and sad, Soos runs into a video game store to cry against the discount rack. There, he comes across a Japanese dating sim called “Romance Academy 7” and seems overjoyed by the game’s promise to improve his dating skills.
The clerk warns him that three people have bought that game and returned it (with one guy attaching a note reading, “This game must be destroyed,” but Soos & the Pines take it anyway, since Soos is so desperate. Later, in his bedroom, Soos boots up the game and, after an intro screen promises him that with this game, “ANTHYDING CAN HADPLEN.”
Soos begins interacting with the game’s main character, the pink-haired Giffany (Jessica DiCicco), who acts like both a stereotypical anime girl and a stereotypical Japanese dating sim character. Relieved that all he has to do is click his way to the right option, Soos gets addicted. When he doesn’t show up at the Shack the next day, the Pines go to his house and learn that he “hasn’t seen natural light in 13 hours.”
Forcing him to the mall, Dipper & Mabel quickly leave Soos to it once again. Mabel promptly frightens a whole bunch of women by chasing them out of the restroom with a megaphone and Dipper has to deal with the resulting security mess. Despondent and failing to hit it off with anyone once again, Soos wishes he was back home with Giffany.
But it turns out she’s there with him. Yeah, turns out Giffany is actually a sentient A.I. who traveled out as an electrical impulse and followed them to the mall. Soos is overjoyed and says, “This is awesome. Bit of a red flag. But mostly awesome!” The two of them ride a coin-operated train and when it runs out of quarters, Soos strikes up a conversation with Melody (Jillian Bell), someone just as silly and meat-loving as he is. They wind up making plans to have dinner at Hoo Ha Owl’s Pizza-Matronic Jamboree, an (obviously) Chuck-E-Cheese ripoff that, in a subplot, Stan is trying to steal an animatronic badger from to put in the Shack.
Soos tells Giffany that he’s got to move on and she angrily insists that he is hers and only hers. Soos takes the disk out of his computer, but that won’t be enough to stop Giffany.
I had to pause my computer twice while watching this because I couldn’t stop laughing. The first bit, I related above. The second was when Soos examines “Romance Academy 7” and finds it’s recommended by “9/10 basement dwellers!” That’s some brutal, funny stuff and those jokes encapsulate the whole tone of this episode.
Hirsch, writing with Mark Rizzo, makes Soos both pathetic and relatable. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that a fair amount of people who love this show have been in the same boat as Soos (I count myself in that regard). But the important thing is that Soos’ addiction to Giffany over human interaction is ultimately damaging.
Of course, outside that subtext, this episode is full of fast, harsh jokes that only get better as they pile on top of each other. Mabel, playing deranged matchmaker once again, is in her prime. In his somewhat slight subplot, Stan is still fun. He even calls back to the bit about him being in a Colombian jail we saw in Season One’s “Dreamscaperers.”
But it’s the guest stars that fully sell this episode for me. DiCicco is most famous as Flame Princess from Adventure Time and she brings that characterization here. She really brings the (pardon the pun) fire and menace to a role that could easily be just for laughs. Like Brian Bloom did for Rumbles McSkirmish last season, she also nails the halting speech of old-time video game characters. She also combines that with the breathy vocals that so, so many anime girls often have in English.
To be perfectly honest, I thought Giffany was voiced by Kari Wahlgren, who’s listed in the credits and crops up all the time as an additional actor for this and numerous other shows. Wahlgren’s has done a lot, but she made her mark in anime, especially as the deranged Haruko Harahara on the equally-if-not-more-so deranged FLCL Giffany plays like the darker image of Haruko, so I thought of Wahlgren. But regardless, DiCicco nails it.
Similarly, Bell — best known from 22 Jump Street and as Jillian on Workaholics — does very fun work as Melody. For story’s sake, she comes in late to the episode, so she doesn’t have that many scenes. But what she has is really something, especially her chemistry with Hirsch. The coda of the episode makes me think the show isn’t quite done exploring these two together, but we’ll have to see.
Yet another fine entry in a fine season of television. While there weren’t too many inside jokes for otaku, as somebody who knows way more about this sort of game than perhaps he should, I laughed like crazy. This show just keeps going and going, and I don’t want it to stop.