[A Disservice to the Manga]
Anime adaptations from visual novels, light novels, and manga form the majority of every season lineup. And during every season, I would checkout the various shows that piqued my interest. One show that interested me was Hajimete no Gal. Since, I was familiar with the source material, I expected an adequate adaptation. Unfortunately, my expectations were not met. I wanted the show to focus on the growing relationship between the two main characters and their many “firsts”. Instead, what I watched was a shoddy story-line with rushed plot events and one-dimensional characters with no development or backstory. In other words, a shitty adaptation.
Junichi Hashiba, a 2nd year high school student, has entered his Spring semester and is surprised that he still doesn’t have a girlfriend. His friends, in the same predicament, decide break the status quo, and vote on who will confess to Yame Yukana, a high school gyaru. And that lucky person is Junichi. Forced to confess, he goes through with it and anticipates to be rejected, but is shocked when Yame agrees. And so, begins the relationship between Junichi and Yame and their many “firsts”.
Well, it was supposed to be like that…but it didn’t.
So, what the fuck happened? Well, someone at NAZ studios had the grand idea to rush plot events and condense them into single episodes, in fact this happened three times (i.e. Ranko Honjou’s, Nene Fujinoki’s, and Yui Kashii’s arcs). And if that wasn’t bad enough, they removed many of Junichi’s and Yame’s relationship development, such as their first date, first kiss, first ‘touch’, etc. This results in a more weakened and less personal relationship. So, what happens to Yame Yukana? Well, she is treated like another girl in Junichi’s harem. Even though there is no harem tag, you can tell most of the girls like Junichi.
And since, the major storylines were wrapped up in five episodes, the remaining episodes were dedicated to increased screen time for the three stooges (i.e. Shinpei Sakamoto, Minoru Kobayakawa, and Keigo Ishida), increased fanservice and ecchi content, increased amount of original content not seen in the manga (i.e. part-time job at a cosplay cafe, beach episode, ‘king game’ event, etc), and the inclusion of various references to other shows. Even, the added ‘drama’ in the end, that is the introduction of some good-looking dude, doesn’t help this weak story-line, as everyone know how the results will play out.
Moreover, the show has terrible pacing and structure. One moment a new character is introduced, then problems occur with that new character, and finally a conclusion is reached. And this all happens in one episode. Throw in a couple of horrible and cringe-worthy dialogue, and some stupid, random immature humor, and we have an series that’s not worth remembering. Overall, the story is absolute garbage.
The art, as commonly seen in many romantic-comedies, has very bright and vibrant colors that jump out at the viewers. And, it should be no surprise that the tone of this show is lighthearted, and not serious at all. The background designs and animations, while not very detailed and spectacular, are fine. The male character designs are bland and nothing striking, besides the exaggerated facial expressions when ‘things’ happen. The female designs were definitely made for fanservice in mind, as almost everyone has large, oversized breast compared to bowling balls, and nice curves and asses. My only complaint is the noticeable pointy chin on some characters.
The show’s opening and ending is your standard J-Pop, featuring all the female leads that like our main character. Nothing more than that. The voice acting is actually pretty good, leading to most characters expressing a wide range of emotions and reactions. For example, Junichi Hashiba always sounds nervous, shocked, and surprised. Ranko Honjou sounds assertive and aggressive. Yame Yukana is always teasing, playful, and sometimes jealous. Overall, the sound design is fine.
Most characters in this show are one-dimensional and lack character development or backstory. It’s especially prevalent for the male characters. The three stooges are annoying, cringe-worthy, and obnoxious, especially the fat character, who is a self-declared pedophile. The good-looking dude, at the end of the show, is a douche-bag. And Junichi Hashiba is weak, unconfident, and a pervert, who manages to attract beautiful and popular girls. Overall, the male characters are uninteresting and unfunny. The female characters are fine and not as annoying and brain-dead as the male characters, but they could be better. Most of them have motives and reasons for liking Junichi Hashiba, except, the main heroine, herself, as we are never given a proper reason for why she likes Junichi. Still, if they had included most of the development from the manga, the show would be more enjoyable.
To really “enjoy” this show, it’s best to find an uncensored version, so that you can view every semi-nude, pantie, and breast scene without the annoying, yet hilarious censors (i.e. hearts, hands, disco-balls, etc). Now, in my opinion, the show is inferior to its manga counterpart in almost every manner. The rushed plots events combined with some annoying and obnoxious characters made my viewing experience dreadful. I don’t recommend watching this show, unless you are an ecchi fanatic.