“Nobody dies a virgin...life fucks us all.”
We've all been there. Aimlessly meandering through our high school lives daydreaming about that fateful day we’ll finally lose our virginity. Thoughts of the opposite sex constantly flood our brains, in the form of unrealistic scenarios involving our crushes intoxicatingly succumbing to our supreme hotness. Naturally, high school is a perverted cesspool of teenage hormones, so more than likely you had your own clan of other clodhopping comrades to share phrases like “dude...tits” and “have you seen that chick’s online stream?” For some introverted, socially inept souls, whose virginity is as safe as a maximum security prison there are anime like Hajimete no Gal. A show that constantly reminds us how often the average male teenager thinks about sex, mostly in a sporadic and succinct manner. Unfortunately, after viewing all ten of its episodes, I can say I now know more than I ever cared to about the “average” Japanese teenager, ad nauseum. Join me as I explore how not to make an ecchi anime, in honest and excruciating detail.
To get something off the board immediately, Hajimete no Gal is not a traditional harem anime. A harem, by definition implies that the women “share” one male, which is the opposite of what happens in this show. Here's what transpires in a nutshell:
1. Awkward, unassuming dude Junichi starts dating popular girl Yukane out of peer pressure to lose his virginity.
2. Multiple chicks adversarial of their blossoming relationship come out of the woodwork in attempts to thwart their bond.
3. Junichi realizes there’s more to relationships than sex (SPOILER ALERT)
4. Junichi’s friend is an overt pedophile that deserves to be locked away for the rest of eternity.
That's pretty much it. Hajimete gets off to a hobbling start in the way of story. If you came into a ten episode anime labeled in the ecchi genre, you're probably an idiot for fathoming anything other than repetitive, lecherous humor or a plethora of oppai characters. As the anime begins to unfold, the season of love has arrived. Spring, as I'm seeing in Japan apparently causes the entire student populace to transform into a bunch of blithering horndogs. Couples are formed left and right, so our main protagonist and his friends are desperate to find ANY girl willing to approach them without a ten foot pole. Doesn't sound like the most enticing setup for an anime if you ask me. What follows could be a decent series between two characters forging their love, but instead implodes on itself due to some dreadfully written characters and haphazard perversion played off as comedy.
One big point to speak to in Hajimete no Gal is the writing. The comedic elements are very hit and miss. I'll be honest, there was more than one scene in the anime I busted up laughing. Whether it's the far fetched “what-if” illusions Junichi encountered or a dude showing up in a Kirito costume in an effort to impress girls, all did not fall flat. But plenty of it did, and the fact that Studio NAZ tried to pass off a pedophilic character as funny is a disgrace to entertainment enthusiasts everywhere. Hey, at least his friends didn't condone his behavior… Also, there's this:
“All I want is a dope pussy to fuck.”
Yes, this is a real line from the show.
I can't imagine the budget was very large for this anime, considering there were still-animated screenshots with singing or music in the background on more than one occasion. To me, it came across as a lack of effort on the studio’s behalf. In addition, there were plenty of failed censorships (for an ecchi), and useless scenes thrown into the mix. And yes, before you ask… there is an obligatory summer episode. Tits galore! The series attempts to find a common ground between the plethora of “nothing ever happens” high school romance anime (Ao Haru Ride) and the quicker escalating lewd shows like Prison School or High School DXD. Unfortunately it's poorly visioned, so a majority of the time is devoted to introducing characters, rather than developing the existing ones. Even a few more episodes would've done the writing staff some favor.
Though exhaustingly bland overall, I have to give Hajimete some credit with how it handles the main character’s relationship with Yukane. What starts off as a dare from his friends, actually turns into something of substance. It's everyone else in the show that I can't stand. At first, Yukane appears to be a tsundere, a trope vital to the framework of any harem anime. However, as things progressed, I actually began to somewhat respect her and the way she handled Junichi, knowing his original intentions for their relationship. It ended up being the only speck of quality in a sea of genericism. From what I understand, the studio ended up leaving out many of the manga scenes involving their development, most likely to better craft a “cash grabbing” series vice one of any legitimacy. It's a shame considering how much better the anime probably could've been.
Nene, the only girl that presumably had feelings for Junichi from the anime’s inception, possesses almost every quality I hate in a character. An incessantly ear-piercing voice, a loli physique (minus her enormous breasts) and the fact that she just gets in the way in every scene she accompanies. Along with the iriitating Nene, tanned dominatrix Ranko fills the quota of yandere, while Yui fills that of a tsundere. And of course, they all have their reasons for trying to steal Junichi away from his new girlfriend, come hell or high water. Junichi’s unintentionally abstinent posse consists of a guy with glasses who constantly shouts bombastic phrases, a pedophile who’s drawn a map of every elementary schooler’s location in his neighborhood (literally, wtf?!) and another seemingly average blonde haired dude that does little to nothing in the entire anime. Honestly, these characters only existed to interject punchlines, waiting in the wings for their chance to drop a pointed one-liner. None of the other side characters seemed to matter at all, as they were plot devices if anything.
For the life of me I can't understand why any animator needs to draw breasts as big as the characters have here. This is especially disconcerting when they appear on a girl who resembles a 12-year-old. Like, we all know the 4 foot 9 chick with size HHH tits amirite? This isn’t hentai guys, let's at least try to invoke some realism here. Many of you would be quick to respond with, "well it IS anime…”. This is where I would beg to differ. To me, characters that are drawn closer to a realistic scale are much sexier in anime. If I wanted to look at someone with elephantitis, I'd watch TLC or go to the weird part of Youtube. Who even likes this shit? The rest of the animation, while subpar, isn't anything I'd say was detracting from the show… unless that is you count the karaoke scenes the animators were too unskilled or lazy to even draw. Or also the inconsistent character model drawings, most specifically in the mall scene when the girls are trying on clothes. Okay, so maybe the animation sucks too. One thing I wasn't sure whether or not was intentional was the censorship. I understand censoring tits or va-jay-jay's, but panty shots too? What gives?! This IS an ecchi right? Show us virgin plebs some goodies!
Hajimete no Gal’s music is exactly what you'd expect from a flashy ecchi show. The OP can't seem to even understand genre of music it is, with cringeworthy dubstep elements thrown in because, ya know it's what the kiddies are listening to nowadays. The ED is a stereotypical scene of a scantily clad Yukane being “cute”... I honestly couldn’t think of any other noteworthy songs in the entire OST, with many droning on like a knockoff DDR track. Cheeky, high pitched vocals with a dose of fast techno bass; the epitome of J-Pop. Voice acting isn't too shabby, and I actually thought Shintara Asanuma’s portrayal of Junichi was above average. Definitely not a soundtrack I’d condone downloading, though it certainly won’t make your ears bleed.
For as critically bad as it is, I did find some sense of enjoyment in Hajimete no Gal. Through its short run time it did have trouble juggling blatant sex themes with building a believable relationship between the two main characters. At least Junichi learned rather quickly that losing your virginity is not the only important thing out of a relationship. Some people my own age even struggle with that (you know who you are Dave!). I'd recommend this for someone looking for a change of pace, or a good time passer. It's not as hard-core of an ecchi as some anime, but it should scratch the edge of anyone looking for that genre. Until we meet again, thank you for reading!