A month has past with nary a word from me here or on my social media. With the new year came a new format to the site, and new partners on the site. To ring in the new year I decided to review one of my holiday purchases that I had already seen, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed at that. I figured it’d be good to start off a new year on a positive, if somewhat smutty note. After all what’s a new year without a little teenage sexual tension? If I didn’t make it abundantly clear in the previous sentences [FAIR WARNING] this show is a bit on the lewd side, so if you’re on the prudish side avert thine eyes English. With that said allow me to allow me to introduce you to my first review of the year…
Yamada’s First Time: B Gata H Kei
“Yamada’s First Time” came to us in the spring of 2010 from the Hal Film Maker studio. This ecchi harem shared a season with such titans as Angel Beats and K-On, which may have something to do with the initially lukewarm reviews it got when it concluded. Due to it’s graphic content the show was aired at 1 am in Japan, which lead many to believe it was simple fan service with no purpose whatsoever. After watching “Yamada’s First Time” for what seems like the hundredth time however, I must say that I somewhat disagree with that assessment. Allow me to elaborate on the synopsis a bit before I offer a contradicting view to the popular one.
To begin this whirlwind anime of teenage hormonal comedy we are introduced to Yamada, whose first name we never learn. Yamada is a first year high school student, an incredibly beautiful girl, and a total pervert. Her self-admitted life long dream is to have sex with 100 guys, but she has no experience with men at all. Worried that her first time will go poorly if her partner isn’t a virgin, she seeks a “cherry boy” to take her first time. Enter Kosuda, a boringly safe young man whom Yamada targets as her “cherry picker”. When Yamada realizes that awkward teenage confusion and emotional attachment come with the territory, she begins to worry that the 100 guy goal may be out of reach.
From a synopsis like that it’s easy to write this anime off as mindless ecchi, or as I’ve seen on forums (to my befuddlement) “hetero-garbage”. However to my eyes there’s a real charm to the show that comes out in it’s unique protagonist, and it’s bold portrayal of the immodest. While the story isn’t a perfect representation of the pitfalls of adolescent love the comedic aspect brought to this topic brings back the memories of youth, and the scoffing of societal prudishness is refreshing in anime as a whole. I know I said the same for SHIMONETA, but this anime came out before that one and could possibly have been an inspiration for it. It’s certainly not a perfect anime, but in terms of ecchi it’s a gem of a show that keeps me coming back.
My favorite aspect of the show is Yamada herself, as she is a non-traditional protagonist in almost every sense. Yamada is a very rare female protagonists that is both overtly self centered, and interested in sex. While I don’t mind the “good girl” main characters, the obnoxious nature of Yamada is hilarious to behold in an anime heroine. Furthermore the sexual curiosities of this character are a nice change of pace from the normal “pure” anime heroines, who normally treat sexual inclination as a thing to fear or revile rather than a natural human state. Adding to this aspect of her character is a 4th wall breaking eros deity that represent the personified libido of Yamada. These chibi characters float around the main characters, acting as their less-than-moral conscious, and add to the the show by being the unspoken and often perverted thoughts of the characters.
Another delightful facet of the show was the ever present mention of condoms. In several scenes we are treated to “Ogre Brand” condoms, and their hilarious theme song. First off let me get on my soap box and say BRA-VO! In a world of misguided prudes and misleading religious authorities who would see all mention of safe sex practices abolished, this show finds a way to put condoms in almost every episode. While I’m not sure if Japan has this specific problem, I’d still like to say well done to Hal Film Maker studios for creating this show in a fairly conservative country like Japan. It’s not a huge step towards the prevention of STDs or unwanted teen pregnancy, but at least it doesn’t gloss over the need to be safe or promote the “pull out method” (I’m looking at you hentai).
Before this holiday season I only had a copy of “Yamada’s First Time” on DVD, and so I purchased the Blu-Ray in one of the many seasonal sales. The quality between the two formats was well worth the upgrade, as the show looks very crisp in this update. The dub is one of my favorite in anime with several hilarious one-liners, and witty asides from the characters. Conversely the subtitled version isn’t bad either, though this is one of the few times I prefer the dub to the sub. The opening theme (“Oshiete A to Z”) is fantastic, and really gets you hyped for the show. It’s one of the few OP’s that I never skip over.
While this show is far from Japan’s magnum opus of animation, it does have a fair amount of charisma that comes through in it’s characters. The teenage cast is written with all the reckless irrationality that comes with that period of human life, and adds a touch of the absurd to keep it interesting. [Spoilers] The show only really falls short in that it really doesn’t conclude, and probably won’t ever be continued. Other than that it receives my shining recommendation, though with the disclaimer that it is certainly not a show for everyone. However if you enjoy ecchi absurdity with a touch of romance, then you will most certainly find value in this underrated gem. Watch “Yamada’s First Time: B Gata H Kei” today on Funimation!