Review/discussion about: Hajimete no Gal
Between the single life and the married life, the dating life exists as its own beast.
Some dates end up pretty good with more to follow soon enough. Some dates go south fast, leading to extra watch checks and a prayer or two. Some dates maybe do not go anywhere afterwards, but they leave both parties satisfied, content with the time they spent.
With the right circumstances and a bit of luck, the term “started dating” turns into “my girlfriend” or “my boyfriend,” indicating that that beast has been tamed. Plus, in a few short years, the married life will take its place. Of course, trials and tribulations pop up during this phase, but he or she will have that significant other to rely on along the way.
Hajimete no Gal is an anime that features a couple who are girlfriend and boyfriend. That summary seems innocent enough – but be warned. This project is best broken up with before taking it out on a date in the first place.
To put it bluntly, Hajimete no Gal ran for ten episodes too many.
It makes that apparent enough with its “comedy.” Quotes because calling what the show depicts as comedy does a disservice to all the funny stories out there, for it contains some of the worst comedic outings this medium has ever conceived. The timing is horrible as it tries to shift between punchlines. The delivery doesn’t cut it as their dialogue falls flat. And for the love of God, just saying pedophilic statements in a nonchalant manner is not a joke. It’s gross, bizarre, and plain stupid. The fact that these words even need to be typed out here speaks volumes about its so-called “comedy.”
The anime also does not spend enough time on Yukana and Junichi together alone, letting their romance rot and die instead. Indeed, not counting the first episode since they weren’t a thing until the end of it, Hajimete no Gal goes out of its way to separate them when and where it can. It’ll either keep them apart through an unnecessary set of semi-harem arcs (the first half of the season) or force them into a bunch of lame group activities with the girls and his close guy friends (the second half of the season).
Seriously, the audience can almost count on one hand how many times the two hang out without anyone else around besides themselves. Such two-factor separation isn’t romance; it’s unwanted bologna.
Not to forget about its ecchi moments. Which is to say that they can be forgotten given their uncreative status. No way, undressing. Surprise, surprise, boob fondling. Nobody could have guessed it, suntan lotion. One can maybe give the anime its three-way breast smooshing scene, but one semi-decent ecchi segment does not a titillating anime make.
Hajimete no Gal further messes up on fundamental levels, too. For example, the gyaru motif itself lacks importance. While the anime portrays Yukana and the other girls in that fashion, it is quite uncommon for this motif to mean anything significant to the events as the season progresses. The anime also foregoes Junichi’s inner-monologue representations near the end of the season. An apparent oversight despite their once-an-episode-or-so inclusion beforehand, reducing the virgin premise to some extent. And the writing in general lacks the necessary emotion, nuance, and drive to make its more dramatic, down-to-Earth segments worthwhile in some form.
Ignoring all these issues, Hajimete no Gal has very little else to offer on a story front. Not that it requires a thematic presence weaved into its narrative or a similar supplementary detail. But when it remains so weak in its comedy, romance, ecchi, and fundamental elements, the anime makes it almost impossible to see it as anything else besides a catastrophic failure.
ART & ANIMATION
The subpar visuals within Hajimete no Gal continue the anime’s negative trend.
A lot of its visual woes stem from basic problems. Wonky proportions for the character models decrease artistic integrity. Movement dwindles the further along the anime goes. And the background artistry lacks intrigue. In total, the show simply misses the mark when it comes to keeping the audience engaged with its presentation.
It attempts to push back against these problems with its ecchi roots, showcasing microphone stroking and mouth drooling, backed by pink mood lighting when the opportunity arises. However, these moments are short lived, offering only a small reprieve from the usual less-than-mediocre visuals on display. Even then, such ecchiness isn’t spectacular, let alone well done, as the panning shots and the framing do not reach any interesting heights.
Along these lines, Hajimete no Gal offers both a censored and an uncensored version, but they each introduce their own problems, too. For the censored version, the glittery hearts are not the most fun way to hide a major component of the anime and are only tangentially related to the gyaru motif. For the uncensored version, it does not reveal too much else regardless, making it a somewhat pointless distinction between its tamer type.
The character designs are arguably the only aspect of the anime that do not take a huge hit, but they still take some hits nonetheless. At the minimum, Yukana’s design gives the anime one of its first clear positives. Complementary green, pink, and white colors for her main look. Long, blonde, gradient, and wild hair, not to mention her busty assets, for more sex appeal. Different outfits and styles and accessories here and there.
Yukana’s design does a lot to carry the show, and a couple of the other girls toss in their support as well. Ranko provides the tanned look, and Yui has her dichotomous school and streamer personas that oppose in depiction. Junichi and his friends aren’t given as much care, but that’s okay given the focus on the ladies.
However, Nene’s initial design can only be described as horrid, tipping the ludicrous scale as far as it can go. Thankfully, she trades in her weird clothes and knotted hair for pink coloring, a star sticker, and suspenders. This new combination may seem strange, and her ridiculous proportions do not go away, but it ultimately ends up as an upgrade while following through on her character change and the gyaru motif.
So, yes, the artistry and the animation keep the anime in low spirits. The designs, though, prevent the presentation from being an absolute chore to sit through.
The cast members of Hajimete no Gal side with the story and the artistry, hurting the anime’s execution that much more.
Junichi does his best to do the opposite, though. As the main protagonist of this tale, he is a normal, everyday dude. Due to his low self-esteem, however, he fears that he will remain a virgin for the rest of his life. Naturally, he crosses paths with Yukana, the “scary” gyaru of his school, whom takes a liking to his inadvertent silliness. Thus, she decides to accept his confession.
Said confession also nets Junichi a ton of jealousy from the other girls that surround his newfound situation. Specifically, Ranko, Yui, and Nene swarm him, doing what they can to split him apart or take him away from his relationship with Yukana for their own personal gain. Not to mention how his three best guy friends constantly intervene with words or actions that further cause problems for the poor guy.
These troubles do not spell doom for Junichi. Instead, they give him the chance to not only prove his worth as a boyfriend but also demonstrate his growth as a person. He turns down advances from the other girls. He wrestles with his thoughts as opposed to making snap decisions. He works hard at protecting the bonds he shares and especially his connection with Yukana.
Yes, the ecchi elements strewn about somewhat detract from this more meaningful direction in his character. But, given Junichi’s virgin motif, having a few hormonal moments and dreams aligns with his personality and Hajimete no Gal at large. At the minimum, they do not take anything away from his actions. Whether he firmly declares his faithfulness to Yukana or stands up for her goodness against a loser jerkwad, his arc from meek and defeatist to confident and thankful plays out over the entire season as one of the only other positive parts in the show.
Unfortunately, most of the rest of the cast do not tag along. Junichi’s three friends may as well just be one friend since two of them are essentially irrelevant. The one doesn’t have any discernable qualities about him, and the other is a weirdo who shouldn’t be around to begin with.
Meaning, Shinpei is his only worthwhile friend. He goes out of his way to explain situations and comes up with plans to get Junichi and Yukana together (while potentially helping him and the others out in the process). These plans often don’t work out as intended, and he himself is by no means the epitome of side characters. But he at least supports his buddy which is a lot more than the other two ever do.
In comparison, the girls take up more screen time and have better involvement, but their construction does not equate to anything meaningful. Ranko is brutish, Yui is deceptive, and Nene is energetic, but Hajimete no Gal comprises the bulk of their characters through their own singular flashback devoid of substance.
Ranko got a flower from Yukana once. Junichi acted like a faithful dog and helped Yui with errands at some point. Nene and Junichi held hands as kids, promising about marriage conditions during a small conversation. These asides, these one-off scenes are below the bare minimum needed to give Ranko, Yui, and Nene their just due, leaving them without a fighting chance.
As for Yukana, she may be the worst off. Despite her girlfriend-of-the-protagonist role and clear second-in-importance status, she receives next to nothing about her character. She has nearly zero backstory let alone a solid foundation. Her motivations and thoughts are almost entirely ignored. And she hardly changes in any worthwhile way from this new experience.
Worse still, where Junichi takes his small conflicts and learns from their hardship, Yukana encounters similar obstacles but walks around them without much hassle. For instance, the girls that vie after Junichi don’t perturb her, or, even if they do, she handwaves their involvement. Moreover, when she makes that rare attempt to move outside her comfort zone, either Hajimete no Gal prevents potential progress or Yukana, by her own accord, refuses to follow through on events when pressed on the matter.
Credit where credit is due, Yukana cherishes her romance with Junichi. She smiles for and thinks about him to cheer him up whenever she can, and she creates many of the opportunities and moments between them, such as the couple of dates they go on. So, Yukana is no doubt the nice, thoughtful gyaru who complements Junichi well. However, she remains the perfect, too-good-to-be-true girlfriend that does not get the time, attention, or care she truly deserves.
Thus, with Junichi and possibly Shinpei maintaining the only tangible semblance of worth within this anime, the cast also contribute to its continued implosion.
MUSIC & SOUND
An easy guess at this point, but the audio work within Hajimete no Gal does not do much to help out either.
Its opening track “Hajimete no SEASON” contains no shortage of techno sounds, poppy beats, and harmonized singing. The song incorporates some dynamism through differently paced sections, but the boring vocals and the grating loudness keep what could have been a catchy tune as little more than a flag for the below-average content that will soon transpire.
Its ending track “GAL-tic Love” follows a similar direction, but it ramps up those techno sounds and that grating loudness to make it even less likable of a listen. Tonally, it shifts from a slightly sad arrangement to a more uplifting one between its first and second halves, matching the OP to a degree once again. And it remains just as boring, too.
Not to be outdone, the voice-acting performances are rather poor in execution. Especially those from Shintaro Asanuma as Junichi and Toshiyuki Toyonaga as Shinpei. The former doesn’t quite nail down the nervous, funny mannerisms for someone like the main protagonist, and the latter sounds so dull despite the confidence in his lines.
Strangely, the best performances come from the preview girls: Kazusa Aranami as Ayumi and Natsuko Hara as Kokoro. Their shrieks and their speed work well with the meta commentary they spout, putting them leagues ahead of anyone else in the cast.
As for the original soundtrack, it mixes together cultural influences, guitar grooves, and lighter ensembles. Unlike the OP, the ED, and the VA performances, these tracks do not hamper Hajimete no Gal and instead support its scenes through their variance. Not that they floor the listener, but they at least aren’t detrimental to the experience.
After finishing this anime, I cannot deny Yukana’s coolness. She is fun, cute, and kind. A simple yet perfect combo that makes liking her as a character easy to do (or perhaps even mandatory). Plus, I like the gyaru archetype in this medium in general, and, as a huge romance fan, I rooted for her success in love the whole way through.
Sadly, she’s trapped in an anime that doesn’t deserve her.
While watching the show, that sentiment becomes readily apparent as time goes on. I find myself annoyed or flabbergasted by over half the characters. One or two of the jokes get a smile out of me, but mostly I’m shaking my head at its lameness. I’m disinterested in its mundane events. I want less of the harem since it means basically nothing to me. And I cannot stop myself from pointing out its outright flaws with or without bias.
Looking at the show in full, it doesn’t reach the lowest possible level in my eyes, propping itself up with a select few parts that just manage to stave off its descent. Still, it tries really hard to get there regardless.
Hajimete no Gal chooses the garbage heap as its destiny. Over the course of ten episodes, it gives the audience a repulsive story, a lackluster set of characters, a bludgeoned set of audiovisual elements, and a forgettable entertainment package. It’s an ex that should be x’d out of one’s life forever.
Story: Terrible, some of the worst “comedy” ever conceived, a bologna romance angle, uncreative ecchi scenes, and fundamental troubles combine as a catastrophic failure
Art & Animation: Bad, waning in artistry and subpar in direction, the visuals drag along the passable character designs
Characters: Bad, Junichi gains some self-esteem through his new relationship, and Shinpei attempts to help his buddy out, but the two other guy friends are irrelevant, Ranko, Yui, and Nene are not worthwhile, and Yukana has almost nothing going for her besides her girlfriend status
Music & Sound: Bad, a varied OST cannot uphold a boring OP and ED combo as well as the poor VA performances
Enjoyment: Bad, Yukana deserves better
Final Score: 2/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3