The Happy Couple?
|Totally an odd show for an FI, isn’t it? But that’s what you get, so like it!|
How to make a bad first impression
So gals are one of those character archetypes that we see in anime, usually filling up the background, maybe even checking off a box to try to appeal to a wider audience. But sometimes they get to move into the foreground as a main character, as we saw in last year’s Oshiete! Galko-chan, a short that is, in my view, seriously underappreciated. As I see it, there were two main themes in that show: busting the “low morals” stereotype of gal culture, and being very honest about issues that are more important to teenage girls. It probably turned a lot of people away talking about periods and nipples a lot in the beginning, but what it really talked about most of the time is how most people are good people, and deserve respect.
Bad Role Models
You really don’t want friends like this
And that is kind of what leads to the theme I’m hoping to see emerge more from this season’s Hajimete no Gal. This is more positioned as a teen romance show, but it starts off in a place that seems pretty far off of romance. The main character, Junichi Hashiba, is starting off another school year aligned with the losers of the class, Shinpei, Keigo, and Minoru, who really set the bar low for being losers, yet manage to crawl under it. While everyone else is flirting with members of the opposite sex in the classroom, these three pull out gravure mags, earning disgusted looks from the rest of the class, and setting up Junichi’s first encounter with Yukana Yame, the gal of the title, grossed out as she tries to get past a boy who is now scrambling on the floor to pick up a gravure mag. But his skeevy friends are more worried about seeing her panties and trying to set Junichi up to lose his virginity with her, since of course gals are easy, loose women who will do it with anyone who begs for it.
Maybe they’ll just abandon him
Groveling isn’t a recipe for success
Basically, listening to anything that these guys say is bad news, and I think that the show does a good job in making it pretty clear that they are losers, who bring their unpopularity on themselves through either poor impulse control, rushes to judgment, or in the case of Minoru, an illegal attraction to elementary school girls, which is a really uncomfortable running joke, but I found myself thinking it funny after about the 10th time, since I hope it’s trying to be obvious about his horrible nature as the others certainly are not supportive of his particular proclivities. But in hanging around with these dinks, Junichi himself has become a dink, and in his second encounter with Yukana, an opportunity set up through a fake love letter put in her locker, he spends most of the time thinking about, again, seeing her panties and trying to get her to sleep with him. This is so transparent that Yukana starts to obviously manipulate him into trying to look under her skirt to laugh at him, and he does it because he’s a dink.
“Did you look? You totally looked, didn’t you?”
She’s more interested than he thinks
But there’s something else in Yukana’s character that I think the show does pretty well at. She’s really interested in being loved. Looking at the show the first time, there was a big turnaround where Yukana proposes to Junichi that they start dating, after he’s convinced himself that he’s hopeless because he was begging for a date, because he’s been staring at her panties, and because he has completely blown any responses to her about why he supposedly likes her. And Yukana’s got him completely pegged from the beginning, but she’s still interested in him because “He’s not totally ugly, and it was kinda funny how he just plopped right on the ground to grovel, and he’s kinda fun to tease with those reactions.” But more than that, it’s obvious that Yukana wants a boyfriend also. Perhaps noone will approach her because she’s a gal. Or maybe she just has normal 16-17 year old desires for companionship and attraction. Either way, she ends up with Junichi as her boyfriend, and she’s more invested in the idea than he is.
They can actually have fun when they just relax
Would anyone want to get kissed by someone with that expression?
Granted, part of that is because he still worries about being played by Yukana, and because he worries about losing his loser friends (who he’d be much better off without anyway). But when the show is the two of them, it really becomes a much better show. Yes, there’s still misunderstanding, with Junichi’s assumptions about gals leading him to think something that’s different from how Yukana really is, like when he tries to kiss her in the karaoke box, egged on by Shinpei’s specious advice. She deflects him by pointing out a nose hair, but it’s really not something she was ready for, since they only just started dating. The problem is (as it always is in these shows, and frequently in life) that these two don’t talk about their experience, their feelings right now, and how they want to progress.
I like him some, but this is too soon!
The second episode of this show was much much better than the first, mainly because it limited the screen time of the idiot friends. I’d like to see them sidelined even more (and note that they barely even show up in the OP and ED animations, unlike the rest of Junichi’s harem and even his internal conversation avatars), and more of the show be about Junichi’s relationship with Yukana. It’s probably going to go to more of a harem-ish show, tho, at least in the idea that there are multiple girls who are interested in Junichi, which was clear from the very beginning. But none of them made a move to even ask him out, instead relying on the “we walk home together” and “I’d help you out in class” moves. And maybe the same thing applies to Yukana’s friend, who we see scoping out Junichi with disapproval, because maybe she doesn’t want her friend dating some other guy?
Hopefully the show will get as good as this one
So in short, go watch Galko-chan, and I’m interested in this show because I think that it might have the right story and development trajectory, from horrible friends to someone being a good boyfriend with a good girlfriend.