By Dustin Cabeal
What a strange little show this turned out to be. Full of highs and lows, none of them emotional, just quality wise, highs and lows. It ended up only being ten episodes long, which is strange in that I know this is one of the most popular new anime at the moment. At least with the English language market. They probably hit a section of the story in which they didn’t have enough time to get into the rest of the story and so they ended it where it made the most sense… at least that’s what I imagine happened.
The story follows Junichi, a guy who by all accounts is a loser nerd. He hangs out with three loser nerd friends that decide to experiment with asking a “gal” out and seeing if at least one of them can lose their virginity. You’ll forgive me if I still have no fucking clue what a “gal” is and why everyone seems to think they’re slutty when every story that has a “gal” portrays them as the opposite. Enter Yukana, the target of their experiment. The boys tie up Junichi and deliver a love letter on his behalf and make him wait to confess to her; which goes amazingly well… after he stops staring at her panties.
From there he, of course, collects a harem of girls that are interested in him or in one case, interested in his girlfriend. Her best friend Ranko attempts to have sex with Junichi for the sole reason of getting him to leave her alone. It’s a very intense strange moment in which the scene borders on rape. There is also a running pedophile joke that never sat well with me. It was never funny, and yet the show found a way to include the gag in all but two episodes.
There are some great bits of humor. Junichi’s friends start off generic and pointless and in any other anime would have faded into the background, but manage to hang around the entire show. If I understood correctly, the manga doesn’t have as large of a role for them, but due to their popularity, they included them more in the show. Which was mostly a good move. The pedophile could have been cut out or changed.
There’s also some great bits of humor from Junichi’s inner thoughts in which four versions of himself are shown, the first two… Were basically the same, I didn’t get them, and they didn’t matter when the hentai version turned up. He was hilarious but became a perfect pairing when “cool” Junichi showed up. The two played off of each other quite well.
I would love to praise this show more because so much of it was off formula and still worked showing that anime doesn’t need to beat the same path month after month, season after season. The problem is that there were still so many unfortunate aspects of the show and just a general inconsistency to the season.
The biggest flub is that the first two episodes are by the typical not quite hentai formula. There’s a lot of panty shots and depending on how and where you watched it, censoring. Having watched one of the uncensored episodes, it seemed like an attempt to make people think it was dirty than it was because by normal anime standards it was timid. The second season of How to Raise A Boring Girlfriend was more provocative. Now the third episode has the near rape scene, and this is where the show started to break and change, mostly for the better.
The episode was entirely too mature for the subject matter and for what was set up in the previous two episodes. It was nuts and something that they thankfully never go back to; in most cases, Junichi finds an ally in Ranko… Which is still weird and fucked up.
From there the show breaks into a different formula, but with the inclusion of the friends. There is another “racy” episode involving the character Nene, in which she transforms into a Gal and also tries to take Junichi’s virginity. It’s not nearly as bad as the Ranko scene and has some of the most emotional development for the entire series. After this, the show just gets goofy, funny and enjoyable. There’s a beach scene in which the size of Nene’s boobs were beyond comical and in my personal taste too big. I started thinking about her possible back problems because of how disturbingly big her boobs were.
After finding this great rhythm of not that damn perverted nudity, the show takes this ugly turn back towards being serious in which Junichi thinks that Yame is just screwing with him because he’s a virgin and that she’s just sleeping with other good looking dudes. The main problem with this is that there was no emotional development between the two before this episode. The difficult question of “why she said yes” are never asked. Instead of developing a real relationship it delves into the superficial, “he’s a kind dude and protects me from his pervert friends” love story. It works if that’s what the goal is, but the goal for their relationship changes constantly. In the end, Junichi tells her that he didn’t have any interest in her originally, but that he fell in love. Yame doesn’t acknowledge the information or seem to be shocked.
There’s just not enough consistency with the story. While I was happy to see the character change from where they started, they never stopped changing. The emotional depth was never developed, and yet you’re still expected to root for their relationship. I can do the superficial development, but this show couldn’t stick with that. It wanted to be deep and shallow, and every time it broke from one or the other it made it more glaring how inconsistent it was. Which is a shame because scenes like the girls all lighting firecrackers on the beach where brilliant. Each girl trying to win Junichi or Yame’s love watch as they giggle and laugh and their light goes out. A beautiful metaphor that was ruined by the next episode. That and the main characters have so few conversations together that actually hearing what they were saying would have been a great bit of character development.
The artwork and animation are mostly consistent. You can tell that a lot of money wasn’t being put into the friends in the first episode. They weren’t nearly as detailed, but then suddenly they were given the same amount of time and affection as the rest of the characters. Also, the pervy parts are toned down from the first episode which was trying to fit in as many as possible. Don’t get me wrong, there were still plenty, but really if you watch anime, you won’t be phased by the latter episodes because there’s more restraint. Junichi does end up looking a bit too generic. He’s the main character, but also incredibly forgettable with his design.
It’s not a bad show, and it got much better after the first three episodes, but it was off-putting that it never had Junichi afraid that Yame would find out the way he asked her out. They never challenged why she was going out with him until the last two episodes and then it was as if the anime just looks at you with shrugged shoulders and asked, “This?” There were plenty of missed opportunities that could have made the characters and story stronger. It would be easy to blame the extra screen time for the friends, but the single-handily save the season. The biggest problem facing this series is that if it were picked up for a second season, I don’t know if I would care. The characters have done all the tropes in their own way, and with so little in the way of character development, I don’t know what they would be left to do other than recycling storylines. Don’t expect a lot from it, but enjoy the parts that shine.
My First Girlfriend Is a Gal
Creator: Meguru Ueno
Director: Hiroyuki Furukawa
Writer: Yūichirō Momose
Studio: Naz Studio