Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day Three Hundred and Ten - Yamada's First Time (B Gata H Kei): Episode 1, "Love, Japanese Style"

If you were to ask me to watch an animated version of American Pie, I would probably decline. While the premise is cute, the thought of idiot teenagers getting their jones on via awkward gags doesn't really appeal. Additionally, Japanese sex comedies aren't exactly known for their presence of mind when it comes to tact (or being anything other than a thinly veiled smut-fest), as they're generally just loose storylines of horndog guys trying to get with whomever they can. I guess that's why I was surprised when I first checked out Yamada's First Time.

Not only does the series invert the trope of the sex-crazed male horndog, turning that role over to the overly sexed, but criminally naive, Yamada... but the show actually manages to highlight all of the silly, awkward things that teens go through when it comes to discovering their sexuality, while telling an oddly sweet romance at the same time... something that American Pie only does in the last ten minutes of the film.

Of course the main character is Yamada. She's the pinnacle of your typical fashionista model type, at least physically, but suffers from being extremely interested in sex with no actual experience to draw from. This makes her so self-conscious that she actively sabotages the efforts of any guy trying to fulfill her desire for nookie.

That's where the timid Kosuda comes in. After bumping into him at a bookstore and miraculously discovering that they're in the same class, Yamada decides that, since he's a scaredy-cat virgin, he's the perfect person with which to lose her own virginity to as he'd just be happy to be with her and wouldn't notice her own lack of experience. It doesn't help, of course, that she has no idea how to attract/seduce him, so her clumsy attempts more often than not wind up intimidating or scaring him and, at the very end of the episode, frightening even her as she wasn't quite prepared for the, uh, shall we say physical reactions she might have on him.

I decided to watch Yamada's First Time today to wash the taste of last night's Okami-san out of my mouth. While, on the surface, the two use many of the same tools in terms of character archetypes (there's a tsundere female lead with a cowardly male love interest, and several different female characters like the buxom glasses girl and precocious loli), where Okami is just a mishmash of tropes, Yamada's First Time is a surprisingly decent "Step-Up Love Story" that could almost be used in health classes to show what kids discovering their hormones should NOT do in the pursuit of their first relationships... and does so in a way relateable to both adults and teens.

And it's funny.

There, I said it... watching Yamada try and reach her goal of having 100 Sex Friends by the time she graduates high school (spoiler: she never gets past #1, by the way), but always be struck down by her own nerves or hubris, is pretty darn entertaining.

It's also a commendable series because, while it is a bit ecchi (I mean, c'mon, it deals with high schoolers trying to hook up), it's never about titillation. Unlike most ecchi titles, which are usually just generic stories with tits and ass meant to boost ratings (see my reviews of High School of the Dead), Yamada's First Time is an exercise in discussing, but never really showing. Any nudity is avoided by camera angles or sight gags and everything else sex related is pantomimed or symbolic.

It's not porn... it's... well... a health class filmreel for the modern era... that just happens to have a cute and funny storyline. To be honest, it's really rather amazing how the author of the manga that this series is based on has managed to present such a compelling argument for monogamy in the guise of a woman trying to become a sex-fiend.

I wouldn't recommend this anime for anyone who hasn't reached puberty, but it's pretty safe (and informative) for teens and funny for adults.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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