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|Average Rating: 5.50|
darkstorm scored this with 4/10. Disagree?
To have your series entitled ‘World’s Greatest First Love’ it’d either have to be tongue-in-cheek, or you have to be extremely confident that your content will live up to that name. I hope that the series name was for the former because it certainly is not living up to the latter.
Known in Japan as 'Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi' the series stars Onodera Ritsu; a literacy editor who left his father’s publishing company to make a name for himself after his old colleagues accused him of being successful purely because of his heritage. After a series of misunderstandings however, he finds himself landing a job at a Shojo manga department and within the infamous group of ‘Team Emerald’, led by the hard-driven Masamune Takano. Onodera wishes to leave the shojo manga department as soon as possible to work on ‘real literature’ but he can’t help but feel that he knows his new boss. After a rocky first day at the new office, he remembers that his boss is his former high school lover; the relationship was brief but left a hole in Onodera’s heart. Can they work through their old problems for their new business relationship to work? Or is Masamune hoping to re-kindle what they once had?
I will give points first on the series not being set in a school, a nice change of scenery for the romance and yaoi genres. Secondly, I highly enjoyed the manga publishing company environment; as a manga fan it was very interesting to see what goes on before the volume comes to my local bookshop. From the pencilling in, the editing of panels, to the sales of books; all aspects are given a good look at and provide a unique setting I’ve yet to see anywhere else. Whether it’s all based on truth or not I won’t be able to tell you but the environment seemed authentic, educational and fun to witness. That’s where the good points end though as other clichés from the genre are at full force here. This includes the clueless main lead helplessly in love with a butch-looking love interest who just happens to return the feelings too, continuous forcely-dealt kisses between the couple only for the clueless male to run away and the butch male having an obstacle he must face from his past before he can be with the one he loves.
If the story had been interesting or well told though, I’d probably be more forgiving of the recycled formula above, unfortunately what starts off great and unique, turns into a lazily written 12 episode series. We start with the pair of males meeting again after a long time and have to work together in a stressful environment; tension rises, stolen kisses happen, it all seemed to be going fine. But then in episode 5 we’re introduced to a new pair of males, both working in the same company but a different department despite looking very much like our original protagonists. At first I didn’t mind as we got a different look at the varied departments of the company and they had a slight different background to the first pairing. By the time we get back to our original couple in episode 7 however, very little between the potential lovers had changed, we get the same ‘kiss then run away in denial’ routine before ANOTHER couple is introduced in episode 8; again with the same character design, blushing faces and surprise kiss at the end of the episode routine over the next few episodes. Then it goes back to the 2nd pairing for one last look at the undeveloped romance, leaving the last 2 episodes to rashly deliver a twist in Onodera and Masamune’s history, building to an unsatisfying ending with little chemistry or romance to end on. It came apparent looking back on the series that the introduction to a new pair each time was just a silly excuse for the writers to animate the ‘first love and kiss’ scenario over and over again because they couldn’t get past the rush of early passion. Any sense of actual emotional development, maturity or connection is never seen. Communication and working through problems seemed completely lost on the production team as the dance of 'blush, kiss, avoid talking and run away' is done to death. Yes, the bliss of a first kiss between a couple is exciting but if it doesn’t lead into anything and just repeats itself over and over again you’re going to lose that initial thrill and grow tired of it eventually. No one likes watching the couple kissing passionately only for the final episode to represent no change from the opening scene of the programme. I will admit that the script made me laugh in places, and the characters didn’t grate on me consistently, however the second half of this season made me more cynical with each passing episode to the point of leaving me incredibly annoyed and bored.
Art style was never one of my favourite elements of yaoi as I don't particularly find the pointy faces and strange eyes of the males attractive, so despite the colourful animation and fluid movements the visual side of the show didn’t win me over. It didn’t help that each pairing introduced looked the same; the smaller male with a squishy face in love with the taller, square head male.
Incidental music wasn’t something I picked up on whilst watching the series, suitable for the material but I couldn’t pin point any track. The opening and ending themes are your typical male vocal led J-pop music; the opening is hyperactive and suitable for the comical moments whilst the ending is easy breezy and nice but nothing overly amazing.
Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi sadly doesn’t fill in the big shoes it’s given; a strong opening and unique setting gives way to same old clichés of the genre and a dispassionate ending, leaving a resentful aftertaste. A second season has begun in Japan as of October but unless promises of actual character and romance development are fulfilled, it’s a pass.
At the time of writing this review, episodes 1 - 12 are streaming on Crunchy Roll.
Screenshots (click to pop out)
|Score:||4 out of 10|
|Date Published:||Wed, 21 Dec 2011|
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