Yamada has made it to high school with one goal in mind: to have sex with one hundred people. Sure, it sounds like the plot of any number of American Pie spin-offs (or National Lampoon spin-offs, or Porky’s spin-offs, or… you get the idea). The twist? Yamada’s the female lead, and she willingly wants to hook up with as many men as possible. Female empowerment might have balanced out over the years, but her sanity hasn’t. She’s not an unattractive girl, but any time a man hits on her, she freaks out and starts doubting that he’d like her. Any journey of a thousand miles (or 100 used condoms) has to start with one step, and Yamada’s first step is the “golden cherry” boy of Kosuda. He’s generic in all regards except for his knack with a camera. Will the sex-driven lass tear him apart in the sack, or will incompatible mindsets cause an erectile deflection?
The series is an interesting concoction: usually, the “horny lead” plot is reserved for males. Still, movies like Bridesmaids showed that women can be written to be just as crass and offensive as men, and both men and women will see it. The lines separating the genders are vanishing, and B Gata H Kei (released in America as Yamada’s First Time) will easily help reduce them further, if only for a very specific crowd of animation fans 18 and up. While the series includes nothing that an R-rated movie won’t (even less if you consider that the only breasts shown in the series are animated), it’s still treading an odd line. The characters and designs are obviously teenagers; much more so than in shows like Lucky Star, where the characters could be drawn much younger than they are. (Almost the inverse of American movies and television, where much older actors will play much younger high school students.) Still, while you might not feel as dirty watching teenagers attempt to get it on, they are in the 15-16 range, and that might make you just want to close the door and blinds lest someone catch what you’re watching. On the other hand, it’s nice that the series is frank about this; a decade or two ago, if animated characters were going to have sex, the dub would commonly make sure to mention that they were in college or over 18. Considering that the plot initially hinges on Yamada’s wanting to sex 100 men once she hits high school, it’s good that the ages are not ignored or modified.
In the 1990s, the animated series (and its originating manga) Golden Boy became the pinnacle of perverted comedy. In it, a wandering bike-rider interacted with the women of the world, and while he may have wanted to have sex with all of them, his heart of pure gold would end up saving the day. As he rode out of town, the female of the week would invariably reveal that she’d fallen in love with Kintaro and anxiously await his return to her life. Yamada’s First Time is, effectively, the inverse of that. Yamada herself is shallow, manipulative, and doesn’t improve the lives of others she interacts with. While Kintaro may have been a perv, he had a heart of gold. Yamada, on the other hand, is sexually charged but morally lost. Sure, by the end of the season, she may have seemingly fallen in love, but her intentions were never noble. Golden Boy is largely considered a classic of raucous humor and sexual depravity; years from now Yamada’s First Time will not be held in the same high regard.
Notably, Yamada’s First Time misses a lot of opportunities; a good span of time is covered over the short series, and while it comes to a near-climax, it definitely seems as if there’s a lot of story that’s gone missing from the adaptation. This is a series that definitely could have benefited from a longer episode count, or a shortened time span. Not saying that shows that crank out timeframes like they’re nothing is explicitly bad (Rin: Daughters of Mnemonsyne covers, I believe, six different decades in as many episodes), but for one that’s supposed to focus on the unintentional slow boil of a relationship (when one is looking for the fast food equivalent), it seems a little jittery.
There are extras here that are substantially more than the standard trailers and text-free opening/ending. A humorous, if not swear-filled, blooper track is good for a run through, and two commentaries are a nice bonus. The first features the main leads, and covers standard dubbing in-jokes and comments on the perverted nature of the series. More notably, a commentary with the two lead writers for the show gives a good insight to the slightly controversial nature of dubbing at times. Much of the jokes had to be rewritten for an American audience, and the pair comment that they tried their best to keep the spirit of the joke, if not the technical details and errata. It’s a commendable and thankless task; they do comment that the original comments can be found in the sub track, for purists who need references to obscure Japanese items they’ve never heard of. As I reviewed the DVD discs only, I cannot comment on the Blu-ray discs or features of the retail release.
B Gata H Kei/Yamada’s First Time isn’t offensively bad. There’s a few good concepts here, notably turning the horny lead into a female. It’s best considered a fling that you’d have on vacation; you may have fun with it at the moment, but it won’t leave any lasting impression (that a few creams won’t take care of). But you’ll be wanting something more serious down the road.