Hatsukoi Limited

By bluemist on June 28th, 2009

Hatsukoi Limited

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Let me just say this up front. I can’t believe myself. How could I consider Hatsukoi Limited, a stereotypical, fanservice-laden, straightforward series with one-dimensional characters and simplistic plot as one of the best romance animes ever made? This anime panders to the male audience. The girls are of different but typical flavors of hawtness. The guys have their loser qualities just the way it should be in this genre. All of them entangled in a Web 2.0 style relationship chart, which is really the only complex thing in this show. Everything about this spelled “shallow”. “Dumbed down”. “Bland”. “Generic”. Yet with all this negativity… I love this show! I love this anime with an almost guilty, embarassing passion! So to anyone still not intimidated by all the bad things I said about this anime so far, please read on. Let’s try to discover why the hell Hatsukoi Limited is freaking awesome. Let me say that again: Hatsukoi Limited is FREAKING AWESOME!

We begin with a not-so-limited number of boys and girls in middle and high school, the oh-so-typical setting for multiple “first loves” to bloom. And bloom they did, as each episode focuses on one or two girls with their first experiences at this simple, yet confusing feeling called love. If you have any kind of fetish in your 2D girl fandom, they probably have it in this show. We have a cute girl who’s dangerously strong despite the looks. The optimal cool beauty who’s quite a newbie in the love department. The worst (best?) onii-chan complex in any anime ever. The big-bust swimming girl who actually doesn’t like being well-endowed. The cool beauty #2 tennis superstar. The all-systems-completely-normal girl that had the best episode in the anime. And finally, my personal favorite, the ultimate rendition of tsundere. These seven girls are paired with no less than nine guys – the kind yankee, the normal guy, the semi-normal guy, the ero-kappa, the siscon, the anti-siscon, the tennis guy, the swimming guy, and the alpha painter guy. Along with side characters, this provides probably a very confusing relationship chart considering it’s just a 12-episode anime. After a few episodes though, you would eventually get a hold of these characters, simply because they are… er… simple.

The attitudes of each character are so strongly-typed that they seem to give every single cliche in the harem book a run for its money. The girls, they are hot. The guys, most of them are losers in their own domains. How does Hatsukoi Limited succeed then, being the complete encyclopedia of what is right and wrong about harem anime? My answer may be as confusing as “first love” itself! The anime merely “clicked” on me. I read the manga beforehand and I really didn’t think it were anything special. But then the anime came and had this awesome presentation, all elements laid in perfect symphony with each other. The animation, the music, the story pace, all very entertaining. Everytime I watch a single episode, it feels like an event. For many weeks, it had been my Sunday show, getting and watching the raws first before watching the same episode AGAIN with the subs. I would make worthless Twitter posts about how awesome the episode is even if I can’t describe it well within the character limit. In this time when I treat most anime as an “I can always watch an episode later” afterthought, Hatsukoi Limited is the single anime which I just HAVE to watch as immediate as possible. This is indeed, love at first sight.

In Hatsukoi Limited, romance is unlimited. From a simple blush to the heartful embrace, everything is endearing. There is always something innocent and pure about a “first love”, and this series just expresses that in every example that it makes. The way each character learns about love is what made this anime go deeper than its otherwise generic exterior. The development goes beyond the one-dimensional phase of these characters, with them asking each other and even themselves about love. How would I react to a love confession? How could I confess to a childhood friend? How should I serve onii-chan today (this is a joke)? How can I get over my complex and please my love? How can I hold her hand? How can I show him my affections? Why is my love so shallow? Why am I holding on despite her loving someone else? Why me? How can I be a better person? How can I be true to my feelings?

These questions, while simple, feels real. It’s actually the way we deal with emotions in our own lives. When you add these thoughts and self-reflections into the equation, all that shallow and bland exterior goes away. Hatsukoi Limited is a show where you really shouldn’t judge it from its cover. This is not just about fanservice or about unreal situations to fuel any otaku’s wish fulfillments. It’s a show about love, in a simple and complex way, when it is your first time at it.

I highly commend the animators at J.C. Staff for this. This is essentially the spiritual predecessor to any excellent romantic comedy anime that they have made, particularly Kimikiss ~pure rouge~. The feel of that series is here, the same “kilig moments” (sweet romantic moments), camera panning cinematography styles, and to how exceptional the music blends with the current scene. They have modified an otherwise normal manga into a highly coherent piece, mixing up multiple storylines to make it less confusing, and even changing some events slightly. I feel rather bad about the original manga actually, because with that complex relationship chart, the series is clearly gunning for a long serialization. But the series was unfortunately cut short due to some reason, and so the ending feels kinda rushed. The anime ended more or less the same way, but the modifications made it completely tolerable. In fact, they made it superior to the original source itself. It’s rare that an anime can go beyond its source material, but somehow with Kimikiss (with its typical bishoujo game roots) and now Hatsukoi Limited, they pulled it off. J.C. Staff is having hit after hit in this genre for quite a while, I should enjoy more of their works.

What else can I say? I really hope I had convinced you to watch this show if you haven’t already. I would admit, part of my excitement about this anime is my own version of overhype, but what’s wrong about that? One of the girls in the series just nailed that point. If you’re in love, you are in love. That’s it. No ifs, no buts. And as one of the songs in the anime goes, it’s just something you feel, and the feeling won’t stop. You want the whole world to know about it, before it fades away hidden within the many other anime people are more likely to watch than this. To me, Hatsukoi Limited is an instant classic. Highly recommended. I hope you feel the same way.

14 Comments

Posted By: ghostlightning On: June 28, 2009 At: 4:43 pm

Glad you liked it. I can’t say it made anywhere as close an impact on me as it did for you, but I found the show rather enjoyable and charming in its own way.

Posted By: bluemist On: June 28, 2009 At: 6:00 pm

Yea sometimes niche anime like this hits me with the right notes at the right time. Last year the hit anime that moved me was Naisho no Tsubomi, heh, lolicon sex education shoujo anime. They especially stand out when my expectations are low, and other anime I watch in the same timeframe isn’t up to its own job in entertaining me.

Posted By: Sailor Enlil On: June 28, 2009 At: 9:18 pm

For the most part I liked it, though I felt a bit of a letdown with the anime adaptation mainly because I read the manga first (which I loved greatly), which had lots of stuff cut out in the anime. Otherwise I agree, it’s a classic.

Posted By: omo On: June 29, 2009 At: 4:08 am

I knew what this show was about going in, and what surprised me isn’t that it exceeded my expectation, but just how you can take the source material and make it shine the way it did. The source material wasn’t bad either, it just didn’t have the right polish or presentation, I guess.

And I guess my point was that I didn’t go in with low expectations either. I was hoping to see something that we got right here, and we got it (and it was even sweeter than I thought)!

Posted By: RP On: June 29, 2009 At: 11:47 am

Great write-up. Like you mentioned, for a fairly by-the-numbers romantic comedy, HL just pushes the right buttons at the right times. It’s funny when it’s supposed to be, it’s endearing when it’s supposed to be, and it’s dramatic when it’s supposed to be.

Between this and the fan-fricking-tastic job JC Staff is doing with Hayate no Gotoku adaptation, they’re quickly becoming the studio for romantic comedy adaptations.

Posted By: ghostlightning On: June 29, 2009 At: 10:32 pm

I just saw the final. I wish I stopped watching at 10 episodes. I cringed the whole way through.

Posted By: Omonomono » Romance Is Code for Limited Bromance; Hatsukoi LLP Closed for Business On: June 30, 2009 At: 12:29 am

[…] the anime went above and beyond the manga in some cases. One example of that came to me in the last episode. I might have missed it earlier […]

Posted By: bluemist On: June 30, 2009 At: 10:47 am

@ghostlightning
Hahaha, you didn’t like the weakling guys after all. I thought you would have liked that they self-evaluated themselves on why they were losers, although doing a “Screw it, let’s run away to the beach!” is just a roundabout way of saying “we’re still weaklings lols!”

Posted By: suguru On: June 30, 2009 At: 11:13 am

I loved Hatsukoi Limited too – it definitely gave me a Kimikiss-like vibe, it’s nice to see a series with a more complicated relationship chart than 200 girls all liking the same guy, and I thought HL did a good job of showing both the girls’ and guys’ sides too. Plus I’m a sucker for tsunderes, and Kei fits that mold perfectly…

Posted By: AnimeNerdz On: July 01, 2009 At: 2:20 am

after reading this post, I really want to give it a try..nicely written bluemist

Posted By: Wavehawk On: July 03, 2009 At: 9:17 pm

Sometimes I wonder if romance anime ever bothers to have a character that’s not a complete wimpy weakling nor a grand macchiavellian bishounen asshole…

Posted By: pandaman01 On: July 08, 2009 At: 8:41 am

I was going to pass on this show, but after reading your glowing review, I suppose I will give it a try. I read a bit of the manga and it seemed alright.

Posted By: zeroone On: August 08, 2009 At: 6:13 am

¿What can i say? I loved this anime almost as much as you did. They took the manga, and adapted it to a more simple story wich in the end made more sense.

Posted By: DarknessMichael On: November 09, 2011 At: 5:11 am

one of my favorite romantic comedy and a bit drama

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