The Summer 2017 Anime Preview Guide
My First Girlfriend is a Gal
How would you rate episode 1 of
My First Girlfriend is a Gal ?
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How was the first episode?
Rating: Boobs, Butts, n' Panties
I'll give My First Girlfriend is a Gal this much credit: It certainly doesn't beat around the bush. (Lord forgive me for that wretched pun.) I can't remember the last time a show's literal first frame was a censored panty shot, but at the very least the audience knows what it's getting into. Unlike Angel 3Piece!, MFGiaG doesn't waste any time trying to develop any interesting characters, or to set up a plot that could actually be compelling and fun; there is absolutely no pretense to be had here. This is a show about a horny teenager thinking about boobs and trying to get laid, and from the very first frame to the very last that is exactly what you get.
I'll put it another way: A central gag of this episode involves a character who looks maybe 12, but has breasts the size of small children threatening to consume the entirety of her tiny frame. Does this strike you as particularly funny. Our main character's friends proceed to spend quite a bit of time lusting after this “loli” with big boobs, and otherwise lamenting the fact that more “grade school girls” aren't sexually active. If this is the kind of humor you find appealing, or the kind of material you find sexy, then My First Girlfriend is a Gal might be for you. If you don't enjoy a veritable avalanche of sexism, objectification, and extensive panty shots, then you'll want to run away as fast as you can. The jokes aren't really funny, the art is pedestrian at best, and almost every single conversation Hashiba and is noxious trio of friends partake in involves lamenting their virginity, lusting after girls, stereotyping women as sluts and easy lays, and otherwise going out of their way to embody all of the most irritating sex-comedy stereotypes that stopped being funny back when the American Pie sequels fizzled out over a decade ago.
Look, I'm not inherently against fanservice, or booby shows, or comedies focused almost entirely about sex. Shows like Bakemonogatari (and it's many sequels and spinfoofs) have shown that it is indeed possible have a series focused on a horny teenager surrounded by sexy women while still telling a compelling story and feature women that don't all feel like glorified blow up dolls for the men to salivate over. My First Girlfriend is a Gal is not that kind of show. It doesn't even want to be that kind of show. It may pile on some drivel about “not judging a book by its cover” and “finding real beauty on the inside”, but the opening shots of the episode tell you everything you need to know about this anime's one true purpose in life. It will give you boobs and butts and panties and more (though if you really want to see everything you'll have to shell out for the Blu Ray). Whether you watch this show or not, you can't ever say that My First Girlfriend is a Gal wasn't completely upfront about what it's trying to sell you.
The first shot of My First Girlfriend is a Gal is centered directly on the titular gal's panties, though they're concealed behind a relatively novel “buy the blurays” censorship icon. The unique forms of censorship continue throughout the episode, but those censorship bars are pretty much the only unique thing about this show. My First Girlfriend is a Gal is a fairly standard harem, notable mostly for just how unpleasant most of the central cast is.
I'll give My First Girlfriend credit for its honesty, at least. Harem leads are often depicted as bumbling, well-intentioned everymen, but our hero Junichi is a creeper from the start. He poo-poos his friends for alternately lusting after and cursing the other girls in his class, but he's not any different from them, and the show seems to understand that. However, that doesn't make this episode's first half any easier to sit through.
Basically the entire first half of this episode is spent hanging out with the least likable group of high school boys imaginable, as they all alternately whine about not having girlfriends, lustily creep on every girl they come across, and generally act like petulant, sexist, mean-spirited teenagers in every way possible. Their behavior is actually pretty true to the self-victimizing “why can't all these girls see I'm such a nice guy, clearly they're all whores” type, but the honesty of the telling doesn't make it any more fun to hang out with them.
My First Girlfriend also at least somewhat expects you to sympathize with these creepers, given both its consistent fanservice and its intended comic punchlines. But the bitterness of basically everything about this setup made it very hard for me to engage at all. I can definitely enjoy harems, sex comedies, or generally raunchy shows, but I prefer such shows to be positive - I want them to like their cast, and I want the cast itself to be having a good time. My First Girlfriend hovered between bitter and predatory for the majority of its runtime, making it a real slog to get through.
If there's a light at the end of the tunnel, it's that My First Girlfriend understands its lead is garbage, and thus his galfriend Yukana at least gets to rag on him for his nonsense. It's also clear from their dynamic that Junichi will likely grow up a bit through their relationship, meaning the show almost certainly started at its least likable. And the show looks reasonably good, though I felt its attempts at fanservice were too loud and graceless to be particularly sensual. But overall, My First Girlfriend is a Gal is just too mean-spirited to really inspire much interest from me.
This manga adaptation unambiguously stakes out its territory from the very beginning by making its first visual a (creatively-censored) panty shot. The rest of the episode follows suit, with panty shots (albeit for Yukana only) even becoming a story point late in the episode, plenty of attention on girls' chests, and even some very racy dream scenes. Thus this episode is unequivocally the most fan service-intensive debut of the season, though it still pales in comparisons to titles like last season's Seven Mortal Sins. And despite at least one of Junichi's friends being a lolicon, this is also a fan service title obsessed with large breasts; the majority of the girls shown have huge busts and Yui, who has a reasonable-sized build, is considered small. To give you an idea of how far this goes, Junichi's practically midget-sized friend Nene is essentially an exaggerated version of DanMachi's Hestia. I think I can safely predict that she won't become the year's “It” girl like Hestia did, though.
If you aren't a fan of what's described above then you're probably wasting your time checking out this episode, as there isn't much to it beyond that. Most of the episode is merely an exaggerated view of school romance and ruminations on horny teenage boys desperate to lose their virginity and the apparently-popular image that “gals” are easy. It also leaves room for a potential harem set-up, as Nene is clearly sweet on Junichi and Yui's greeting to him goes a bit beyond just being polite; it's a bit hard to read her at this point, though, as a slightly sharper edge to her character design seems at odds with her politeness. Junichi doesn't offer a lot of hope for being a sympathetic character, as his primary redeeming characteristic at this point is that he's not quite as bad as his friends are – and that isn't saying much – but seeing a slightly different angle on the classic anime gimmick of a boy being overwhelmed by a girl holds at least some promise. The other potential point of interest here is Yukana, who isn't the normal primary harem love interest and already shows some signs of having at least a little depth to her. Whether or not that's enough to make this series worth continuing to watch remains to be seen, but my initially-low opinion of the episode did increase some as those elements were hinted at.
The technical merits and especially character designs of the series are nothing special, so there's nothing on those fronts to draw viewers in. Still, I'm giving this a slightly higher grade than I was originally inclined to because I see at least some hope for this one as raunchy romantic comedies go.
The basic premise of My First Girlfriend is a Gal has some potential. Take two characters from wildly different social circles, put them in a relationship, and watch the sparks fly. There's humor to be found in their contrasting personalities, and the process of finding common ground offers plenty of opportunities for sweet or reflective moments. Unfortunately, this episode doesn't really do any of that. Instead, it's mostly just obnoxious and dumb.
Most of the problems start with Junichi and his crew of hopelessly single buddies. It seems like the series is trying to find humor by making it patently obvious that their inability to get a date is their own fault. Again, that's not a terrible idea, but the writing lays the flaws on way too thick and ends up portraying them as gross idiots. The guys don't really have any redeeming qualities to balance out their obsession with getting laid, and the way they push Junichi into asking Yukana out feels kind of mean. Junichi himself isn't much better, and the show's attempts at playing up the “pervy main character” angle make it unclear whether we should be rooting for him or hoping to see him crash and burn.
There are a couple of amusing moments here, and most of them come from Yukana seeing right through Junichi's intentions. Watching her scare the living daylights out of Junichi in the classroom is kind of entertaining, as are some of her reactions to his sad attempt at asking her out. As Junichi starts digging his own grave during the confession scene, pieces of his internal monologue are also ridiculous enough to be worth a laugh. If she had ultimately turned him down at the end of the episode, I could have seen this series getting some decent comedic mileage out of Junichi trying and failing to make himself more appealing.
Sadly, that doesn't seem to be where the story is headed. In a moment of truly unconvincing writing, Yukana agrees to go out with Junichi despite having no obvious reason to do so. Based on the amount of fanservice in this episode, we're probably looking at a show about an unlikable dork stumbling his way into a relationship with a hot girl. Unless there are some swift and significant improvements in the coming weeks, I don't see this one being worth watching.
See that screencap? That's the opening shot of My First Girlfriend is a Gal, so you can't say they don't warn you. It's also a scene that the episode keeps returning to in its latter half, because series protagonist Junichi realizes that from his begging position he can see right up Yukana's skirt, and that's not a view he's willing to give up for a little thing like “human decency.” The fact that he's on the ground begging her to go out with him in the first place is because his skeezy friend told him that based on Yukana's gal appearance she's likely to sleep with anyone who begs her, so she's a sure thing for Junichi to lose his pesky virginity.
The guys are so reprehensible that I was actively disgusted for most of the episode. Add to that poor Nene, Junichi's childhood friend who has breasts that are so large as to look deformed (there is no way that kid should be standing upright or not wearing serious support garments); when you put that with the general focus on Yukana's body, the whole thing just comes off as fetishizing to the point where the girls are objects rather than characters. But that may actually be the point – Junichi and his friends are so obsessed with sex at this point that they can't see beyond appearances, and Yukana's attitude may be just what Junichi, at least, needs in order to realize that girls are people too. And Yukana does have a real personality – she takes the boys to task for reading dirty magazines in class and she knows precisely what Junichi's up to when he won't get off the ground, even using it to play with him a bit. That she still agrees to go out with him feels a little odd, but there's a chance that she's also hoping for some kind of high school love experience and other guys have been too afraid to approach her. He wouldn't be my first choice, but she could also be planning to harass him for his rude behavior.
The show is unfortunately censored, but at least the choice of censorship style is mildly creative – perfectly manicured hands and bedazzled hearts are the order of the day, and if you've got to have censorship, at least this is different than usual light bars or shining fog. It also fits well with the theme of the series, so there's that.
Where My First Girlfriend is a Gal goes from here is going to make all the difference. If episode two tones down the fetishization and starts to develop Yukana as a real person, this could morph into a somewhat smarty raunchy comedy. I doubt I'll watch any more to find out, but if that's your genre, this might be worth keeping an eye on.
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