Hatsukoi Limited is Where all the Males are Limited

hatsukoi limited OP 5 middle school girlsI’ve grown rather fond of Hatsukoi Limited. It feels every bit the generic junior/high school hijinks romance comedy with some dramatic elements. What sets it apart for me is the gorgeous character designs by J. C. Staff, that to me, is superior to their work on Toradora! Why is this a critical consideration? It’s because this show is very generous with delivering fanservice.

I’ll leave it to other bloggers to appreciate the lovely ladies of this anime, well except for Enomoto Kei, who is probably hotter than how I imagined Takasu Yasuko in her middle school days.

toradora yasuko collageYa-chan is one fiiiine MILF

hatsukoi limited kei enomoto collageHow she must have been before she got knocked up; J.C. Staff stopped leaving it up to my imagination.

This is not an Enomoto Kei appreciation post. This is not an Enomoto Kei appreciation post. Ok, some actual analysis is in order. Hatsukoi Limited is lacking in men. Its male characters feel like variations of harem leads. None of them even approach the level of Takasu Ryuuji in Toradora! who is a strong character in his own right. The schools in Hatsukoi Limited do not have popular male students. There are no studs. The assortment of harem girls all have to do with the weak-ass ‘men’ who would otherwise finish school without so much as holding a woman’s hand (that isn’t their mother’s or their sister’s).

I understand that this is entirely due to genre structural influence. A single alpha male would absolutely unbalance the force of haremette attraction at work here. But I shall dig through my admittedly limited experience of shoujo and harem anime. In Skip Beat, the world is the galaxy of star idols in show business. However, the alpha males are limited to two characters: Fuwa Sho, and Tsuruga Ren. I’d imagine that the anime/manga would be teeming with bishounen and bishoujo in relations of various states of flux. Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge has four alpha males, and very few bishoujo; the lead isn’t even in a reverse-harem situation. Ouran High School Host Club has an abundance of pretty boys whose lives revolve around Haruhi (to a degree). I see very few cases where there are alpha male and alpha female pairings (only the Takenaga x Noi pairing in Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge). What does this tell me? All the attractive characters are almost always up for grabs (or available for shipping) especially for the dumpy ugly duckling kind of underdog characters.

Any of the males in these shoujo titles would have a ball with the ladies of Hatsukoi Limited. A pre-meltdown Kitamura from Toradora! would be aristocracy, and Arima Souchiro from Kare Kano would be a veritable prince. Instead I get to sympathize with the likes of Beast-kun who is no wimp, even if not a ladies man. In episode 7 Dobashi the tennis varsity player gets her moment in the sun, which should have been quite entertaining for me. Like the other alpha females, she is pursued by an omega male. Through her work and attention he gets stronger at tennis and gets a shot at going out with her. By all means this should appeal to me: as I discovered tennis late and am not naturally athletic. However, it doesn’t really. I’m not inspired really. Somehow I’d rather see Dobashi go out with an alpha tennis player, like Irie Naoki from Itazura na Kiss; or going with the glasses theme, Tezuka Kunimitsu from The Prince of Tennis.

hatsukoi limited 07 dobashi x tennis wimp collageDo I really want to watch more of this?

hatsukoi limited 07 dobashi x tezuka prince of tennisHonestly I’d like to see a bit more of this instead.

Hatsukoi Limited would do The Prince of Tennis anime a lot of good and vice-versa because the studly tennis players of PoT will save the smashing girls of HatsuLtd from their weaksauce men and the gorgeous HatsuLtd girls would save the unnaturally-female-companionship-deprived PoT boys from going out only with each other.

prince of tennis seigaku tennis club sakura

So yes it’s good to root for the underdogs, but not all the time. Or rather, the underdogs we root for needn’t be flea-bitten mutts sniffing at dumpsters and licking the lips of drunken hobos passed out on the gutter. So in Hatsukoi Limited at least there’s Beast-kun to root for. Otherwise, I actually feel bad for these real pretty girls. They really deserve better.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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48 Responses to Hatsukoi Limited is Where all the Males are Limited

  1. Kabitzin says:

    Well, first off, if these dudes were like super-GAR-awesome, these girls might not have a chance. Rika is not an alpha female; she is an omega female. I believe that every single male on the show has said “Rika is not cute.” And secondly, things like physical fitness can be taught, especially in anime. Check out what Rika has done. She found a guy whose personality she liked and in a few months she shaped his flabby body from last to third-place. I think of it like buying a great fixer-upper or going for an overpriced move-in-ready apartment. Now Rika has someone who is a perfect match for her, instead of picking some random popular guy who doesn’t mesh with her.

    • ghostlightning says:

      If she showed up where I play tennis she’d have lots and lots of fans – especially since she plays so well. If she weren’t an alpha, she’d be a solid beta or gamma; but no way she’s an omega. No way. I don’t disapprove with her choice. The thing that bothers me is that she didn’t have a lot to choose from.

      Alpha-maleness doesn’t have to inspire GAR. Irie Naoki from ItaKiss doesn’t inspire GAR at all but is definitely quite the catch. This is the same with many of the Prince of Tennis boys. Awesome =| GAR, if so it would’ve been quite the commonplace phenomenon over time.

      • otou-san says:

        If she showed up where I play tennis she’d have lots and lots of fan

        You write for tv tropes, so you should be somewhat aware of the concept of “hollywood homely,” or whatever they call it, no? I think that’s her.

        That said, I don’t think she’s necessarily representative of the whole crew, as Kei and of course [drool]Misaki are high up on the food chain.

        • ghostlightning says:

          Doba-chan as Hollywood homely? No freaking way. She’s hot, only suffering by comparison to Kei-chan and Mobile Suit Misaki.

          • Kabitzin says:

            Otou-san is right, because in the HL universe Rika is universally considered the homeliest of the girls. The other characters go out of their way to comment about how Rika is not cute. You are being blinded by your love of tennis skills.

          • ghostlightning says:

            Okay, so I’m not the most objective person in my own household I GOT IT lols. I really took to her this way:

            Hmmm, short hair, tan skin, understated confidence, tennis skills… WANT.

            So I did not appreciate her through the lenses of the other males, who I can hardly relate to (not anymore at least, due to my geriatric age). I went by what I saw.

  2. RP says:

    There’s no super-GARs, but I think there’s a couple guys that stand out a little better than your typical, useless harem lead.

    Kusuda, who started off as a pretty cliched horndog, has actually grown on me, and he’s shown a lot more depth than I would’ve expected from him.

    Ayumi’s brother is definitely a player. I mean anyone who could get gorgeous Misaki to fall for him with a simple lollipop is worthy of nothing less than player god-hood. Now, only if he didn’t have that little siscon thing going on.

    And the younger Zaitsu’s shown himself to be a pretty crafty guy around any girl that isn’t Misaki (That’s understandable right? Misaki!)

    But otherwise, yeah a couple of the girls are gorgeous, but most are just cute, and I wouldn’t call them perfect either (well, except for Misaki 😉 )

    • ghostlightning says:

      Ayumi’s brother got lucky – a confluence of confidence born out of indifference and Misaki’s sudden receptiveness.

      I don’t dislike these male characters, I just find it conspicuous how very few confident and able males there are.

      • kadian1364 says:

        “A feat achieved only through sheer ignorance and dumb luck.” That was pretty much going to be the deal with Misaki and any of the guys from HL. Really, about the only believable way it was going to happen, if it was to be.

  3. omo says:

    Ehhh. The Terai x Dobashi pairing is more along the line of your play on gender stereotype reversal. Instead of the sports superstar banging the cheerleader prom queen, you get the sports superstar banging the … guy who has some good inner qualities.

    I think the Toradora name drop is clever though because both shows exhibit some degree of realism in the characterization.

    • ghostlightning says:

      The Terai x Dobashi pairing is more along the line of your play on gender stereotype reversal. Instead of the sports superstar banging the cheerleader prom queen, you get the sports superstar banging the … guy who has some good inner qualities.

      I don’t disagree, and perhaps this is a more appropriate take on their pairing. In any case I don’t completely dislike them as a couple and really, good for Terai (after all, even he could probably school me in tennis). I would like to see however, more ‘power couples’ in the vein of Arima x Miyazawa (Kare Kano), or the never-were Kitamura x outgoing class president.

  4. I haven’t watched the show so haven’t much to say, but I have a bone to pick with your character design comparison – I’m not sure what it being J.C.Staff has to do with it. Toradora’s designs were pretty original from that in the novel, but the Hatsukoi Limited designs seem to have been listed right from the manga. After all, this is the same guy who does Ichigo100% which has similarly insanely attractive characters.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Watch the anime, look at how the characters in profile look. They have the same mouths used in Taiga, Ami, and Minorin — right down to the ‘broken’ line used on the lips. And just look at Ya-chan and Kei-chan. Visual evidence trumps appeal to bibliography.

  5. fangzhao says:

    No wonder Ryuuji turned out like that!

  6. bluemist says:

    I think you’ll have your much-desired alpha male in the latest Hatsukoi Limited episode (#9). Actually, the story in the episode could very well be plucked out of any shoujo romance manga. The anime itself felt very much un-HatsuLtd-like at this point, with 0 fanservice take note.

    Maybe not Toradora, I’d rather see Hatsukoi Limited as the spiritual sequ… er… prequel of Kimikiss (also JC Staff). The feel is definitely similar between those two. Unlike HatsuLtd though, Kimikiss has way better male characters which could be alpha or beta level depending on your standard.

    I also like your “power couples” concept. Out of my head I can’t recall any couple in anime like that. One of them has to have some comparative weakness in order to support each other, and that’s how an author derives some stories from. An Arima x Miyazawa is rare it seems, but I hope we discover more of this.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Yes, I realize how rare and precious Kare Kano is. The Ranka x Alto x Sheryl creates a power triangle as all of them are quite popular and successful during the course of Macross Frontier, but the lack of indulgence in the portrayal of their romances make this a rather weak example.

  7. omo says:

    Power couples are found mostly in shoujo manga. Honestly though I don’t really care if they’re wind, solar, nuclear or plain coal as long as the story and characterization are done well.

    Which is to say, all of that is besides the point to Hatsukoi Limited. Kind of weird to ask for something that doesn’t belong.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Sure it belongs. Just turn the weirdo swimmer into a stud and suddenly he and the olympic oppai meganekko who has a crush on him are instant varsity power couple. Instead he’s made to be some kind of freak. You don’t even have to do much: he can keep his burning passion for the swim team and still speak from the roof to recruit club members. Just give him some good clothes to wear and better lines. But the game in this show is to show how freaks and losers get love and female attentions anyway – which is fine, but it wouldn’t hurt to see powerful characters get powerful characterization. Why do only the losers and freaks get the good writing?

      • omo says:

        Well, at least you haven’t seen episode 10 yet, which might answer your question some.

        However I think the saying goes “all is fair in love and war” and I don’t think being a freak or not matters in a show preoccupied with love stories.

        • omo says:

          I think I mean 9. But w/e. Why whine about something that isn’t the point? I think the story would be boring if people are just your usual overachievers. At least get us a male version of Miyazaki Yukino and not yet another pandering male Arima.

          • ghostlightning says:

            Whine? Oh well. Usual overachievers being challenged vs. Usual losers being thrown a bone, I’ll take the former. It isn’t like I wanted every male in this show to be awesome. One would do, and would make for interesting dynamics.

            And THE point? As if there’s one correct point, one way to read/interpret a subject, or at least a best/optimal way of appreciation; if this is your approach then you’ll find me DOIN IT WRNG a whoooole lot. Finding the correct/true reading of text is soooo not the point of my writing. LOL NICE PUN.

            I don’t intend to mislead you omo — I apologize if I am being unclear; what I do here is mostly exploratory; entertaining possibilities if you will (hence the Pot reference. I’ve already said that I don’t wish to detract from anyone’s enjoyment of the show, given that I like it too.

        • ghostlightning says:

          It’s a subjective want that ultimately (despite my defense of my point), I don’t submit as a detraction from the enjoyment of the show. After all I do enjoy this a lot.

          Freaks and studs don’t matter really except for those who have an interest in them. In this case, I and a few others, who are far from being representative of the show’s core audience.

          • omo says:

            But seriously, if people goofing off and being weird are not at least, well, entertaining, then you’re not the target audience in more ways than one. There’s a much simpler thing at work here that you have not recognized.

          • ghostlightning says:

            I’m beginning to think that you don’t actually read the post/my responses. I’ve mentioned more than enough times that I’m quite fond of the show, etc. etc. You seem fixated on demonstrating that I failed in some way. What’s up with that? (And btw, tj han already accomplished this, damn him lols)


            I am not the target audience of anime by default. I have haven’t been the target audience of anime really (at least for the past 15 or so years, generally). I’m a 32-year old who has little access to original DVDs (not directly distributed here in the Philippines).

            I need not point this out in every single post, nor does this mean it’s inappropriate for me to write about it.

  8. kadian1364 says:

    I’d love to sit here with you all day and bemoan the fact that only losers with varying degrees of social redeemability get featured opposite outstanding varieties of girls, but I’ve long accepted that’s how it’s going to be in pop-romance fiction aimed at the male otaku demographic. How many examples can we come up with in the sub-genre that features sympathetic alpha males? Toradora? (Kare Kano leans way towards the shoujo end of the spectrum, although it is also transcendent of that categorization). I’m out of examples beyond that.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Hehe. It’s reassuring to feel that I’m not alone in feeling this way, though I never thought I had an original idea in writing this at all.

      Toradora! is interesting though a weak example because while Ryuuji is treated as some kind of alpha male, it is of the fear/notoriety kind — and undeserved at that. Consider Beast-kun, who’s alpha-stature is denied because he is absolutely fearsome to women and possesses zero attractiveness.

      Like I mentioned to bluemist, Macross Frontier has an alpha triangle; but it is unsatisfying because the romance is unindulged. Beyond Ranka x Alto x Sheryl, I can also make a case for Klan Klan x Michel who are both attractive and successful high school students — but again the romance is one-sided for most of the narrative.

      It’s the same unsatisfying lack of indulgence we will see in Code Geass; with Lelouch being attractive to/paired with Shirley, Millay, and Kallen — all practically royalty in Ashford Academy. You get a little more (but not much more) with Suzaku x Euphie.

      Gundam Wing has Releena x Heero, but I’m neither a fan of this pairing (or of the show itself).

      If you want to see alpha couples in male-targeted anime, you’ll find them in mecha shows kekekeke.

  9. Higurashi is a male-oriented romance with something akin to an alpha couple, what with Keiichi being a Man Among Men and all the girls in school are right to be all over him. I’d say some of the relationships in the Boogiepop are alpha couples as well. Besides those, though, it really is hard to find them outside of mecha or shoujo – but that’s no surprise, the boys and men who watch anime are all losers, so it’s natural the characters will be.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Not all of us are losers, though there were years that I would call myself that. Long life is long. But check out the losers in this show — none of them are otaku. They’re just generic losers which makes the fail of an interesting significance.

      • otou-san says:

        digiboy’s point is valid though. Hatsukoi’s structure is unlike the typical anime romance, which is harem-esque, but the male characters happen to be typical anime romance leads. It is after all a male-oriented show (though omo’s point about toradora-style realism is valid), and we wouldn’t want our audience to feel threatened.

        • ghostlightning says:

          The audience won’t be threatened if the alpha male is portrayed to be not an asshole, and actually invests in friendships with other males in a non-“I own your asses” kind of way. While this may be a fantasy too — the fetishization of popular males as BFFs and having their awesomeness rub off on you, I think it can be very interesting.

          • Kabitzin says:

            Would that be a friendship in a “my cup overfloweth, so here have some of my hot harem” way? =3

          • ghostlightning says:

            PLOT TWIST OF FUN AND LULZ. That’s worth at least one gag-episode/dream sequence!

          • RP says:

            Having just scene episode 9, I’d propose that Chikura’s crush unequivocally breaks the streak of the guy “losers.” Probably a perfect example of the “non-threatening” alpha that you mention. (Actually for a 1-shot character, he had fantastic characterization IMO. Cool, confident, competent, yet fallible and very real.)

          • otou-san says:

            Totally true. Renjou is above and beyond, but then again he’s a good bit older, which speaks to tj han’s point about these kids.

            It also helps that Chikura is the most moe-ful of them, and her proper pairing (even if it’s a transient one) is the strong caring type.

          • ghostlightning says:

            Renjou is the oldest love interest/participant – older than Beast-kun, and makes the most difficult choices so far in the show (career, life etc.).

            But yes, he is a welcome addition to the cast and really, a breath of fresh air. I love it that Sogabe doesn’t hate him or act like a shit about him.

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  11. tj han says:

    Nice discussion you have going here, anyway you seem to be of the opinion that the guys in the show are loser omega-types, but truth is, none of them actually are with the exception of the bespectacled chika-chaser. If you think about their actual ages, like 14, how many of us Asian people at the age of 14 could slickly chase a girl and succeed without a hitch? Most of them are pretty normal.

    The older Zatsubai brother is pretty much considered a mega-alpha male by everyone excluding Misaki, his brother and the Arihara girl.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I can see your reasoning — they are average as opposed to omega-losers. Only in comparison to alphas, the Prince of Tennis types that they seem to be so.

      Alright I can get behind that. Back in high school the upper 20% are the cool kids, 60% are your average tjs, and the bottom 20% are omega types I seem guilty of categorizing these characters.

      Beast-kun is alpha only among the roughhouse types, nobody wants to be his friend — he doesn’t have a gang or flunkies; except Misaki who was his friend from childhood.

      • tj han says:

        Actually I lied, when I was in secondary school, I already had 2 girlfriends. And 20 girls loved me at the same time. Funny thing was, as I grew older and watched more anime, no one likes me anymore lol.

  12. tj han says:

    Oops I got plenty of names wrong.

  13. bluemist says:

    Discussion would seem to trend into the boys having more than loser traits eh? I fail to consider that this is freaking middle and early high school characters, and heck, Hatsukoi Limited. This is their limited experience of first love. I give them some slack.

    Beast-kun is strong but kind. Zaitsu-kun has the nursing blood within him. Arihara has the nerve to push lollipop into a girl’s lips. Kusuda can sew, and gives credit more to other people than to himself. Crazy swimming guy is a team leader and teaches kids on the side. We don’t see much of Bessho’s traits, whatever her sister sees something in him… Finally, Renjou-senpai is a very talented painter!

    • ghostlightning says:

      Like how I responded to tj han, these boys aren’t omegas. They’re just (painfully, for drama’s sake) average: more omicron than omega.

  14. Pingback: re: ghostlightning (in other words, notes on Dobashi) | Anime Blog Online

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