I’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.
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 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.
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.