Aihara Ayumi is a junior high school girl who’s wants to be confessed to by a prince, but the person who actually gives her a confession letter is more like a monster. Ayumi is distraught over how to respond to such a scary person and tries to get her older brother to take care of it, but even he’s afraid of this Zaitsu Misao person. Since Ayumi doesn’t respond to him immediately, Misao follows her around, scaring everyone around her and bringing her to the brink. Ayumi appears to find her real prince though when one of the boys in her class carries her to the infirmary because she’s not feeling well, but she laerns afterward that this guy is actually the little brother of Misao. Eventually forced to face Misao, Ayumi ends up crying and telling him that he’s troubling her. She also asks him not to follow her around and runs away from him. Unfortunately, Ayumi then bumps into a guy who proceeds to capture her because he and his friends want to get at Misao. After what she said to Misao, she doesn’t think that he’ll come to save her, but he does show up, and he even takes hits from the thugs to protect her. Realizing that she’s responsible, she tells him not to worry about her and frees herself. This gives Misao the chance to finally take on all the thugs, and once they’re all down, he gets kicked by Ayumi because she had been scared. He doesn’t mind though because it allowed him to see her panties. In the aftermath, Misao continues to watch over Ayumi from a distance, and Ayumi feels that her love has only just begun.
Both the opening and ending are okay songs, but nothing special. The accompanying animation sequences focus on the five main girls plus some of the female supporting cast, however none of the guys in the series (and there are quite a few) show up at all. I guess that’s as good an indicator as any of who the target audience is. I’d also like to point out that Tomatsu Haruka is part of the sphere group that sings the OP even though she doesn’t have a role in the actual series as far as I can tell. This only reinforces my notion that she’s everywhere these days.
Well that was a decent first episode. The jokes were pretty amusing, and the plot followed the manga’s first chapter pretty closely, which means that it still centered around these idealized forms of school romance, but there’s nothing wrong with that if you don’t take it too seriously. It’s worth pointing out though that Hatsukoi Limited is essentially a series of short stories or one-shots tied together by a complex web of characters, so I wouldn’t say that the story is ever going to be its strongest point. That complex web of characters – and the situations that occur because of it – is the real draw, and this episode (more specifically, how Misao likes Ayumi, but she likes his little brother Mamoru) shows just the beginnings of how things can get messy really fast.
Where this anime adaptation falls short is in the animation quality or sometimes lack thereof. The characters (the girls anyway) are appealing thanks to Kawashita Mizuki‘s original character designs, but there’s a real lack of detail and overuse of white in the backgrounds. There’s also not much animated movement in a number of scenes; they’re relying more on panning or moving mouths/heads, and that gives off a very static feel at times. Assuming J.C.Staff wanted to put their best foot forward for the first episode, this might not bode well for future episodes. If none of that bothers you though, then this could be a fun romance series. For me, this first episode still leaves me unsure if I want to follow this or Cross Game. I probably don’t have time for both, so I need to see a couple more episodes of each.