「はじめての清楚ギャル」 (“Hajimete no Seiso Gyaru)
“My First Serious Gal”
Let me say first and foremost that I’m happy to pick up on Hajimete no Gal. So I’d be able to do it justice and make Zaiden proud, I caught up with the manga so that I can brush up on what to expect or not expect from the remaining episodes. It was addictive to see the relationship develop throughout the chapters, but after going through 30 of them, I can already tell by the end of this episode that things have been going very differently. For starters, Episode 4 explores Yui’s appearance and background, but I haven’t even caught up to that after all those chapters. orz.
It’s a little out-of-order, but I think it’s effective for the story-telling that the anime is going for. At this point, Junichi is going to have a much harder time keeping his urges in control as a virginal pervert who’s relationship with Yame only drew a target on his back for interested girls. Ranko’s affection was only a red herring towards her real attraction to Yame, but the rest of these girls like Yui are really putting Junichi through the ringer by being bold enough to come out now of all times to confess to him. It is irritating to see him not picking up on obvious signals of how predatorial Yui is throughout the episode. It’s like, c’mon dude! You’ve been going out with her for a few days, you guys ARE a couple, you know? The good thing is that Junichi still shows some resolve in wanting to cultivate this relationship, and the anime does an effective job at keeping him well-grounded. You can understand that the reason why he’s got mixed feelings about how other girls are coming onto him is because he’s socially awkward and isn’t used to the amount of attention he’s been getting recently from the opposite sex. He also gets a wake-up call when Yui straight-up admits to seeing him as a dog, so at the very least, he’s not flustered anymore after that.
The mixed order of the chapters they adapted also allows Ranko to develop much more quickly into a mature, protective friend. She’s still as clever and devious as ever in personality, but she’s the first one to see that Yui has ulterior motives in wanting to hang out with Junichi more, and collaborates with his friends to help take her down out of concern for Yame’s feelings and Junichi’s purity. I was so used to seeing her in the manga trying to undermine their relationship that it is a nice surprise that the anime is doing more to give Ranko a sense of complexity. Where she still loves Yame, but is aware that Junichi is the key to Yame’s happiness, and that she’s willing to protect their relationship from others who want to divide them. Well, as long as she’s there to police his behavior around Yame.
I also appreciate that his friends are given an important role in the episode. In particular, I’m liking how they gave Shinpei a supportive role in actively trying to protect Junichi from Yui after making the linkage between Yui and her alter ego Boa. The only off-putting thing is something Zaiden’s touched on in his posts on the anime; Minoru. This episode is doubling down hard on Minoru being a full-blown pedophile as he watches a video of a little girl playing with a dog and mentions wanting to get a Free Candy van. His friends are even calling him out on it by telling him he’s gonna get locked up eventually. To me, I feel like I would prefer the anime to the manga entirely if they didn’t get so carried away with it this time around.
While I couldn’t wax my knowledge on the manga too much with whether it adapted the specific chapter accurately in Episode 4, I’m enjoying how the struggle between Junichi and Yui turned out. It wasn’t as heavy on the ecchi as some of the episodes, but it makes up in developing the cast as they slowly learn about love and relationships. What clicks with me the most is how the anime brings into perspective how the main couple aren’t the only characters who are learning about relationships as their friends and classmates are slowly understanding through Junichi and Yame’s relationship what it means to cultivate a bond and how strengthening a relationship is more about learning each other than just affection. Luckily, I am familiar with the girl at the end, so I can bring a lot more to the table with the next one!