When I saw there was a BL show up for Spring season, most of you probably already knew I was going to snatch it up. Not only is it BL, its creator also brought us Junjou Romantica (which we totally recommend, by the way), which makes me want to enjoy this even more.
Watching Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi is going to be a nice treat for me this season because I actually haven't read the manga. I've been pretty out of touch with things in the world of yaoi, so this story is completely new to me. By story, all I can tell you so far is there's a guy, and he likes proper literature, but has been assigned to work at the shojo manga department for the company he was hired at, much to his dismay. To make matters worse (or better, depending on how you look at it), it seems that his new boss is an old crush of his.
So, what are you waiting for? Click through the jump to see how Sekai Ichi kicked off and what I thought about it!
The episode starts off with your typical embarrassing shojo moment of bumping into the person you love and blurting out your feelings for said person. That's exactly what poor Ritsu did, back at the end of his high school career, and it's the last we saw of that before we were taken years into the future and watching him land the job.
The first things that stood out to me in general were the voice acting and the unmistakable references to Junjou, to the point that you know it happens in the same "universe", so to speak, just (as always) at different times. Usagi himself makes a cameo appearance, and the less obvious reference is the company they work for, Marukawa Publishing. The rest is obvious: unmistakable art style, almost to a fault. We could tell it's from the same maker (even our own Pedro Cortes, who doesn't enjoy BL, recognized it as Shungiku Nakamura's work) and some of the characters share the same visual traits as the other stories we've seen before. Ritsu looks a bit like Misaki, all the "seme" men have the big chins, the opening shows several couples, etc.
The voice acting, though, is a whole other story. Star seiyu Katsuyuki Konishi plays the role of Takano, Ritsu's new boss and soon-to-be love interest, I daresay. Don't recognize Konishi's name? You might recognize names like Kamina, Tatsumi Oga (if you watch Beelzebub), America (Hetalia) or various sexy voices you might have heard in a Drama CD.
Yuuichi Nakamura is another voice in this show, although his character hasn't been introduced yet to my knowledge, who you might know as the voice of Ryu (Kimi ni Todoke), Gray (Fairy Tail) Alto Saotome (Macross F) or again, various other voices in the BL world (and many other "regular" anime titles).
Back to the actual show, though, let's move in to Emerald, Ritsu's new department. He walked in there basically expecting to quit shortly after coming in, but I don't think he's going anywhere. He also happened to arrive on a bad day, the end of their 20-day cycle of book production. That's pretty crazy, isn't it? 20 days, one book, repeat. No wonder it looked like a dead zone when he walked in. Those poor editors looked like they were at the end of their ropes.
The state of the editors in his department reminded me of some glimpses we got while watching Junjou whenever Misaki visited Marukawa, though, and I honestly spent most of this episode pausing to laugh before moving on. I also can't help but think that if I ever worked at a publishing company, my workplace might look something like that a lot of the time. Deadline day, oh noes!
In the course of the episode though, it looks like mister Takano realizes who Ritsu is. The dummie doesn't seem to remember anything about his old crush, but for the sake of hilarity I am glad that isn't mutual to both men involved. Hilarity being almost everything that happened in the episode, from the introduction to his department to a stolen kiss and then "the next day": everything is pink and ridiculous.
Does Takano remind you of anyone, with his over-the-top attitude, immersing himself completely in what he believes will make him understand the female readers better? Plush everywhere, the most bored attitude he could muster, chain smoker? Yeah, I'm excited. If he's anything like our dear Usagi, we're in for a great season. That's me, the girl who hasn't read the manga, talking.
Are you seeing a trend here? It's a funny premise, the voice actors are great, and I feel that if I love Junjou Romantica, I'll probably (more than likely) enjoy Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi. How about you? Do you have high expectations for the show? I'm especially asking those who have read the actual source material, and know what's going to happen.
As you can tell, I definitely got a really good impression of this first episode. I was worried that this might be one of those works that doesn't really stand on its own because of previous successes of the author, but I was still laughing the entire time. Sekai Ichi seems to be following the same sort of formula that Junjou did, but it worked the first time, so I don't see why it wouldn't work a second time. I especially enjoy that it looks like this new story could be tied in (in a way) to the first. Does anyone reading think they rely a little too much on Junjou's story and success? Although, this story doesn't really have anything in common (premise-wise) with the other.
You can bet that Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi will be making an appearance in our weekly Annotated Anime column where you'll see my thoughts each week for this short season show. I hope you're looking forward to it as much as I am!
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