A brilliant and solid romantic comedy that must be watched for devotees of the genre.
Title: Hatsukoi Limited (Lit: First Love Limited)
Producer: J.C Staff
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Ecchi, School Life
Review Source: Bluray
Recommended/Similar Titles: School Rumble, Kimikiss Pure Rouge, Ichigo 100%, Amagami SS, Boys Be…
Synopsis (via Myanimelist)
A series relating the intertwined stories about the “first loves” of several middle-schoolers and high-schoolers. Each episode tends to focus on a different character, however the developments established during previous episodes continue to play smaller roles in those following. As the series progresses, an array of unusual and unexpected love webs begin to blossom.
The passion of first love, the days of youth, and the ruckus of school life are the budding elements that help Hatsukoi Limited blossom like a true series. The story follows the daily lives of eight middle school girls, highschool students, and their fellow classmates and family that are in search of obtaining their true loves while dealing with the various personal issues and discovering what it means to be in love. It can be looked upon as synergy of School Rumble and Kimikiss or Amagami SS if you, albeit a few principles while holding onto others. While the story is not in the same stream or fashion of Kimikiss or Amagami, it still follows suit with omnibus type stories (like its manga), where each episode or two focus on a specific character and his/her love interest, but actually all the stories are related and the characters interact with one another during the course of the series. In addition, Hatsukoi never takes itself too seriously and always brimming with loads and of laughter from its cookie-cutter cast of characters that works really well with theme of the story. By this factor, it does hold some School Rumble-esque elements of fun and grins, since you discover that everyone is in love with the wrong person or at other times very emotional and sentimental involved with the one they love akin to other similar romances titles. There is a little bit of everything for everyone in Hatsukoi and surely a beneficial trait due to the strong writing, execution, and overall balance it reflects.
As mentioned, but not said, the series is truly a character driven title in the purest sense. Not to say that it lacks or lean toward a psudeo slice-of-life title, but you can see this by how each character is interrelated and interacts. It is something better seen than explain in words for it to be understood. At any rate, they are all likable characters, playing off a few archetypes but never fully adhering to them most of the time. Well, most of the characters that is. Interestingly enough; opposed to common romance titles, the characters actually reflect some growth, which typical uncommon for series of the genre, but no heard of – even though it is hardly noticeable. The voice acting cast for the cast are top notch and more on a personal view point, really matches their respective roles. Examples include: The energetic and flighty Ayumi Arihara (voiced by Mariya Ise), Older brother complex consumed Koyoi Bessho (voiced by Aki Toyosaki), and lovable Nanoka Kyuuma (voiced by Sayuri Yahagi) as Meguru’s eternal swimming rival. With more defined roles and names, the characters prove to be engaging and voice actors support this without a doubt.
If you a familiar with J.C staffs previous work such as: Azumanga Daioh, Shaukgan No Shana, and Hayate No Gotoku, then the animation quality of Hatsukoi Limited should be evident. It is true to the original artwork of the manga by Mizuki Kawashita and turns to be far more exceptional than expected. However, the biggest talking point comes from how well J.C staff complied the directional elements and execution to work and match closely toward the original while having the writing to back it up. This something J.C staff is not usually known for with most of their manga adapted projects, usually having them downgraded in quality. The primary director is Yoshiki Yamakawa, not exactly a name that is know for exceptional much, but as few director projects on his belt such as: Di Gi Charat series, Hells Angel, and upcoming for Kill Me Baby (Winter 2011/2012) title. Other than that, he has worked on other projects, but usually for key animation and story boarding purposes. Besides the animation and directional side, it is also worth noting that Hatsukoi does boost a nice and elegant soundtrack, both of beauty orchestral scores as well as whimsical ones that tie in every well with the series and relevant.
For the genre of romance and comedy, their has been every few titles that I have enjoyed, but can easily count Hatsukoi Limited as one that I immensely loved. While it is not a groundbreaking or renown series, it is one that is chock full of unspoken and spoken content that regular titles do not seem to have, but if they do, can not execute it the correct way. The characters were indeed a very enthralling source of enjoyment and getting to know their exact personalities – that were somewhat similar as they were in the manga chapters I had time to partake in. The supplemental extra: Hatsukoi Limited: Gentei Shoujo, was also nice see, since it was included in the original manga at the end of each volume chronicling the clumsily airhead Soako Andou, in the same class as Ayumi and co, but often finding herself in compromising (and delicious if I may say) situations.
Overall, Hatsukoi Limited is a series I highly recommend not to be missed. If you are fan of romance and comedy series without all the pretentious and wasteful emotional banter or useless subtext, then this series is start. Further more, if you familiar with Mizuki Kawashita’s other work like Ichigo 100% or even the manga the Anedoki, it is another reason all the same to watch this series. While it does have its own weakness and plenty that are a necessarily evil to the story, they are easily forgiven when engaged into the world and lives of the characters. If you have the time and in the mood for a dual combination of love and laughs, I would fully behoove you give Hatsukoi Limited center stage.
Pros: Nice mix of romance and comedy, engaging characters, strong writing, well executed, meaningful subtext, follows original manga fairly close. (A highly recommended series to watch.)
Cons: Some frivolous dialogue, a one or two segments per episode unneeded.