This Isn't Love! - Musings on Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi

Disclaimer: Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi is a Boy Love series. It has men paired with men.

Although it's only been a day since I finished the series, I feel like now is as good a time as any to review it. After all, considering this is BL, I'm obviously going to have a slight bias no matter what. It's one of my favourite genres.

The most oft-used picture. There were very little flowers in the series itself.

The similarities in Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi to Junjou Romantica are jarring, and there's a reason: it's done by the same person. A lot of BL series tend to be incredibly emo (such as Mirage of Blaze), and it'd been a really long time before Junjou Romantica that I had seen a really happy shounen-ai series. Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi utilized the same formula, causing it to be a delight for me. With little character-development and a very simple story, this was a very situation-driven anime about the simplicity of love (in a BL setting, of course).

Like a good seme, there's lots of teasing of his uke.

This was as good as could be expected. The character designs were very similar to Junjou Romantica, and I knew that the two were related even before doing the research to find out. I'm glad to see that women were imaged better in this series; they looked a lot like cross-dressing men in Junjou Romantica. The character designs were very, very similar to each other. In the anime, I had a hard time fully telling apart Onodera Ritsu (uke of the primary pairing) with Yoshino Chiaki (uke of the secondary pairing). While looking at the manga and other art, I had a hard time telling apart Takano Masamune (seme of the primary pairing) and Hatori Yoshiyuki (seme of the secondary pairing). This is a problem that happens frequently with BL, although I'm not sure why. While men's designs are limited, it shouldn't be this difficult. Other than these minor annoyances, the animation was quite good.

There's always lots of pulling around of the uke...

This anime was set in the same world as Junjou Romantica, with the only tie-in being that Ritsu had once been  Usami's editor. Other than that, the focus was mostly on Ritsu and Takano, who had a past together from the days in high school and had met again in the workplace (with Takano being Ritsu's boss in the Emerald Department, editing shoujo manga, at Marukawa Publishing). Other than this, there isn't much else to say; this was a very event-driven type of story. As with Junjou Romantica, there were two other pairs that the focus shifted to every once in a while. Hatori, being Ritsu's co-worker under Takano, was paired with one of the mangaka he looked after, Chiaki, who was also a childhood friend of his. Meanwhile, Kisa Shota (also a co-worker of Ritsu's under Takano) was paired with a salesperson at a local bookstore, Yukina Kou. The story for this was very, very simple, with no wandering eyes, looming angst or (for the most part) legitimate third-party interference.

Hatori and Chiaki.

Story Presentation
The way that the story was presented was tantalizing, with full episodes shifting to focus on another pair from time-to-time. The main pairing got the most screentime, and I was glad that the tertiary pairing didn't get too shafted this time, getting near-equivalent screentime as the secondary pairing. A gripe I had was not knowing the exact details of the past between Ritsu and Takano; I watched the OVA before beginning the series, so I knew much more than what had been told in the anime. I think, unlike many other series, the OVA and the anime were meant to go hand-in-hand, but even that wasn't enough. There was too much left unsaid about the past by the time the series ended for me to feel content. Otherwise, the development was lightning-fast (for everyone but the main pairing, of course), and every episode left me quite happy.

Yukina and Kisa.

The characters were quite 2D, receiving more depth whenever the story required it. For example, Ritsu's thoughts about his work in eps11-12 had very little lead-in; rather, in those two episodes, various reasons for why he suddenly felt that way were given. Nothing was contradictory, so I could write it off as finding out more about a person as time goes on. Similarly, the feelings between characters were given as fact, so I couldn't just "figure out" that two people loved each other. This is typically the case in BL, whereas often times love is developed in shoujo (those fall more in the josei category, though). While I'm sure I would prefer more character development, this anime was event-driven instead of character- or story-driven, so it might have become too hectic otherwise.

This type of scene actually happened quite often.

Final Words
I absolutely loved this anime, partially because it was shounen-ai. Just like I like complicated and serious stories (such as Monster), I also like simple and happy stories (like Kimi ni Todoke). There were certain things that could have been fixed - such as explaining the past between Ritsu and Takano a little better - but I'm pretty sure that the story hasn't ended yet. Like with Junjou Romantica, I think this series is angling for an S2 (and I'm all for it). In the end, if you're not already into BL, then this probably won't pull you in. A series like this doesn't revitalize the genre (like Puella Magi Madoka Magica mostly did), but it does return the genre to its roots. Too often these days BL incorporates unnecessarily complicated stories with constant feelings of angst and betrayal (such as Loveless). While I like that too, I do prefer things like Princess Princess (though that didn't have enough BL...but that's another story).

They're all colour-coded!

Scoring - [7.5/10]
There are many reasons why this score is so high. To begin with, BL is one of my favourite genres. Moreover, coming off the heels of something like Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru, the merits of a happy story about love are all too clear to me. Despite having some of the same problems as other anime, like cliches and lack of character development, I choose to not fault this series for a simple reason: it never pretended to be anything else. AnoHana, which suffered from the same problems, had a much lower score because it pretended it would offer something else, something more. This didn't; instead, it played more like a guilty pleasure.