What They Say:
OMG! There’s this girl at school, Yamada, who wants to make like a hundred sex friends. She totally thinks she can devirginize one hundred different boys! Can you believe that? That’s like every boy in the school. Who does she think she is? I heard from my friend’s neighbor’s cousin’s lab partner that Yamada’s never even been kissed. Oh. My. God. I would totally die. That’s like burn all your makeup and shave off your eyebrows embarrassing. I can’t even think about it.
Today at lunch I saw Yamada flirting, like for reals flirting, with that geek Kosuda. You know the guy. Photography club, no muscles, boring face, kind of reminds you of a black-and-white movie. Super lame. If Yamada can’t even make the sex with him, she’ll never score a hundred cherry boys. She needs to take like Sex Ed or something because I heard she can’t give it away!
Please Note: The technical portion of this review covers only the Blu-ray discs included in this combo set.
The audio presentation for this release is standard fare for most high definition shows today as we get the original Japanese track in Dolby TrueHD lossless stereo while the English mix gets bumped up to a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD lossless mix. While we did sample the English mix to get a feel for it, we primarily listened to the Japanese mix and enjoyed it a lot as it handles the forward soundstage well both for dialogue and the incidental sound effects such as when Yamada goes over the top. The music hits some good spots and the opening and closing sequences give it the most full feeling overall, but the dialogue is what hits things right as it’s well placed and has appropriate depth in the few required scenes. Dialogue was clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in the spring of 2010, the transfer for this twelve episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The series is spread across two discs with eight on the first and four on the second with a decent bit rate used for it as it handles the highs and lows. The show has a bright, outgoing and upbeat look to it and the transfer captures it well with a clean looking that lets the colors shine without being oversatured. Detail has its place here, particularly in some backgrounds, but also in the characters themselves at times when it wants to go all out. It’s a pretty standard animation series overall but it has a very pleasing looking overall as it brings out what the show itself is all about.
The packaging for this release is pretty good with its limited edition as we get a heavy chipboard box that lets the characters show off well. The front cover is given over to Yamada by herself with a cute smile and plenty of skin as she wears her school uniform. It’s set against a white background that uses red ziptones for the cherries themselves which is definitely cute. The back cover underneath the shrinkwrap has a good full panel shot of most of the main cast of women together looking cutely upwards with lots of smiles. The box uses a fair bit of blue to it which ties things together nicely and the cherries in some of the background spots is cute. The spine is nicely done as well as it has a tame feeling to it that avoids letting it be too provocative on ones shelf.
Within the box we get a pair of regular sized clear keepcases that are spot on for this release. Each volume lets one of the primary female characters have a panel to themselves. The DVD case as Yamada on the front cover with a red background while the back goes for a blue background with a very bouncy Miharu there. The case that holds the Blu-rays has Mayu on the front, complete with apron and cooking utensils, while Kanejo gets the back cover with some deep and attractive purples to complement her in a bit of a mild cold weather outfit. Each case has information on its reverse side where it breaks down the episodes by discs with numbers and titles, which are fairly long, and a clean listing of the extras involved as well. No show related inserts are included.
The menu design for this release avoids the usual pattern in a surprising way as I expected it to be filled with bouncy clips from the series itself. Instead, what we get is a series of artsy pieces with triangles and the like of various colors before it shifts to bouncing cherries across the screen set to the upbeat music. It rotates through it a couple of times with different color combinations and is overall pretty cute. The left side has a bit of obscuring with it as that’s where the logo and the menu navigation is and they cutely make the cursor a pastel colored heart. The layout is simple but it’s cute and easy to navigate with no problems in getting around. Access times are fast and the release defaults to English with sign/song subtitles instead of reading the players language presets.
The extras for this release are pretty fun overall as it gets a bit more than the usual clean opening and closing sequence material. The series gets a commentary track for episode eleven where things heat up a fair bit as the English production folks get to chime in on the show and their feelings on it. We also get a brief segment of dub outtakes that are a good bit of fun and definitely welcome for a series like this where the sexy level is ramped up a few notches.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga B Gata H Kei by Yoko Sanri that ran for nine volumes and completed in 2011, Yamada’s First Time is a fun little twelve episode series that starts with a sexually aggressive young woman and develops into a bit of a relationship series. The fun of the show at first revolves around her intent nature but it does change over time into something more traditional but still contains that “boys anime” image to it as she plays the alpha role in the relationship. The series is an easy one to market because of its outgoing nature and the way it can stand out against other shows but there’s definitely more to it than the basic premise that it’s well known by at this point.
The story revolves around fifteen year old first year student Yamada, a bright and outgoing young woman who is looking to have her first sexual experience. Her reasons for it makes a certain amount of sense as she wants to get it out of the way so she doesn’t have problems with the guys she really wants. She can only imagine her first time with an older/experienced guy going poorly as they only see all her faults that she envisions. So her plan, brilliantly come up with, is to find a “cherry boy” that she can get things on with so that when she does get to the big leagues, she’s not freaking out about it and has corrected everything. In its own way, it makes a certain amount of sense especially when most high school sexual situations are awkward and problematic and the majority of the time never lead to anything long time.
The object of her attention becomes a fellow student in her first year class named Kosuda. He’s a pretty nice guy, kind of average in a way and someone that Kosuda totally sees as her “cherry boy” that she can go after. She’s not into him in a big way and sees him as a way to get what she wants. Of course, Yamada doesn’t exactly make it clear what she wants and she ends up in an almost stalker style approach to him with plenty of sexual moments, from pinning him in the halls to showing him her in her bra in a supply room. Kosuda’s confusion and the way Yamada keeps going at it in such a haphazard and chaotic nature lets it work rather well. A lot of it is that Yamada has the right personality to pull it off, though at least her best friend Miharu tries to ground her at times. Unfortunately, since Miharu has a boyfriend and she’s got a bigger rack than Yamada, it gets a bit awkward at times.
This kind of back and forth goes on for a good part of the series, especially as Kosuda starts to realize that he likes her and wants to date her. For Yamada, the problem comes in that she’s more focused on just trying to get him into bed, or expose herself wherever she can in order to get him to do the deed. Yamada’s attempts are definitely fun to watch as she goes about things in a semi ill informed way and that gives her a kind of charm. When she gets the idea to go without panties in order to flash him, she doesn’t think it through and goes to school that way, not realizing just how bad of an idea that is when you get down to it. Her innocence combined with the way she visualizes sex and other erotic ideas is priceless since the back and forth of it all makes for a good presentation of how confused someone this age can be when they don’t have a lot of good information.
While there’s a lot to be said about the basic premise of the show, and it certainly has its share of detractors and had its problems during its Japanese broadcast, I really liked the overall approach of it. Yamada’s attempts are what you’d normally get out of a male character so seeing the tables turned, and it being the lead character and largely seen through her point of view really made it work well. She was a lot of fun to watch as she made her decision and then did her best in a completely awkward way to follow through on it even though her friend tells her it’s not the best idea. It’s not raunchy in how it unfolds but it has a good kind of silly fanservice/sexuality to it that just makes you grin. If there’s one thing I didn’t care much for was the forced introduction of Kanejo, the girl who returned from studying in America and manages to outshine Yamada at every turn. She takes an interest in Kosuda only to frustrate Yamada and the scale of her wealth just drives it even further off the chart. While some of Yamada’s approach isn’t realistic, Kanejo just throws part of it completely out of whack. Not enough to thrown the show off the rails, but she can be a distraction.
Going into the show knowing its basic premise, I really enjoyed the overall approach to it as there needs to be more shows that change up the character roles a bit. While Yamada is sexually aggressive, she’s certainly not confident and things play against her a lot but she doesn’t stop trying. While Kosuda gets the short end of the stick for awhile, the show changes well from a sex romp comedy to a relationship sex romp comedy but it does it well and in general keeps the characters fun to watch. Yamada’s plan is essentially a one note joke, but her various executions, jealousies, insecurities and escapades makes it work wonderfully. There are a few missteps here and there, mostly with Kanejo, but nothing near bad enough to take the show down. The comedy works well here, the sexiness of it and the awkwardness. Yamada’s First Time left me laughing and smiling with each episode and looking forward to more. And wishing there was another season.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary Track, Outtakes, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: b
Readers Rating: [ratings]
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: January 31st, 2012
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.