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!
The release contains both an English 5.1 mix as well as the original Japanese 2.0 mix. For the purpose of this review the Japanese track was selected and is a decent though not standout one. The audio for the track is split between the front speakers and the material really doesn’t try to do much more than that in terms of presenting things for the most part, though on occasion it can be used to create some interesting effects using a difference between the speakers but this is not typical during the series. Also of note the volume can suddenly get irritatingly quiet in ways that don’t match the proximity of characters on the screen which makes one wonder what the creators where trying to achieve. The track was found to be free of dropouts or distortions during playback however.
Originally airing during the spring season of Japan’s 2010 television season, the series is presented here in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is given an anamorphic widescreen encode. The encode is an acceptable one that comes across with a bit of softness which is likely due to a choice made by the series creators to do a show that stood apart in terms of visuals a bit in juxtaposition to its rather frank at times material. Also present on the encode is a fine level of noise, a bit of moiré, a bit of blocking, a little aliasing, some color bleed, minor ghosting, banding, and on occasion background material can be seen through foreground characters.
This review is of the DVDs only but the packaging for this Blu Ray/DVD release was covered in Chris Beveridge’s review of the Blu Ray portion of the releases review.
As for the DVDs themselves they both use the same image of a number of dot matrix orange-to-light-red cherries with the English title above the hub and a small blue heart to the lower left of the hub that has a arch lock looking bit added and the number for the disc written where a key would go.
The Main Menu on Disc One uses an image of a smiling Yamada in her school uniform as she is half sitting and half curling her legs up against her with her hands clasped around her left leg against a yellow background with orange/red matrix print looking cherries. The series logo is placed a bit over her body at hip level as the options are below that in a horizontal fashion with Yamada’s ero-deity on her cloud at the right of and facing them. The options are listed in purple and highlight pink when they are the current selection. The Scene Select screen uses a blue and white somewhat vertical pattern at the top third with a white line below that and then the episodes are listed in a purplish color horizontally bellow that with Yamada’s ero-deity standing on her cloud near the top of the line as her image crosses both backgrounds. The Set up screen uses the same background but has a smiling Yamada making an “OK” gesture (or money as is more common gesture in Japan…though given who it is and her mindset it probably is a sexual gesture) in the center of the screen with the language choices just to the left of her. The extra screen uses the same background gain but it inserts an image of Mayu Miyano jumping in her uniform with some embarrassment on her face as she holds down her skirt while her rather large breasts are bouncing up.
Disc Two features the same background but replaces Yamada with Takashi Kosuda and while Yamada looks cool and collected on Disc One, Takashi’s image looks like he is stumbling over something and then about to fall over the top of the logo on this disc. The Scene Select menu is likewise the same as the first discs but it changes slightly to have Yamada’s ero-deity sitting on her cloud with her back mostly to the viewer. The setup screen again uses the same background and it features an image of a seated Kyoka Kanejo whose body is facing right as she looks over her right shoulder at the viewer with a bit of a slight smile and complete with her trademark sparkles. The final menu uses the same background as the other sub menus and features a just off center facing Miharu Takeshita who is jumping a little and is also embarrassed at the bounce her rather large breasts are making upward. The menu options themselves are all quick to respond to changes in selection as well as in implementing them with minimum delay and about the only negative that could be said is the choice in highlighting color could be just a bit more different to help make the highlighted option stand out a bit more.
The extras for this series tilt heavily toward the English dub fan side of things as FUNimation provides a pair of English commentary tracks for Episode 1 and Episode 11 as well as some English outtakes in addition to the somewhat pedestrian and industry standard Textless Songs. Listening through the outtakes I found that they are mostly flubs (along with a good deal of profanity included when they happen, so those who want to hear their favorites swearing can do so) along with a (precious few) intentional tracks where the actors set out to throw out a line that fits entirely too well with the material and what a normal (or maybe slightly devious or perverse) person might respond with. I admit I am biased and enjoy the outtakes that play with the material more than just the flub and profanity ones, though some of those can be clever as well in their adlib nature as well when they are more than just the obscenity.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Yamada is a 15 year old young woman just entering high school at the start of the series and she already has a goal in mind. She has decided that she will find herself 100 sex friends and to meet this goal she has been studying all the material she can find with a fervor. Given her looks and also the fact she is rather smart there is really just one problem standing in her way of starting to work toward her desired ends- Yamada has yet to take that first step down the road toward 100.
Normally this wouldn’t be much of a problem as her looks attract a large amount of attention and she spends a good deal of time actually shooting down potential suitors. She gives various reasons at the time but at the heart of things Yamada is actually rather the opposite of the cool and composed demeanor she displays and she has some terrible insecurities about herself, particularly in regards to one area of her body. Yamada fears that if she goes to bed with an experienced man that he will take one look at her with her clothes off and laugh when he sees she is a virgin.
To solve this problem Yamada comes up with what she thinks is the perfect solution- if the first guy she is with is a virgin he’ll have no basis for comparison and she can then move past this stage with no humiliation and begin climbing the ladder she has created in her mind as her goal. The biggest problem though as even though her brain believes it is incredibly willing- and given that even her best friend acknowledges that sex may be the only thing Yamada ever is thinking, there is probably more than a little truth to that- her heart may not have come to the same conclusion. This disconnect inside of Yamada creates more than a small amount of havoc as it increases the awkwardness of her actions greatly when she does try to act on them.
In her pursuit of her goal she has decided to make Takashi Kosuda her first partner after a chance encounter at a bookstore just before the beginning of the year. They meet by chance in the reference section as Yamada has to pick up a new dictionary for the upcoming year since she has highlighted all of the sexual terms in her old one, an act which her friend Miharu Takeshita compares to a elementary school boy.
When Yamada sees Takashi looking at dictionaries she assumes he needs one for the same reason she does and proclaims him to be a Cherry Boy (virgin). When his reaction pretty much confirms this she decides he should be her first as she has come to the conclusion that the somewhat plain boy is perfect for her goal. She lucks out when it turns out he is in her same class after she fails to get his name at the bookstore and she proceeds to move forward trying to use him for her goals.
What follows from here is a rather raunchy romp as this sex obsessed girl with no experience tries to figure out how to come on to this guy with no experience as they both fumble encounters as the misunderstandings and insecurities each have rage between them. When a rich and beautiful returning student with a bit of a brother complex enters the scene and the childhood friend scenario is revealed things get more complicated but when a knockout handsome (and wealth) guy enters the scene events will be thrown even further into chaos as jealousy and rivalry get mixed into the result. With such a barrier in the path, will these two ever just have their first sexual encounters before they move on in life or is it just possible that all the fumbling, worrying and difficulty actually lead to something else that neither expects but may be more important than just a one off encounter that would mark their first time?
Yamada’s First Time is somewhat of a mix of a series. On the one hand it has some rather raunchy early parts which will give fans of risqué or just somewhat dirty humor a lot to really love from the start. The thing is the “First Time” part of the English title may strike a number of viewers as a bit of a misnomer as most of the stuff found here isn’t terrible original. While the idea of the female sex obsessed protagonist may be a bit rarer than a male one that this is the biggest change between this and a number of other titles that use similar sex obsessed characters may not be enough to carry the series with everyone. Possibly to reinforce this, or maybe just to try to add a unique spin to help some well worn material stand out, each of the main characters have their own little ero-god that can at times try to guide them and at other times the semi-guiding character can- and do- break the fourth wall, though some of the characters, particularly Yamada, occasionally do so themselves as well.
While the high energy, gag laden early episodes will most assuredly find an audience that welcomes them with open arms I found I was having trouble connecting with the series and even continuing on to the next episode was a bit of a chore. The series uses a construct where there are two stories per “episode” time slot and while that worked wonders for the humor aspect as it allowed for quick changes in focus it seriously didn’t help the characters develop. Even the first six episodes (counting a single Japanese double story as an episode like when it ran) reflect this as by episode six the series has blown through Yamada’s first year in high school and is moving on to her second.
The down side to this is the audience gets a whole bunch of episodes focusing around some of the big events- Christmas, Valentine’s Day, the school festival- without seeing the characters really develop and grow. Thankfully it seems at some point someone realized this might be an issue and the writers worked on trying to actually make the characters somewhat likeable to a broader audience and this work pays off as the jokes may become a bit less fast and furious but the impact of the emotional buildup between the leads grows. In many ways I wish the whole series had approached things less in the early gag way and more in developing the characters as gag series are a dime a dozen but those that work hard to develop some heart are the ones that people remember for years. Sadly, Yamada dropped the chance and it will likely be one of those series that gets much attention now but 5 or 10 years down the road is forgotten by most people as it showed at times it had the potential to be a gem long remembered by many more.
Yamada’s First Time is a release that is likely going to find itself in either a love or hate column based its own actions. While the raunchy, naughty and sex filled gags will cause it to find an audience among those who love this kind of humor the episodic nature, particularly in the early episodes, will likely find a good number of people writing it off as being similar to no small number of other series that are available on the market. This is a bit of a shame as by the end of the series the writers show that it is possible to write both characters the audience can identify with and love as well as have them show off the humor and insecurities that comes with young love and sexual awakenings but it may be too little, too late for many. That the series decides to dip its feet into just about every trope in reach- the childhood friend, the returning student, the rich rival for love and the like somewhat undercuts what could have been one of the sweetest while still also risqué series that would have lived longer than the usual pop culture lifespan. Instead what is here is a series that likely will tickle its target audience’s funny bone but which will be forgotten soon after the next series aimed at them arrives on the scene while those outside the target audience pass on it faster.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 1 Commentary, Episode 11 Commentary, Textless Songs
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B-
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: January 31st, 2012
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Samsung 50″ Plasma HDTV, Denon AVR-790 Receiver with 5.1 Sony Surround Sound Speakers, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080.