Anime Review: Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi (2011)
Due to his coworkers’ jealousy of his success, literary editor Onodera Ritsu resigns from his father’s publishing company, claiming that he is simply riding his father’s coat-tails.
He applies for a position at Marukawa Publishing in the department of literature but to his surprise, he somehow gets placed in the infamous shojo manga department, Emerald. Things get out of hand when Ritsu later learns that his new boss, Masamune Takano, is an old flame who he used to love back in high school.
Looking at yaoi pictures is one thing, but watching yaoi is completely different. With its very appealing art and beautiful male characters gracing promo pictures, Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi is an anime where the motto ‘never judge a book by its cover’ is a bit impossible to follow. And the anime doesn’t fail to disappoint yaoi fans at all.
Different from your usual romance anime that are linear and involving one or two couples, Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi comprises of three separate stories (one main, two subs) that share the same setting of manga publishing. The featured couples undergo complex relationship issues, and because each story is as charming and engaging as the other, the non-linear structure compel viewers to yearn for certain relationships to have more on-time screening.
If you have never seen boys-love anime before, then you will find the characters absolutely fascinating as we are introduced to a range of males from egotistic alphas to fanboys. In each relationship, the characters are obviously from different ends of the world. But what makes the anime so likable is how love can unexpectedly bloom, making the possible become possible from the improbable.
Dealing with various situations about love, the anime captures everything perfectly from storytelling to the animation. The majority of the storytelling is told from the main protagonists’ point of view as we get to see the constant internal strife that goes through their head every day. We see them trying to make sense of their identities, overcoming their insecurities, and even questioning the lingering confusion of whether they’re truly loved or being manipulated.
Throughout the course of the story, we see certain characters being developed in their own ways, and whilst viewers are intentionally kept in the dark about the past between characters such as Onodera and Takano, we are left very satisfied with the rollercoaster ride right up to the end. Accompanied by the anime’s art and animation, the show captures romance in a raw, beautiful manner — no doubt that it will pull heartstrings of all yaoi fangirls out there.
Despite the positive comments above, feminists would be disappointed with the series. In some instances, we would see constant sexual harassment from the alpha characters, eventually pushing some form of sexual assault onto the passive characters in the end.
As Onodera would say “This is not love, this is not love, this is not love!” But somehow, the writers of the show manage to dig themselves from the grave. Amidst the confusion and miscommunication amongst the couples, the writers redeem themselves by showing that these passive characters do actually have feelings
for the alphas — they’re just not aware of it. This feminish approach will always be issue with boys-love anime, but if you look past these flaws, Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi carries itself well.
Unlike your cliche romance animes that has the usual backdrop setting of a school or fantasy world, Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi determines to be different by taking viewers behind the scenes of the manga publishing industry. By the time the first episode ends, it ultimately reminds us that we take manga for granted as we forget that so much work is put into every issue, whether it is a weekly or monthly release. If you’re an aspiring writer or editor, you’ll definitely be inspired and motivated to contribute towards the publishing industry.
Verdict: If you’re new to boys-love anime, Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi is highly recommended as it has the full package that will entertain you from start to finish. Regardless of whether it is a boys-love anime or not, this anime has more depth and emotions than most popular romcom series, and deserves more acknowledgement from the public.
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