If there is any show that defines wasted potential, it’s B Gata H Kei. What started as a possible lighthearted gender flipped rendition of School Days ended up a pedestrian school comedy that was only saved by a somewhat fresh sense of humor and constant victimization of the lead and her love interest.
Our story follows Yamada, first name conspicuously absent throughout the whole affair, on her quest to have sex with one hundred males by the end of high school. Everything seems in the bag for her: She’s beautiful, smart; every guy in school wants her. The problem is, she’s too self conscious about her lady bits to make a move.
So rather than aiming for somebody with sexual experience, she ends up starting with the lowest rung in class that she can imagine: A random boy she finds in a bookstore who looks as average and virgin-like as possible named Kosuda. And thus starts a series of blunders in a quest to get him to have sex with her, while only paying lip service to her goal stated early on.
Helping her on her way is Yamada’s own Ero-God, a chibi-fied character resembling her in every way that has a swarthy moustache. The problem is, due to Yamada’s impulsive waffling, Ero-God does much more berating than assisting or praising.
On the way, opposition is offered from Kosuda’s introverted and painfully clumsy childhood friend, and the standard exchange student who wants nothing more than to crush Yamada for besting her in a beauty contest. Romantic hijinks ensue, sex nearly happens more than once, and more than a few bones end up broken as a result of Yamada’s own cluelessness.
First, let’s get the good points out of the way. Yamada is the best example of a horny ecchi male lead in a woman’s body. Except rather than taking the Maria Holic route of making her fantasize for half the damn episode, Yamada’s actually proactive enough to seek sex on her own, even if she’s too scared to see it through ‘til the end.
That can hardly be faulted against her though, with her endeavoring to screw a hundred guys by the end of her high school career without having even been in a relationship before. The tsundere pretense that she puts up helps to characterize her as somebody who has faith in her attractiveness, but not necessarily her ability to deal with the opposite sex in a lustful way.
While I wouldn’t call the comedy exceptionally unique and stellar, it’s well implemented enough to make up for the many faults that plague the series throughout. While Kosuda isn’t anybody with a vibrant personality, he does well in representing sexually frustrated, yet cautious youth. He doesn’t act like he’s above having sex, yet he isn’t fully comfortable with it either, creating a believable sense of awkwardness. Strangely enough, by the end he becomes the most endearing character, putting up with the harmful antics of Yamada much more than would be thought humanly possible.
Together, the two form the perfect combination: Both have implacable sex drives, no experience in relieving their libidos, and interest in the other that gets muddled amidst the endless moments of miscommunication that occur. It’s surprisingly deep, surprisingly realistic characterization that isn’t common in any media, and that’s a treat in itself.
However, even with that praise, I’d hesitate to call this a great, or even a good anime. Picture any sort of environment for your standard dull romantic comedy (Beach, forest, school), and B Gata H Kei goes there. It can be argued that this is subversion, but it stands that Yamada and Kosuda do everything that couples do in these kinds of anime, and many of the same jokes are used, albeit with less focus on the male’s point of view.
Everything that isn’t related to the two main characters is painfully ordinary. The animation is average at best, the soundtrack is mostly the same, and the plot consistently derails itself for the sake of character development. I wouldn’t say this is a bad thing, but it’s all about expectations. I came in expecting a show about a girl who wanted to have sex with a bevy of males by the end of her senior year, not her struggling to woo just one.
In an unexpected turn of events, a powerful message is brought to light: A satisfying romance can be had without sex early on. The two could only accept each other in a carnal fashion once they were sure that the other would reciprocate in kind, and would give back with feeling. These are two people insecure with themselves, only secure in the knowledge that the other isn’t confident sexually.
In the end though, it’s only the characters that changed in the school comedy setup, not the actions. The characters went through the motions until the very end, when their feelings were fully realized and ready to be unleashed in a wave of passion. It’s almost frustrating to watch before this, seeing Yamada screw up in her seduction and Kosuda struggle in understanding why she acts like she does.
I mentioned missed potential earlier, and B Gata H Kei had it. What could’ve been a decent look into the mind of a sexually aware yet totally clueless girl on a quest to fully realize herself on a primeval level degenerated quickly into what I mentioned above: A typical comedy that’s only saved by the surprisingly interesting and fleshed out, if not terribly original characters. I understand that this was to appeal to a broader audience, but there’s a demerit if I ever saw one for completely screwing over what could’ve been the intriguing execution of a rare premise.
B Gata H Kei is perfectly fine, and is a hell of a lot more memorable than many similar series out there. Oddly enough, it’s probably one of the more realistic depictions of romance in anime, and just how awkward it really is when communicated improperly. If you can get past the false premise, occasionally boring episode plots and standard… well, everything else, B Gata H Kei has a fair amount to offer on a level of greater depth than you’d think. Just don’t expect to be blown away.