Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

7 May 2009: Hatsukoi Limited

Yuuji and Ayumi
Ayumi is the strongest.

Through five episodes, the endearing Cross Game is the best show this season, but with four episodes down, Hatsukoi Limited is an unexpected close second. I didn't expect much from this J.C. Staff light comedy, but it is funny and engaging and seems likely to ride high on J.C. Staff's strengths. It also has the best fan service this season if you care about that sort of thing. (Queen's Blade may have the most, but far from the best.) Misaki's Girl Next Door powers are fearsome.

Doba is the fastest.

Hatsukoi Limited combines intertwined stories of unrequited love. Secondary characters in one episode take the lead in the next. None of them find romance (at least not yet) as the objects of their affection inevitably have their eyes cast elsewhere. School Rumble at its best relied on stories of unrequited love in much the same way, but School Rumble also suffered from an unwillingness to resolve any of the potential romances. The surely hazardous sea of manga spoilers likely renders such speculation moot, but I hope Hatsukoi Limited will not suffer from School Rumble's cowardice by failing to let its stories advance.

Kei is the tsunderest.

It's still early yet, but there do appear opportunities for genuine romances to develop. Naturally, these potential couples manage to make things difficult for themselves thanks to their own silliness, even though the viewer knows they would be perfect for each other. In this way, with its couples who can't get together, and one-sided hopeless romantics chasing pipe dreams, Hatsukoi Limited leans on many of the staples that make Shakespeare's comedies so entertaining centuries after they were written.

Wait, did you just compare Hatsukoi Limited to Shakespeare?

Well, I wouldn't put it that way exactly, but this is the kind of light romance Hatsukoi Limited feels like. And with J.C. Staff at the helm, it stands a pretty good chance of maintaining the charm and hopeless romanticism that have elevated the first four episodes above any right they have to be. Shakespeare's romantic comedies do rely on many of the same near misses and confounding pigheadedness of potential couples, so I think the limited comparison is valid. It's not like I'm suggesting Gonzo's Kiddy Grade is actually based on Twelfth Night, you know. [Spoilers: Viola and Cesario are actually the same person.]

Kusada and Misaki
Misaki is a sex bomb.

In any case, I know I'm in good company when I say Hatsukoi Limited is excellent. Reactions I've seen thus far have consisted of universal praise. Nevertheless, I've still had very limited success convincing people to begin watching Hatsukoi Limited. I presume this is related to its rather simple synopsis and generally unremarkable description. But like Kannagi before it, Hatsukoi Limited succeeds through brilliant execution. As with Kannagi, Hatsukoi Limited is proof execution can be more important than concepts if the shows are done sufficiently well—and so far Hatsukoi Limited is done very well indeed.

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