Through the years, we’ve seen a lot of terrible anime come through the pipeline. From the unintentionally hilarious Garzey’s Wing to the disappointing Fractale, there has never been a shortage of shows that simply fall apart in one way or another. These are the titles that are talked about, discussed, and analyzed to see exactly where the train went off the rails, and what could have been done to fix things. Titles that are simply broken at conception rarely receive such a luxury. Instead, they make a quick blip on the general radar before they drop into the depths of obscurity. It is here that these shows languish and fester until the unassuming viewer happens upon them. Yamada’s First Time is one of many of these accursed titles that seems to actively repulse viewers, and offers little to keep them watching past the first ten minutes.
The series revolves around Yamada, a comely lass who seeks to have one hundred friends with benefits. Now, she doesn’t actually DO that or we’d have thirteen episodes of non-stop fucking. Simply put, Yamada’s a one-dimensional boob. Her one-track mind is focused on sex to the point that it makes the average frat boy look like a missionary. And yet, she’s completely clueless. She’s never been kissed, let alone nailed. She has a warped idea of flirting that involves screaming at random people, ordering around the ones she admires, and freaking out at the slightest hint of a boner. Regardless, the whole show revolves around her trying to get into the pants with some geek named Kosuda.
It’s supposed to be funny, but they place the characters into situations where it’s just so forced, so over-the-top that it falls flat. The attempts at romance are cheesy and cliche, and the jokes revolve far too much about the horizontal mambo for a show that is severely lacking in the sex department. Much of the dialogue sounds as if it were written by a horny teenager, and the general plot is, to be kind, single-minded and tired. It never deviates from the age-old trope, in which the designated “pretty girl” starts using the requisite dork, only to find her falling for the dork.
The show isn’t helped by its lack of strong protagonists. Yamada, after all, is the quintessential popular girl. She’s tall, she’s attractive, and she’s got every guy in school wrapped around her little finger. She’s also a class-A bitch. She uses the male lead to the point where it’s borderline cruel. She orders him around like a dog, treats him like a servant, and generally only sees him as a potential sex toy. She doesn’t care about his feelings or his attraction – just her own goal of getting nailed. By episode four I was outright rooting for her rival, the nerdy Miyano, to wind up with Kosuda instead. Miyano, unlike Yamada, is a very likable character. She’s pleasant, friendly, and generally doesn’t seem to give off the aura of “I can have what I want, when I want” through the show’s twelve episodes.
Much like the rest of the show, the musical aspects leave something to be desired. Background tunes are generally upbeat, if not forgettable riffs that try to sell the (supposedly) crazy and comedic atmostphere of the show. This would be fine, if the show were actually crazy and funny – instead, the music seems to be used as a cudgel, pounding players upside the head with instructions to laugh at the stupidity onscreen, or to feel empathy for the generally unlikable Yamada. The opening and closing themes are catchy, bouncy numbers that are in line with the show’s overall mood. Much like the rest of the soundtrack, though, they’re far from memorable and serve mainly to fill dead air-space.
FUNimation’s English dub stands as the sole highlight of this digitally animated train wreck. While the overall delivery is stilted and the casting is uneven, the writing stands far above that of the original Japanese. Offhanded comments become deadpan swipes, and the childish sex jokes become a playful blend of double entendres and snarky, self-aware wisecracks. While it does little to save the series as a whole, the English dub manages to hide a few of the more egregious faults.
Yamada’s First Time is something that nobody should really need to see. While the dub does help smooth out a number of rough patches, the show’s tired premise, unfunny humor, and generally unlikable main cast should be enough to drive any viewer away. For many, Yamada’s First Time will just serve to be one of the many buried titles that are best left undiscovered.