My First Girlfriend is a Gal – Mid Season Anime Review
Synopsis: A new school term begins, as does the season of new encounters. As he surveys his class full of couples, Hashiba Jun’ichi’s mind is filled with distress as he asks himself, “Why am I still a virgin?!” Having heard from his friends that the easiest way to fulfill his long-standing desire to graduate from the fellowship of virgins is to kowtow to a gal, Jun’ichi does exactly that and asks his classmate Yukana out. And unbelievably, she actually agrees to date him. What will become of Jun’ichi from now on? (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Gal’s animation continues to feel low budget, with characters often wonky or lacking detail. There’s plenty of scenes with extremely limited motion, likely to keep the production costs low. Sometimes, despite these failings, it works. Gal manages to produce something funny despite the clear limitations. Other times the show just looks stilted and cheap. But animation budget is placed where it counts, at least for an Ecchi anyway. Expect plenty of sexual imagery. Bouncing bosoms, near crotch shots, groping, etc. But if you’re here for the titillation know that much of it is beneath extreme censoring.
Linny: The main appeal of an ecchi is of course its fan service heavy sexual content and in this regard, Gal’s censorship will rain all over your parade. Not only is there extremely heavy censorship that goes so far as to censor fully clothed body parts but there are disembodied female voices squealing lines like “no you cant do that” or “wow,’ making the whole thing extremely distracting and silly looking. Given how often these sexually charged sequences happen, it’s clear this show was meant for folks who want to be titillated, yet the censored version ensures you’d have to be extremely hard up to enjoy any of its scenes. Maybe one could still enjoy them as a comedy, reveling in the sheer silliness of the censorship method. But that brings me to how one of Gal’s running ‘gags’ could prove to be extremely upsetting to audiences. It revolves around a friend of our protagonist repeatedly voicing his interest in an age group that could get him jailed. Sure, the show makes it clear that none of his friends approve yet he keeps on talking about it, enough to ensure that anyone not comfortable with his shtick will grow disgusted with the show.
Tom: Gal is built up around its perverse and highly sexual humor. In fact I struggle to think of too many gags that don’t have to do with a woman’s bit or very ‘taboo’ subject matter. Even with the censoring, the show maintains a perverse comedic sensibility, but sometimes that indeed goes too far into darker territory, like the loli-joke. While Jun’ichi’s friends primarily bring the ‘we’re so jealous!” brand of humor to our lead’s ever growing harem, there’s the third, rather rotund friend, Kobayakawa Minoru. He likes the young girls, and I don’t mean 18. As Linny discussed, the show routinely brings his brand of “so dark it’s funny” humor up at least once an episode, if not twice. It’s so frequent that it can honestly make or break the show for anyone who can’t find a dark subject matter like pedophilia amusing to some regard. That’s a tall order.
Linny: What could potentially save Gal for a viewer is the inner monologues and conversations carried on inside Junichi’s mind by his various personas. Jun’ichi’s inner conflict is often visualized through dueling persona’s, each bent on various teenage ulterior motives or stereotypes. Not only are these conversations entertaining but they also help to define and build our protagonist’s character and make him feel more flavourful than your generic harem protagonist.
Tom: The inner monologues speak to Hashiba Jun’ichi’s one defining trait: His absolutely perverse nature. It’s what makes him standout from other harem leads, and make no mistake, despite lacking the tag, Gal is most definitely a harem. But Jun’ichi’s intense pervy persona doesn’t always bring the laughs and as the show continues it gradually tries to gear him more as the generic lead. Jun’ichi gradually ends up feeling as hollow as other ‘self-insert’ leads, just with a more overtly perverted tint. This taming/re-visioning of character isn’t just for our lead. Even Yame Yukana, Jun’ichi’s first ever Gal Girlfriend and lead girl, changes over the course of the run. For the first couple episodes Yame almost feels like a subversion of what a ‘slutty’ girl should be. She doesn’t meet up with Jun’ichi’s fantasies. But as we continue Yame gradually devolves, alongside the other female characters, into little more than a male fantasy come to life.
Linny: At its midpoint episode count wise, Gal has barely managed to make itself stand out from other generic harem ecchi, especially with how generic some of the female characters can be. There’s the token childhood friend who has wanted to be his wife since day one and his ‘gal’ girlfriend whose only reason for accepting his proposal to date is because she thinks it will be fun. To it’s credit, two of the girls in this ‘harem’ have selfish and independent reasons for trying to seduce him but ultimately, the show does little to really make itself unique other than having a female cast that consists solely of girls that are into the ‘gal’ lifestyle.
Tom: In many ways I feel like we’ve seen the best Gal has to offer early on. By episode 3 Gal marks its descent into pure male fantasy as it introduces more female characters who fall for our lead for the flimsiest of reasons one after another. The show makes feeble attempts to try and instill a sense of why so many girls would fall for him, but it never feels like anything but stretched reasoning. It doesn’t help that Gal is also marred by a plethora of smaller issues. The humor doesn’t always hit. When it does it’s great, and ridiculous, but sometimes the comedic timing isn’t there, or the music isn’t right for the scene, or it’s just the generally unimpressive animation or weak writing.
Linny: Gal started out with promise as it seemed like it was trying to be unique with an unpredictable heroine and inner monologue sequences that were hilarious and character building. However, with each episode, it slowly began sinking into mediocrity and devolved into a generic ecchi harem comedy. Even as an ecchi, the ridiculous censoring methods applied ensure that it will fail to please ecchi fans. Throw in the relentless underage jokes and you’re ultimately left with a show that has way too many issues to make it recommendable.
Tom: There are times when Gal really shines, brief moments where you could see it reaching a level of hilarity alongside the likes of Golden Boy. But those moments are fleeting, and otherwise the writing and production quality just aren’t there. Gal isn’t an awful watch, but its limitations mean you really have to be in the mood for perverted humor, censored fan service, and not mind when the show tries to turn pedophilia into an ongoing gag.