Stop me if you've heard this one before, anime fans. A nerdy guy is a giant pervert, and goes to a school filled with voluptuous young ladies. His eventual goal is to get in close with them and score, but he ends up falling for the childhood friend/nerdy one/headstrong one. It's a formula that's been used time and time again, and for some reason, a lot of people seem to not get sick of it one bit. To put it lightly, I am not one of those people. But by taking the formula and replacing that guy with a cute girl, and adding in an extra bit of teen pathos, "B Gata H Kei" rises above the rest to a series that's hard not to recommend.
Yamada is perhaps more perverted than even the boys in her school. Her life goal is to bed 100 guys before graduating high school, and with a whole wave of them wanting to get with her, one would figure that it wouldn't be that hard. But one would be mistaken, because the poor girl is clueless when it comes to seducing men, on account of the fact that actually having sex outside the context of romance makes her nervous to the point of blushing intensely. And so it ends up that her first "victim", an average Joe by the name of Kosuda, becomes somewhat of a love interest throughout the whole series. Yamada attempts to fornicate with him time and time again, but it always fails on account of her being too darn bashful for her own good.
This seems like a set-up for a nonstop barrage of fan service, but what sets this show apart from the rest is how little of it there actually is. Panty shots are generally obscured, there's never any tasteless nudity, and the outfits the female characters are garbed in are far more modest those found in other series cut from similar cloths. No, "B Gata H Kei" is taste in it's visual content, which makes for an overall more enjoyable series to watch.
All of the raciness had to go somewhere, of course, and that's where the completely R-rated dialogue comes in. People sensitive to explicit references to genitalia, consistent use of profanity, and a general mood of raunchiness should probably not watch this, if they were planning to anyway. Yamada is a walking encyclopedia of debauchery, possessing a vast knowledge of everything sexual except for how to actually engage in intercourse. The same can be said of her rival, Kanejo, who has a fake elegant front for her bizarre sexual interest in one of her close family members. The writers frequently make light of sex, incest and prurient interests, playing it off casually much like a Kevin Smith movie.
Kevin Smith is perhaps the best comparison to this series for another reason as well. That's because underneath all of the riotous comedy and awkward shenanigans, this is really a human story. It's the classic "girl-loves-boy" story for my generation of youth, the generation who are glued to their computers, always connected, and spew off sexual dialogue like it's not offensive one bit. Personally, I relate to Yamada a good bit. Despite her grand ambitions (however ignoble they may be), she realizes that underneath her posturing, she's a normal girl who is susceptible to things such as hurt feelings and falling in love. There's a great deal of weakness inside of her, which makes her a far more compelling protagonist than ones from other erotic comedies. Her interactions with other characters often times feel, much like conversations I would have with friends. It really succeeds at painting a believable picture of today's teenagers.
Also aiding the story are the side characters, who all serve a purpose. My personal favorite is Yamada's best friend Miharu, who acts as a sort of foil to her pal's daily antics and varying fits of sexual frustration and romantic confusion. She's one of the most tolerant and believable best friends I've personally ever seen in an anime. Also enjoyable is aforementioned love interest Kosuda, who is so painfully ordinary that it's funny. Everything from his face to his mannerisms are unforgettably vanilla, which ironically makes him very memorable. Other characters, like "rivals" Kanejo and Mayu, are all given their moments to shine, making for an inordinately balanced comedy.
It would be a crime not to mention, however, that the two funniest side characters are actually inside Kosuda and Yamada themselves. Both of them possess an "Eros Deity", i.e. their secretly perverted consciousnesses. Yamada's is a chibi version of her, only with a giant grey mustache slapped on her face. She rides around on a little cloud and constantly yells at Yamada to be more aggressive, and frequently serves as a narrator. Kosuda's is also a chibi version of himself, but with perpetually closed eyes, that typically remains quiet but often serves as a metaphor for the poor boy getting an erection around Yamada. He even substitutes for Kosuda's actual genitalia at one point in the series, so that while Yamada sees his beans and franks, the viewer sees a little man on his crotch. The placement of these deities is always hilarious, and just another quirk that makes this series so good.
On the technical side of things, "B Gata H Kei" isn't go to win any awards, but it's certainly not lackluster. The animation is very crisp, frequently shifting according to the narrative situation. There's never a noticeable dip in budget, making it consistently pleasant to look at throughout the entirety of the series. It also helps that the designs for all of the characters look incredibly attractive, even for the boys. There's some serious animated eye candy on display here, for those who care.
What really won me over, though, was the music and voice acting. The opening and ending ditties are dangerously infectious, but nowhere near as much as the song "B Gata H Kei" that appears about three-quarters of the way through the show, which will be lodged in your cranium for months. The voice acting is also top-notch, with Yamada's voice actress shining above everybody else in both versions. Both Yukari Tamura and Brittney Karbowski bring something unique to the table with the character; Tamura emphasizes Yamada's innocent and demure interior, while Karbowski plays up the debauched side for the big laughs. Both versions work incredibly well, and the same can be said for the rest of both the English and Japanese casts.
When it was released, many critics seemed to hate "B Gata H Kei", but average viewers adored it. Being one of those viewers, it's been interesting to see the critical opinion change somewhat over the course of almost two years. Well, interesting and gratifying, because "B Gata H Kei" is truly a good series, deserving of every bit of praise it gets. It succeeds as both a social satire of today's youth and a ribald sex comedy, with both sides getting equal treatment. Even with FUNimation's ludicrous price (which seems to be the norm for them nowadays), this is one series that is worth splurging on if you know what you're getting into. Not only a great comedy, but a great overall show.