B Gata H Kei 12 (Final) and Series Review

Ah, young love. And never has young love been portrayed in anime in quite this way…

I’ve mentioned it before, but the unique thing about this series is it’s ability to deal overtly with the topic of teen sex while maintaining a thoroughly innocent tone. The last episode continued this alchemy right to the very end. Yamada (still no first name, alas) and Kosuda got close to the finish line several times, but never quite reached the promised land. Poor Kosuda – not only did he and his sex God get C-teased repeatedly, but sucker punched as well – and all that on top of a broken ankle.

I suppose in a sense I was disappointed that we never did get the consummation of their relationship, but that was consistent with the tone of the entire show – sex was the distraction, but the relationship was what was driving the action underneath. In 12 we even got so far as both hero and herioine seeing the other in all their glory – but defective love hotel beds, calcium deficiency and horny nurses proved too much to overcome. We did get to see Yamada in a nurse outfit though – and a very nice ending in which Yamada seemed to finally come to terms with the fact that she genuinely feels something for Kosuda.

There’s so much to recommend this show, starting with the excellent OP and ED and smart, snappy writing that never talks down to the audience. What I love about B Gata H Kei is that, unlike so many teen romances, it deals with the sexual side of affairs in a completely straightforward and open way – right down to the language Yamada uses in discussing it. She and Kosuda are – like most teens – fascinated with, consumed by and terrified of the notion of sex. As well, both are adorably clueless about every aspect of it – to the point of asking their siblings for practical tips. Their fumbling overtures are what make what could be crude and exploitative feel innocent and charming – two words I would never have thought I’d use for this series after Yamada spoke of “One hundred fuck-buddies” in the first episode.

Yamada didn’t always treat Kosuda as well as he deserved, that’s for certain – I’ve said already that he’d have been happier with his adorable and adoring neighbor – but unlike with many tsundere females, I never felt animosity for her because of it. Yamada generally acted out of fear, that’s all – she’s certainly highly sexually charged even for a teenager (judging by the light petting scenes with Kosuda her entire body appears to be one giant erogenous zone) but finds the notion of actually going through with it terrifying. As is the notion of emotional commitment – so when either seem imminent she lashes out at Kosuda and retreats. As for Kosuda, he started out intentionally generic, but developed into a fully-formed and complex kid. He’s genuinely kind and considerate of Yamada’s needs, and never quite gets over the notion that she’s out of his league – but in the end, when the goal line is in sight, he’s the assertive one who takes charge of the situation. Alas, sadly, with disastrous results – but there’s credit to be given for his courage under fire.

There are some surface cliches here, no doubt – the generic ecchi teen comedy, the dork with the hot girlfriend, the sexy, bookish “childhood friend”, rich rival, wincest and elements of both tsundere and moe comedy. I wouldn’t blame anyone for not giving this show a chance – unless, that is, they actually watched a few episodes. That’s when the truth becomes obvious – this is incredibly charming and smart stuff. Likable characters grappling with hilariously over-the-top yet realistic situations, great physical comedy, sexy without exploitation and silly without forgetting to be smart. If one of the roles of a series is to leave you wanting to spend more time with the characters, those goals were met for me – I really like Yamada, Kosuda and the entire supporting cast and I’ll miss seeing them every week.

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