Manga, Ecchi, and My Current Favourite

Hey, it’s my birthday! Well, capitalism stops for no man, so here is your daily post!

By now it should be clear that I’m a fan of all forms of narrative. Specifically, I like series and I like concept music. The world of anime is not new to me, I was a huge follower of Japanese art during my adolescence, starting around the age of ten when I watched Bleach, and then age eleven when I finished all three Dragonball series.

Since my younger days, two things have happened. I’ve found I have far less time for TV and far more time for books, as I am an artist, I can pass reading manga off as “research.” Actually, aside from the terrifically paced Death Note (which I dropped after Near and Mellow showed up), I don’t really like manga.

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My Credentials

That’s why Hajimete no Gyaru stands out so much. It took me into a medium I don’t particularly enjoy, and gave me enjoyment.

What is a Gyaru?

What is a “gal?” Well, a gal or gyaru (what I will be referring to it as for the rest of this article) is a form of fashion based rebellion in Japan. At least, it started as a form of rebellion back in the late twentieth century. Now it’s mostly a fashion trend.

I took this from Wikipedia

Rebellion

Goth and gyaru styles blend well.

The Gyaru or Ganguro style originally came about in the 1970s and hit its top in the 80s. It shows a stark contrast to what was and still is traditionally fashionable in Japan. Like all cultures in the world, pale skin is valued above all. I’m not sure why, maybe I’ll write about that odd mentality in the future, as I am not pale myself, but instead a mixed person. Anyway, gyaru artificially darkened their skin with something similar to rub-on or spray-on tan. This darkening is less common nowadays. Black hair is nearly universal in Japan, so obviously, the gyaru had to ditch that too. They wear a lot of make-up usually, and certain branches go for a younger look, enlarging the appearance of eyes with liner.

Gyaru are considered both immature and also slutty. It seems that people assume that like other bleach-blonde girls, the gyaru are “easy.” This viewpoint is repeated in most of the anime that I’ve seen gyaru in, that they makeout as easily as they breathe, that they’re a good place to go for easy sex. Whether this is true or not, well you’d have to ask a gyaru.

In my mind, I like to parallel the gyaru style with the gothic style. They’re both looked at as odd in their respective cultures, and they both tend to group together, as sort of purposeful outcasts. Gyaru has heavy western influence, and so sometimes the two actually meet. it’s pretty cool, if you have tastes like mine anyway.

The Ecchi Anime

Ecchi is a term that just means “sexy,” or “dirty” in Japan. In western culture, it basically means “fanservice” or “tits.” An ecchi anime usually doesn’t feature any nipples (heaven forbid!) but will often show off 90% of a breast, most of an ass, and so on. Some Ecchi get really crazy, as plot generally falls to the wayside in favour of fanservice.

Generally, in a series like this, you have a beautiful and endearing girl with a face of pure innocence, paired with a worthless boy who is good at nothing and never tries to improve. That’s actually fairly standard ecchi/harem based-on-a-visual-novel fair. In fact, it’s so common that about 30% of these carbon-copy, worthless, self-insert main characters have the exact same name, Keita.

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Here’s a small fraction from a master list of Keitas. I underlined all the romances I could find.

I’ve watched enough anime to know when something isn’t worth my time.

The first sign is 5+ girls interested in one guy. Why? Because he never ends up with any of them. It closes unresolved. It’s actually just an ad for their visual novel, where you can go out with your favourite. (For those who don’t know what a visual novel is, it’s essentially a choose-your-own adventure/picture book that you read on a computer. Usually it features a lot of girls who you can have sex with. This is one of the reasons Japan has a NEET problem. (NEET stands for “Not in Education, Employment, or Training”. It’s a term used a lot in Japan, because it’s a real problem there. NEET was term originally used in the UK. (which stands for the United Kingdom.)))

The second sign is if it’s based on a visual novel, again this usually means that it will feature an inconclusive ending that can only be resolved if you play the VN.

The third sign is the tags. Ecchi/harem is generally a great pair of tags if all you’re looking for is fanservice. If you want a romance, stay away!

The Exception

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The one true ecchi.

Very rarely is the nudity ever used to enhance the plot in any way. In fact, there’s only one case in all of the anime I’ve watched where this happened. Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai: Under the Innocent Sky used the fanservice and chaos inherent in the ecchi genre to enhance the atmosphere of the anime.

See, Oretachi is about young adults. The kinds of people who walk around filled with repressed sexually, searching for decent work, and joining small-time gangs. You know, things typical of 20-25 year-olds. The fanservice is either added as comic relief, or very casually and naturally. Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai is actually one of my top anime, despite featuring an almost literal sex scene. (Which was really weird to be honest.)

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This is how it is.

Hajimete no Gyaru

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This is fairly typical anime/manga fanservice.

Also known as Hajimete no Gal. In English, it’s called My (Frist) Girlfriend is a Gal. So as you can see, our two main characters are fairly typical Japanese high school students, although one of them has bleached hair and dresses like a gyaru. Something else you might not have noticed is how unusual their expressions are.

I originally found this manga by its anime. The art was nice, and the main female protagonist, Yukana had something about her… something so rare in female anime character expression. Yukana had confidence. This girl is overflowing with confidence, and confidence is sexy! The male character, Junichi (not Keita) is no pushover either. Let’s talk about him first!

Hashiba, Junichi

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This is the face of passion.

Junichi is just a guy, and that’s what makes him so great. He’s not that tired whiner trope like Hope from Final Fantasy XIII, or some crybaby who contributes nothing to the adventure like Yuki of Mirai Nikki. He’s also not an unstoppable omniscient god like Sora from No Game No Life.

He’s just normal. He’s nervous about meeting girls since he and his anti-social friends probably never talk to them, but he’s not petrified. He actually builds up the nerve with some help from the aforementioned friends and asks Yukana out on his own. They meet up outside school, and after a lot of inner dialogue, he musters his nerve and asks her out.

Yame, Yukana

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This face is just condescending.

When it comes to personality, Yukana is more than just a pretty face and some tits (although, she is well endowed with both.) Yukana is confident, feminine, and friendly. Like, despite being a gyaru she’s actually pretty friendly. She’s also fairly condescending to the main character, but he’s no slouch! He can take it!

She accepts his request at the end of the first volume and they start going out. She likes shooter arcade games and karaoke.

Yukana also knows how to dress up, which is to be expected of a gyaru. Outside of school, she usually dresses in a fairly normal manner. The gyaru thing might just be to keep people out of her hair.

The Good

Hajimete no Gyaru is really awesome when it comes to the main romance. Here’s a breakdown of how romances work, in both eastern and western works of fiction.

  1. The main two want to get together, or maybe one is pursuing another.
  2. Something gets in the way.
  3. They get over it.
  4. In the last chapter they make up and get together.
  5. The end.

Well, Hajimete no Gal put step 4 at the beginning. They’re dating for most of the series. It’s great! Why has no one else noticed this? It’s so unique, I mean, name another series like this. Not where they’re chilling from the beginning, but actually actively going out and dating. Love Hina maybe? I can’t think of one. What does that mean? That means something unique is happening here, and unique is good.

The Bad

If I can think of something to put here, I will. For now, here’s a nice picture.

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This panel in particular stood out to me. Why? Because the main character thinks “health committee,” and imagines Yukana as both a doctor and a nurse. No stereotypes. Yame is whatever she wants to be.

The Great

It’s a brilliant, iconic cover. It shows that packaging matters. How ...
Jurassic Park level pacing.

Pacing! The pacing in this manga is impeccable! Oh man, I should take notes because this series moves so fast, but still gives you enough time to take everything in! It’s wonderful!

I actually caught up to volume three in one night! For reference, I usually read one volume a day, meaning I covered three times my normal amount. Why? Because I was engrossed. I can only compare the pacing to a Michael Crichton novel.

Awesome.

The Amazing

The characters are very realistic, they truly feel human.

Side Cast

Look, even the side characters contribute something. Even the smallest character manages to eventually gain some relevance. Instead of introducing new people, the author got a clever idea, one that I use in my own works. Why not have old characters do the things I want to have new characters do? Keep the pool of people focused, streamlined.

Honjo, Ranko

Yukana’s best friend Ranko? She’s jealous of Junichi because he’s taking all of Yukana’s attention. She sits in on some of their dates, and more often than not actively disrupts them by showing up right when things start to get interesting.

But there’s more.

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When Ranko realizes that she’s not going to be successful in breaking the two up, she changes gears. She becomes the badass protector of Junichi and Yukana’s relationship. (While still trying to drive them apart.) How? Why? Well, let’s take a moment to be rational. It seems that Ms Honjo has a very specific set of priorities.

  1. Keep Yukana all to herself.
  2. If 1 is not possible, Junichi x Yame is the next best thing.
  3. If anyone gets in the way of 1 or 2, stop them with physical violence or intimidation.

Ranko is essentially my type, so you go girl! Intimidate that poor deceptive schoolgirl!

Kashi, Yui

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This is the face of someone who’s been beaten at her own game.

This is your typical goody two shoes. The pure girl who the main character is destined to fall for.

 

Well, this isn’t that kind of story, so instead she gets pushed aside and resorts to deceptive tactics to try and force her way into Junichi’s heart! Does she succeed? Well, read the manga to find out! (Hint, no.)

Actually, she tests Junichi’s outer limits of commitment, and she still gets turned down. Then she tries to force herself on Junichi, and of course, Ranko comes in and saves the day, leaping in from… I don’t know, the sky maybe?

Sakamoto, Shinpei

... Ryuugamine from Durarara!! ) joins the cast to voice Shinpei Sakamoto

This is our ringleader, the catalyst. He’s the leader of a group of outcasts, the group Junichi finds himself in at the beginning of the story. Some might write him off, but he has clear motivations and a consistent character.

Actually, if it weren’t for Shinpei this story might not have happened. See, he was the one that forced Junichi into asking Yukana out. It was his idea, and he had to basically force it to happen.

Then later he returns to make MORE plot stuff happen! Like, don’t discount this guy, he’s serious!

Fujinoki, Nene

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I’m not a huge fan of this girl, but luckily her arc was short, and way less cringe-inducing than I expected.

Nene is the childhood friend who’s returned to claim her boi. And that boy is Junichi. She makes a lot of advances on him, utilizing handcuffs and nudity and taking advantage of the fact that she knows where Junichi lives.

In the end she claims that she will be competing with Yukana for Jun’s love. Yukana decides that this is both hilarious and adorable, and stops taking her seriously. Good!

The Endearing

Junichi’s Contributions

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Not once, but twice Junichi stops a girl’s advances.

He informs them that he’s already in a relationship, and he’s perfectly happy with it.

Why is this important? Well, consider the typical harem. The main character hasn’t (and might never) decided on a woman, and so he never blatantly turns down a girl. Junichi is and does. His greatest character trait is his resolve, his commitment.

Junichi does more than just pull his weight. He’s a true second half in this relationship, whether his girlfriend is there to babysit his emotions or not.

Yukana’s Contributions

Image result for hajimete no galAt first, for both halves, the relationship was sort of a joke, and sort of a test ride.

Yukana wasn’t conceited about it though, she regarded Jun with open eyes, and took it seriously when things got serious.

She dresses up for him, and keeps him at a fair distance. She picks on him, flirts with him, and tests him. She asks Ranko for advice and considers Junichi fairly when he makes an advance. (Although most of the time she turns his advances down. She’s not sure what to do in a relationship either!)

The Pair

These two are a great match, which is exactly why this series works. Yukana teases Junichi to confuse him, and Junichi spouts his honest thoughts to confuse her. Neither of them has been in a relationship before, it’s new and exciting. This is a prime example of young love!

The Human

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This is the gold of the series. All the characters, all the situations are so natural. They seem so real, it’s the kind of stuff that happens all over the world, with regular people. It truly is a slice of life, and I love it.

The fact that this series is so grounded, that it invites you to expect a cliche and then instead gives you a natural response, it’s just wonderful. As someone who’s seen over one-hundred anime and is familiar with all the tropes, I was both impressed and refreshed.

Conclusion

download (1).jpgIf you like realism, and good characterization, this manga is for you. I’m so jealous~!

Verdict:

I almost never give a true 10/10. All my My Anime List ratings are bumped up by 1 point since I’m so unfair. (Bleach is a 9, Slayers a 9, Oretachi… I’m not sure, 9.4?)

Hajimete no Gal gets a true 10 out of 10. I absolutely love it, and if it gets translated officially, I will be supporting this artist by purchasing the manga.

Daniel Triumph.

This is where I read the manga, until it gets an official release anyway: http://mangafox.me/manga/hajimete_no_gal/

Table of Table of Contents Contents

Some of this content may be Out of Date.

This is the old table of contents. Once all of my links get sorted out, it will be removed.

Here is the current Table of Contents.

Dawngale Glossary (Lexis Exigisi)

Evidence Series

Alice and Finch

RP Works

Independent Works

Tales of Symphonia content

Harry Potter Reviews

Non Fiction Content

Elements of Writing

Fragments of Me

Practices and Old Content

Progression (Not Organized)

Inck

Inck Alice Dawngale made her way through the dim snowy wood. She wasn’t sure where to go. The south was barren. She would find no resources, no food there. She had survived on nothing but snow melted in hand for eight weeks, rationing the only food she had to her young child. For the most part, the child stayed on her back, wearing Inck’s only shirt in addition to her own clothes to stay warm.

Inck had followed the base of the cliff west for two weeks, then east for six. She knew she didn’t have enough energy to double back again. She didn’t have enough energy to continue much longer either. Her bare shoulders were developing frostbite, her fingers spared only because she kept them crossed and under her arms. The trees stopped most of the wind, but she found little solace in this.

As she had followed the cliff, the ridge had become higher and higher, and then suddenly it spiked. She was sidling a nearly vertical mountain at this point. On her back, the child Alice woke up. She slept a lot, lacking the energy to stay awake.

Inck said, “My Alice, my Alice, what shall we do? I’ve walked to the edge of my vision, and again I see but the same. We will not make it farther than the naught I see now if we continue straight.”

“Ah, and we can’t go that way right?” She pointed to the forest, “And we can’t go back! So we have to go… there.”

She pointed up the mountain.

Inck stared at the summit. She could not tell for sure, but she doubted anyone lived at the top. She took her hands out of her armpits and stared at them. The Plainkind kept their clawlike fingernails long enough to be effective. In the past month and a half they had continued to grow unbitten, unused.

Inck looked at the sky. She had a lot of time left, but she knew it still wouldn’t be enough.

Inck dug her fingers into the stone, satisfied that it was soft enough. She began to pull herself up, limb by limb, cubit by cubit. Alice watched as they climbed with amazement.

Higher, higher, higher. Inck made it halfway up before her sleep reserves gave out. Her arms began to shake, her legs tremored, but still she climbed, not looking back, her eyes ahead.

Alice could feel the shaking, “Are you okay mum?”

“Yes. Just… Tell me about home.” She could use the distraction.

“Home? The Plainkind desert? It’s warmer there. My dad is there. My friend, umm, Marisa. She’s there too.” Alice’s voice was wistful, but still held much joy.

“And,” Inck huffed, “What happened?”

“To get us here? Oh, well, we got lost in the sandstorm… We got stuck below the cliff. You tried to climb it, right? Yeah. It didn’t, well it, yeah. It didn’t, wasn’t soft enough. So we tried to go around, both ways. It’s cold down here. Snow is cool! But… Only for a while.”

Inck nodded as Alice continued.

“And now we’re hungry all the time. And now we’re climbing a mountain. And I haven’t seen, we haven’t seen anyone, anyone in so long…”

Alice got sad and so she stopped.

“It has been very… long.” Inck agreed.

Time passed as silence fell between them. The sun began to set, and soon night was upon them. Inck could see well in the dark, but it was cloudy, and her night vision was still inferior to her dayvision. She climbed primarily by feel.

Some time in the night, she reached the top. In the dark she could see that it plateaued.

“Ah.”

Alice said nothing, she must have been asleep. Inck could see the edge of the summit in the far reaches of her vision. She wasn’t sure if she should rest or continue. She decided to continue. However, upon her first step, her exhaustion and starvation caught up with her. She sneered at her own condition as she fell forward, catching herself with her arms as not to wake Alice.

There was only a thin veil of snow here. Inck lay awake for the minutes required to melt it with her heat, and then she allowed herself to drift away.

She awoke before morning, trembling from the cold. Usually this was the time she made real sleeping quarters, but the resources on the flat summit were limited, and so was her time. Instead, Inck stood and began to walk.

Her only goal was crossing the mountain to the other side. She would be able to see all that lay before her to the north; to see where her home was. Right now she was focused only on moving forward.

When she reached the other edge, the sun had risen. She looked out over the lands in amazement. The warm rays woke Alice up, and she too gazed, excited.

“Wah! Look!”

Inck nodded, “There is our home, the desert. In front of us appears to be the world beyond the eastern walls. And look, another group of settlements lies yet further east.”

“All we have to do is get down!” Alice was excited.

Inck knew immediately that she would likely never again have the energy to make the climb. Her energy reserves were at their limit. One frightening solution rang out in her mind. She stared down at the plummet. She could survive the landing. The injuries would undoubtedly be her undoing, but she would have the strength to protect her daughter from the fall.

As a mother, this idea was quickly pushed down to a secondary plan. Inck dug into the ground for a couple of stones. She was familiar with rocks and found two, a softer and harder stone. She copied something in Plainkind Script and then began her descent. On her back, Alice excitedly twisted around, looking at the world below. She wanted to go back home, but had a severe interest in the new kingdom they were now descending into.

This downward climb was the most difficult thing Inck had done in her lifetime. Her muscles ached and shuddered. As they went further, Alice became more and more worried about her mother’s shaking.

One third of the way down, Inck had to stop. She steadied herself. Aside from her tremors, she could not move. Physically she could not continue. She looked down and wished upon her ancestors that she’d had the strength to continue just a little further. Inck closed her eyes. She wished she hadn’t headed west for so long. She held onto the regret for but a moment.

Then she thought of Alice, who was doubtlessly concerned clinging to her back. Inck was certain that one of them would survive the fall. She channelled her life, her reserves. She shed her regrets. And then, she pushed away from the mountain.

Alice screamed out of shock. She couldn’t comprehend what was happening. She clung to her mother as tightly as her small body let her. It was tight enough. The fall ended sooner than expected, and Inck took the landing as hard as she could. Nearly all the force went into her leg muscles, and then into her bones. Her shins and thighs crumpled under the force. Both of her spines had broken.

Her daughter felt the force of multiple gravities, but was unhurt overall. Alice dropped off of her mother’s back and ran around to her front.

“Mum! Ah!” She didn’t know what to do.

She looked at her mother with a pleading expression.

“Dear Alice… Alice May Dawngale…”

Inck looked at her lower half, damaged beyond conventional healing. She watched blood ooze slower and slower as her superficial outer wounds healed. Still she did not let go.

She said, “When I stop moving, wait but a day. Then, bury me in front of that boulder.”

Inck pointed with her long damaged fingernail to the stone. It must have been part of the mountain at some point, as it stood out starkly from the surrounding forest.

“Copy this onto it.”

She handed the stone to Alice. She could not read it. She couldn’t read anything yet.

I am your Mother,

Inck Alice Dawngale.

They spoke together, of home, of the sandstorm and their perilous journey, but most of all Inck focused on Alice’s future.

“You must find a home. Any home, even if it is not our old home. You must live a happy life for me, for yourself.” Inck shed a tear, as deep a red as her eyes, “You needn’t even be productive. Simply happy.”

Alice nodded, and embraced the parts of her mother that were still alive. She too cried ruby tears. Though it was only morning, the two, exhausted, slept together for the last time.

Leagues away, Inck’s partner still grieved, having lost his whole family into the sand sea.

The next evening, Alice felt her mother. She was warm, it seemed to no longer be the warmth of life. Alice scavenged for food and found many fruits. She returned and fed some to the mouth of her mother.

“…” Inck exhaled and gave Alice one final look, a look of hope. And then she died.

Alice looked at Inck for a long time, frozen, staring at the vacant expression of hope for many moments. And then, when she felt she had absorbed all she could from this last mortal message, the final emotion from her mother, Alice moved. She reached forward and closed the eyes. She took the fruit and ate it. Then, she began to dig.

Inck’s story draws to a close, and the mission of life is passed to Alice. Continue the story.

Any regular reader will notice that this is almost identical to a previous submission (which I’ve subsequently moved to my secondary blog.) This is the third draft, the last one was the second. I hope you enjoy,

Daniel Triumph.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DaniellTriumph/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DaniellTriumph

The First Post

This post is for not just the this weekend’s plans, but also the long term goals and aspirations of this blog. This is the first step down a long and valuable road for me. I intend to develop a personal brand through this blog, and hopefully generate a following of people who are interested in reading my posts a few times a week.

So, my goals are to improve as a fiction and essay writer, and gain a following large enough that I can monetize my work here and do it full time. I’m aware that money is one of my goals, but I also think that in this case it’s okay. It’s not the only goal, and it’s not even the end goal. It’s a stepping stone to enable me to do even more work. The biggest goal is improving as a content creator and as an artist.

I aim to improve as an artist and as a content creator, bringing value to people while also developing my skills.

My life is on a three step plan, three steps that are large in scope and without a specific path. I’ll be clear, my goal is solid, but how I will get there is subject to change as I find better and more efficient methods. This is the first step towards my goal, and there is no road. I make it as I go. I love information, logic, narrative and critical arguments, and that’s likely what this blog will be littered with. If that interests you, feel free to subscribe for all my content, as well as follow my on facebook and twitter.

Yours eternally,
Daniel Triumph.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DaniellTriumph/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DaniellTriumph

1 week later: I’ve returned to this post to confirm and reaffirm my goals. I made a few edits, and touched up but it largely remains the same. The three step plan might end up being only a two step plan, which I think is a good thing. A cutting of the fat. I’ll be back next time I revisit this first post.