On the face of it, B Gata H Kei has a throughly lamentable premise, one sure to invoke a slow shaking of the head, perhaps only piquing one's interest to understand if it is really as misogynistic as it sounds. It isn't, but still squirms awkwardly around the core premise of a libidinous fifteen year old girl aiming to one day have a hundred sexual partners. The chance to switch-up the lustful male archetype is thoroughly squandered by a protagonist who is overly aggressive and nigh-on unlikable and is coupled with a boy whose potato-like features bely his incapability to connect with anyone but his exhibitionist sister and doe-eyed neighbour. This is apart from the uncomfortable celebration of a newly adolescent girl seeking out sexual gratification and the messages about relationships this underpins.
Yamada is looking for a someone to take her virginity. Not just anyone however, her mild body dysmorphia regarding her genitals and her rampant imagination have so far prevented her from even having a boyfriend despite her idol good looks. When she bumps into Takashi in a book store, she decides he, a virgin like herself, is the ideal person to start her on her quest for a hundred sexual partners. Takashi of course is entirely oblivious to her overtures and Yamada's often misconstrued advances cause more confusion than copulation. Seeking advice from her friend Miharu, she continually seeks to trick or trap Takashi into having sex with her while simultaneously being thoroughly naive to the concepts and her burgeoning feelings for the dense object of her lust.
What the series, so far at least, fails to understand about the trope it is attempting to lampoon is that despite the obvious desire for sex, most characters display a nugget of their personality that redeems their nature (ignoring obvious parodies such as School Days). It's key to establishing empathy with the protagonist, but Yamada displays no redeemable qualities, instead being portrayed as an interminable, squeaky-voiced lust machine with all the subtlety of a grizzly bear in a abattoir. Instead the pathos is saved for Takashi who is softly spoken, sensitive and clueless - failing to realise he is fondling Yamada's breast a particularly cringe-worthy development; this stops the premise becoming a cross-up and settles back into pedestrian, socially-stunted wish fulfilment. Subsequently this exposes all the other sloppy character tropes: the buxom and uninhibited sister, the busty wallflower doubling as a childhood friend, and the exotic foreigner aimed with laser precision to be the missing vertex in the inevitable love triangle.
Yamada comes across as a one-gag side character who was suddenly thrust into the spotlight and a back story to her lascivious ways hastily bolted on. All of the hooks are present to transform the series from the jiggling nonsense presented in the first three episodes to something more affecting - the confusion of signals from both genders, the role of sex in a young relationship, the pressures of hormones on teenagers. Any and all could have been capitalised upon but instead the protagonist is an angry, air-headed ditz with a fuck-everything attitude but prudish sensibilities, who is chasing a friendless boy who would lose a personality contest with a radiator. The obvious end-game for the series is a realisation by Yamada that she likes Takashi as more than just a cherry-popper and her quest for a hundred partners was misguided; throughout this she sees off the purple-haired foreign rival and the top-heavy clutz of a childhood friend.
B Gata H Kei knows exactly what it wants to be, the problem being that what it wants to be is not particularly great and the possibilities of what it could have been are more enticing. The humour falls flat, the naughtiness is tamely minimal, the characters are unlikable and the plot predictable. What the series has going for it is as superficial as Yamada herself: the animation is clean and likeable despite the character designs which err on the wrong-side of deformed, the voice acting is accomplished barring the grating protagonist and the pace quick thanks to each episode holding two stories. Altogether the first three episodes are staid, tiresome and uninteresting, whether the likelihood of later episodes growing more engaging is slim. Unfortunately the series is as obnoxious as its premise suggests, perhaps not as divisively sexist as it could have been but, similarly, not as exploitative of its rampant opportunities.