Wait, make that, why does almost every guy like Hatsukoi, to varying degrees, even if we all objectively know that it wasn’t a very mature or deep show?
I can think of a few reasons actually, and these are the main things something like Hatsukoi has over the vast majority of romance series that only girls would love.
1. There are only shitty guys who each are so weak, they are capable of starring in their own harem anime. Misao can fit just right into School Rumble (not exactly harem though), Mamoru behaves the same as 90 percent of harem leads, Kusuda is the typical lecher harem lead etc. As some blogger whose name I have forgotten mentioned, there are no standout guys in Hatsukoi, and I think this is the reason why it is beloved by us male viewers. We fucking hate pretty boys who steal our women. We can emphatise with these regular joes, who have issues that we have once faced or are facing. Stuff like short legs, ugly faces, inexperience, envy towards better males, siscon, unrequited crushes etc. There are absolutely no annoying bad boy pretty boys, the type that are permanant main characters of shoujo manga like F4. Everyone hates those bastards except fangirls and they easily ruin a show.
2. There are plenty of hot girls, each with their own harem-animesque personality traits. I’ll say that the characters aren’t particularly unique, deep or rounded and some don’t even get developed at all throughout the series. But like a good harem anime, us male viewers just pick a favourite girl and root for her. It helps that the artwork/character design is one of the best around and there’s also lots of fanservice of the really titillating kind. I love boobies and Kei/Misaki/Meguru have nice boobies. The key to drawing in a huge male following for a romance series is to have beautiful girls and not-so-beautiful guys, and HL really succeeds with this. It doesn’t alienate female viewers as females aren’t as averse to beautiful females as males are to beautiful males. Speaking of which, I’m having a hard time picking a favourite girl because so many are awesome. The only ones who I won’t instantly turn down if they ask me to date them are: the flat-chested swimming junior, the crazy drama club girl and weird incesty Koyoi. My favourite is probably Misaki in terms of appearance, but Chikura in terms of character.
3. There isn’t emo shit. The series doesn’t really have the sort of annoying whining, and it’s done very simply and to the point. The worst part about female-oriented romance shows is that some retarded emoshit will arise due to amazing coincidental tragedy, such as car crashes, diseases, affairs, or whatever natural disasters. Then the lovers will conquer the barriers and show their undying love. Hatsukoi is a mere gateway, and it doesn’t hide the fact that it shows the sweet, shallow and beautified version of first love that we all thought we had. It’s about nostalgia, rather than fantasy. Where everyone was shy, innocent and didn’t think about sex or money. Where people blushed just by talking to the opposite sex. Where everything done was a first. The whole show was saccharine-sweet and even the rejections weren’t outright, like Chikura and Ayumi’s. We guys don’t like heartbreaks in our romance shows. Also, the relationships aren’t overly grand and earth-shattering, like those you see in romance movies. I absolutely hate the sort like in Sex and the City (THE MOVIE) where the bride and groom finally get together intensely after 2 failed weddings etc etc and live happily ever after. HL has simple romances that you can easily relate to, instead of cursing that these wretched movies are tricking the foolish real girls into having unreal expectations of relationships.
4. There’s also the element of growing up in HL, which is sort of the same rush you get when viewing Honey and Clover, which was also equally popular between guys and girls.
5. Each arc was quickly settled and wasn’t wishy washy. I think this is pretty important, but not as important as the first 2 reasons. Come to think of it, Suzuka and its sequel, Kimo no iru Machi, were long, emo, and extremely wishy washy and convoluted but they were huge successes cos they had loser guys and lots of hot girls. But regardless, Hatsukoi’s quick and concise conclusions of each of the relationships prevented boredom from settling in, but at the expense of depth, which most guys don’t care about anyway. To us, romance is people getting together, and not the freakin process.
Hatsukoi Limited will probably be my recommendation to anyone who’s interested in a boyish group romance anime, which is surprisingly quite rare. I can only think of Boys Be for this genre.