By the end of episode eleven, Hatsukoi Limited couldn't really be any better placed to wrap up and resolve most of its various relationship issues. Who will end up with who? This being anime, will anybody end up with anyone?
One thing we do discover very quickly is that while the girls are having a whale of a time at a hot spring while chasing their counterparts across the country, things couldn't get much worse for the guys themselves, with only one sleeping bag between them and no money to do anything but camp outside, and their food supply soon dimished entirely thanks to some surreptitious overnight snacking. Yet despite all this, they soldier on with their roadtrip, reaching what I suppose you could call a point of enlightment (although I'd just call it cheesy) where all three of them feel liberated enough to shout out to the world about their loves at the edge of the ocean. If only they'd looked over their shoulder first, to see the inevitable bunch of girls stood behind them....
What follows from here is a succession of "Ahhhhhhh" moments, as everything comes good to some degree or another with our troupe of characters - No scenes of absolute happiness and bliss (this is first loves we're talking about after all), but moments that definitely count for something in the grand scheme of things.
So, all's well that ends well, as we come to the conclusion of what has been an intriguing little series really - It's pretty rare for a show such as this which fills itself with fan service to exhibit any real emotional depth, yet at times Hatsukoi Limited actually managed to make a pretty good fist of doing just that. Sure, I'm still not entirely convinced by the Kei-Kusuda relationship which made up a pretty big chunk of the series, but even then I can't particularly fault the way their particular dynamic was depicted, while some of the side stories featuring the likes of Dobashi and Chikura were not far short of wonderful as standalone tales which got the old romantic within this cold, hard exterior quite misted up.
When all is said and done the show's closing thought that what's on the inside is more important than looks is idealist in the extreme but hey, I'm not going to argue with (or complain about) the concept itself as there's a lot to be said for it. That aside, where Hatsukoi Limited perhaps excelled is in its portrayal of a first love itself - It feels like the most important thing in the world at the time, but in reality it is usually nothing more than an experience to be enjoyed, savoured and learned from; a grounding for the trials and tribulations of human relationships to come. Somehow this series managed to show this side of a first love without either belittling the emotions behind it or overplaying them as anime so often does into making a first love seem like an only love. That more balanced view of young love, if nothing else, is worthy of praise, and J.C. Staff delivered it here in an occasionally compelling way. That it managed to do so with panties and breasts on show as well is perhaps one of the more confusing juxtapositions of content that I'll have to get my head around this year.