The highly anticipated romance anime, Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable, set in the famous Japanese prefecture of Hokkaido, finally aired on January 9, 2024. When it was announced in 2022 that it would be adapted into an anime series by studios SILVER LINK and BLADE, it brought delight to manga readers such as myself. It’s been a long wait since then, but I think the anime’s premiere episode has done justice to the first few chapters of the manga.
From Tokyo to Kitami
I came across the Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable manga in a Japanese bookstore a few years back. I was immediately intrigued by the title given my infatuation for Hokkaido’s culture, food, and nature. After reading over 100 chapters of it, I knew it’d make an amazing anime adaptation for fans of romantic comedies with a splash of fan service. Having visited Hokkaido seven times, my love for the island is undeniable. I’ve learned many facts about Hokkaido, and this gives me a unique perspective when delving into this anime.
The episode closely follows the manga as it begins with our main male character, Tsubasa, taking a taxi ride in the Kitami area of Hokkaido. After experiencing the bustling metropolis of Tokyo, he braces himself for a completely contrasting scenery as he steps into the snow of Kitami City. As he gets ready to continue his journey on foot, he unexpectedly comes across a charming blonde gyaru named Minami Fuyuki waiting at the bus stop, and they instantly hit it off positively despite Tsubasa’s awkwardness.
One of my favorite things about Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable episode 1 is that our main female character is a gyaru. “Gyaru” is a subculture of fashion, hair, and makeup that peaked in the late 90s and mid-2000s in Japan. The image of gyaru usually features light hair, exaggerated makeup, and even a certain way of talking. Gyarus are usually outcasts of what is considered normal and appropriate in Japan. The unique differences of Hokkaido separate it from the rest of Japan, making it the perfect setting for showcasing characters from a distinct subculture.
Minami and Tsubasa end up in the same class at school, and Minami shows off the teasing nature of her personality. Later on in Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable episode 1, Minami invites Tsubasa over to her house and they watch a movie. In this scene, it’s clear that Tsubasa lacks experience with women as he feels embarrassed to share a house alone with Minami, which is typical for a high school boy. The episode may lack remarkable storytelling or a complex plot setup, though I find those things unnecessary considering the anime’s intended purpose — to celebrate and advertise Hokkaido.
Near the end of the episode, as Tsukasa leaves Minami’s house, she runs after him and asks him if he’d like to go to Seicomart. This scene may not stick out to someone who is not aware of Seicomart, but this is a staple of the Hokkaido experience. Seicomart is Hokkaido’s exclusive convenience store. Many of us might be aware of how important places like Lawsons, Family Mart, and Seven-Eleven stores are in Japan — and now we get a blatant (but appreciated) advertisement for Seicomart as the two characters order a chicken cup and share a snack together.
All in all, I was incredibly pleased with episode 1 of the Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable adaptation. The animation is not over the top but is appropriate for a romance anime. The delicate piano music as the snow fell in the very first scene complemented the feelings of a Hokkaido snowfall. Ayane Sakura’s performance as Minami displayed the perfect mix of a Hokkaido dialect and gyaru language — and even Tsubasa mentions in their meeting scene that he has trouble understanding her.
The opening sequence featuring “Namaramenkoi Gyaru” by Masayoshi Oishi is a fun display of characters soon to debut in the anime, and it also has plenty of Hokkaido culture references. Episode 2 airs next week when we will surely be introduced to some of these new characters. If you need a laid-back and easy-to-watch romance anime this season, Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable might be the pick-up for you.
Images via Crunchyroll
© Kai Ikada, Shueisha / Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable Production Committee