First, perhaps a bit of history would be in order... ^_^
In the early '90s, Studio Elf created one of the greatest life-simulation games, ever. It was called, Doukyuusei, or "Classmates". Using a combination of exquisite character designs, detailed backgrounds, dynamic storylines, and beautiful music, the creative staff formed a game that allowed "The Player" (a male teenager, 18 years old) to try to win the heart & soul of the girl of his dreams by the end of the school year. The game was phenomenally successful, and it was decided to animate the game into a one-shot OVA entitled, End Of Summer. However, due to the rapid increase in popularity of the game and the popularity of the anime, it was decided to recreate the one-shot OVA into a full series of four OVAs entitled Doukyuusei. The first one-shot OVA and OVAs 3 & 4 were brought to America as End Of Summer & End Of Summer 2, respectively, by ADV. Thus was born one of the most beautiful pieces of animation ever created, and the saga had begun...
With the continuing popularity of Doukyuusei both as a game and as an anime, it was natural to do a sequel. Since the game revolves around a specific set of characters in their final year of high school, it's more accurate to speak of a "successor" than a true sequel. The successor to Doukyuusei was Doukyuusei 2, both as a videogame and as an anime. In fact, the Doukyuusei 2 OVA series is one of the longest adult OVA series ever, running at least 9 volumes. In addition, it has had the honor of being broadcast on late-night TV anime programming beginning in July of 1998.
Kakyuusei, or "Lowerclassmates" was first released as a videogame after the success of Doukyuusei 2, and the release of the OVA series has been anxiously anticipated by fans of the series. Earlier, Pink Pineapple had produced another, independent, OVA series named Kakyuusei, which was brought to America as "First Loves" by ADV. One should never confuse the two series - the current Kakyuusei OVAs are the "Studio Elf version", and might be called the "true" Kakyuusei, since they are directly based on the videogame of the same name. In creating this OVA series, however, it was decided to take a rather unique approach...
The main character of the OVAs (and the game) is a young girl, 17 years old, named Yuki Mizuho (the brunette with white headband). Mizuho is a top tennis player at school, and extremely pretty, but she doesn't have a boyfriend... and she doesn't want one right now, either! This makes her all the more shocked to find out that a young boy her age named Nanase Tohru will be staying with her family.
Her mother and younger brother Tetsuya think it's a wonderful idea, but Mizuho is extremely annoyed... of course, having him walk in with Tetsuya when she was getting ready to take a shower, and had just gotten undressed down to her underwear, could have something to do with this, too... ^_^
News of their living together under the same roof spreads like wildfire through the school the next day - by the time they arrive, everyone already knows that they're an "item" (remember how news of Rizzo's pregnancy spread ahead of her in Grease? Well, this news spreads at least that fast!) Tohru goes onto the PA system and corrects everyone's misimpressions.
This comes as a tremendous relief to at least two girls: Minamizato Ai (lighter-haired brunette), a freshmen a year younger than Tohru who has a crush on him, and Kamiyama Miko (green-haired girl with braids), Mizuho's best friend who also has a crush on him (... in case you're wondering... yes, Miko-chan lives and works in a shrine with her father... ^_^)
Miko-chan confesses her feelings for Tohru to Mizuho at lunch that day. Miko is a very sweet, pure, naive girl whose father is extremely protective of his daughter. She always talks breathlessly, and is so naive... well... when she drops her eraser on the floor and is searching for it, all the guys are thrilled to see her panties! Mizuho tells her that everyone can see, and Miko replies, "See what?" (^_^)
Ai-chan comes to the coffee shop where Tohru works after school. However, she's too timid to speak to him, until Miyuki-chan (green-haired girl with ponytail) offers her some much-needed encouragement. Ai-chan tells him that she believes what he said, even if others don't... then, she practically runs out of the room without introducing herself!
Miko-chan asked Mizuho to try to set her up with Tohru-san; she wants to bring him lunch, and try to get to know him a bit better. Miko-chan is an excellent cook - eating the lunch she makes is a joy for Tohru, and he tells her that she'll make someone a good bride one day (she practically has a heart attack because she gets so excited! ^_^) Mizuho overhears them, and is careful to walk away...
This is just the beginning of the best OVA series of 1998. The first three OVAs are non-adult, despite the source; in fact, there's more nudity in popular shows like Ranma 1/2 and Tenchi Muyo than in Kakyuusei. This is intentional - the fourth OVA is the climax of the story, and has TWO versions: an "Under 15" version, and a "15 & Older" version.
Aside from the care that is taken to appeal to a broad market with this series, the overall production is simply top-notch. Wonderful music & vocals, beautiful chara designs & backgrounds, and some very nice animation really create the proper mood for this story. In addition, there are LOTS of "omake" ("freebies") on these LDs! (^_^)
Many people do not realize the true nature of the adult genre. Perhaps the biggest reason for this misunderstanding is the lack of quality titles in this genre being brought to America by the various commercial companies, and the lack of proper recognition and support for such titles by the various fan groups across the country.
Kakyuusei, and the entire Doukyuusei series, is a terrific counter-example to those who would say that the adult genre is nothing more than an excuse to show sexual acts. On the contrary, there are many excellent works in this genre, just as there are in various other genres. Kakyuusei should help to set the record straight.