Posted by psgels on 26 December 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews


Usually, I’m not too big of a fan of school life series. I dunno, but they always look the same, there’s always the same set-up, often filled with dull moments. It makes it really hard to separate the cream from the crop at first sight, and even the ones that do seem vaguely attractive often turn out to be somewhat enjoyable, though not entirely worth the time invested in it. However, there are obviously exceptions to every rule. For this one, it’s Hyakko. I’m still not sure why I ended up enjoying this series so much.

From the outside, Hyakko seems like yet another comedy about a group of four friends. And yet, it feels fresh and engaging. Instead of simply focusing at a group of four or five friends, the creators attempted to bring an entire classroom to life, and that actually turned out pretty well. High school (or middle school or whatever the school system in Japan is called) indeed isn’t a time that you spend simply with three or four other people over and over and over again, you actually meet lots of different people with very diverse interests, and that’s what Hyakko is about.

And what makes this series extra enjoyable is the very strong cast. Unlike other school series with lots of characters like Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei and Pani Poni Dash, the characters may all have their own traits, but none of them are cardboard cut-outs, and all of them receive a bit of depth through the series, making their quirks even more enjoyable. Especially the lead character Torako is really fun, but really: the entire cast is enjoyable to watch with hardly any exceptions. I really laughed hard during the best jokes of this series. I also just have to give credit to the teacher’s voice actor: this guy sounded like he was having the time of his life while voicing his character, resulting in a bunch of awesome one-liners from the guy.

Unfortunately, like most comedies out there this series also got the inexplicable need to introduce some drama as the series nears its end. But as a surprise, it actually doesn’t suck, and it’s in fact pretty good at times. This series never forgets that it’s also supposed to be a comedy, and just when the drama gets too heavy, it’s sure to insert some sort of hilarious joke to brighten up the mood. This works great, compared to most other comedies which completely forsake their comedy for the sake of a dramatic ending. The ending itself is also really original: for once it isn’t about some sudden overdramatic plot twist or love triangle, but instead a very normal problem that is handled very subtly. Really, more comedies should look at this series for that.

My only complaint with this series lies in the sound department, something of which I hardly ever have problems with. The serious scenes of this series were nearly ruined by the sound director, who at times is a bit too eager in inserting sad piano music when there’s absolutely no need for that whatsoever. The OP and ED are also plain baaaad. Seriously, Hirano Aya should stop doing singing stuff she’s bad at. And it’s not even one mistake she made, she just keep taking jobs that are simply way too far out of her league. Her work on Nijuu Mensou no Musume was excellent, but apart from that I really haven’t heard any performance of her that really impressed me.

Nevertheless, in a season full of good comedies, Hyakko has turned out to be the best of them after Skip Beat. There are only a few episodes that are just mildly hilarious, apart from that all of them hit the mark. The drama is a bit too cheesy at times, but for a comedy it’s way above average in that aspect. And even though it has received mixed reactions, I really enjoyed the characters. I’m really getting amazed at how each non-kiddie series from Nippon Animation seems to turn into something special.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 9/10

4 Responses

  1. Vangui says:

    It is sad they didn’t properly introduce the last character (the loli).
    The manga is still on going and there is still some material left, so if things go well, there will be a second season. The last image with Hitsugi sleeping is a big teaser…

  2. Hangmen says:

    I’m glad to find someone who appreciates this underrated anime. Hyakko was released in bad timing close around the time as Kannagi and Toradora, forcing it to compete with the two animes which are more popular and having a stronger fanbase.

    The first two episodes were a bit disappointing with poor quality control in its animation and this might’ve given Hyakko quite a difficulty winning audiences early on.

    Nonetheless, if you stayed on from episode 3 onwards, you’ll find this one of the funniest high school slice of life comedy since Azumanga Daioh.

  3. DKN says:

    I like this anime

    it deserves a 9

    needs to tell more of the manga i guess

    anyway i like it, it needs 1 or 2 more seasons

  4. Cynic says:

    I took this up after reading your review and was pleasantly surprised. The first episode bored me, to be honest, but I kept going and enjoyed the show as a whole. I keep comparing these kinds of shows to Azumanga Daioh so I appreciated the more in-depth look into the other students which made the series look alive. I didn’t mind the OP though … but maybe I have no musical taste.

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  • Friend
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 04:21 AM)
    @Asuka I honestly do not know what is on the mind of those lunatics. Storming into a government building, murdering innocent soldiers, and they think they’re accomplishing anything? It boggles my mind.
  • Asuka111
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 04:03 AM)
  • Bam
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 03:29 AM)
    @sonic: That just shows that they have budget issues and problems with asset management. Deen tends to hire a lot of commission contracts so the talen behind each work, and hence the quality, varies greatly.
  • sonicsenryaku
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 03:06 AM)
    Deen’s art has certainly improved and their cinematography has gotten a slight bump in refinement but their animation still could use some work and they still have trouble keeping their art and animation consistent through their series. All these critiques apoply to their tv series productions by the way; some of the movies they have worked on as well as they co-production works are pretty good
  • ninjarealist
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 11:49 PM)
    @Emma I think Deen makes some really good looking anime. People tend to give them crap for some of their mid-2000 stuff and justifiably, but their recent stuff and early stuff is really quite visually arresting.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 11:43 PM)
    Now granted,deens adaptation of sankarea had some pretty neat visuals behind it.
  • ninjarealist
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 11:14 PM)
    Granted that none of those manga had the type of mass appeal that Sankarea has, but they’re some pof the best manga I’ve read within their specific genre (sentimental ecchi comedies/romances). I love his art style too. It just works so well for sappy romantic stuff. Inu Neko Jump will always be one of my favorite manga.
  • ninjarealist
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 11:12 PM)
    On the subject of Sankarea, I’m about as big of a Hattori Mitsuru fanboy as anyone could be and I have to say that Sankarea is my least favorite manga of his. His strengths and weaknesses just don’t lend themselves very well to that type of horror/drama plot. Umisho, Inu Neko Jump, and Otogi no Machi no Rena even were all better manga.
  • k-off
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 08:47 PM)
    To be fair to the series though, I thought that the owl was pretty cool.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 06:18 PM)
    But I’ve heard complaints about the fanservice of rea not making sense considering her past/background and I’m inclined to agree.

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