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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  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 06:51 PM)
    Hype kills anything. In regards to the kind of emotional manipulation Clannad and maybe Undertale uses, it’s like a drug. The more you are subjected to it, the less of an effect it has.
    Still there are examples of something which comes close to expectation. People say Muv Luv Alternative gives you PTSD and in a kinda does. Though it’s helped by the connection you build with the characters though the first two games.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 06:47 PM)
    @Kaiser,I haven’t updated the old entries of my MAL in quite a while. Pretty sure Code Geass is sitting at a 10 on it and I am sure if I give that a rewatch that rating is going to fall harshly.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:59 AM)
    I say this because people often like to hype up the genre or those elements. I bring this up/think about it now because I played a game called undertale lately on my brothers recommendation and he was all like it emotionally destroyed him but I never ended up crying, I mean don’t get me wrong its a good game, there were laughs to be had and there was sentiment but it wasn’t THAT sad/funny.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:44 AM)
    Given how many people cry at some drama, clannad included.
    That reminds me…
    I can’t actually remember the last time in my life where I cried, I draw a blank.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 07:58 AM)
    @Aidan: Something always feels off to me when you criticize clannad, I mean I’m critical enough of key these days too but it seems odd that you rank it as an 8 on MAL when you’ve always made it sound its more of a high 6 or a 7.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:45 AM)
    But I’m no fan of gung-ho soldier games/most fps games so I am glad clannad, a visual novel outsold call of duty.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:44 AM)
    I said it once I’ll say it again. I preferred the clannad movie over the tv series, had more style, a more mature feel to it and cut out all the superfluous arcs/comedy for the better. It also concludes better than the series. The emotional involvement in the kyoani version doesn’t work for me anymore, doesn’t hold up. However the film remains emotionally engaging after revisiting it.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:19 AM)
    Holy hell Clannad is selling like hotcakes on Steam. Even beat Call of Duty in sales at one point.
    Kinda happy to see a VN get recognised and it would help open up the market for more titles to come over. But..well..Clannad really isn’t all that great.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 02:29 AM)
    I can remember when I first got into anime when I was a whole lot younger I always said I would watch lodoss war, El Hazard and slayers, yet I never ended up doing so…
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:34 AM)
    Ha, the child in me would love to see a film like that I’d imagine, when I was young I was pretty crazy about Egyptian supernatural stuff.

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