One thing that I noticed after having watched lots of different anime is that gets harder and harder to find series that seriously surpass their own genre. Nevertheless, here is one such series: Kodomo no Omocha is without a doubt and by far the best shoujo romantic comedy I have ever seen. And in fact, aside from Nodame Cantabile I can’t think of any romantic comedy that made a bigger impression on me. I’m still amazed at how this series doesn’t just evade just about every pitfall that so many others of its genre fall in, but it manages to be consistently awesome for no less than 102 episodes!
Both in the romance and comedy department, this series delivers. The comedy always feels fresh, and the show exactly knows when to stop repeating its jokes in order to prevent them from getting stale. What makes the comedy especially enjoyable is the incredible amounts of energy that went into it. Sana surely is someone with at least some form of ADHD, but because of her incredibly bubbly personality the show stays fun from beginning to end. The side characters are also absolutely wonderful. I especially liked Sana’s mom and her antics.
The biggest fear you’d obviously have for such an incredibly long series is the tendency of those series to delve into long, long strings of fillers, but his show manages to avoid that very nicely. There are only about six pure fillers throughout the series: three recaps (which you can pretty much skip without any consequences) and three episodes which take place in some sort of bizarre parallel universe of the series. The latter belong to some of the funniest episodes of the entire series.
The rest of the series is divided in about ten arcs, of around ten episodes each, keeping the content from dragging on for too long. Every single arc has a different focus, but all of them contribute to the development of the cast. Even the most insignificant-seeming episodes have their purpose of fleshing out and bringing the cast of this series to life. The creators make excellent use of foreshadowing and flashbacks, and one particular thing they like is introduce one plot-line that only becomes important many episodes later.
In any case, the result is about 100 episodes worth of development put into the cast, and while the pacing of the drama and romance is pretty slow, the very fast paced comedy makes sure that the series never drags on. The show never forgets that it’s supposed to be a romantic comedy, and therefore maintains an excellent combination between funny and serious scenes: it knows exactly when to be funny and when to leave the jokes for a different time. In the end, the series comes together wonderfully, and the final arc of the series is definitely one of the best of the entire series, with a very satisfying ending.
Watching this series really made me wonder why there are so many other similar shoujo romantic comedies which completely miss the mark or have so much trouble to even fill 26 episodes. The only shows that I can think of that can even remotely remain funny through that airtime are Skip Beat and Perfect Girl Evolution. Apart from that, nearly every other shoujo just seems like an uninspired copy of this series. This series has more ideas stuffed into only 13 episodes than others in 26 of them.
Anyway, enough ranting. The only downside to this series appears in the fansubs, which pretty much belong to the worst subs I’ve ever seen, aside from Coalguys, perhaps. Lines are wrongly timed, badly translated and some are even omitted. There are also about ten episodes in which they for some reason completely change the names of the characters to their English counterparts. And while I can understand that this might be an attempt to make the show more accessible to western audiences, however:
1) Then at least be consistent in this and don’t introduce this halfway and give up just as easily.
2) You really know that things are going wrong when a guy named “Takeshi Gojo” turns into “Wootsie Woosie”. Seriously, who found that a good idea?
Still, that’s what official releases are for. For me, Kodocha stands on top of the shoujo genre, and it has been standing there for more than ten years by now. The sheer amount of creativity fully make up for the huge length of this series. Some of the jokes were utterly brilliant, the wide ensemble of facial expressions has been just priceless, and the cast of characters is just wonderful. Akitaro Daichi seriously is one of the best comedy directors out there. Speaking of which, what has he been doing for the past few years? It’s about time he came with another series, isn’t it?