Posted by psgels on 28 March 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Hanamaru Youchien




Here’s a slice of life series that’s slightly different from what you usually see. The lead character is really a typical lead character, but he’s an actual adult. The series takes place not at a high school, but a kindergarten. Add a whole dose of role-play to that, and you pretty much get the formula of Hanamaru Youchien. A fun and relaxing series. And as an added bonus, the characters are well written as well.

Hanamaru Youchien basically spends its time either role playing, or fleshing out the characters. The former is just fun: we get to see inside the imagination of a bunch of five-year olds and their crazy ideas, and all of the adventures that they go on are consistently enjoyable, carrying an air of homage and parody that the creators (both Gainax and its director Seiji Mizushima) are famous for. The latter actually succeeds in making all of the adults into actual characters rather than stereotypes and paper bags.

Especially Tsuchida, the lead character, is one of those rare examples of a typical male lead done right. While he can be a loser at times, he also has enough things that he’s good at, his character is dynamic enough to allow him to evolve, rather than staying in the same one-sided stereotypes. The side-cat is also excellent in their support to the main cast. We get to know the backgrounds and motivations of everyone, and why they become involved as kindergarten teachers. In the end, the adults in this series get fleshed out so well that they actually manage to trump the adventures of the different kids in the series.

The biggest problem with this series however is that it doesn’t know whether it wants to also have romance or not. The ingredients are there: the lead character has someone he’s in love with. she’s just ridiculously clueless and at the end they’re still not together. I mean, if you’re going to set up some romance, at least have the decency to not build a brick wall between the lead characters.

There’s also a bit of an annoying sister, but she only appears in two episodes or so. The rest of this series is light-hearted and down to earth, but still has this sense of maturity that contrasts really well with the younger kids. The drama that’s there is short and focused, and doesn’t come across forced or too dramatic at all, so this series both ended up delivering in its serious and funny parts. On top of that, you also have to love what this series has done with its EDs: every episode has a completely different one, with a completely different style, genre and soundtrack.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Varied, fun and adorable.
Characters: 8/10 – This show confirms why I keep advocating adults in anime.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Solid animation and cute graphics.
Setting: 8/10 – Not the most creative series out there, but creative enough to fill 12 episodes, and the kindergarten itself and the world around it is also well portrayed.

Similar Series:
Ristorante Paradiso
Yume de Aetara
– Bottle Fairy

5 Responses

  1. pgal says:

    I liked the show in spite of its flaws. It was one show that I looked forward to on Sundays- cute and fun to watch. The ED were also creative.

  2. Chris says:

    Ristorante Paradiso similar? Hmm unique but I kinda see where you’re coming from

  3. Alec says:

    i was actually marathoning this anime just recently, until Tsuchi’s sister showed up

  4. Chris says:

    @Alec: get passed the annoying sister episodes, and then the show gets great again!

  5. Banchan says:

    Am I the only one who liked the tsundere brocon imouto?

    I found her voice fascinating, somewhere between hirano aya and chiaki omigawa.

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  • Bam
    (Monday, May 25. 2015 05:54 AM)
    The episode was alright and felt dense as I watched it, but in hindsight only really moved the plot forward incrementally. Lancer not untying Tohsaka as soon as he killed Kirei and then not killing Shinji when he clearly had the chance left a bad taste in my mouth. That and Shirou’s heavy plot armor at this point is becoming reminiscent of another famous anime dual-wielder. Not a compliment.
  • Bam
    (Monday, May 25. 2015 05:46 AM)
    UBW 20 felt like another rendition of Eva 26 (Take care of yourself), complete with character analysis, battle with one’s Jungian Shadow, and loosely Buddhist ideas of self-actualization. It even featured the repetitive monologue shots that fade to black (with “I saw Hell” instead of Rei’s “Sky. Red, red sky”). It never went as far as Eva with “which way is up?” type of Soliloquy, but that’s probably a good thing.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:48 AM)
    Ashura was an excellent example of how to through anime illicit and emotional response in an honest, non-melodramatic way.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:46 AM)
    @Bam: I’d be more than happy to take a look at some of those shorts anytime.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:44 AM)
    @Emma: there’s a lot of European animators that got active in the last 10 years or so that are really reinvigorating their animation scene, and every now and then I get introduced to some fabulous shorts.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Emma: no I don’t really mind gory ‘for the fuck of it’ violence, I even like it in some grindhouse type of works, but I just don’t think it’s always effective as a shock factor. Live-action is the most sympathetic for obvious reasons, but there are animated works that do elicit a deep response. Probably because of circumstances but also the details of the in-between animation, which can induce certain feelings of disgust.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:39 AM)
    *here and there
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:35 AM)
    @Bam: I really wish there was more arthouse anime now to give some kind of a balance to everything thats out these days.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:33 AM)
    Now I like my exploitation every so often, but yes Bam I really do wish that adult and mature storytelling could be better associated with truly, more pure mature themes.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:25 AM)
    I get choked up over Bergmans cries and whisper and Autumn sonata, I look back on a work by Key and Jun Maeda and wonder, think of how silly it looks to me now.

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