Posted 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

Posted on with categories: Hanamaru Youchien

So… for the ones who were hoping for a conclusion: there is none. As it turns out, the creators just decided to animate a bunch of chapters and just stopped when the episodes ran out. Seriously, it’s a bit of a bummer to see Tsuchida and Yamamoto still not together. In the end, Yamamoto’s cluelessness was really one of my two major annoyances about this series. The other was Tsuchida’s sister.

Nevertheless, when you view this as a random episode, rather than an ending, it was pretty good and well written. Anzu’s dream was a bit weird (especially since it contained the ONLY KISS in this series…), but the random character cameos were definitely interesting. The second half, while not wrapping anything up, did show a lot of new things about the characters (including on how Anzu’s parents ended up married), and Anzu also gave up on Tsuchida as well. But yeah, it’s a bit pointless to do all this build-up for an ending that’s never going to be there.

Still, I’ve been very much surprised by this series. I really started blogging it on a whim. The only reason for it was because the rest of the season was so incredibly dry. But it’s been fun. It’s certainly not the most enjoyable series out there, and the director has done a far better job at Ooedo Rocket in terms of light-heartedness. But for what it was, it was a very nice and enjoyable series.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 21 March 2010 with categories: Hanamaru Youchien

Another episode that was not so much about the kindergarten, but more about Tsuchida himself and his attempts at hitting on Yamamoto, who still remains incredibly dense. Still, I have to admit that this episode impressed me with an actual reason for it: how she wants to devote all of her time to her work, so that she believes that she wouldn’t have enough time to properly invest in a relationship. That just put her one step above all other generic clueless leads.

There also were a ton of Anzu-jokes in this episode, but it’s interesting that they weren’t so much random, but instead just an attempt of her to cheer up Tsuchida after the last episode. On top of that, we learned more about Sakura and her job. Consider that this was the penultimate episode. My expectations really were that this series would fall apart with cheesy drama for its finale, but surprisingly this show has never been better than the past number of episodes.

Still, in the end I do want to see more anime about a subject that most romance series try to avoid: ACTUAL RELATIONSHIPS. Romance series seem to be all about the tease: trying to get the two lead characters to be together. What I’d like to see is a couple actually getting together early. You know? The main character already being in a relationship at the start of a series.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 14 March 2010 with categories: Hanamaru Youchien

I keep advocating series, even slice of life series, to focus on adults. This episode showed one of the reasons why: alcohol. The drinking party has got to be my favourite arc of of Hanamaru Youchien yet. It’s episodes like these that aren’t just hilarious. They also show interesting new stuff about the characters.

Overall, this is something that I never expected at this series’ halfway point: ever since then, this series has just been getting better and better. Especially the past two episodes made up for the lackluster middle part. The great part is that Tsuchida is evolving. This guy really is your average loser done right, and it’s amazing to see what a little characterization can do. Despite the predictability of everything, I’m noticing that I’m actually feeling sorry for this guy, and like his colleagues would support these two getting together. That’s something I never really expected after finding out how incredibly dense Yamamoto was.

As for the brother: my first reaction when I saw him was: “god, not another one…”. And yet even the first half of this episode was great to watch. It’s a very interesting idea: a homage of such an overused thing as a school festival. That little part of drama was also surprisingly good: it’s just like a real kid for her to break down with so much pressure on her. That story ended up being a very nice story about family.

And then the ED, which also was among the best that this series has shown so far. I loved how the visuals and the music had completely different themes. I know that I often criticized this series when blogging it, but at this point, I’m glad that I picked it up. It’s nice and refreshing to blog something like this. It’s a great example of a series that actually redeems itself after a number of weak episodes.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 7 March 2010 with categories: Hanamaru Youchien

The best episode of Hanamaru Youchien yet! I’m not sure whether this is because I just watched Working!! today, but it did make me think: Hanamaru Youchien is currently doing a lot of things right at which Working completely fell flat. It’s a show about a job in which we actually see adults working. The characters all have their quirks, and yet they’re also just actual people: their quirks aren’t the only thing about them. It’s got this innocence for both the adults and the children, as compared to the cast of Working, which really was trying way too hard in its first episode.

This episode was surprisingly witty, and all about different perspectives. Yamamoto always was a bit of a bimbo, but this episode shows that her sister is the same, and she actually knows this about her sister as well. It made the one-sided love of Tsuchida a lot more interesting. It was also very funny to see the three kids in this. The sharpness of their comments was just priceless.

But the best part of this episode was the second half. What an awesome way to flesh out each and every single character, simply by letting her tell why they chose to work at a kindergarten. The chemistry between these teachers is fun, but subtle and doesn’t try to shove the quirks of these characters down your throat.

Oh, and as for the role playing; Hiiragi’s deconstruction of the space adventure genre was brilliant. ^^;
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 1 March 2010 with categories: Hanamaru Youchien

Well, thankfully the sister is gone now, and we’re back to what matters: the kindergarten itself. This episode completely lacked originality and it used stories that have become staples of regular romance series, but the characters were nice enough to watch. Especially Anzu has gotten a lot less annoying than what she once was.

However, I’m noticing a disturbing trend. A considerable amount of this episode was also focused on drama. Why? This show is just not good at it.

I can understand the need for conflict, but during the drama part this show abandons all that is enjoyable about it. Up till the arrival of the sister, the drama was always quick and light-hearted, but in this episode the drama hang over the cast like some angry raincloud. If the story around it was good or creative, then okay, I might understand it. But the drama was completely shallow: in the first half we have a random kid we’ve never seen before as she wants to work in her parents’ shop. In the second half we have a rich girl who gets added to Tsuchida’s harem but decides not to marry him but love him from afar because she’s no match for the main love rival.

What I’m missing in this series is creativity. The first five episodes did this so well… but after the sister’s appearance it’s just been one predictable and overused story after the other. I have no idea why. The creators aren’t idiots: they just could have picked out the best chapters of the manga and have fun with it, and instead they chose the most predictable ones for the past three episodes.
Rating: (Enjoyable)

Posted on 22 February 2010 with categories: Hanamaru Youchien

Um… why is this series trying to become a drama?

This was an all-around ‘meh’ episode. It completely dropped the roleplay and stuffed in a ton of cliches that anime creators normally use when they’re out of ideas. The ideas of bringing Tsuchida to his hometown was nice, but we already saw Yamamoto in her bikini last episode. We already saw Tsuchida’s tsundere sister in the last episode.

The summer festival. It’s a staple of generic harems. A ton of girls who comment on how the lead character is nice. Again, a ton of harem series done that before. Fireworks? Been there, done that. And seriously, what was up with that shallow drama between Tsuchida and his sister. I’ve asked this many times before: why is anime so obsessed over brother complexes? It’s less common to have a younger sister who isn’t in love with you!

The adults in this series stood out to me because they were so down to earth. Well… not any more.
Rating: – (Disappointing)

Posted on 15 February 2010 with categories: Hanamaru Youchien

A bit of a lesser episode because it had some unnecessary stereotypes: the pool episode and the tsundere sister, things that have been done millions of times before. But yeah, I guess that in the context of this series it still had its fresh elements.

That swimsuit was a bit too much, especially considering how Yamamoto had no idea about Tsuchida’s reaction to it. It’s a good thing that she still lives with her parents, because I really don’t think that she could take care of herself on her own… But overall, what set this episode apart was the focus on siblings. And when Tsuchida’s sister wasn’t acting like a shallow tsundere, she was surprisingly down to earth and interesting. And the synchronized swimming part was hilarious.

The thing about this series is that the adults all had lives on high school before they started to work at the kindergarten, which were vastly different compared to what you’d see in high school series, in which kids tend to segue from one to the other quite naturally. Tsuchidahas been characterized pretty well throughout the past six episode, however he remains rather annoying when he keeps ogling at Yamamoto.
Rating: (Enjoyable)

Posted on 7 February 2010 with categories: Hanamaru Youchien

A Neon Genesis Evangelion reference. I see what you did there, Gainax.

Seriously though, I’m a big fan of parodies, but only a specific kind of them. I love the kind of parodies that deconstruct a genre or stereotype, making them look completely ridiculous with their own logic. Random reference dropping however… meh. That really gets old after a while. Hanamaru Youchien was hopping back and forth between these types in this episode.

The role play in this episode is great and wonderfully subtle. However that full metal alchemist reference just dropped all of the subtlety. Although, I do have to admit: with Evangelion 15 years old at this point, Tsuchida could easily have been amongst the kids who grew up with this revolutionary new anime. You can see that he’s not watching anime anymore and is more of a gamer, but the point at which he got nostalgic at Evangelion was a nice touch for his character.

Overall, Seiji Mizushima isn’t the best director, but he does have his good points in terms of characterization. Hanamaru Youchien in no way matches up to what I consider to be his best work: Ooedo Rocket, but it’s still turned out surprisingly charming and Tsuchida and the various adults turned out to be surprisingly good straight men and women so that the kids could go wild with their imaginations. Compare that to Bottle Fairy, which had a similar premise, and it does turn out differently because the adults are more than just walking dictionaries, and have their own lives and identities here.

Also, if you’re wondering why I’m not saying much about the actual content of this series: I can’t. I mean, they’re mostly just random adventures that just need to be watched. I’d much rather talk about the bigger picture in this series’ case. Because seriously: I have no idea what to comment on Koume’s romantic adventure for example.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 31 January 2010 with categories: Hanamaru Youchien

Tsuchida surely sucks at reading books. What the hell is he doing, criticising a manga for 5-year-olds for being not realistic enough? :P

Still, the first half of this episode pleasantly surprised me. A huge theme of this show is role-playing and that cheesy romantic scenario that the kids came up with was really cute, and hilarious to watch. In a way, this series is also a very subtle parody-series, which also comes forth in the EDs. I by the way really like that this show is going for a different ED every episode. Nice touch.

The second half saw Tsuchida away, and Anzu spent all her time with Yamamoto who had to fill in for him. I’m glad that we at least got a bit of a more colourful look at Yamamoto. It still doesn’t help that she’s completely clueless about romantic issues, but this half was enjoyable enough.
Rating: * (Good)


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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Oct 7. 2015 04:45 PM)
    If sakurako-san disappoints I am ignoring everything modern that is based on a light novel from now on. I’ve been hit by these adaptations far too often.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Oct 7. 2015 02:43 PM)
    ….Dear God…I have no words in which to describe hidan no aria AA, no words. The original I could take the piss out of. But this is a new low standard set for the light novel medium.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 09:02 PM)
    One-Punch Man’s pilot was almost adapted flawlessly. It straight up uses the manga panels as it’s main storyboard, but added just enough new touches to improve the action instead of ruining it. Now let’s see how they animate the mosquitos and all the lasers for the next episode.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 08:57 PM)
    And that’s why Madhouse is one of the few respectable studios left. I thought that they will be seriously diminished after Masao Maruyama took some of its key members and funded MAPPA, but One-Punch Man showed that they are still one of the best in the business.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 08:51 PM)
    @Kaiser The anime industry isn’t advanced enough in CG to make it look good, is all it is.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 05:51 PM)
    @K-off: Your not wrong, it certainly looks poor but some of the old gonzo animated stuff was far more woeful looking. Stellvia, which was done by xebec was another example of old anime cgi which was quite ugly to look at. Just as I prefer traditional effects in film I also prefer traditional animation techniques to cg.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 05:42 PM)
    Lately, the use of badly integrated cgi have been making my eyes sore,from the obviously cgi background characters in Asterisk to the overly fluid mech movements in Aldnoah. I still remember the shitty cgi piano hands in Kimi no Uso.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 12:04 AM)
    On the note of good balance between humor and drama- I think BoJack Horseman is an example of a show that executed that almost perfectly in both seasons. You are laughing one minute and amused by the hijinks and silliness and the next minute you are actually moved and shocked by the honest introspection. Too be honest BoJack is more a tragic character then a goofy one, and his struggles are deeper and more existential than they have any business being in a show with anthropomorphic animals.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:56 PM)
    The changes in the setting actually made me more excited for season 3 then what I felt the past few weeks, since now the plot needs to move forward from the cliffhanger and hopefully this translates to more cohesion and refocusing on what mad the show great in the first place. I’m pretty sure S3 will also be a blend of episodic and arch story elements tho. Overall a few ups and downs but still a great show.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:52 PM)
    The finale also had some of the most overall arch story elements featured in the season. Earth joining the Galactic Federation is a big deal story-wise from now on. Also the use of a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” (not the Nine Inch Nails one clearly) was a nice fitting yet surprising touch. The throwback to Mr. PB after the credits was a good idea, but felt flat in it’s actual execution.

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