I've lately gained something of a reputation around the Anime-Planet forums for my outspoken and energetic opposition to lolicon material in general and loli doujin in particular. As such, you can probably imagine my vexation when I lost a high-stakes game of Tetris against fellow reviewer KiraRin and was forced to watch and review Kodomo no Jikan - paragon and shameless champion of loli fanservice. Perhaps you can also imagine my surprise when - against my better judgment and sensibilities - I found myself liking it.
The show centers around the antics of its main character, Rin Kokonoe, a sexually precocious 10-year-old who uses her wits and gender to romantically exploit her homeroom teacher: a premise which did little to allay my fears regarding its content. Equally, the fact that one of the first scenes featured a room of semi-naked pre-pubescents ensured that Kodomo no Jikan and I started out on a sour note. However, apparently having taken lessons from its central protagonist, the series soon had me beguiled with a combination of intelligence, wit and unexpected audacity.
Although things start off predictably, with fistfuls of fanservice, ecchi humour and envelope-pushing, Kodomo no Jikan doesn't take too long to show its true colours as a well-crafted, frequently moving tale, which juggles taboos and tragedies with commendable sensitivity and even-handedness. On its central theme of child sexuality, for example, although it is not as provocative as other works on the subject such as the novel Lolita, the anime nevertheless poses interesting and pointed questions, which should at least give the viewer pause for thought. As it requires - and even presupposes - the knowledge and passive acceptance of sexualised minors which come from being ingrained in the otaku culture, in addition to some serious suspension of disbelief, Kodomo no Jikan will not open closed minds, nor will it challenge hardened opinions. What it will do, however, is give the average viewer the means and the motive to seriously mull the issue over in their head. For that reason alone, it may be worth a look.
Furthermore, the anime makes the bold decision to weave several strands of serious drama and tragedy into what is superficially a silly comedy. On the whole its endeavours are met with success and even the most inconsequential of events - such as a child not turning up to school - are lent a certain gravity, enabling them to become engaging without being melodramatic. When the truly melancholy moments of the series step forward, these are also handled admirably and nearly brought me to tears on one occasion.
Of course, Kodomo no Jikan does have its faults. I found certain story elements to be cliché, whilst others stretched credibility a little. In addition to this, the anime never really gets the hang of seamlessly combining its serious and jovial moments and it often feels as though the two are partitioned, with some episodes containing nothing but light-hearted shenanigans and others being overly heavy on solemnity and woe. In spite of this, however, the show's plot delivers for the most part and it had me frequently gripped without once losing my attention.
The animation in Kodomo no Jikan provides very little to write home about. No risks are taken, no rewards are reaped, and many of the character designs seem as though they are recycled from other anime; only Rin and her friend Kuro stand out from an otherwise generic crowd. Likewise, there is little variety in the costume department. Miss Houin - who spends the entire series trying to attract the male lead, Mr. Aoki - seems to only have one change of clothes, which might go part way towards explaining her failure on that front.
On the whole, the series is far from ugly and looks pleasant on more than one occasion. Nonetheless, it never manages to wow the viewer and provides no truly memorable moments. The well-drawn backgrounds and expressive eyes are nice to look at but fail to elevate the animation above competent.
I want to do the monkey. There, I said it. Kodomo no Jikan's ED - with an accompanying dance, enthusiastically demonstrated by its main characters - is so infectiously cheerful, it's a wonder that it hasn't reached epidemic proportions and filled hospitals worldwide with people thrusting their arms up and down and singing punchy J-pop with enough vigour and enthusiasm to wake the dead.
The OP, on the other hand is decent but a little generic and much the same can be said for the background music. One of the anime's most unfortunate flaws is that its soundtrack never really matches the plot in terms of emotiveness, and many of the more sensitive and moving scenes simply don't get the musical complement that they both need and deserve. Certainly the sounds of Kodomo no Jikan will not drive the viewer to distraction or anger, but nor do they match the better moments of the storyline punch for punch.
Although Rin, along with the sharp-tongued and protective Kuro, manages to steal the show, one of the main reasons that the anime succeeds is the character of Mr. Aoki, the homeroom teacher and object of Rin's precocious advances. Sympathetic, rational and humanly weak, it is easy to identify with him and see things directly through his eyes, heightening the immediacy of the drama and immersing the viewer in his dilemnas, decisions and difficulties.
Aside from Rin's occasionally overbearing guardian Reiji, the remainder of the cast is fairly generic and only serve to elaborate the scenario. A good example of this is Miss Houin, whose crush on Mr. Aoki isn't used to develop her character but rather to develop his and to present new situtations to which he and Rin must, and indeed do, react. For a relatively short series, this actually works marvellously, keeping the focus firmly fixed on the main story from start to finish.
An ecchi comedy involving a new teacher's trials and tribulations with a group of students who are a bit precocious, one of whom develops an intense crush on him. Funny stuff, but there actually is an undercurrent of psychological manipulation and an exploration of a forbidden relationship. There's also a complexity to each character that brings a lot of surprising depth to the series.
Now this anime, that I watched recently, has been under a lot of controversy due to some people believing that it supports child pornography or whatnot. Today, I am going to give my opinion on the anime Kodomo no Jikan which translates out as "A Child's Time."
Warning: The following review contains gratuitous cursing, references to sexual things, and loli. Viewer discretion is advised.
Kodomo no Jikan is…strange. In one respect it is typical loli fair; loli, for those who don’t know, essentially being underage anime girls doing either cute things, or in this case most of the time, sexual things. If you hear someone be referred to or refer to themselves as a lolicon, it means they get off on underage anime girls. And for those lolicons reading this review, I can assure you you’ll more than likely love this anime. Now get off my review you sick, sick person!
Back to the topic at hand. Kodomo no Jikan is loli fair that comes across as rather funny because of how insane the main character, Rin Kokonoe, is. She falls in love with her new teacher, Mr. Aoki, and pretty much sexually exploits herself to him at any given opportunity. Through twelve episodes we see three different types of moods. Serious, loli, and cute. The loli can come across as funny though. That’s the only reason I wasn’t one hundred percent creeped out by this show. That, and a chick created it.
And on a totally unrelated note I watched the subbed version and noticed it was done by Loli subs. Okay, that’s rather expected…oh, Suck-Suck Subs also helped. That’s not disturbing.
Why does a ten year old have such large boobs? I don’t know…
The story revolves around new teacher Mr. Aoki. He’s twenty-three, single, and apparently one sexy mama…or papa. One of the students, Rin Kokonoe falls in love with her new sensei and is suddenly taking every opportunity she can to have intercourse with him. I swear to god, I am not kidding when I tell you that this third grader tries to give him BJ’s in this show. Her best friend is a rich bitchy goth-ish girl with an outfit for every fetish. She’s also a lesbian who really loves Kokonoe and wishes she were a guy. Add to that the third friend, a girl with glasses who is apparently hitting puberty at age ten and is shy about everything, and we have ourselves a crazy love story. As the series progresses we learn why Kokonoe is the way she is and we see a lot more of a serious plot appear beneath the gratuitous (but funny) loli. This plot isn’t really thick and is actually rather basic when you get right down to it, but it works. We feel a lot more for the characters toward the very end.
The romance may be unorthodox but comes across as cute as it is the girl who wants it. Mr. Aoki is a weird character. I don’t think he wants a romance with her, but he sees himself more as a father figure to her. Though at the end of the series (SPOILER) I get the feeling that his words to her meant that he would always be by her side and she would wait until she was old enough to finally get with him. It’s actually rather cute. The series has a way of making something as disturbing as loli and making it kind of cute, which scares the shit out of me. I shouldn’t like this. I shouldn’t. But I do.
“So I just filled a condom with milk and pretended it was Aoki-sensei’s semen! HAHAHAHAHA!”
The animation is alright. Characters look good (NOT LIKE THAT!) but are not amazing in the grand scheme of things. Animation is smooth and emotion is conveyed well through character expression. Backgrounds look good. Not much to say in this area.
How can something so cute be such a slut?
The characters of the series are all rather basic and flat except for Rin Kokonoe. She is the standout character, not because of her continual panty shots and lolicon masturbation material, but because she’s rather more complex than the rest of the characters. She does the things she does for a reason that is explained later and it’s a good enough reason. I can see my younger self in her position to a lesser extent. The relationship between Aoki-sensei and her is really even more complex than those in most romance anime. There is a lot going on, Aoki doesn’t understand Rin at all, Rin really loves sensei. Aoki slowly begins to understand and wants to help and Rin just wishes she were older as she realizes all she is is a child. At the same time, Aoki realizes he’s an adult and has more responsibility than ever before. So we see the two extremes, one a child who wants to be an adult; one an adult who more than likely wishes he were a child once again. It’s effective. The relationship is actually quite effective and while it is taken to extremes that make me uncomfortable (on Kokonoe’s part, Aoki never does anything) it is a very cute relationship.
The two friends are different. The shy friend is typical, quiet, and boring. The only reason she was any good was she saw Aoki sensei naked when the girls sneaked into the hot spring and it started a string of jokes about his wing-wang-diddily-dang. The other friend who I can only assume was created for every loli fetishist ever, is funny as well, calling Aoki virgin at every opportunity, but I still didn’t like her. She was just too flat for me.
All the teacher characters, especially the teacher who falls for Mr. Aoki, are all flat as well. None of them have any development and I just didn’t care about what they had to say in the teacher’s lounge.
The music is good. The opening isn’t bad, nor is the ending. The music during the show is good. All the voice actors are good and convey emotion well. Sound effects are fine. Blah, blah, blah.
So you’ve made it through my review and you’re probably scratching your head and wondering: “Hey Ratchet, what the hell?” Well, I asked myself the same thing for the past three days I’ve watched this. While one half of my head is actually rather surprised at how cute the show was, the other half is spinning with the pure insanity of how nasty it was. It was downright uncomfortable to watch a lot of the time. I mean, it was funny, but I still felt wrong watching it. Which I shouldn’t feel when watching an anime. There was probably a better way to convey the story than through all the sex jokes and insanity, but I guess it was built to appeal to loli enthusiasts and those who aren’t alike. It’s like being on a wall where one side is loli and the other is cute romance and the show sways toward either side but stays balanced on top of the wall.
I shouldn’t like this. I should hate this. I should be sitting down and giving this show an angry review. But I actually thought it was good. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad. It conveyed a story, used an extreme to convey it better, and came across as partly cute, partly disgusting. How can something do that, I don’t know!
Let me end this before my brain oozes from my ears. Kodomo no Jikan is a 7/10.
There are six more episodes you know? Three episodes and then three OVA’s? I’m glad you liked the show, but maybe you should review the rest of the series? Or maybe you’d rather I start grabbing your penis and yell out “molester!”.
Kodomo no Jikan is a heavily controversial title, and with good reason. But like most controversial titles, its subject matter is not exploited in vain, and the end result is something that can be credited, at the very least, as a decent series in its own right.
No series has dared to tell the story KoJikan tells and gotten away with it, but for all the underage fanservice it provides, the heartwarming drama beneath the disturbing ecchi comedy ultimately shines. Had KoJikan been solely about the fanservice, this series would deserve all the negative criticism it has received, but there's a heavy dollop of character-driven drama and unique relationships, the context of which have never been explored up until now. One of its more important plot aspects is the recognition of children as having the same emotional needs as the rest of us. It's a touchy subject, but handled with precision and never crossing the line, though toeing it on occasion. Though KoJikan still handles issues it brings up head-on, it does so in an abrupt and awkward presentation, constantly and abruptly switching between drama and comedy. It may flawed in its execution, but its heart is in the right place.
Likewise, no series has dared to have characters like KoJikan's and gotten away with it. This is in great part to the main character being far more than she appears on the surface, especially when her laudably deep and complex emotions are explored. Unfortunately for most characters, they are relegated to often insulting cliche traits substitued as personalities, though this may change in future seasons. For now, the only real depth is in Rin and her cousin Reiji. However, the series should be commended on portraying 8-year-old girls with relative intelligence while acknowledging that they are still physically and mentally children. It's territory anime often skips in favor of taking the "moe" way out and its nice to see a series that portrays kids as kids.
The art is bright and cute, though the character designs are a little off-putting, especially Rin and Mimi's hair. Outside of this flaw, everything looks nice and neat. It's a slightly above-average job all around.
The music didn't stick to me but I don't remember it intruding in any way. The OP is one of my favorites, not for being a good song, but because the lyrics fit the tone of the series to a T. The ED is a hyperactive J-pop number that the audience this kind of show often attracts will enjoy greatly.
For me, KoJikan was a mixed bag. It is not anywhere near the horror that it was constantly advertised as prior to its release, nor is it entirely redeemable due to its abrupt swings between the drama and its uncomfortable brand of comedy. The end result is quite commendable though, assuming one watches this without a die-hard need to find as many disturbing details as they can.
Overall, I give Kodomo no Jikan an 7.5 out of 10.