Hopeless and bullied Sawada "Dame-Tsuna" Tsunayoshi is a middle school student in his second year. He is clumsy, no-good at his studies and the epitome of a failure. His mother is cheerfully oblivious and his father is off in the Antarctic digging for oil and taking pictures with penguins. Tsuna has no ambitions in life, only a simple crush for the school idol, Sasagawa Kyoko, whom he has no hopes of getting close to.
That is, until the day a baby in a suit arrives to tutor him. Tsuna is amused.
But not for long, of course, for that baby is actually the world's greatest hitman, Reborn, working for the Vongola Famiglia, a powerful and affluential mafia family. And his mission is to train Tsuna to be the tenth generation Vongola boss.
Tsuna's adventures begin with stripping down to his boxers, humiliating himself in front of his crush and unwillingly getting involved in a fight for Kyoko with a bully. Tsuna is still useless, hopeless and an absolute idiot according to the sadistic Reborn and needs a lot more training.
The Vongola boss has five guardians, each representing a form of weather, namely, "Storm", "Rain", "Sun", "Mist" and "Lightning". The boss himself is the "Sky". Thus, Reborn forces Tsuna to look for his guardians ( at gunpoint ) and the brunet has no choice but to do so.
The first twenty episodes or so are part of the Daily Life arc which introduces us to the main characters and Tsuna's eventual guardians. The most interesting thing about KHR is undeniably the wide range of characters we are introduced to. And the thing is, despite how many characters there are, it's difficult to forget them.
Gokudera Hayato, fiercely loyal to the boy who accepted him for who he was. Yamamoto Takeshi, touched by the feelings of a boy whom he barely knew, yet who rescued him from the darkness that threatened to consume him ( I'm sorry I'm referring to the manga ). Sasagawa Ryohei, impressed by the boy who managed to beat him in a fight. Hibari Kyouya, the lone skylark, protecting what he has always been protecting, intrigued by the omnivore hiding behind the mask of a herbivore. Dokuro Chrome, a young girl scarred by neglect and her saviour, Rokudo Mukuro, twisted and sure in his search for revenge, yet drawn to the boy who accepted him for who he was. Bovino Lambo, a naïve child, who, in hopes of pleasing a father who had already abandoned him, tries to carry out something deemed impossible.
There are a lot more characters who are not at all what they seem, Cavallone Dino, a respected figure who becomes even more hopeless than Tsuna when his subordinates are not around. "Poison Scorpion" Bianchi, Gokudera's half-sister who renders him powerless when she shows her face and Miura Haru, a girl smitten by Tsuna's bravery and convinced that she is his future bride. Sasagawa Kyoko, Ryohei's sweet younger sister who just might be more than a senseless love interest.
There's too many characters to even mention, so the only way to find out more is to watch it. Even though I've made the anime seem darker than it actually is, KHR is light-hearted. There are serious moments, epic moments, and typical anime clichés but the characters make up for everything with their sometimes unpredictable actions.
Gokudera is constantly having a one-sided argument with Yamamoto, Tsuna is in the middle of it, Ryohei runs around shouting "EXTREME!", Hibari is annoyed and bites people to death mercilessly, even Tsuna, because he is the Hibari. His arch-enemy, Mukuro, is running around doing suspicious things and soft-spoken, shy, Chrome follows Mukuro-sama. Lambo is a bratty "cow" who likes sweets and makes futile attempts to assassinate Reborn. Reborn himself is a spartan tutor whom Tsuna believes is the Devil incarnate himself. The baby likes to cosplay and some of the less intellectually-gifted members of Tsuna's family fail to realise that "Reboyama-sensei" or "Elder Pao Pao" is actually Reborn in disguise. Tsuna's mouth is sealed, for he certainly does not wish to face a trigger-happy hitman.
I could ramble on and on but such is the charm of this anime. Tsuna's character development, is slow, and like some shounen, shows large bursts of improvement in fights and is always refusing the position of Vongola Decimo, which Reborn relentlessly pushes onto him ( and sometimes, tricks him into ). In each arc of the anime, there is a new enemy who threatens the safety of his friends and Tsuna fights for them, never wavering in his beliefs.
There are some filler-like episodes, but I believe they are necessary to dispel the seriousness, because, honestly, KHR isn't that serious. It's an anime where you laugh because the endearing characters are always doing something funny and sometimes, you root for them because they're slowly building bonds among themselves. There is no real "enemy", just people with flaws.
I'd be lying if I said the bishounens weren't sexy. The art started out medicore, but somewhere in the last few arcs, I suddenly realised that everything became so much smoother and the colours were much more alluring ( I think this also had something to do with the mangaka's improving art ). The OSTs were great and appropriate. The OPs and EDs, however, didn't really appeal to me apart for a few.
The voice acting was great. Tsuna's shrieks and "Hiiieee"s, Gokudera' brash character and Yamamoto's cheerful one, Mukuro's low chuckles, Chrome's soft speeches, Ryohei's enthusiastic shouts and Hibari's dark and mysterious tones were all conveyed so realistically.
The anime, of course, has its flaws. Perhaps, some aren't intrigued much by the plot but it comes in a thrilling package of a rarely-seen mafia-themed setting, an endless list of bishounen and comedy. Someway along the journey, you'll come to love Tsuna's character ( in my case, at least ) and the exciting part starts after the Daily Life arc.
KHR is is no way everyone's cup of tea. It probably appeals to action fans, bishounen-lovers or those who want to see how a weak character develops.
It is not an anime to be deeply looked into, I don't think it has a lot of psychological things, but it really has a high enjoyment value. While such problems don't seem so obvious, the characters have all been touched by some darkness, that has perhaps changed how they view people, the world or humanity itself. These things subtly present themselves along the way but KHR is something that people should enjoy for its comedy and wide range of characters, if not for the plot, which ultimately, is interesting and quite unique.