Aoki Daisuke is a fresh, new elementary school teacher, eager to help shape and guide his young students. But he got more than he bargained for with Kokonoe Rin! This saucy third grader has knowledge beyond her years, and a deep-seated mistrust and loathing of adults. She will go to any lengths to protect her friends Kuro and Mimi, including harassment, extortion, threats, and sexual blackmail. And yet, with her friends, she is kind, caring, and self-sacrificing. Can Daisuke gain Rin's trust and save her from her dark side without falling victim to it himself?
StoryI'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.AnimationThe 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.SoundI 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.CharactersAlthough 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.OverallKodomo no Jikan is heavy on loli fanservice and is by no means an absolute must-see, for which reason I would dissuade anyone disturbed or offended by this. With that said, I was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying the series and impressed by its obvious maturity, which shines through in spite of the ecchi humour and occasionally crass dialogue. Rather than a loli series masquerading as an intelligent drama, it strikes me as the conceptual opposite - a thoughtful show, masquerading as a fanservice-ridden underage ecchi-fest. If you like one of these elements and are happy to put up with the other, Kodomo no Jikan is definitely worth the watch. You may enjoy it more or less than I did, but I feel certain that this anime would not be a waste of time for anyone.
Getting it out of the way: eww, eww, eww. Ecchi with nine year old girls. And not subtle ecchi. No, blatant and extremely intentional sexual situations between a grown man and a nine year old girl. Eww. Kodomo no Jikan could have been a great show had it not been so blatant in the way that the writers actually meant for it to be a full-on sexual relationship but toned it down for sales purposes. Eww, eww, eww. But about what this show does right. I fully agree with the Japanese ideal that youth doesn't require a character to be completely asexual otherwise you are crossing some moral guideline. Everyone was young, and everyone knows that sexuality starts expressing itself pretty early on. The exploration of a budding sexuality has been both a minor and a major theme in well loved and highly appreciated works of literature and film, from Natalie Portman's first big role as an orphan girl who develops a crush on a jaded middle age assassin who takes her in, to the highly acclaimed Lolita which is one of the most important works of literature of the past century, this has been dealt with in various ways and is an extremely evocative subject. Kodomo no Jikan manages at times to give us the clash between youthful naïveté and budding sexual interest, with some deep Freudian issues touched upon. The show is at its best when it clearly shows that it really is about little girls who are more trying and pretending to be adults, wishing for it because of their own backstories, rather than giving them a full understanding of what they're doing. This is a subject which has plenty of artistic merit, and has been explored well, yet is still considered taboo enough by modern western society (walking through a trail of corpses merits a PG-13 rating, but show a nipple and people will get up in arms about only having an R rating) for it to be both rare and exciting. There are some moments where the show manages to touch subjects that most are afraid of. A lot of this is because of the extremes that are forced upon the viewer. I do try to remain objective and focus on that. But this is ecchi with nine year old girls. No, don't believe me? Here is a screen capture of something not quite as blatant as the show usually offers: Yeah, that's removing the nudity, the blatant sexual references, the propositioning, the panty removal, and so on. Yeah, Japanese bondage doesn't even rank in the top 50 most sexual moments of the show. Probably not in the first 100. And yes, the girl who did that in fact did recognize that this particular knot is used for bondage in a sexual context. Writing (story and characters): Credit where it's due, the subject here is not one that often seen. People have in the past attempted to have an English translation of the manga sold in the west, and it got shut down hard. The audacity of pushing this type of writing to a mainstream audience, even if only in Japan, is to be commended by anyone who is for freedom of speech, myself included. And to make matters even more interesting, the writing is actually pretty good from a technical perspective. Character driven stories are hard to get right from a technical point of view. It requires a story which allows them to develop organically, and puts their interactions in a logical context without it feeling forced. Once you remove the blatant issue with this here, then Kodomo no Jikan is a success, which makes it superior to plenty of other shows. It manages to balance the drama with light hearted moments, sexuality and coming of age with concrete problems people have in real life, and most of all, keeps to the setting and set up. As a character driven story, the characters need to hold it up. They do. Other than one huge problem of presenting the adult male protagonist as a paragon of moral virtue and his suitor as admirable, the cast is well rounded. They've got distinct personalities, have fun interactions, manage to balance the issues of the story very well, and more than that, they come off as genuine (excluding that one thing). So, the writing is good. It really is. Kodomo no Jikan does with its run time a great deal of slice and life, drama, and manages to cater to what otakus expect and love. There is only one small issue with it, which is best seen and not explained: That's within the first ten minutes of the first episode, so I don't count this as a spoiler. Allow me to remind you: this is the start of third grade, and she's nine years old tops. Art (animation and sound): For a show from 2007, the artwork of Kodomo no Jikan holds up. It still has some issues, and cannot compare to the cream of the crop from today on a technical scale. That being said, it manages to have artistic merit in many ways. Specifically, while the animation is somewhat dated, the sound is not. There is a bit of overuse of backgrounds, but the character designs are overall crisp and distinct, there is good attention to detail, and the palette is surprisingly modern for the time. While there are issues with static frames (especially since this was done before the outsourcing of these details was quite as good as it is today) that by modern standards are rather unforgiveable, and there is an over-reliance on visual gags at times, these did not disturb me nearly as much as they should have. This is because the direction of the art manages to pass a surprisingly large amount of emotion without feeling too pushy about it. Great soundtrack, good voice acting, decent effect work. Seriously, the soundtrack, which is something I'm notoriously vicious about, is surprisingly good and adds a lot of feeling to this show. The end credits have one of the catchier and cooler songs in anime. Still, the voice acting is not quite as good as it should have been, and young kids are notoriously difficult to get right. Still, if only for the ending theme, the audio deserves praise. Life that a show doesn't deserve is definitely given by the art. From the energetic songs, some moments where the emotions of the characters just ooze out the screen, to the overall tight direction given the budget, the artwork is surprisingly good. Kodomo no Jikan has above average art, and remains that way even today, nearly a decade after it aired. Overall: If you're into lolicon stuff, this is for you. If you find the two pictures I put in this review hilarious, then you'll probably laugh your ass off. As for myself, I didn't find it bad enough to drop it despite whatever moral issues I have... and my completionist (read: obsessive) side will probably have me review the OVAs next.
It's just disgusting, absolutely disgusting. This anime is just sexualizing 9 year old in a not-subtle way, it is actually on your face. It doesn't matter what kind of story this anime is trying to tell, the way it uses ecchi is gross. Each episode always comes up with even more extreme way to sexualize or at least ecchified these 9 year old grade schoolers. It is not wholesome, it is not cute in the slightest, it is a waste of time. Don't watch it.
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