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Kodomo no Jikan

Dec 3, 2016

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.


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.

2/10 story
5/10 animation
7/10 sound
2/10 characters
3.5/10 overall

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BaconDragon Jan 31, 2021

>They've got distinct personalities 

Yet you bash evangelion for allegedly not having that, whats up with this suspicious defense of naughty childrens material?