Chibi Maruko chan is the nickname of a sweetly obnoxious 9-year-old girl. She tricks her grandfather, ponders for hours over how to spend her allowance, and hates sitting next to ugly boys. She talks, feels and lives just as real kids do.
As the second term commences, Maruko and her classmates return to their small groups. Maruko’s group includes two naughty boys and Maruko is forced to be one of their subordinates. She seems to face a lot of pressure at school.
As the school’s athletic meet approaches, all the classmates are busy exercising. Maruko is no exception, although her laziness means that she is late sometimes. Maruko realizes that the two boys rival each other in everything they do, and that their friendship is deep and strong.
I was really surprised I enjoyed this movie as much as I did. Looking at the art style and quickly finding out it's school story about small children, and that it didn't heavily feature crudeness or violence, I thought for sure that I would be bored out of my mind.
I was wrong.
I watched this movie during my breaks at work and was thoroughly engrossed in everything Maruko set out to do. I recalled my own hope and desire to do really well at simple things at school and failing at them miserably. It made me remember the friendships that I had.
The "flatness" of some
of the characters' personality was acceptable because, as a kid, I only really made the effort to know a few people really well. It made their portrayal more believable. The flamboyant one, the ugly clown, the suck-up, the orderly teacher wannabe.
The movie did a great job of reminding me that childhood may seem easier as an adult, but for the kids living it it's just as serious and important to them that their lives go well. The ending isn't tragic in the usual sense, and though it is predictable it is very well set up and it was hard to avoid feeling for everyone involved.
I'd recommend this movie to anyone who looks back on childhood with a little bit of longing. The art style may seem simple but it is surprisingly well-acted, both through voice and animation. They are obviously exaggerations of third-graders, but it is nevertheless believable.