Anzu goes to a kindergarten with her friends, the shy Koume and the eccentric Hiiragi. Together they try to attract attention from their caretaker Tsuchida. However, he is clearly more interested in the pretty Yamamoto who supervises the class next door.
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#11: "Yes, We Can!!" by Kaoru Mizuhara and Naomi Wakabayashi #12: "Sekai de Ichiban (せかいでいちばん)" by Kei Shindou and Yoko Honna
I facepalmed. Onto my desk. With full force. That is the last thing you'd expect to hear in a show about kindergarteners. But Hanamaru Kindergarten is full of comments and moments where you stop and think to yourself, "What are the children of humanity learning these days...?". At least, that's what I was thinking the entire time.
Anyways, Hanamaru Kindergarten is a sickeningly sweet anime that I just happened to find on Crunchyroll one day, and decided to watch it, thinking that it was about time I stopped watching action related shows for a while. So I watched the first episode. In
the beginning, I was taken back by the cuteness of the show, which was at a very high level. So I continued on, got some good laughs, and ended up finishing the show a few weeks later in my spare time. My initial thoughts were that I had found a cute and slightly rom-com anime. I was correct of course, it was well worth my time I put into watching it.
As for a story, Hanamaru Kindergarten is one of those shows without a main plot. If you think of Azumanga Daioh, Lucky Star and Acchi Kocchi, this show runs along the same lines. A kindergarten girl falls in love with her new teacher, you know, the usual. Oh, wait, never mind, that's unusual. Every episode is filled with random comedy, moments of pure denseness, and just plain old fun. They failed to end the series with a good finale, it seemed like a completely normal episode to me, but overall I enjoyed it.
When I told you I was taken back by the cuteness, I really was. It's one of those animes where you AOL (Aww Out Loud, not that crappy internet service). The cuteness is bombarded with comments that may make you spit out your drink in either laughter or sheer disbelief, but either way, they managed to make you wish for a daughter or a son that looks as cute as kindergarteners appear to be in Hanamaru Kindergarten. Other then the characters, they made the actual Kindergarten look like a place that you would have been dying to attend back when you were 5 years old, it is truly a kid's paradise. Equipped with a slide going down from the second floor, an amazing playground, and classrooms with fun everywhere, I'm kind of wishing that the school I attend now was like that. Fantastic way to make students jealous.
There is no English Dub for this show, and frankly, I thank God for that. It's hard to imagine what all 40 of the 5 year olds in this show would sound like if they were dubbed over, and I really wish not to, as they are loud and have high pitched voices. But thankfully the Japanese Dub tones the realism down a little bit, making them all sound cute and unobnoxious most of the time. I liked most of the voice actors and actresses, they played their parts well, overall a good job.
Watching this made me excited to have kids. I'll probably be regretting it when the time comes around in certain moments of my life, but the characters in the show are portrayed in such a way that you wish all kids were like this. Anzu, the energetic romantic in the group manages to bring most of the comedy into the show due to all the fantasizing she does about the day she marries her teacher, while at the same time comes up with problems in her head that have absolutely no need to worry about. Then there's Hiiragi, the genius in the group, and I mean genius. She's smarter then most seniors in high school, maybe even college. She's the reason I now know what a Lunula is. At the same time, she also has a cute side to her with all of her costumes, mostly Panda Cat. And the last one is the shy and insanely adorable Koume. That's pretty much it. She's the kid that every parent wishes to have. Then there's Tsuchida-sensei. Frankly I'm wondering who goes to look at "adult magazines" and drinks until he passes out, yet is still able to become a Kindergarten Teacher. I like him, he's funny, but seriously.
I think the part I most enjoyed about this show was the Panda Neko dance. I was laughing so hard, due to the sheer hilariousness of it, and the absolute adorableness of it. I still have it stuck in my head. Overall, insanely cute show, got a lot of good laughs in there. Could have had a better ending, but it was worth watching.
Gainax’s most recent production seems to have been greeted with either one of three responses. The first is that of simple pleasure found in watching an anime that has well-structured episodes and that make good use of humor. This is the view I have adopted, as each sub-episode contained within an episode is well planned and carries subtle undertones of moral conventions contrasted with and against accepted social attitudes.
The anime itself is a set of twelve episodes, each containing two sub-episodes, that are loosely tied together through a plot-line based on the unrequited feelings of romance a kinder garden student, Anzu, has towards
her teacher, Tsuchida ‘sensei’, and the subsequent events that occur in their lives when together and apart. Anzu’s friends include Koume, a shy and gentle character, and Hiiragi, a cos-playing child prodigy. Strangely, yet with good reasoning, no other characters raise an objection to this blase relationship between student and teacher, and there is even some degree of acceptance, understanding and even support, especially by those that would normally be apposed to this behavior, such as the child’s parents. However, everyone manages to best live their lives alongside an almost sadistically humorous love triangle between Anzu, Tsuchida and the beautiful Yamamoto sensei.
The second response to this anime is that it is boring, having no sufficient development in the storyline and lacking in length. This response is largely due to the viewer’s lack of understanding; yes, the episodes are loosely strung together by a thin plot, but this is not the defining point of the anime, such as it is with those that follow the gradual changes in characters. Rather, the two sub-episodes cover a specific time frame during one of the main character’s lives that makes others and themselves change and grow, yet cuts out all the unnecessary in-between events, delivering only the relative material to the audience to best outline the idea or value that is to be portrayed to the audience in that sub-episode, hence the room for split stories in one twenty minute time block. Also, another point is that this type of anime utilizes a stasis plot, which is used correctly in this case to allow the episodes to branch off into smaller sub-plots yet still retain a link to the main story.
The final response is rather negative; heavy criticisms that are based on art, storyline and the characters of Anzu and Tsuchida. My views on storyline have already been outlined, so I shall proceed directly to the critiques on art. Once again, these criticisms are caused by lack of understanding. True, the artistic style used to draw the children is over-exaggerated, and detail is lost in the drawings of the adult characters and scenery. However, this is done to really drive home the idea of the distance between children and adults in society, and to present to the audience the view of the world from a ‘young child’s’ perspective, having alliterations to a child’s drawing and it’s innocent representations of character, giving rise to an almost childish drawing style that takes into account these factors.
Though it involves many adult characters, this story is ultimately based on the idea of children living in an adult world. This is why Anzu can show unseemly displays of romance towards an older character and not be ostracized by society, and also why she has a very mature personality for her age that is readily accepted by the other characters.
Though viewers may disagree with the anime on moral grounds, this is still a personal bias that doesn’t affect the quality of the anime. If taken into account the understanding of symbolism and important conventions that are often overlooked or mistaken as incorrect development, then the anime would truly have no criticisms. Of course, the average viewer does not consider these things when watching an anime for enjoyment, however it is important to note that harsh criticisms should be made after careful analysis.
Though not on this site, I have seen many blatant reviews that dismiss this anime for the reasons mentioned above. Because of that, this review may seem like an over-endorsement or over-hyped defense of the anime, however all I wish to do is present a more deeper view into the some of the aspects of the anime that have been criticized too unfairly in ways that would put off someone from what I believe to be a very good anime that I have been looking forward to every Monday for the past twelve weeks. I also look foreword to the making of a second season, and hope that it will be as deeply satisfying as the first.
Somehow, I feel as though Hanamaru Kindergarten is a giant lesson in hypocrisy. So many people have preached that it's all about being cute and fluffy. Loli not pedo, that kind of stuff, but is it really? The focus of the grand majority of the series is about Anzu in love with Tsuchida and Tsuchida in love with Yamamoto. While I reasoned Anzu's attraction to Tsuchida was nothing but an innocent crush, her tenacity and attitude as the series progressed genuinely began to frighten me to the point where brushing this off as an innocent childhood experience was no longer an option. Anzu really loves
Tsuchida... and to make that the focus of the series is just creepy.
In many ways, I can easily see where Hanamaru could have succeeded with its characters alone. While Anzu, Hiiragi, and Koume are all the standard genki girl/smart girl/little wife archetypes, they are neither overpowering in their prescribed personalities nor are they entirely cliched. Their mannerism and attitudes still reflect a great deal of their childishness. This only disappears when they start talking about matters of love, which unfortunately is at the core of this series. While some innocent talk and "kids say the darndest things" conversation is to be expected, the series pushes it repeatedly until it eventually reaches the point that I question what their parents are exposing them to at such a young age, especially Anzu's mother who is so liberal when it comes to her daughter's crush I don't think she even realizes how her daughter is interpreting her messages.
Because of this, the story comes across very similar to the heavily controversial Kodomo no Jikan. However, because the little girls resemble blobs more than they do humans (how do they support their body on those twiggy legs?!), no viewer can really take it as seriously as KnJ's portrayal of the topic. This doesn't change the fact that this is a show about a kindergartener in love with her teacher. The story could have gone in one of two directions; follow Anzu and her friends on misadventures, or focus on Tsuchida and Yamamoto's relationship with some gentle humor provided by their students on their relationship. This series decided to do both and connected them in the most unsettling of ways. It's sad when you think what this show could have been and what it turned into in the end.
The art is bright, cheery, and adorable. I have no problem with Anzu and her class being moeblobs as it highlights a lot of their innocence and how much they have to grow both physically and mentally. I also love the design of the kindergarten itself. I think we all wish we had gone to a kindergarten is awesome-looking as this one was.
The soundtrack, playing with a lot of xylophone and percussion was pretty cute, though I don't know how I felt about needing a new ED every week. They peaked rather early with the epic second ED and after that they ranged from okay to bad to just plain inappropriate for a series of this nature. Kei Shindou as Anzu was a welcome treat. So often she plays brats so to hear her as a happy genki girl was a treat. Of course, only Erino Hazuki could pull off Yamamoto's effervescent brand of happiness with a shred of possibility of it being believable. Anyone else would have made that role unbearable, so kudos to her for her handling of an incredibly difficult role to make acceptable to the audience.
Despite all of Hanamaru's many bright points, there's too much weighing it down to give this anything higher than a 7. This is a cute and fluffy show, but it's a cute and fluffy show about a kindergartener in love with her teacher. The fact that they try to make it as cute and innocent as they can despite Anzu being very set in her ways makes it just that much more unsettling. Kodomo no Jikan worked because there were psychological issues at hand that played well into the unsettling aspect of it, but Hanamaru has nothing to defend why a 5-year-old wants so desperately to marry her teacher. I could have done with a show about a kindergarten teacher who falls for his colleague, and I would have adored a show about kindergarteners being kindergarteners like a moeblob version of Rugrats, but this form of execution is just wrong, wrong, wrong.
Overall, I give Hanamaru Kindergarten a 7 out of 10.
This anime follows two groups of characters: the adult kindergartner teachers centering on Tsuchida, and the kindergartners themselves centering on Anzu. Right away a bridge is established between the two groups, with Anzu being a flirt and madly in love with Tsuchida. It is very cute and endearing to start off with, but quickly becomes old and boring. The show even goes so far as to lay out exactly what the love triangle and love arc of the show is at one point. The sound gets a worse score here than it probably should, mainly because all of the kids make a squeaking noise with
every step they take. The characters are well done for what it matters, but I personally find the story lacking and too cliche driven, even for a genre made from cliches.