This is a story about a little girl who lives in an old house in the mountains. Her name is Bincho-tan. Each episode depicts a day in the life of Bincho-tan as she prepares her breakfast in the morning, goes to the forest to gather vegetables, does her household chores and rests at night after a day's work. She is surrounded by a group of close friends who add color to her ordinary yet simple life.
For those of you looking to relieve those slice-of-life blues afterAria finished, then look no further than Binchou-tan.
The series began life as began as a manga by Ekusa Takahito before being adapted for anime in 2006. The story is set in the town of Minabe in the Wakayama Prefecture (located in the Kansai region), and the series pays homage to the area in a number of aspects, the most prominent being the names of the characters. The titular character, and indeed many of the other characters, are named for different types of charcoal, with Binchou-tan being named after binchotan, a form of white charcoal that
the Wakayma region is famous for producing.
This connection has added to the popularity of the series throughout Japan, so much so that Binchou-tan is now the official mascot of the Kishu-Binchotan Promotion Museum, which is run by Minabegawa Forestry Society.
The story is very simple. A little girl named Binchou-tan lives alone in a run-down cottage in the forest outside of town. Life is hard but she takes each day as it comes, works hard at various odd jobs, and tries not to let her spirits flag.
Unusually, each episode in the series is split into two individual stories, so over the course of half an hour the viewer is shown two chapters in Binchou-tan's life. Surprisingly, this works rather well, especially as this is purely a slice of life show. Over the course of the series the viewer is given a taste of Binchou-tan's life, and whilst the general tone is very much an upbeat one, the show isn't afraid to give the old heartstrings a good hard yank (you have been warned).
The artwork throughout the series is actually very good. The backgrounds and settings are extremely well done, from the rustic setting in the town, to the lush greenery of the forest. A lot of attention has gone into scenery, and because of this the area in which the show is set has a vibrancy that is rare in anime.
Characters are also well done, relatively speaking of course. There is a penchant for labelling the characters in the show as "lolis", however this is a gross misconception, especially given the sexual connotation attached to that word. Binchou-tan and her friends are designed very much like chibis, however there is a distinctive innocence about each of the characters which is readily apparent just from their look. Binchou-tan herself could be a postergirl for "kawaii".
One thing that may confuse some viewers is the log on Binchoutan's head. This is actually a piece of charcoal, although it's never really clear if this is the type of charcoal for which she is named. She is not unique in this repect either, as some of the other characters also make reference to the charcoal industry in both name and hair adornment.
The sound quality throughout the series is very good. The various effects and background noises are well used, with no effects overwhelming the audience at any time. The voice actors are also good, and manage to give each character a certain innocent quality which is reflective of their design and personality.
The one element that really stands out about the show, aside from the scenery that is, is the music. I can't actually recall a single moment that was bereft of music of some sort. The various orchestral scores are very much in keeping with the tone of the series, serving to enhance the atmosphere in any given scene. In addition to this, the OP is a very melodic track which I found to be quite fitting for the show as a whole, whilst the ED is a very upbeat track about Binchou-tan herself.
The characters are extremely, almost tooth-achingly, cute. This isn't just in terms of their design, but also their personalities. Each of the characters has a unique personality, and whilst there are some nods in the direction of stereotype, these are often offset in some way (Ren-tan, for example, fits the "silent girl" mould, however she is also very playful, and not above a little teasing).
The one thing that belies the generally cheery tone of the series is the fact that Binchou-tan herself is rather a tragic figure. She is upbeat, hard working, and more than a little shy. She is also extremely lonely, something which the show highlights in several ways. However, she has a certain air that attracts the other girls to her, and as the show progresses we see some very subtle changes in her personality.
Unfortunately, the other characters don't develop as much as Binchou-tan does, however this can be forgiven because of the length of the series and the fact that each episode is enjoyable in some way.
Now many people will automatically write off this series simply because of the fact that Binchou-tan is so damn cute. This, together with the colourful backgrounds, often makes people believe that this is purely a kids series. However, such thinking means you'll miss out on what is actually a very enjoyable show.
The main appeal of the series is that it is almost purely slice of life. The setting and episodic format may not initially be appealing to many, however it truly is worth giving it a chance. The characters, the scenery, the various days in Binchou-tan's life, are all wonderfully realised, and whilst I may be a terminal Aria fan, I will freely admit that this series is very, very close to it in many respects.
In all honesty, I would recommend this series to anyone who simply wants to watch something nice for a change. There's no romance, no real drama, no big fights, and no gondolas (there are ducks and birds however), but don't be fooled into thinking that there isn't anything for you to watch. This is an extremely enjoyable series, and the length of each episode means that, whilst you can easily finish the whole show in one sitting, you'll probably find yourself spreading the series out over the course of a few days (just to make it last longer).
I now have two shows which I can truly call relaxing.
Story: 8 (A true slice of life in every sense.)
Art: 7 (Beautiful Backgrounds but simple characters)
Sound: 6 (Fun ED song but overly silent SFX throughout)
Character: 9 (You will go "AWWWWW!! HOW CUTE!!")
Enjoyment: 7 (Binchous friends definitely made the show fun)
Overall: 37/50 = 7.4 (Very unique experience worth checking)
Binchou-tan is a true Slice of life animation based around the life of a little girl name Binchou. As her name describes she's very poor and lives in a rundown shack in the middle of the woods. But she's not alone.
This story kind of starts of as a documentary of sorts and slowly introduces
Binchou-tan's friends throughout the series. The story sounds very tragic and it is. From the moment she opens her bigger than life eye's, theres a 89% chance you'll instantly fall in love and pity this small girl trying to survive the day. It doesn't even bother to joke about her poor situation. At times you'll feel downright sad for the girl and want to wish her the best to survive the day. And thats what this show does really well. Pulls it's readers into this poor yet simple story of a girl living in the woods. They don't overdo it either, it's just enough for you to pity the girl but theres enough lighthearted things that she does to keep you from watching a train wreck style of story.
The art is all really pretty and does it's job well for showing feelings through the background among other things. Little details like cracks and tears in binchou tans sheets or the grassy knolls of the country side are all displayed in beautiful detail. But the actual animation portion is a little of the opposite. The main characters art style is pure chibi, with the oversized head and tiny bodies. So therefore since their drawn in a simple way most of the characters and moving objects are drawn in that simple style. Its not that bad of a thing to witness, but it does take an episode or two to get used to it.
The characters themselves are out of this world as well. The word cute is pretty synonymous with chibi and thats what this show prides itself in, its cute factor. From their voices, to the character style even to their clothing it screams cute with a capital C U T E. Of course the cute factor is there to lighten the overall mood that is Binbou-tan. It is still a story about a poor girl after all. You don't even have to see the girls in action to know how cute they are. Just listen to their voices and theres a very high chance of your heart melting. All the voice actors are easily recognized and you might even spot one or two of them from other series *COUGH*FukoFromClannad*COUGH*
Overall this show is a slice of life experience unlike you have seen from all those other slice of life shows. Pity her, love her, hate her, despise her, but whatever you do, you just can't keep your eyes off little Binchou-tan. The show will really drag the viewer into her world and for better or worse will immerse you in Binchou's world. A word of caution though, this is HEAVY in the chibi loli genre. If you can't stand the voices, look, or even their facial expressions of a chibi loli keep away.
As a side note: I mentioned back in my El Cazador de la Bruja review that they should make a show with just Lirio as the main character... If you watch this, Binchou-tan is pretty much a mirror image of Lirio, except Binchou can talk.
Binchou-tan may look like an energetic slice-of-life anime by glancing at the cover that is just a few chibis playing. Well, it's not. It's a very slow-paced slice-of-life anime with very little comedy. And it works.
Binchou-tan tells the tale of Binchou-tan, a young girl who lives out in the mountains by herself as this world apparently has no social workers. She goes to town every day to work for money, because this world apparently has no child labor laws. In this town, she creates and hangs out with several other young girls.
Binchou-tan is a really simple show. It's just Binchou-tan doing stuff every day.
That's it, nothing more. However, in a way that's the charm of the show. Most slice-of-life anime just show selected scenes from the life of the characters, where stuff happens. Sure it's not exciting stuff, but it's still stuff. However, due to Binchou-tan's really slow pace and having several scenes of just Binchou-tan walking around, in a way you feel like you are watching Binchou-tan's whole life. It's not boring, it's actually very interesting to see how this strange little girl lives. Actually, girls. Most of the episodes switch back from scenes of just Binchou-tan and shows the life of the other girls too. Heck, one of the girls doesn't even meet up with the group for the first time face to face until the last minutes of the final episode. I really liked how they did that, as it gives us a taste of others lives and not just Binchou-tan's.
The characters in Binchou-tan... I hate to admit it, but they're all rather lame. Most have little personality. Binchou-tan is just kind of, well... I don't even know. She never really talks very much during the show. She's rather kind and quiet I suppose, and a little spacey. For the rest of the girls, most of them have gimmicks, not personality. Chiku-tan likes to invent stuff. Ren-tan is a Buddhist, likes dangos, and has good luck. Kunugi-tan is rich and wants to befriend Binbou-tan. Aloe likes to swim. However, the dullness of the characters never really gets in the way of the actual show, due to the fact it doesn't concentrate on comedic scenes but just scenes of everyday life. In a way, their dullness somehow makes the show more relaxing.
The animation is decent. The character designs are definitely more chibi than realistic. They're obviously are meant to look cute and add to the fluffiness of the show. They do work out in the end though. The simplistic character designs allow more fluidity in the animation, even if it does use stock footage a few times. Yes, stock footage in a slice-of-life show. Why not? The music is also rather decent. The opening is cute in a relaxing way and the ending is cute in a, well, cute way. They both fit the mood of the show. The voice acting is also decent, though I do get the feeling I would have hated Binchou-tan's voice actor if she spoke more as she has a really squeaky voice.
If you must have plot and action and comedy in your anime, then stay as far away from this show as you can get. It is a must for slice-of-life fans though, and I give it an 8.