The story of Kodomo no Jikan is centered around 23-year-old Aoki Daisuke, who has just landed his first teaching job as a grade school teacher at Futatsubashi Elementary School. He is placed in charge of Class 3-1, where one of his students, a mischievously precocious Rin Kokonoe, develops a crush on him and goes so far as to proclaim herself Aoki's girlfriend. She aggressively pursues her efforts to be with her teacher despite the fact that he will lose his job if she gets too close, a situation further complicated by the often complex, intertwining relationships existing between them and their respective friends, families, and peers.
In 2007, Seven Seas Entertainment licensed the manga for North American distribution under the title "Nymphet." However, controversies surrounding the manga's content led to the cancellation of the project. However, in 2016, Digital Manga Inc. launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to publish the series in 5 omnibus volumes. It is set to be released in October 2017.
Kodomo no Jikan. Ask any well-versed anime/manga fan about this series and they're likely to respond in either amusement or disgust. I won't attempt to sugar-coat it, if you find even the slightest allude to children being the target of sexuality to be absolutely disgusting, then you should probably keep your distance from this anime. Of course, I'm sure that no one is particularly fond of the subject, however, this series doesn't merely exist as a shallow loli-con's dream world; beneath it's humorous, light-hearted (although often inappropriate) surface lies a compelling story that questions morality and today's society as a whole in a satirical fashion that is comparable to many classic novels of the past.
This, of course, brings us to the story of Kodomo no Jikan. The main drive and story-telling device used to develop characters and forward the story is the subject of sexuality. And while this topic is by no means new to the literary world, the fact that children become the main focus of this subject is the source of all the controversy surrounding this series. And while much of the humor results from the awkwardness surrounding the main characters' and their sexual encounters (as in related to the topic; there is no actual sex or anything of the sort involving these characters), it also serves another purpose of questioning society's standards and exactly where the line lies between what can be considered right or wrong.
Before delving into too much detail, I will state that, should one decide to read this manga, he or she should be prepared to view many sexual innuendos and panty shots (often grouped with Sensei's horrified reaction) along the way. And while these become a running gag of the series, author Kaworu Watashiya adds a fresh twist every time, which will likely leave you not only in stitches, but also probably with a slightly awkward feeling afterwards.
Returning to the actual story, the role of sexuality plays a major part in the developing of the series, as well as the driving force, ranging from the main topic of Rin trying to win her Sensei's love, to many of the younger characters' being unusually well versed in sexual knowledge for their age, to their developing bodies and the beginning of puberty. Many instances can be viewed merely as extreme fan service, however, others tie in directly to the deeper portion of the plot. Rin and her sensei's relationship brings up many important issues, such as the questionablility of standards of society and child psychology and development. In fact, the story itself is highly reflective of Rin's personality as a whole, on the surface cheery and situationally perverted in a cute way, while beneath lies another person, repressed out of fear and trauma, seeking security from the ones she loves. While the story may make excessive points at times, the actions of all the characters are always heavily influenced by their past and how it has led to the people they are present day, and possess a meaning. Kodomo no Jikan is comparable to Lolita, a 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov, from which the frequently used terms "lolita" and "lolicon" originated. Although the plot lines vary significantly, the overall question that the two bring forth are similar; the point of child protection laws are to protect innocent (sexually and emotionally ignorant) children from those who would do them harm, however, what happens when the child knows more than the adult?
Regarding the progression of the story, the series begins its first few volumes introducing the reader to what they can expect from the series, as well as developing many of the more important characters later on rather effectively. However, it is not until about the 5th volume that the real story kicks in, and this is where Kodomo no Jikan rescues itself from the potential danger of being written off as a poorly conceived lolicon piece, and earns a spot as a deep story with high potential (the series has only released up to vol. 5 thus far, so it is impossible to say where this will go at the moment).
Anyway, I feel that I have gone into too much detail regarding the story section. The main thing to note is that the reason that story was given a 10 was definitely not for it's ecchi/loli elements, but rather for the very compelling although scandalous story that accompanies them, and the humorous way in which it is delivered.
The panels of the manga for the most part held simple drawings which were clean and easy to follow, effectively putting focus on the significant parts of a scene as well as conveying emotions quite well. Regarding outfits, Rin and Kagami wear a new one everyday, and many of the other characters go through occasional costume changes, but what's really impressive is how every one of the more significant characters (as in all main and supporting cast) have reasons for wearing a different outfit, or the same one everyday. Whenever a few panels are colored in, the result is stunning. The shading gives an overall watercolor effect to the panels, creating a beautiful effect that is a treat to see (if only the entire manga could be in color!) While the art is nothing flashy, it is nevertheless nice to view and tells the story effectively.
Tying in directly with the story, the characters are represented and developed very well. While at first, there is little development, as the story continues to progress, most of the characters receive quite a bit of development and a backstory, the most interesting of which happening to be the story of Rin's mother, which plays an integral role in the later story. In a similar fashion, all of the other characters backstories add to the plot as well, creating an intricate web that could come unraveled with the slightest of ease. Psychological impacts of childhood also play an important role in the personalities of the characters and the ways in which they act. In addition, the main conflict surrounding Rin is masterfully done; it is hard to side with one person on the issues that surface later on in the story (avoiding spoilers). The past of each character directly affects the personality and actions each takes during the story. Overall, the characters are well developed and the chemistry is evident in the way they all interact with one another.
Despite feeling that many of the more...controversial elements were kind of unnecessary, I nevertheless found myself laughing at many of the jokes, amused by the awkward situations, and drawn in by the unique, catching (and entirely possible in real life) story. I read from the beginning to the latest volume within the course of a few days.
There's no disputing the fact that Kodomo no Jikan definitely pushes boundaries and tests the limits of what can be considered acceptable. While many may find themselves offended by the material of the series, for those who stick with the series until the real development starts to begin, they are in for a rewarding, if somewhat disturbing, story. The main thing to remember while reading this series is to keep an open mind, and not to take everything at surface value.
Score: 37/40; A (92.5%)
Since the series is still ongoing, I will update this review as I deem necessary. However, don't expect any major changes in what I've already said above unless Kojika does a complete 180 and changes for the worse.
One more thing: it's important to note that Japanese culture is different from Western cultures (assuming you are from one) in what is considered acceptable and what is pushing limits (not saying that they condone using children or anything, don't get me wrong). Also, for those who didn't already know, it's entirely normal to like, or even marry, your cousin in Japanese culture.read more
Kodomo no Jikan (A Child’s Time) is a Slice of Life, Romance, Comedy, Drama notorious for its controversial take on the relations of underage children in our society. There’s plenty of comedy to enjoy but it does get very serious at times.
The story is about an inexperienced, elementary schoolteacher (Daisuke Aoki) who’s having trouble with the class he teaches but there's one girl in particular he's finding hard to control (Rin Kokonoe) But what’s more is said girl has got a huge crush on him. That’s basically how this manga is laid out and for most of the beginning chapters it is littered with a superb amount of comedy, with Aoki-sensei being the punch-line to the jokes. But once Aoki-sensei’s struggle to be a teacher respected by his students ends, the real story kicks in. As the story begins to develop, it does show a far more serious side to it as it involves Rin Kokonoe. However this manga isn't marked "highly controversial" for no reason as there is a lot of questionable content that you may not feel comfortable with.
The characters are very interesting in this manga; with Rin & her 2 friends Kuro & Mimi being portrayed as very adult elementary kids, which can incredibly shocking at times but really hilarious at other times. What’s more is that they each have a great deal of depth to their persona, especially Rin. The actual adults, for the most part are portrayed fairly well, with each having their own personality and purpose in the story but a few can just feel irrelevant (Hoin-sensei).
The artwork of this manga is fairly simple, which works well with this manga. Very simple panel arrangements, which make it easy to read and follow and very cute and round characters design. Although it does seem as though this mangaka has some kind of Lolita complex, which you’ll understand after reading a chapter. Also the lack of detail does stifle the artwork from reaching its full potential.
Overall Kodomo no Jikan is a surprisingly hilarious and well-written comedy that in the beginning reminded me of the GTO (without the under-aged girls). What makes it so great as a comedy, is that it’s full of sexual innuendos that will leave anyone in laughing fits. Though the perverted jokes are completely original, you may be left with an awkward feeling after every joke. Something is just not right when you have 3rd Grade girls talking about sex. But things only get worse as you go on and the awkward feeling may turn to sheer disgust, with all the borderline paedophilia. The great story helps make up for that but remember… I did warn you.
Imagine you had a friend named Bob. Bob is a great guy, nice, interesting, and you like having conversations with him. He's also a non-active pedophile. What do you think of Bob? Do you disregard all his good points because of this TERRIBLE thing? Or do you continue associating with Bob because those good points outweigh his disgusting side?
This is what I struggle with when thinking about Kodomo no Jinkan, there is a reason why this manga is controversial (And the controversy is what made me want to read it). However, at the same time, it's actually quite well written, well thought out, and brings up some interesting questions. So join me as I walk you through this... thing. Let's break it down:
Okay, before I get into story content, I'll give credit where credit is due: KnJ is pretty decently written. The majority of the time the pacing is very balanced, and the progression of the story makes sense. However, there was one major section that was very emotionally heavy and seemed like it was going to lead into some interesting story developments... until it is just glossed over, as if the mangaka thought to herself "Oh hey, this kinda makes the story hit a wall, let's just pretend it never happened". So it was disappointing to see that story thread kinda just fizzle out. Also the final major 'thing' that happens lacks any sort of foreshadowing, so its insertion felt a bit rushed and awkward. Other than that, yeah, for a manga that is quite sexual towards young girls, good job.
BUT SPEAKING OF SEXUALISING YOUNG GIRLS (And this is a big but) - I am conflicted.
So here's some trivia - The Mangaka Kaworu Watashiya is a woman. The sex of the author never matters to me, but for a series that is quite sexual, I have to make an exception. Was this manga intended to be highly sexualised, or was it its subject matter that made it so? Perhaps it was the choice of the editor to make the manga more sexual? These questions (of which I can't find a clear answer) would give much better context to better judge this manga with. Here is why: First, let me make it clear that I love it when manga and anime address controversial topics - however, how they handle these topics is key. For a manga to criticize the sexual assault of children (And it certainly does), and also have a theme of 'if you love the person, have self control' - but then show overtly sexual images of young girls masturbating, chest fondling and a girl who literally says (though this may be a translation thing) "As long as it had been with you I would have been fine with you raping me" (She's 11 or 12); IT COMES OFF AS INSINCERE.
And this is what I have as an issue with the manga in general - it comes off as hypocritical, at least in this regard.
But enough of that, instead I'll briefly mention the OTHER things it tackles; and for that I give it praise. There are a lot of heavy topics covered in KnJ, sexual assault, child abuse, the confusion around sexuality and growing up, as well as many more. For the most part, it tackles these well - bringing a view that it seems can only be accessed when taken from the experiences of children.
It's a pleasant looking 'round and smooth' style of art. Y'know, apart from all that sexualisation of children thing.
It's a mixed bag, being completely honest.Some characters are quite well developed and sympathetic like Kokonoe and her brother. Other characters seem to make it halfway like Mimi and Shirai, but just don't get enough exploration to fully flesh out their characters. The others are like Oyajima, sincere and good for a laugh - but not really explored too deeply.
THEN THERE IS OUR PROTAGONIST. Geez, why does the protagonist have to be the weakest character. He's just a standard sincere, nice, innocent, virgin dude; finding himself pulled by his emotions and his situation. Honestly, by the end of the manga, apart from his sexual preferences I don't know anything about him other than that he has a sister. No idea what drives him, any sort of hint why he'd be attracted to grade schoolers, no deep exploration into his history or what makes him 'him'. He's defined by what happens TO him, not what causes him to react the way he does in these situations. That is not character.
I guess I enjoyed it. I mean, all the sexualisation of young girls (Still can't stress that enough) made me feel a bit uncomfortable - and I can't help that they could've done the same manga with less overt sexual imagery. But I guess they wanted it to sell, and the only way was to... sexualize little girls... *sigh*
But still, yeah, I guess I enjoyed it.
Depending on your answer to the opening question about Bob will pretty much answer how you approach this anime. There is some good stuff here, I won't lie about that, but if you can't shake the slight feeling of distaste due to the subject matter I won't blame you. I will, however, read Watashiya's other works; hopefully they cover just as many controversial and taboo topics - with less preteen chest-baring.
I highly enjoyed this anime/manga picking it up due to the controversy around. Despite the content I did find the censors highly annoying in the anime. At first it seems like a lolicon's dream fest, but the story is much deeper then that; it touches on child abuse among other things. Despite what many think, this isn't just some 'Pedophile' Series.
It's very well done, despite the behaviour of kokonoe rin, whom many found uncomfortable to watch; due to her precocious behavior. But if you can look past that, you can enjoy this anime/manga.