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.
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.
A new teacher in elementary school is afflicted by an adorable little girl in his class who believes she's in love with him. And at first it really is an affliction. He has no interest in little girls as romance or sex objects, AND since he is the girl's teacher, any relationship with her at all, if misconstrued, could ruin his life.
So far, so good, and very promising. For those of you who don't know yet, manga writers delight in creating "unworkable" couples. There are so many opportunities for humor in them! And this female mangaka clearly started out to produce such a funny story,
and succeeded completely. The first few volumes of the manga are hilarious.
But there is another reason that manga delights in incongruous couples, and that is the great value that approaching and retreating from the breaking of moral boundaries has as a holder of attention for the reader. The creator of this story uses this advantage to the fullest as well.
But something fascinating happens as time goes on. The writer of the story rises to the occasion of having a successful manga running to explore multiple issues of relationships among all the characters, and likewise many issues of child treatment in Japan. Meanwhile, as time passes the teacher is depicted as increasingly torn by an inner conflict: He begins to love the little girl, but he is, like all young men, much in need of a sexual partner. He is thus presented with a very serious moral dilemma: his need for sex versus his increasing love for the girl--which of course calls upon him, a decent man, NOT to have sex with her.
Time passes, many events occur, and our hero suffers. We all wait to see how it all will come out. A great romance of a unique kind unfolds. It is truly a memorable story.
PS: No sex between an adult and a minor occurs in this manga. It is a series that flirts with the idea of lolicon attachment, but never reaches it in actuality. This is a common trope in Japanese manga. It seemed to me as I was reading the manga that if a person loves the art and storytelling of another culture, then he ought to abandon the Puritanism of his own while reading the works of that culture.
You might think it's a stupid manga, with nothing more than those "she seduces him-he falls for it" scene... But actually, this manga shows the story of not only Rin and Aoki, but also the other characters including their past, their way of thinking and reacting to things in a more detailed way. Also, what's interesting is there you don't see only one kind of love and the characters aren't all "normal"! You get to see different kinds of love including those who are legal and those who aren't, and you get to see different kind of personalities. Some characters even have personality dissorders which
makes it kinda like a psychological manga. And lastly, the messages it gives are extremely interesting and mature. Ah...and since it has to do with school, you'll see Aoki caught up in some of students problems, which he solves surprisingly well.
In this anime you'll find, like, the dark and bright sides and the characters that almost 50% or maybe more of population has it. But isn't it alright? You'll experience different personalities that are weird but make sense in a way. Instead of reading those usual love stories, I think Kodomo No Jikan is much worth it.
Also there aren't any hard H scenes. I think it says Ecchi because there are some bathtub scenes with two or more women and there their chests are visible. The other ecchi scenes are, like, "level 1" and are rare.
Lets start with the ARTWORK: Fair. Quite decent. A fair number of fan service drawings that are... well, not exactly to my taste. I try to be open minded about it, for example, if it was a story of love between two men, then it wouldn't either be my cup of tea, but the story is what is important, and how it is conveyed. The artwork is decent to carry the story.
The CHARACTERS are very good. I suppose there is a balance between characters being plausible and being interesting, and they attain both. They have their own flaws and issues, quite a few severe
issues, but they keep trying. You might say some of the characters cross the moral event horizon by some of their actions, but overall they are sympathetic.
Finally, the STORY, okay, well, first, a major theme in the story is that children should be allowed to be children. That taking advantage of children is monstrous. Sure, the artwork is a bit explicit at times, many times, but this point of the story should not go unmentioned. I won't spoil by divulging how or when this point comes across, but it should be obvious for anyone who has read the entire manga. So, let me reiterate that: children should be allowed to be children, and not taken advantage of, regardless of your own feelings or even if the child express affection.
I do find this point rather ironic, considering the explicit artwork.
The story, overall, has several heartwarming themes to them. The story, at times, divulge into rather dark territory, but the lessons and morals it aims to purvey are worthwhile. What it means to be a parent, what it means to be a teacher, and how those... jobs can _feel_ if you are emotionally invested. Granted, you may feel that some parts are inappropriate.