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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What an interesting manga. It's hard to give this one a review, simply because by its nature it's incredibly controversial; the foundation it's built upon is incredibly controversial. But behind all the panty shots and loli-paradise scenes, there's actually a real story, deep characters, and a fascinating assessment of children's' place in society.
Rin Kokonoe and her friends know far more about sex than would seem normal - but in these days of internet and easy access to information, is it really that strange? Their boldness and cheek is both jaw-dropping and intriguing. Plus hilarious when coupled with inexperienced Aoki-sensei's reactions. xD
There's a very interesting
take on the strength or value of different types of love - parental love, romantic love, obsessive love... I can't say much more without spoilers, but the constrasts are very well done and interesting.
As for the other characters, all of them managed to capture my interest! Usually I get bored with some characters' plotlines, but in this manga, every one is well throughout and expressed and very interesting to follow, so I never got bored.
Art is nothing extraordinary but still very cute and fun. Gorgeous color panel scenes every now and then.
Bottom line, there IS a lot of children as the targets of sexuality, so if that bothers you, don't read this. But that's not the bottom line of this manga - it really goes into way more than that, and throughout it all there's still comic moments and that "will-they-won't-they" sense that shoujo fans love.
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.
Kodomo no Jikan, otherwise translated as "A Child's Time" is a story basing itself around exactly that (a child's time). More over, it gets involved in the psychology of children, and more prominently, lolita-complex.
The story focus is based mainly around a newly appointed 3rd grade teacher, Aoki Daisuke, and a female trio of students, Kokonoe Rin, Kagami Kuro, and Usa Mimi and how their school and personal lives start to become further engrossed as Aoki tries to keep his class manageable.
As the story progresses it seems to cover multiple angles of child psychology/interaction, from the aspect of a Teacher/Parent trying to learn how to deal
with children, to an Adult with a troubled childhood who you could say never got the chance to really grow up in his rationality of love due to those circumstances, and a child who is troubled and dead-set on becoming her teacher's future bride, to name just a few of the angles the manga plays on.
There are other angles not related to the lolita-complex elements that are also played out, follow more along the topics of parental separation, parental loss, parental neglect, parental abuse, and the effects they have on a child, though they are not as prominent aspects, yet all slowly tying into the story and relating to matters at hand. Thus the childhood experiences of the older characters get brought up as the story progresses, which is where things become more about those childhood experiences effecting the current character actions of the older characters. The experiences of the main trio of girls which the story focuses around are also similarly brought up to add more background understanding as to why they act as they do as well.
The story uses a balance of humorous and serious moments to balance out the overall atmosphere of the story. In fact, the story is usually carrying a very light hearted air and when the story starts to hit at dark or gloomy information on certain characters it then rebounds a little to bring the balance back. This is what makes the story so far great, as there are times to laugh, times to be concerned, and also times to feel bad for what is going on or what happened in the past of a character.
**A specific thing to note is that it is usually Rin's advances on Aoki that are usually light and humorous, and the only problem character in the story thus far is Rin's uncle and only person she has consideration for as family, Reiji. Thus, while there is the portrayal of circumstantial child nudity in different parts of the story, it is usually in a light manner and are mostly Rin's often humorous sexual advances on Aoki, which he gets embarrassed, confused, and worried about when they happened because she's often toying with him, though not always. Anything in the story as far as nudity in general is appropriately handled so the story and character portrayals are not lost to senseless use of the element.
It's been a while that I've seen a story at this level, or one willing to go to the extremes that this this one does. The way characters are handled and how the story comes together leads me to believe that as it continues to progress things will be guaranteed to get interesting. The portrayal of characters seems reasonable enough, with of course understanding to proper character exaggerations where needed, yet not stretching the bounds too much that the story would be so implausible that it would lead me to fail to see the reality and humanity being presented. I'd rate this higher, but I'd feel it unfit to do so to as so far the story continues. The art isn't amazing, but I don't expect it to be, and while I enjoy it, I can't be sure it will continue to please me, so the rating and this review will change as the story progresses should I see need for revision or update.
[Edited: Nov 27th, 2009. I think it is a better review now.]
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.
Kodomo No Jikan, also known as A Child's Time, also known as Nymphet, has had an odd history of censorship and bias against it. Given that it both parallels and subverts Vladimir Nabakov's 1950s novel Lolita, it does rather need explaining; For one, the reason no company will touch it is the the fact the characters are underage. The actions of the young characters Rin Kokonoe, Kuro Kagami, and Usa Mimi (3 years younger than Japan's Age of Consent) are meant to make you feel off-balance. Considering that the first character introduced is what can be considered the Avatar character, Daisuke Aoki, and he finds
their actions wrong, so are you supposed to; though this seems like it might appeal to the Lolicons out there, things develop in story that very much says otherwise. I cannot write what it is, but it is suffice to say that it completely refutes the accusations of certain Seven Seas Publishing employees who claim it is a "training manual for pedophiles".
Kodomo no Jikan is, in my opinion, an amazing manga series; many find it to be this, also. However, despite the acclaim it has received, it is still controversial due to its being a lolicon-themed manga. Indeed, it is a lolicon ecchi series, but it's actually very deep and well-written, which surprised even me, frankly.
The story at first starts off, well, oddly. Maybe it was just me since I'm not fond of lolicon manga, but it certainly felt awkward, and I almost wanted to stop reading it. However, I got through the first volume, and to be honest, it wasn't bad. I actually thought
the story was kind of cute and funny, so I went onward. Oh goodness, before I knew it, I was almost done with the entire manga series, and I wanted more. The story hooked me without me even knowing it until I was like on chapter seventy-something. It's very deep, and although it's a comedy manga, it's also a drama manga, and I believe the latter is the punctuating genre for this series. Sure, the comedy is funny, but the drama and subtlety of it in the story is what really makes the series so amazing and well-developed. It is what differentiates this series from most other comedy-drama mangas, especially the ecchi kind. It has depth, and a charm to it.
The art is great, although I wasn't too big on it initially. The art is good from the beginning, but I really began to love it a few volumes into the series, as the art becomes more detailed and, in simple words, beautiful. I adore how Watashiya expresses her characters' emotions and feelings through her art. Sometimes words are not necessary.
Each and every character, even the supporting characters, is developed beautifully. I really adore how their personalities grow and mature (even the adult characters). I just love series that develop characters fully like in this manga.
I really enjoyed this manga, and everything about it. Not sure what more to say.
If one can get through some of the ecchi scenes, especially in the first chapters, then it should be a nice read. For me, it was an excellent read. It's a shame this series was not released here in the U.S. due to its lolicon theme, but it's to be expected I guess. It is an artful and wonderful story about the coming of age of a young girl and her school teacher who wants to help her grow and mature. I know many people may find me weird for loving this manga, but this is my opinion. One can form their own after reading this series, but not just from reading a summary and dismissing it as a shallow ecchi manga. It is more than an ecchi manga, and always will be.
KnJ is a hard review to write. There's nothing easy to say about this manga, other than everything is weighed against the fact that yes, sex sells, and kids are the focus of this work.
That said, immediately dispel any preconceived notion you have. There is something great here, one of my favorite pieces, because it tells a story no one else will.
The big draw to KnJ for many people is seeing how the MC interacts with Kokonoe Rin, the disturbed 12 year old who projects sexual advances onto him at every turn. It doesn't take long to realize that there's more
to this story.
KnJ is far more about dealing with the hypersexuality of todays youth than it is about showing panties. It does this often, with the MC repeatedly taking a mature stance to stand in and help a girl who is obviously disturbed.
The more he helps, the more he starts struggling with his own feelings and responsibilities, and the acceptance of both.
Do not get it confused, Kodomo is NOT ecchi. It's something at the next level. Ecchi makes you feel like a pervert by dropping sneaky hints that something innocent might be perverted, and leaving you to make that leap.
KnJ on the otherhand, makes that leap for you, and shoves the perversion in your face. This isn't bad, but it's what you should expect.
The anime and the manga vary a bit, but I enjoyed the artstyle of the mangaka. She drew soft enough lines to make the young look youthful and touched the adults, even the young adults, with enough hard lines to make sure you see the differences. Rins friends are basically dolls for the artists, who give them an assortment of cute outfits.
The MC is a bit underated. He isn't interesting on his own, but the weight of his decisions paints a character silhoutte that is enjoyable. Rin and her friends are well fleshed out, from innocence to budding yuri, and they all have relationships that are explored satisfactorily. Even minor characters are applied well enough to make you feel like they exist for a reason.
I thoroughly enjoyed KnJ, and at times it is a hard emotional punch that makes you reconsider traditional love. In fact, most of the theme throughout is about non-traditional love, and why it is valid. I highly recommend to those with open minds.