For some reason, Hanada Shounen-shi is a very under-watched slice of life series.
This is a spoiler free review.
The premise is basically about a boy who acquires the ability to see ghosts and he helps these ghosts he comes across finish their unfinished business in their past lives. And I'd be lying if I said this hasn't been done before. However, it does lead to some interesting stories that the boy gets involved in with the ghosts past lives. The stories even have a bit of continuity to them with recurring characters and the like, but they are pretty random for the most part. They usually are story arcs that last 2 or 3 episodes. Although this is a comedy/slice of life anime so you shouldn't really expect much of a storyline.
Anyway, the stories always start out with a comedic tone and eventually become very sad the more the boy gets involved in the ghost's past life. The stories probably could've used a little more conflict to it's advantage, but then again, conflict is what other slice of life series take for granted and they fall in to forced drama and other such nonsense. This is something that never really occurs here. So you gotta give it credit for that. And it does indeed remain interesting and entertaining with little to no conflict throughout the entire series. Now that is awesome!
In addition, in each story arc there's always some interesting turn of events or twist which extends the story, and you most likely won't see them coming and it's generally done very well.
The story occasionally also involves the boy's school life and such things in which the ghosts are not the focus. Which is a pretty good way to avoid being repetitive and it works.
The thing that kinda bothered me about the story is that the supernatural aspect probably could've been handled better and with more consistency. For example, it is established that the boy can't touch the ghosts, and then in a different circumstance he can touch them for some reason. Another example is that at some point, the boy can literally jump outside of his own body and become a ghost temporarily just for the sake of a particular story arc he stumbled in to. Without really explaining when or how he learned to do that. So that felt pretty contrived.
As for how the story concludes… I'd be lying if I said I was completely satisfied with it. I'm not spoiling anything, but the ending was sort of cute and it fits fine with the series. But it's also quite simple and it didn't resolve that much.
Let's just leave it at that.
The characters are pretty damn funny and they are a lot of fun to watch. Their personalities are established very well even though they are very simple in nature, like the easygoing drunk dad, the sister that always gets in to fights with the MC, the tomboy, the sissy boy etc'.
The main character is a naughty brat named Ichiro who likes being naughty and doing naughty boyish things. He's kinda like Shin Chan (if you're familiar with him) but surprisingly he's a lot more mature, likable and relatable. Because unlike Shin Chan, he's not always naughty just for the sake of being naughty. And he is often scolded by his mother for his behavior because of misunderstandings. He even matures and gets smarter throughout the series, so the character development is there. It's not really done in a very subtle way and nowhere is that more apparent than in the last few episodes. But, overall it was done very well and I don't have complaints about it. I really liked it.
The complaints I have are mostly with the side characters. I noticed the series goes out of it's way to give us detailed backstories of the ghosts Ichiro comes across, who basically come out of nowhere (which is great), and yet hardly tell us anything about the characters that are right in front of us in pretty much every episode. And who I'm referring to is Ichiro's family. Sure they have a lot of screen time, but they're never focused on appropriately or fleshed out very well, they're just there. And these were pretty interesting characters that had some potential (especially his sister) so that was kind of a waste.
So what it comes down to is that the MC is generally well developed all the characters are a lot of fun, even though the secondary characters lack development and focus. The ghosts Ichiro comes across often have very touching/sad stories that will likely make you both laugh and cry. So know that at least on an emotional level this series works great thanks to the ghosts and their life stories.
The artwork is overall really good. Though people are probably turned off by it, because it looks simple and it doesn't have overly cute girls and such. But the fact is that the animation is great, despite what the characters look like. The backgrounds are very detailed and the directing is quite obviously, well above average. It's directed by the same guy who directed 'Monster' and it's by studio Madhouse who usually have very good animation, and this series is no exception to the rule despite just being a simple easygoing slice of life anime.
The opening and ending are by the Backstreet boys… Lol, bet you didn't see that coming. I'm no fan, but they do help create an atmosphere. I never even considered skipping the op or the ed while watching this series..
And together with the very nice and calm ost it has, it works.
I don't know Japanese, but the voice acting is great, with funny voices. Though I must say it was kinda distracting to hear voice actors from One Piece in this series (I heard Franky, Luffy and Ussop's voices in this, lol).
It works very well as a tear jerking comedy. You'd most likely laugh, cry and have a lot of fun. Though the humor is a little toilety and the show might feel kinda cheesy at times. I personally enjoyed it a lot though.
It's really good, But it could've been great with only some little fixes like focusing more on the secondary characters, handling the supernatural element better and an ending that is a little more solid.
Besides that, this anime is really good and it's definitely worth watching if you like slice of life/comedy anime.