No doubt, the thing that probably caught the eye of many of us towards this show was that art style. It looked unique, stylish and intriguing. That is certainly how I felt when seeing this show. Now an anime or manga would use this as a launch point to get people into your world and story that you are trying to tell. What we get a show that carries that unique art style and expands on it into something I didn’t think I would enjoy this much.
Sit back relax, knock on the bathroom door and say “Hanako-san, Hanako-san, are you there?” As I present to you the anime review for Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun. Let begin.
Our story begins in Kamome Academy where Nene Yashiro is attempting to summon Hanako-san in order to to grant her a wish despite many trying and failing to summon Hanako-san. However, she manages to successfully summon Hanako-san and wishes Hanako-san to help her with her romantic desires. But, due to some unforeseen circumstances, she is dragged into the world of the supernatural and becomes Hanako-san’s assistant to maintain balance between humans and the apparitions that seem to want to mess with them and disrupt the balance.
Out the shows this season that deal with supernatural rumours and apparitions (e.g, In/Spectre and Magia record), Hanako-kun probably does it in the most enjoyable and satisfying way on how to deal with the apparitions and how they came to be. Mainly because the world building is really good. How the apparitions take form, how they get stronger or weaker through word of mouth and how they get easily influenced by humanity. The show does as much showing as it does telling us without relying on over-exposition to explain it to us how world of apparitions work. This is especially true with how the “Seven Wonders,” the head apparitions that have taken a foothold in the school, work and how they get their strength as well as their own world in which they manifest. It’s all genuinely interesting and is presented in a way that is both chilling and charming but never at the same time.
Now the show carries plenty of mystery to it with the apparitions, the Seven Wonders and Hanako-san himself. Are they deep mysteries? Not really. They are more or less self contained mysteries, that exist to help with the world building and character depth, which to be fair, does help out the show quite a bit to help give it that depth that it needs, but it doesn’t help develop this one big narrative that this show is trying to develop with the help of its main antagonists. The focus is clearly on the relationship on Yashiro and Hanako-san and how they work together to stop the apparitions from disrupting the balance. Yet it felt like there was some missed potential to make the situation more dire than it seemed because the threat didn’t feel like the a threat as it was treated like a causal, nonchalant problem that they will eventually solve.
Yashiro is what I would describe as a more capable damsel in distress. While she does rely on Hanako-san help save her from other apparitions since she has no way to defend herself, but she does do things that Hanako-san isn’t capable of doing. So she isn’t entirely useless as she does have her uses to make the partnership between Yashiro and Hanako-san more justifiable. But she does make for a good character due to her innocent and caring personality. Although she is full of herself, it’s nice to see a character like her be not a total airhead which they could have clearly done.
Then there is Hanako-san, a mischievous, childish, s**tsterer who loves nothing more than maintaining balance between worlds and constantly teasing Yahsiro. But there is clear chemistry between the two characters in a way that you actually care for them and hope they ship. It is one of the main factors why I like this show as they both bring an emotional factor within all the comedic stuff and of course, due to their chemistry, they do have some of the best comedic moments in the show.
Then there is Kou Minamoto, who has his own arc throughout the show. First and foremost though, he is an exorcist, trained to exorcise all apparitions, but he is a novice at it. So when he encounters Hanako-san, he is a bit shell shocked that not all apparitions are evil. Unlike his older brother Teru, Kou becomes more open minded about what is a good apparition and a bad apparition and we see him grow throughout. It’s not deep character growth but it is enough to be noticeable as we see his character understand the world of apparitions through the eyes of an apparition and how his perception of the world of apparitions changes. The last few episodes is where he truly shines as a character and became very likeable in my opinion.
Now here is the most interesting part of the show. The animation for Hanako-kun is very unique with its art style and presentation. So first things first, this art style is GOD DAMN GORGEOUS. I love how this show looks because of that unique feel to it to help give this show its own identity. Everything about the art style works as it also enhances the quality of the show very well. It makes the characters very expressive as you can really get a feel for their emotions, it improves the comedic moments and makes the show’s more thrilling moments that more intense. It makes every scene in this series that more engaging because of its more unique look. Is it perfect though? Not really. The actual animation is lacking as it more or less still images and sliding panels but the show presents it in a way where I can overlook that. It’s not a problem that I will knock the show for, but it’s one of the more lacking areas of the show.
If the animation enhances the show, then the ost compliments it with tracks that sound haunting and tracks that sound sweet and light hearted. It definitely adds to the mood with violins, pianos and a bit of the banjo to give that youkai feel to it. It gives that extra sense of immersion to it to get you engrossed into what you are watching. Definitely a high point in the show.
Then there is the opening which I absolutely love. Titled, "No.7" by Jibaku Shounen Band, this really embraces quirky, supernatural side of the show while maintaining the style and presentation of the show’s animation style. I also love as it slightly sounds angrier as it goes on as you hear the vocals and instruments sounding heavier as it goes on as we get closer to the chorus. Definitely one of the best openings this season.
The ending, "Tiny Light" by Akari Kitou is very symbolic with Yashiro walking among the living and Hanako-san walking along the world of the dead and supernatural until they meet each other. It’s nothing remotelty complex but it is clever with how some characters are related to the world of the supernatural and is showcased here. Definitely a good ED.
You should never judge a show by how it looks and judge it as a whole. Because it’s not just that art style that makes this show enjoyable, it’s how the world is structured and how our characters interact with it and each other. This revelation as it were, lead me to the conclusion that Toilet-bound Hanako-kun is a great supernatural show with plenty of thrills, comedic edge and heart that made me want to continue watching this show throughout. It was much better than I thought it was going to be and the animation was only an enhancer for what we were shown as a whole. It doesn’t rely on over-exposition (unlike In/Spectre) or background knowledge of the franchise to make sense of it (unlike Magia record). So yeah, if you haven’t watched this series already, WATCH IT.
My personal enjoyment: 9/10
Overall score: 8.5/10 Recommendation: Watch it