Hanamaru Kindergarten

Studio: GAINAX    Genre: Comedy/Slice of life/Romance
Aired: Winter 2010    Length: 12 Episodes
Weeaboo Average Score: N/A  (0 ratings)

Hanamaru Kindergarten - Preview

The most adorable kindergarten in Japan that makes you forget everything you've heard about Japan. Or does it?

Posted by: Crim @ 2010-03-11 00:04:31

We usually catch a heads up about series a few months in advance of when they air from our secret Nihongo speaking agents which helps us get an early start on who's going to follow what so we know how much Xanax to order for the season. From these early indicators Hanamaru Kindergarten quite literally fell through the cracks, its not that we didnít know about it, but we literally had no intention of following it. The weeaboo blogosphere threw up warning flags and we simply could not accept the fact that GAINAX, the creators of the greatest anime of this and possibly the last millennium too, were doing a show about kindergartners. I donít even remember being in kindergarten so clearly there can't possibly be anything worth making an anime series about right? Wrong. We were once again mislead by preconceptions and only further proved the need for our own existence, you can never judge an anime by its promotional images and 15 second tag line.

As I mentioned before Hanamaru Kindergarten follows the adventures of the students and teachers of the Gold Star Kindergarten. More specifically it revolves around Tsuchida a recent college graduate and the school's first male kindergarten teacher, three of his students; Anzu a hyperactive wide eyed wildly imaginative little girl, Hiiragi (Hii for short) a little girl who's smarter than everyone else at the school teachers included combined, has an amazing cosplay fetish and who's father is voiced by Katsuyuki Konishi (Kamina) and Koume the very shy easily teased kind of moe to round out the group.

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At first glance you probably make the same assumption we did, mainly that there can't be anything interesting in this setup and really if this is all there was to the story you would be right. The way GAINAX gets around this problem is to pull a Japan style 'creative liberty' take on the show, if you can remember back to the days of yesteryear and your childhood you might remember that the US had a show called Rugrats which followed a group of even younger kids on wild and crazy adventures that ended up being pretty successful, Hanamaru Kindergarten doesnít quite go as far as Rugrats does but it does put the cast into situations that really would never happen outside of fiction.

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The first episode starts out starts out (not so) early in the morning of the first day of classes for the year with Tsuchida waking up late and rushing to school to not be late on his first day on the job. Along the way he runs across Anzu standing alone on the side of the road and stops to see why such a young girl is alone, Anzu mistakes his concern for Tsuchida hitting on her (and thus setting up the biggest running gag for the rest of the show) and tells him that she's waiting for her mom who went back home to get something she forgot. Anzu's mom returns and Tsuchida quickly remembers that he's late and hurries off to school. The school itself is amazing, the buildings are shaped like giant apples with giant slides and a big playground out front all painted in bright colors, Tshchida gets a mild scolding from the principal, who comes off very much as the loveable grandma that everyone has. After the scolding Tsuchida goes down to the front gates to help out Yamamoto-sensei with the first day registrations and greetings, he's apparently never seen Yamamoto before and instantly falls in love with the beautiful girl at first sight. Of course we all know that beautiful young girls in anime are often lacking in one department or another, Yamamoto happens to fall into the very 'bubbly-moe' category, kind hearted and loving but wouldnít know someone was in love with her if cupid himself appeared and told her straight to her face.

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After registrations are complete the children and their parents gather for the greeting and introductions of the teaching staff where Tsuchida suddenly realizes the living hell that his life has become. When it's his turn to introduce himself he notices quite a lukewarm response from the parents who arenít too sure about having a male kindergarten teacher (only about one in fifty kindergarten teachers in Japan are male), this isnít helped any when Anzu recognizes him and shots out "He really does love children (in response to something said by Tsuchida), he hit on me!", this obviously sends him into a panic total denial mode which in the end somehow shows everyone that he's not such a bad guy after all.

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The rest of the episode introduces us to the rest of the teaching staff (who are all smoking hot babes), gives a little introduction to the mischief that the children (read: mainly Anzu) will get into, and shows us a bit of background on the families of Anzu, Hii, and Koume.

The production values on Hanamaru Kindergarten are first rate, GAINAX does a wonderful job of making the show feel very child like while retaining impressive quality and fluidity of animation. The sound effects are also incredible, almost everything the children do is accompanied by cute sound effects that add to the action occurring and quickly lull you into a hhnnnnnnnnnnngggg kawaii induced coma. Normally we mention our take on the OP and ED of shows but Hanamaru presents a unique problem, the ED is different for every episode, including the animation. When GAINAX does something, they do it right. The ending animation to the second episode had the entire staff here literally awestruck from the sheer amounts of awesome being viewed. Most of the time shows have the same ending for an entire season or will change subtle parts of the animation with already used footage from the scene, but GAINAX does completely new animation for every ending sequence and clearly put a lot of work into them, something we greatly appreciate. The songs themselves are nothing spectacular or memorable (so far) but fit perfectly with the light heartedness and cute theme of the show.

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Interestingly enough the voice cast of the show are all pretty much entirely B-list talent with the exception of Konishi you've probably never heard of any of them. They all have lots of experience and do a good job in their roles here though so even this doesnít really count against the show any.

Everyone loves this show, even if it does make us feel a little weird about the constant attempts by Anzu to confess her love to Tsuchida. I think after a few episodes though because it happens so often you start to get desensitized to it, we used to ask "Annnd nobody sees a problem with this?" but we hardly notice it anymore so the response from the people in the show seems natural as well.

First Impression: 10/10
Verdict: There is absolutely no reason for anyone to not watch this show, it is quite probably the best show of the season due to its focus on an actual story and likeable characters while not beating you over the head with fanservice and pantyshots.

Hanamaru Kindergarten - Complete Review

An anime that finally earns a Gold Star

Posted by: Crim @ 2010-04-03 20:35:11

Up front I'll just start off getting to the point, this anime was good. Those of you who are familiar with what we do will know that we donít throw around the G-word lightly. In retrospect I feel bad that we almost didnít watch this show, we would have missed out on one of the best shows in the past several years.

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Hanamaru Kindergarten did (almost) everything right, it remembered that it was a comedy slice of life show before all else and didnít get hung up in drama or bogged down with a cast of characters that nobody cares about. Being a school, you really only get to know about the core 3 plus one or two who are not superfluous at all, if you get to know someone's name its because they'll be showing up regularly. The teaching staff is the same way, even though the show revolves around Tsuchi and Yamamoto-sensei the other moes all play important supporting roles on a regular basis. The comedy is fast paced and fresh, there really is no gag that gets overused even though Anzu will never let you forget that she is the only woman for Tsuchi, you'll never get tired of it because it's just too cute. Thanks to GAINAX the show looks wonderful from start to finish in every episode, they even took the time to truthfully animate an original ending animation for every episode, often each in a very distinct style that focuses on important characters in the preceding episode. Sound is used to perfection in Hanamru, almost every action taken by the children has its own sound effect which you might think would get old, it really doesnít, it's just too cute and fits so well, you'll even probably wish your life had sound effects after a few episodes. The OP and ED are fairly forgettable, interestingly enough every ED has its own song as well as the original animation so that may partially explain it.

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Really the only thing keeping Hanamaru Kindergarten from being the greatest anime of all time is that it suffers from lack of closure (like every anime). Honestly I have a feeling that if we loved it so much Japan has to be going fucking nuts over it, and if it sells well enough it will probably get additional season(s), which is really a must. The story only covers a about a year with the final episode occurring over Christmas (we thought the worst when we noticed this) and new years, which leaves room for a second year of the children staying at Hanamaru if a second season was green lit. The ending was one of the saddest things, everyone watching was so angry because despite Tsuchi's second and third confessions to Yamamoto-sensei she is still too clueless to pick up on his heartfelt but shy advances. Everyone else in the fucking show knows he wants her, including Yamamoto's younger sister (who ironically has her own troubles trying to get Hanamaru-sensei to pick up what she's putting down), none of them really do their part to help him out either. The moes got him totally drunk along with Yamamoto-sensei at a karaoke bar which thwarted his first confession, and even when THE ONE PERSON IN THE SHOW who has no reason to help him out (Anzu) is brought to tears because she realizes how much he wants to be with Yamamoto and forces him to run her down on a snowy Christmas night he still comes up unsuccessful. Its so aggravating you just want to lock the two of them into a closet and not let them out until they figure the shit out because you end up being so attached to everyone by the end of the show you wont accept anything less than everyone living happily ever after.

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In a season full of shows that make you a little uncomfortable being an anime fan, Hanamaru Kindergarten is a safe place that you know will be waiting for you at the end of the day and you can watch without worry of someone walking in and catching you. Dispite the lack of closure, which I pray will one day be rectified (but Japan does have a history of blueballing fans of truly great shows in favor of doing stupid shit with cash-cow properties like reanimating the same episode nine times and calling it a second season) Hanamaru easily lands on my Top 10 list of all time favorite/greatest anime.

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If you watch one Anime this year make it Hanamaru Kindergarten, you won't regret it.