- Alt. Title
- Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun
- Release Date
- Winter 2020
- No. of Episodes
Rumors are an exotic species; if one lets stories go wildly, they begin to take upon a life of their own. While some gossip may be true in one way or another, it usually does more harm than good. Though if a glorious yet deadly friendship started by a simple rumor, is it awful? Our companions are the most critical part of one’s life and the afterlife. We all deserve to be loved and wanted though sometimes it’s what we don’t know that is truly terrifying, though this series may not be what everyone assumes it’ll transpire based on first impressions.
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Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun is a 2020 Comedy series by studio Lerche, the same studio that made Assassination Classroom and the infamous Danganronpa series. Though I must admit that when this series first aired, I had to drop it due to a few other series, I stand by the belief that eventually, once one starts something, they should go back to it. While this series has viewers well divided, either rating it very positive or very morose with nothing in between, it made me question why? How could one series divide so evenly between people? With such well-divided groups, the sudden urge to see what the commotion was about, and it continued to grow inside me until I couldn’t take it anymore.
On the outside surface of this series, it can easily be mistaken as a romantic comedy, or at the very worst, a fundamental school love story. However, one will be much mistaken; this is an appealing interpretation of a Japanese Urban Legend. The urban legend is about the spirit of a young girl who haunts school bathrooms. Though the tale’s details of her physical appearance vary depending on where one decides to read it, though what folk tale doesn’t change throughout time? However, what this anime series has done was something that is more or less arresting. It changes some of the tale’s elements, yet keeps its origins very complacent to which it elevates itself instead of falling into pitfalls some storytellers happen to fall prey to at times.
Kamome Academy is famous for its rumors regarding its Seven Mysteries – or Seven Wonders – and supernatural occurrences. One of the most well-known tales is Hanako-san: the ghost of a young girl who haunts the school’s bathrooms. While every school seems to have this tale, Kamome Academy has its variant of the legend. Rumors claim that if one successfully manages to summon Hanako-san, she will grant her summoner any wish.
Lured by the immense gossip, many people have tried to call upon her, yet every attempt has failed. However, when Nene Yashiro, a girl hoping for romantic fortune, dares to summon Hanako-san, she discovers that she may have gotten into something too much for her to handle. After a series of unfortunate events involving Nene’s romantic desires, she is unwillingly entangled in the supernatural world, becoming Hanako-kun’s assistant. Soon, she finds out about Hanako-kun’s lesser-known duty: maintaining the fragile balance between mortals and apparitions. Can she survive the job? Or will she have to pay the price for her wish, with more than just her life?
The problem within this series is that the most significant strength is also its biggest downfall. It potentially gives off a romantic comedy with a supernatural twist. While there is a little romance between characters, it’s never progressed passed the point friendship. This barrier is a tremendous plus to a series of this caliber, mainly due to its focus on what it had set out to show instead of jamming a relationship in for pure fanservice. Another remarkable aspect of this series is the pacing is well crafted and doesn’t show any of its cards too soon.
However, outside of the positives, this series does have a few negatives that may turn potential viewers running. One example is that it doesn’t have an overarching goal; nothing had progressed further from episode two to twelve. Sure, there are more characters, but the series felt that it was building up towards more seasons. Another example would be that one episode would focus more on X, then the next will ignore everything that just happened, while this may not be a deal-breaker for some, it gets somewhat verbose.
Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun has one of the most charming art styles within anime, and that’s quite impressive. This form is more cartoonish yet still keeping the Japanese anime characteristics that viewers will know and love. While it gives off a more Marvel Comic Book series vibe, this style does stand out against others within this genre to benefit any upcoming viewer.
This series’s animation production wasn’t as pleasant as the art style, but still wonderfully made. The opening and closing animations are a sure hit with anyone who decides to watch this series. However, there were slight, and I do mean small, production areas that I didn’t enjoy; for instance, most of the beginnings to each episode do those here’s what happened reminder. They play down its audience, which isn’t necessary, if the viewer is watching it week to week or binging it as long as the story is good, they’ll remember. Doing something like this just felt like they were compensating for having no real story arc.
While most series will have an immense character base, this one has an asterisk next to it. If one is looking for a large group of characters, then the most extensive accumulation will see is remarkably three. Though I don’t expect massive growth from everyone within twelve episodes, the viewer should expect something more than the bare bones. Even though this series is a shounen series, having that targeted audience implies a lack of character depth – especially when a series is under fifteen episodes. However, this series didn’t give off that impression; it gave off the impression that it was setting itself up for more seasons – which the second season will premier in the spring of 2021 if COVID-19 doesn’t have other plans.
Within the main characters of the series, it’s blatantly apparent who the show’s star is, the titular character, Hanako. Though, a little rowdy, he has a good heart and doesn’t cross the line between fun and annoying. The female lead, Nene Yashiro, is an interesting character that will either fall into one of three camps. First being adored, second being loathed, and third, being indifferent, and all three will be assessed by the same thing: her personality. She’s the semi clumsy character with a heart of gold, but she does get a tad bothersome at times. On the other hand, Kou Minamoto wasn’t fleshed out enough within this series and probably due to it hoping for another season.
As mentioned, before I initially dropped this series, and now I am displeased with myself for doing so upon giving it another chance. On the surface, this series gives off a high school supernatural rom-com, which could be perceived as one at times. Though finishing the series a few times, I’ve come to realize that it’s not that at all, it’s a splendid example of friendship and not believing rumors at face value. This series main positive is that it’s simple to follow and easy to enjoy for numerous reasons, and there were times I surprisingly busted out laughing. If one is looking for a fun little series to get behind that is easy to follow and love, then this may be the series for you.
With any series getting another season I am always somewhat interested in them, though this series I’m eager to see where it takes off. I didn’t particularly appreciate how the series somewhat ended on a cliffhanger, though that’s my personal negative and won’t negate any enjoyment from the show itself. Although one may drop this series, it does deserve the praise it gets and should be watched by anyone who enjoys lighthearted supernatural tales.
Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.