Kodomo no Jikan: Second Term
Rin Kokonoe and her friends Kuro and Mimi enter the fourth grade, which holds its own series of events for all three of them, as well as for their teachers at the school. Chief among them is the girls' homeroom teacher Daisuke Aoki, whom Rin still has a crush on.
This review contain spoilers. Be aware!
Ah, sequels. There's a certain aspect to them that I both like and don't like at the same time. But hey, if you liked the original series (or at least its characters), there's a certain appeal to coming back to these characters again and watching what new adventures await them. You tend to forgive any possible flaws (at least at first) that sequels have because, dang it, you liked this show and its cast the first time around, and you want the same experience again!
But then you have the other kind of sequels - the kind that make you wonder how they got made in the first place, much less get sequels. I typically tend to avoid sequel series to anime I don't like, but sometimes a series I don't care for can improve over time. Take School Rumble, for example. I didn't care much for the original series (Stig likes the first season way more than I do), but I enjoyed the second anime season quite a bit. I didn't care much for the Pretty Sammy OAVs, but the later TV series, Magical Project S, is still a fun, quirky anime I can look back on with good memories.
Anyone who's been on this website in the past three years knows of my original review for Kodomo no Jikan. In the seven years I've reviewed for this site, I have never received so much flack for a single review both through e-mail and the THEM Anime forum as I did it. But they say that time heals all wounds, and I decided to give the series another go with its sequel, Kodomo no Jikan: Second Term. A small part of me hoped that, with the show no longer having to follow the boundaries of censorship like the T.V. series did, that it had nowhere to go but up, right?
Hate to say it, but my opinion on the animated adaption hasn't changed much since I reviewed the TV series three years ago.
I guess I'll start off with my favorite aspect of Second Term - more of a focus on the characters as a whole. Unlike the TV series, I never really got the feeling of filler scenes in the OAV, and a few parts here and there even perked a smile on my face. The art seems a little better this time around, given that it's an OAV, and the voices seem a little more relaxed now that the cast had a whole season of episodes to bult up their experiences from. Kuro is also significantly less violent this time around as well after the first episode, making her far more likable to me. The series also finally shows a more sensitive side to her character in the "Kuro-chan and Shiro-chan" episode, where she develops a budding relationship with Sae Shirai. (Unfortunately, Studio Barcelona adds another crotch gag with her and Daisuke not in the manga. Sigh.)
Episode 1, titled "Fourth Graders", is a straightforward episode - at first. Rin, Kuro, and Mimi are getting ready to go back to school, but before that we have a scene of Rin on a tree, and Daisuke apologizing to her. She announces she's coming down, but her dress gets caught on a branch, and then...well, you get the idea. Anyway, it's time to decide positions for the school year! Upset that Mimi is badgered into becoming the Class Representative due to her grades, Rin volunteers, surprising Daisuke. But after thinking one day that the class shrugged off their duties because of Rin, he hurts her, claiming she has no trust in him and runs off.
Sounds innocent enough, right? Well, any emotion that could've had is interrupted by a scene that takes place between the scene where the girls get ready for school and said getting to school. You see, Rin wakes her cousin Reiji up by tickling him, accidentally grabbing his junk. Then she wants to go to school dressed in very, very short shorts that clearly show off her butt, and a shirt that barely covers her chest area. So Reiji attempts to cover her butt with his hand, being cited as a child molester in the process for "grabbing" his cousin's butt. A later scene involving Rin playing with sexual innuendo with fruit isn't any funnier.
The next two episodes are about a sports festival. Rin gets sick, Kuro gets upset that her teacher idol Sae Shirai refuses to dress up for a costume parade, and Mimi is sad that no one pays attention to her except when she gets good grades. (A problem that it isn't helped when her mother shows up and only cheers on her older brother. Ouch.) The usual innuendo from Rin didn't bother me so much this time around, since the writers make up for it with an inane scene later where Mimi comforts her sick friend. At one point Rin starts thinking of her mother and wanting to suck on her milk, glancing at Mimi. She informs her friend (and I quote the subtitles), "My breasts don't produce milk", making her cry. But later she caves in and breast feeds Rin anyway.
And I just looked at the screen at utter shock. I...can't describe it in words. I didn't think I'd ever watch an anime where a 10 year old girl breast feeds another 10 year old girl, but apparently someone out there decided I needed to see that. The camera zooming in to said breasts don't help, either. (Neither does Mimi commenting that Rin is hurting her nipple from biting too hard on it.)
The bonus episode, Kuro-chan and Shiro-chan, is the best episode of the bunch, much like how episode 6 was the best episode in the original series. Aside from a pointless Rin joke added in the anime at the end of the episode, it's a good episode for both characters to develop their characters. And it's mostly free of crass jokes, too.
Too bad that's not the norm. Even ignoring the incredibly obnoxious (and squicky) innuendo, the fact that Kodomo no Jikan: Second Term is only four episodes long prevents anything from really happening. While it's mostly a straightforward adaption of volume 4 of the manga, the missing chunks of it hurt it greatly. (Such as Daisuke and Kyoko's talk in chapter 22, Sae's smirky "the one to blame isn't the the children, it's the teacher" line in chapter 23, or Rin and Daisuke shaking hands at the end of chapter 24.) Also, some of the changes made in the anime (such as chapter 24's material being moved to before the end of the chapter 23) from the stuff they did keep in are less than beneficial, and it makes Rin as a character look worse. In addition to the poor animation and mediocre music, the anime is also just not as eye-catching as Watashiya's manga, and a lot of the funnier sight gags only in the manga (such as Kuro at times turning into a literal cat for comedic affect) are lost in the anime.
The Kodomo no Jikan manga, as of my writing this on September 2010, is up to chapter 64. The latest chapters are, in my opinion, far and beyond the best yet, finally becoming what I feel to be a, *gasp*, enjoyable manga, creepy innuendo notwithstanding. The anime, meanwhile, is still stuck in the earlier, creepy parts of the manga. And then Studio Barcelona came and extended the creepiest scenes to Family Guy-like levels, as well as added in incredibly unfunny jokes, and attached to the opening and ending of all four episodes bad songs.
While better than the TV series, Kodomo no Jikan: Second Term is just as unsettling and annoying at times as its predecessor. Perhaps under another studio it might have fared better, but Studio Barcelona has proven twice now that they have no desire to highlight the positive aspects of the Kodomo no Jikan manga, but rather multiply the negatives. I am officially done with anything Kodomo no Jikan that's not the manga as long as they hold the rights to further animated adaptions unless I hear a chorus of praise on the fifth OAV come next year. I advise you all to do the same.
As low as two stars can go, pretty much. More character development and plot than season one, but still the same unfunny, creepy innuendo and sex jokes that annoyed me the first time around, if not even worse. The bad far outweighs the good. Add a star for Kuro-chan and Shiro-chan, far and beyond the best episode in Second Term. — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: This series features naked, innuendo-spouting little girls. And a scene where one little girl breast feeds another little girl. Parents, don't be fooled by the art style or the girls' ages - this is not a kids' show!
Version(s) Viewed: Pre-license fansub
Review Status: Full (4/4)
Kodomo no Jikan: Second Term © 2009 Kaworu Watashiya / Kojima Production Committee
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