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Kodomo no Jikan
by llavar1 on August 22nd, 2007, 5:46am

Rating - 9.6 / 10.0

User rating of this review - 4.2 out of 5
Story/Plot - 5 out of 5
Characters - 5 out of 5
Drawing Style - 4 out of 5
Enjoyment - 5 out of 5
Overall - 5 out of 5

Click here for series information

Plot/Story Not pedophilia. Really. Mostly. Excellent storytelling.

Aoki Daisuke, naïve and new to teaching, is completely at a loss when dealing with a trio of little girls in his 3rd grade class. Affectionate Rin Kokonoe is a cute and precocious girl who delights in teasing Aoki in VERY inappropriate ways. Yuri-ish Kuro Kagami jealously despises Aoki and expresses her hatred violently. Only shy Mimi Usa doesn’t cause trouble – though she may need Aoki’s help most of all.

This comedic drama is notorious for its hilariously inappropriate sexual innuendo. Well, innuendo is a misstatement. Rin’s (blatant) words and actions make one suspect that this 3rd grader has been reading the wrong type of dojinshi – the very, very wrong type. Watching Aoki trying to deal with her is a hoot. That, Kuro’s jealousy, and Mimi’s innocence make for a raucous and bawdy mix. Aoki is so in over his head. Fortunately, he’s a decent fellow - and a good thing too, or this cute silliness could go from worryingly loli ecchiness to outright child porn. It walks a fine line as is, but the mangaka proves time and again that she has excellent balance.

Behind the humor and naughtiness, there is a lot of seriousness. The story looks at what many teachers are seeing in schools today and the issues that young children face. Death, parental separation, and the “benign neglect” of “there but not there” parents have shaped these three girls. As Aoki grows to know them and their situations, how will he be able to help them? Will he even understand that they need his help?

The characters feel real – the normally caring Aoki’s moments of frustration and anger, Rin’s confidence hiding deep pain, Kuro’s confusion over her feelings, and Mimi’s growing realization that being good may be bad – these folks don’t feel like “characters”.

Rin Kokonoe is the center of the story. A young girl older than her years, she is bright, friendly, admired by her peers, and able to wrap men around her finger. She pursues Aoki with a passion that is delightful, disturbing, and dangerous. Confident, in control, and yet very much a vulnerable child, Rin shocks and fascinates.

Aoki Daisuke wants to be a "big brother" type of teacher, but his inexperienced approach often leads to him being treated as a joke by his students. He makes all the mistakes new teachers make – and learns from them, slowly growing as a teacher throughout the series. He truly cares about his students, but his lack of worldliness may leave him unable to give them the help they need - or to even recognize their need.

Kuro Kagami hasn’t grown an inch since the 1st grade. A short, fierce little girl of wealth, Kuro is a fashion plate who enjoys dressing up her friends. She loves Rin and hates that Rin is pursuing Aoki. Poor Aoki gets the brunt of her anger and frustration, physically and verbally. Unrequited love is painful, and Kuro freely shares that pain.
(P.S. Kuro’s cursing made me learn a new word – “Phimosis”. Kids got a vocabulary. Thanks, Wikipedia, for those unwanted photos – reader, you have been warned. Ouch.)

Mimi Usa gets perfect grades, always behaves, and is both sweet and shy. She is also clumsy at sports, the subject of ridicule, and, embarrassingly, “developing” faster than her peers. All this contributes to her unhappiness. If you always get good grades, it just becomes expected of you; if you always behave, no one gives you attention. Can she get Aoki to notice her the way he notices her misbehaving friends? As Mimi sees it, whether she is rewarded like Rin or punished like Kuro, either way someone would be giving her attention. And any real attention would be good. Fortunately, she has good and loving friends in Rin and Kuro – maybe she’ll be alright?

Supporting the main four, the other prominent people are:

Houin – Aoki’s fellow teacher and peer, a kind and well-endowed lady who helps the novice teacher and begins to develop a romantic interest in him. Rin’s rival in love, though the job-dedicated Aoki is rather clueless about the feelings aimed at him.

Shirai – Senior to Aoki, this stern lady is an experienced teacher who knows how to control a classroom. Her style is at complete odds to Aoki and the two annoy each other regularly. She makes a bad first impression, but I find myself liking her more and more as the story unfolds.

Reiji – Rin’s guardian. A young man with issues. Utterly devoted to Rin. He and she share a deep connection – perhaps too deep.

Drawing Style
Clean and expressive, the style focuses on the characters, often leaving out backgrounds entirely. The style is “typically” realistic, with occasional comedic chibification. The artist obviously delights in drawing cute kids in cute clothes. The expressions, young and old, are striking. Emotions jump off the page, and the compositions are memorable. Some of the panel transitions are a little clumsy in early chapters, but that’s the only quibble I could find. The chapter ‘cover’ pages are often lush and beautiful, and the small picture postscripts at the end of each chapter make me laugh.

However, a warning is in order. Readers need to be cautioned that the drawings get very ecchi and very loli. Think Mahou Sensei Negima but with full-time focus on Evangeline. The first of many ‘3rd grader Rin in panties’ pics pops up on page three of chapter one. Forget about “not work safe”, this is seriously work toxic. Reading Playboy/girl in the break room would prolly cause fewer problems. I want to give the style a 5, but the ‘Most folks would label me a pervert for looking at this’ aspect earns a penalty point.

Very high. I was a bit leery about approaching this series, having learned about it from the “Nymphet” controversy its loli ecchiness generated. However, in my experience, I have found that media that is both strongly opposed AND strongly praised is usually worth the time to check out (vs. works that are only opposed and receive little praise, such as the infamously bad Showgirls). That is certainly true here. Kodomo no Jikan is funny, thoughtful, and addictive. At the time of this writing, I am looking forward to the September 2007 release of volume 4. When it’s out, I’ll happily re-read the first three volumes before diving into the fourth.
I suspect a lot of folks who would love this story will avoid it due to the loli ecchi-ness of the story and its focus on children. That’s a mistake. This is a wonderful, character driven story that deepens as it progresses. It’s a very pleasuarble read – each chapter tends to be a stand alone episode, yet each adds to the developing depth and overall story. Funny, touching, and insightful.
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Great review by NightSwan on January 22nd, 2008, 4:14am Rating: 5

A great review that covers every espect of the manga.
If I haven't been reading the manga already , I would have thanks to your review^^
unbiased? by HuhWhat on October 18th, 2007, 2:04pm Rating: 1

You're really something.
nice by xxanime_junkyxx on September 23rd, 2007, 1:55pm Rating: 5

loved your review, really detailed and it explains wonderfully that this isn't some loli-ecchi type story...nice job
User Comment by AMetroid on September 16th, 2007, 9:32am Rating: 5

Very well writen and indepth review. I think that Reiji's relationship with Rin could have been a bit more explained as a major plot point of the stroy.
No Subject by kevinkgood on September 14th, 2007, 11:39pm Rating: 5

Nice, in-depth review. I am a follower of the series and I have to say I really like it.
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