Well, this show I came across nearly by chance. Back in Fall 2013, when I was just coming into my own working on other sites besides my own, I got an offer from Erica Friedman with Okazu a yuri manga/anime website. She offered up a free copy of the DVD set for Hyakko provided that person do a review over the 2nd disc. I decided to bit the bullet and took up the offer. I have to say it was one of my first ‘requested’ review piece and it was an illuminating experience for me. I had told myself that I would get around to covering the show as a whole, especially after so long.
Hyakko (Fall 2008 TV Series)
Director: Michio Fukuda
Writer: Yoshihiko Tomizawa
Studio: Nippon Animation
Now while I find science fiction and fantasy anime to be my favorites, I do have a soft spot for slice of life anime. There is something down to earth and soothing quality to them that I find appealing. A season of anime doesn’t go by without watching at least one of them. Of course the most common type of slice of life anime is that of the girls club where the focus is on a small group of girls (around 4-5) as they go through life or indulge in some past time (coffee shop, sports, school activities etc).
Hyakko stands out in that it deals with a truly odd ball group of girls (and some boy students but the main focus is on the girls). Ayumi is the new student at Kamizono Academy. She is a bit shy and reserved but quite the cute cinnamon roll. On her first day she meets the terse but elegant rich girl Iizuka as it turns out both are lost on the large school campus. Anyway, they end up spotting a girl jumping out of a second story window building. That would be Torako, the resident crazy eccentric girl of the school who also is in Ayumi’s homeroom class. Together with her and Suzu the token moe glutton/Torako’s little minion, the four go through a year of school filled with wacky adventures and even wackier fellow classmates.
Now for the most part the show goes with a 2 part sketch comedy format per episode where gags and jokes abound, but there lays plenty of strong character work and interactions. The neat trick with the characters relies on them being eccentric or at least bent towards that manner. Be it wacky scientist girl Suzugaski, the fashionable photographer Koma or the flamboyant bisexual student council rep Nene Andou, they all got some sort of character quirk to them. Part of the humor derives from chucking along with these kooky characters and also seeing how they go through similar situations tackled in school slice of life shows (club activities, lunchtime, classroom silliness, etc).
But ultimately Torako steals the show in just about every scene. She is great fun and freedom personifed, a testament to the fleeting and yet exciting nature of youth. Granted it’s not all fun and games as the penultimate episode reveals some insight into her rather special home life situation which helps to explain her behavior and attitude a bit which is a nice touch, even if it takes something dramatic and resolves it a little too quickly and convenient . The show wraps in up in a nicely done ‘going full circle’ epilogue/prequel.
Now Nippon Animation produced this anime, and it while outstanding it’s not too shabby. Nippon Animation is more known for World Masterpiece Theater (adaptations of western literature pieces) along with other shows like Papuwa, Fantastic Children, The Wallflower and Antique Bakery. Granted Hyakko is a wacky comedy mostly, so the animation being wonky is expected, Also fans of wacky face art/animation will find this show a delight for that reason. But there are amounts of moments where the budget clearly shows, Episode 9 being especially noticeable of that. As of this writing, this was the last TV show they worked which while a shame is understandable since they have been around since the 1960s. And while this has only the Japanese with English subtitles language track, it’s quite good if only for the comedic bits the seiyuu were able to pull off here.
Overall, Hyakko is a fun romp encased within a Slice of Life Girls Club framework. Sure it’s a little rough around the edges, but it’s charming enough to warrant a look. Hyakko is available from RightStuf through their Lucky Penny label, and some of the episodes are up on their youtube channel.
Next time well, I have decided to do just one review for October, to be released on Halloween. I planned to do two reviews, but I got some stuff planned this month so that review will likely be done at some point next year. Luckily this Halloween I got a really great and scary show that I will be covering, so look forward to that.
Til next time dear readers…..