Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Toilet-bound Hanako-kun

Original Run: January 10, 2020 - March 27, 2020
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Supernatural
Based on the Series Created By: Iro Aida

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Toilet-bound Hanako-kun. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

There is a legend at Kamome Academy. Rumors talk of the school’s mysterious Seven Wonders. Of these tales, the most famous is of Hanako-san. As the story goes: If a person knocks on the door of the last stall in the girl’s bathroom three times, Hanako-san will appear and grant a wish, at a price.

In a state of desperation, Nene Yashiro (voiced by Akari Kitou) attempts to summon Hanako-san. To her surprise, not only are the rumors true, they don’t even begin to cover the whole story. It turns out, the ghost Hanako (voiced by Megumi Ogata) is the leader of the Kamome Academy Seven Wonders, and he is responsible for keeping the peace between the worlds of the living and the dead.

In recent days, the state of balance within the spirit world has been thrown into chaos. Hanako and Nene, with the help of amateur exorcist Kou Minamoto (voiced by Shouya Chiba), must discover the source of these disturbances before something potentially dangerous unfolds.

Series Positives

Throughout most of its run, Toilet-bound Hanako-kun was impressive. Or, at the very least, it was much more than I was expecting. The one thing I need to give this show credit for was its ability to create an atmosphere that was fun, silly, and lighthearted, as well as occasionally terrifying.

At its core, this show was a comedy and a solid one at that. Toilet-bound Hanako-kun had plenty of visual, reactionary, and goofy humor that got plenty of laughs out of me. So, yeah, this series was quite easy-going.

Until it wasn’t.

Toilet-bound Hanako-kun had no problem flaunting some horrific imagery. This wasn’t a danger-free anime. Depictions of the dilapidated, grotesque, and the macabre were quite common in this show. Still, even in this series’ tensest moments, a character would crack a joke or make a face that was pretty damn funny, without breaking the sense of dread and peril.

Part of that success goes to Toilet-bound Hanako-kun’s animation and art style. The visuals alone turned this show into something fascinating to watch. It was like seeing the manga, which I have not read, come to life. This series embraced a comic-book-esque aesthetic, and that alone allowed this story to stand out from many of the other anime from the 2020 winter season.

However, the shining jewel of Toilet-bound Hanako-kun was its characters. This cast was what gave this show its memorable personality. And at the heart of it all were Kou Minamoto, Nene Yashiro, and the titular Hanako.

Kou started as the show’s main goofball. He was overly serious and thought himself to be much more capable than he was. Being from a family of famed exorcists, Kou lived his whole life thinking ghosts and spirits were things that needed to be eliminated. After spending time with Hanako, Kou begins to doubt such a notion. That in of itself, though adequate, wasn’t the catalyst for Kou’s growth as a character; it was only the foundation. Kou began to put his newfound outlook into practice when he ran into another ghost who he wanted to save. Through this, Kou found himself a mission. He was no longer just the silly sidekick.

On the surface, Nene had everything you might expect out of a lead heroine. That’s because she was rather by-the-book. But, I don’t want that to sound like a negative. Nene was a reliable element to this show. Although she was usually the type of character who needed saving, Nene did feel relevant to what was going on in the story. She held the keys to the overall narrative and was easily the person with the most potential in this series. If Toilet-bound Hanako-kun were ever to get a second season, I am willing to bet that Nene is going to be the ultimate hero.

Lastly, there was Hanako. If Nene had the most potential, Hanako was the most mysterious. He was the character that gave this show its intrigue. Much in the same way this series could present two seemingly conflicting atmospheres, Hanako had a lot going on within himself. He was like a walking question mark. How did he die? How did he become the seventh wonder? What was he like before he became a ghost? What tragedy lurks within his past? But also, you could count on Hanako being one of the funniest people in this cast.

Through Kou, Nene, and Hanako, Toilet-bound Hanako-kun was a series that was uniquely its own. It juggled all these different atmospheric angles with great precision. This was a show that was hard to put down. That said, as it stands, the series is in a nasty spot.

Series Negatives

The closer Toilet-bound Hanako-kun got to episode twelve, the less the story progressed. By the end of this series, the narrative had stalled entirely.

This show didn’t know when to stop adding obstacles. The situations our three heroes faced kept getting more and more perilous, and, frankly, hopeless. As of this review going live, the finale to Toilet-bound Hanako-kun is utterly unsatisfying.

Now, this is where Nene’s potential comes in. I’m confident that in a continuation, should it arrive, her role will only become more critical. Or, at least, I want to believe that because despite being relevant to this story, she still didn’t do a whole lot. And that didn’t make much sense since this series did everything it could to indicate that she had a much larger part to play.

It wasn’t just Nene, either.

Both Kou and Hanako ended this show with a ton of baggage, baggage that got tacked on in the last few episodes.

It would be one thing if a series ended on this level of bleakness with a second season either coming soon or in the works. No such announcement, as far as I know, has been made concerning Toilet-bound Hanako-kun.

Given the overall quality of this show, it would be a real shame if a season two never gets a release.

Regardless of that, the sheer number of unresolved plots left in Toilet-bound Hanako-kun’s wake is a bit excessive. With so many open doors to explore, you have to wonder if a continuation will be enough to cover all that ground.

I hope I am proven wrong because this was a real highlight of the 2020 winter season.

Final Thoughts

The amount of enjoyment I got out of this show, which was substantial, was a very welcomed surprise.

From its animation to its story, this series was fantastic. Then, when you consider it had an instantly memorable cast of fun, hilarious, and deep characters, you can see why this was an absolute stand out.

Unfortunately, as it stands, this is a narrative that is nowhere close to finished. So, please be aware of that reality.

Still, it would be wrong of me if I didn’t give Toilet-bound Hanako-kun a recommendation.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Toilet-bound Hanako-kun? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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