Imagine a place where everyone is friendly. A place where the buildings are shaped like fruit and the second floor balcony has a giant slide straight to the playground. A place where the adults always know what to say and the children learn new, amazing things every day.
A place where a five-year-old can fall madly in love with her teacher and insist on becoming his bride.
A Hanamaru Love Triangle
Naozumi Tsuchida is the newest and only male teacher at Hanamaru Kindergarten, assigned to first-year Sakura class. En route to his first day at the kindergarten, Tsuchida runs into one of his students, Anzu, and happens to strike up a conversation with her. Anzu mistakes this for flirting (something she saw on TV), and soon falls head-over-heels for Tsuchida. Unfortunately for Anzu, “Tsuchi” cannot return her feelings, and not only because Anzu is five; Tsuchida has a crush on Yamamoto-sensei, the very kind and very buxom Peach Class teacher from across the hall.
One aspect of Hanamaru Kindergarten which deserves mentioning before I go is the soundtrack. There isn’t a single song on the show that I don’t like, and I’ve caught myself singing the Panda-Neko themesong more than once. In general, the music is kept simple and cheery to maintain a lighthearted feeling (especially that one marimba riff they use during establishing shots). However, when things get dramatic or introspective, Hanamaru Kindergarten isn’t afraid to bust out some beautifully orchestrated and moving pieces. The effect is upbeat and charming without ever becoming annoying. As an added bonus, each episode has a different ending song and a different ending animation, usually relating to whichever character the episode focused on. Each is visually and musically distinct in style, ranging from space-opera to jazzy film noir. A definite incentive to watch the credits, whether you understand Japanese or not.
A Hanamaru Conclusion
Hanamaru Kindergarten is the best kind of adorable fun. A unique concept and strong writing combine with excellent production values to form a shining example of the slice-of-life comedy genre. Lovable, believable characters take you on a zany, saccharine ride through 12 episodes of pure joy. If you need cheering up, love cuteness, or are just looking for a (mostly) wholesome feel-good time, go watch this show right now. You won’t be disappointed.
You can find it for free here.