The Beautiful Nightmare that is ‘Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun’

Studio: Lerche 

Aired: January 2020 – 12 episodes 

Score: 9/10

Every high school has its rumors. Rumors about hauntings, controversies, and other mishaps that get  swept under the rug in order to be quietly forgotten. Whether they’re true or not, there will always be those who believe in them, as well as skeptics. Depending on who tells the rumor, it can spread like wildfire, to the point where the whole school is talking about it. My siblings’ Principal was caught human-trafficking young girls; this was sadly true, and several teachers retired because of it; their former heroic vision of him completely shattered. 

When the skeptical Nene Yashiro hears a rumor of a deceased boy in the girl’s third floor bathroom, who happens to be the ‘seventh’ wonder of the school, her curiosity drives her to call “Hanako-san, Hanako-san… are you there?” and surely enough, the spunky ghost appears before her (ooOooOoo). Did you see that one coming?

Originally Yashiro wanted to wish for popularity and to get her senpai to fall for her, but oh golly misfortune had other plans for her. She gets a rare coin that’s actually mermaid scale and is told NOT to eat it. What do you think she does? Friggin’ eats it, and *BOOM* she becomes a cuter lil goldfish.

Pretty spooky stuff that reminds me of the original Little Mermaid Grimm Fairy Tale, although that story ends much darker than this (and later doesn’t get ruined by a certain iconic mouse). Anyway Hanako rescues her, but only because she wished for it. Because of this, she becomes contracted and bound to Hanako, becoming his servant but under his protection. Her duties include cleaning the bathroom he resides in, and well… just being cute as a button.

At the start of each episode, off in the school somewhere a podcast is played over the intercom spreading rumors of a supernatural occurrence. Some of these spirits are friendly and harmless, others… not so much, and it’s up to Hanako and Yashiro to seek them out and pacify them. Some involve the ‘7 wonders’ of the school, while others are manifestations of mere rumors.

There’s a unique mix of mystery and action, even a sprinkle of horror and dash of romance in Toilet-bound Hanako-kun. As the episodes go on, new parts of the school are explored and we get a deeper look into the hilarious yet ominous character that is Yugi Amane (Hanako), as he is full of mystery and surprises.

New characters are slowly introduced as well and never appear too overbearing to the plot. There’s the Minamoto brothers who are both spirit hunters, Tsuchigomori the librarian, the terrifying Yako and her giant pair of scissors (as well as cute kitsune form), the adorable mokke spirits that love candy and act sort of like gremlins, the mysterious Nanamine who’s interested in the supernatural, Hyuuga who’s literally just there to fawn over Nanamine, the kawaii photographer Sousuke, and Hanakp’s mysterious brother Tsukasa, and several others. 

There’s a funny sort of love-quadrilateral that forms early on in the anime. You see Yashiro has feelings for Teru, the older brother of Kou who seems to give zero sh*ts about others, he’s more focused on wanting to exterminate all the supernatural elements that make his school so special. 

But Kou has feelings for Yashiro, despite coming from middle school as well as being younger than her. Still, the ginger quite literally fights for her love and attention, despite her reputation for being called “daikon” (radish) for her thicc legs. He finds himself at odds from time to time with Hanako, partly because Kou’s job is to exercise spirits, but also because of jealousy over Yashiro.

It’s a sad yet hilarious theme that gets brought up again and again, a character mentions “daikon” and Yashiro throws a little fit over it. Her legs do look slightly thicker than other characters, but other than that there’s not much else to the joke. She has a hobby of growing vegetables too, maybe that factors in to it.

And then there’s Hanako… who forms deep romantic feelings for Yashiro despite being a ghost; it’s a rather complex relationship the two of them have, one started out of fear and distrust and morphing into a friendly codependency. 

When Yashiro starts out almost fearful of Hanako in the beginning, she begins to rely on him for protection from some of the nasty wonders of the school (because Kou can’t do sh*t after Hanako slapped a curse scroll on his staff). The deeper she finds herself in the lore of the school, the deeper her interest in the mystery that is Hanako-kun becomes. 

You know how Yashiro was rid of being a goldfish? Well… the curse is sorta still with her. Whenever her skin touches water, shimmering scales form on the area of contact. Basically if she submerged herself in water, she turns back into a goldfish. I thought this was a rather surprising mechanic the anime touches upon from time to time. It really makes us feel for the heroine’s situation, on top of all the other uncomfortable situations she’s put in by both Hanako and her own innocent curiosity toward the supernatural. 

Have I mentioned the opening song sounds absolutely brilliant? Called ‘No.7’, I can only describe it as alternative punk rock, & some. But every time it comes on, I just get so pumped for the episode. 

Also, what is going on with the art style? It’s so different from the typical Shonen style; kawaii characters and bold color choices flesh out Hanako-kun like a painted stained glass that’s unique to the anime and never gets boring to admire. 

One of the early moments in the anime that I found absolutely hilarious (but likely not funny to anyone else) is when Hanako pulls out a typical kokeshi doll and says to Yashiro “It’s a little bit sexy, no?”. With hardly any context, the scene felt so random yet one of the reasons that kept me watching ‘Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun’.

This anime is one I treasure dearly. Because it is both oh so unique and fresh in the sea of anime. While so many that have come out are mere copy-and-pastes of the same damn cliché plots and overused tropes, ‘Toilet-bound Hanako-kun’ looks different, feels different, watches different, but is enjoyed the same as some of the best in its genre. 

I highly recommend checking this one out. Its funny, mysterious, and has so many memorable moments. Once again, thanks for checking this post out!

By: The Shy Otaku

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