Should You Watch: Toilet Bound Hanako

It was a snowy winter evening on a dark January weekend of 2020 when I found myself snuggled up on my couch with hot chocolate in hand and weighted blanket on top of me. Having nestled myself into comfort I then booted up the streaming app Funimation to browse for a new anime to watch when I came across the cover art for Toilet Bound Hanako. After watching the first episode of this Slice of Life anime I decided to add it to my queue and watch the show as it aired in Japan on a weekly basis through the simuldub feature

Kou Minamoto, Yashiro Nene and Hanako-kun gif
The charming world of Toilet Bound Hanako

Even though it’s a slower paced anime, for my own personal tastes, I am glad that I stuck with it to the very end as it delivered a couple of feels that I did not expect to have while watching this show.

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THE PLOT

Kou Minamoto, Yashiro Nene and Hanako-kun gif
Dispelling rumors

The main plot of the story is about a teenaged girl who wants to be noticed by her crush and resorts to the help of ghost to achieve that goal. She summons the ghost because the rumors in the academy are that this ghost has the ability to fulfill a wish in exchange for something. After meeting the ghost and working with him on plans to have her crush notice, all to avail, she resorts to an enchanted item that would emotionally bind her and her crush. Things take a turn when the item back fires and the bond is formed with the ghost instead of the crush.

Further in the series, it is established, that through her bind to the ghost, her true work is to dispel rumors about apparitions. Only by doing so can she save apparitions from having to be annihilated by the 7th of the school wonders.

When I was watching this, I couldn’t help but to think of my childhood and recall all the ghost stories that were told about certain areas of my school. I’m sure if you think back you may be able to recall a tale or two from your own childhood. This is one of the reasons why I kept watching the show.

THE PLAYERS

Kou Minamoto, Yashiro Nene and Hanako-kun gif
Love Triangle

The story takes place in a modern day high school setting so you can expect the cast to be teenage aged with professors sprinkled about.

Yashiro Nene is the main protagonist of this tale. She is a first year high school student who is looking to be in a relationship with her senior crush. A bit on the clumsy side she is highly adorable and funny enough to help deliver some genuine laugh out loud moments.

Hanako, the 7th of the seven wonders, is the academy’s most well known rumor. To summon him, one must go into the Girls Bathroom, knock on the stall door and repeat his name 3 times, similar to candy man. The key difference is the when he appears, he will grant you a wish in exchange for something of equivalent value.

Kou Minamoto comes from a long line of famous exorcist and is an exorcist in training himself. Things begin to change for Kou when he befriends Hanako and his view on apparitions start to change.

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THE PRODUCTION

Yashiro Nene and Kou Minamoto Gif
The character designs are charming

The show is animated by the studio named Lerche which is responsible for the popular series Assassination Classroom and my one of my personal favorites Asobi Asobase. The drawings are incredibly beautiful to look at and the colors used are vibrant and eye popping.

As far as animation is concerned, there is very little happening on screen through out most of the shows air time. For the most part, characters are pretty static in each scene as there is limited or repetitive movement preformed frequently. Lots of the scenes have panning shots in them that help sell the idea of animation but overall this show is not meant to be sold on animation but more of its artistic presence.

I did watched this show dubbed through Funimation’s Simuldub feature and the voice acting was amazing. I particularly liked the voice over work done for Nene and Kou as the inflections in voice helped sell the most subtle of emotions in the scenes. I’d like to list the actors name here, but won’t do so because I believe that once you see their other work it may taint the perception of the characters in this tale.

THE PITFALLS

What is he reaching for?

Take a minute to look at the GIF above and tell me what you see?

I see Hanako, bound by rope about to groped, by what looks like the shadow of himself. Is this what the series is about? No.

This GIF was taken from the series OP and, in my view, does not properly represent the show characters or story. Yes, the title does say the “Toilet Bound Hanako” but Hanako is not bound to the restroom that he haunts as he can move freely through the academy ground nor is bound to a plane of existence as he also moves freely through out those. The only “bind” that he has is a figurative one with Yashiro. The GIF however, does queerbait the audience into believing that there will be LGBT representation in the show.

The remorseful Mitsuba and his camera

So far, in season one, none of the core characters are established to be gay/bi/pan. They do seem to constantly invades each others personal space and it does come across as flirtatious but that about it. Only one b-list character is presumed to be gay but it has not affirmed directly one can only infer his orientation via dialogue subtext. That said, this characters’ story line is actually the most touching one of them all and I do wish, that in season 2, the writers do ship the characters the Fandom wants to see as it would be truly fulfilling.

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THE PRONOUNCEMENT

I will admit that this anime is not for everyone as it is more story and character driven than your typical action packed Anime.

So You’d like to know if you should watch?

If you were on the fence about watching this show then allow me to make a suggestion. I would like to recommend that you start by watching episode 8 before you watch episode 1. I know this is a kin to sacrilege but the reason why I am suggesting this episode is because, to me, it is a pretty self contained episode. It quickly explains a lot about what the show is about and it has both funny and touching moments. Not only that but it is my favorite episode in the season 1.

As mentioned earlier in this review, I personally did like the anime. The drawings are beautifully executed, the jokes land and emotional gut punches land KOs. For those reasons I do recommend that you watch this series.

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