To literally put first things first, I was very glad that this week’s Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun picked up right after the last one ended, manga-wise. Not only because I don’t want to see chapters skipped for artistic reasons (though that’s certainly true), but because burning through material looks critical right now. The February sales figures are in, and Hanako-kun placed 4th among all series in volume sales – behind only Kimetsu no Yaiba, Gin no Saji (which released its final volume) and Go-Toubun no Hayanome, and ahead of some big-time heavy hitters. It’s on-pace to repeat in March, too.
In short – the anime has given a huge boost to manga sales. That does my heart good for all sorts of reasons, and it means that if this series doesn’t get a continuation there’s something really weird going on. Even if this was unexpected there should still be room to pivot, and with about 20 chapters burned in nine episodes, we should have plenty of material to make a second season happen. At the very least I’m going to be extremely disappointed if we don’t get an announcement by the end of Episode 12, because it’s hard to imagine what more the production committee could possibly ask for.
In Japan at least, Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun is appreciated for the gem it is, and it seems to be doing reasonably well with Westerners too. This episode was yet another illustration of why this series is so strong, operating with a completely different cast than last week (only a small Hanako appearance common to both), and a radically different tone, yet not skipping a beat. We’re also seeing something that reflects both Aida Iro’s skill in constructing a story and the anime’s direction – every episode is a slow build, and the B-part is always stronger than the A-part.
In addition to showcasing how Nene’s hopeless romanticism is a trip-wire for her (it even extends to idol-raising cellphone games), this ep is a showcase for the dark reflection team. Natsuhiko comes to fetch Nene from her homeroom, and naturally she’s taken in by his sempai charm and good looks. She should certainly have realized this was a trap – especially after Tsukasa shows up and turned her into a fish – though to be fair Nene wasn’t aware of Natsuhiko’s connection to Sakura. Still, once she wakes up she seemingly forgets all that in the flush of delicious tea and Sakura’s big-sister commiseration.
Broadly speaking, the Tsukasa-Sakura-Natsuhiko dynamic is an obvious parallel to Amane-Nene-Kou. And Tsukasa is not remotely shy about referring to himself as Amane’s opposite. But beyond that, things are still mysterious. Sakura imperiously acts as if she’s in charge of this group, bossing the boys (living and dead) relentlessly. But she says Tsukasa is the one giving the orders, and she has no choice – as with Nene and Amane – but to obey. We don’t know what her wish was of course (there are elements of this explanation that raise red flags generally) but her sympathetic tone towards Nene is certainly in conflict with stranding her (and Natsuhiko) in a sinking room and blaming it on just following Tsukasa’s orders.
While it’s never explicitly stated, it’s clear from Natsuhiko’s flip attitude that he knows he’s in no real danger here. Does that apply to Nene too – and if so, why bother stranding her there in the first place? In any case, as Natsuhiko plays the gallant bakayarou, Hanako – who genuinely always is there to save Nene, just as she says – manages to reach her via radio and mokke, and inform her she’s “nowhere”. Natsuhiko starts opening doors – seemingly unconcerned about the dangers on the other side – and is eventually dragged off. Nene for her part tries to listen to Hanako’s advice and does eventually find a door she recognizes – but it takes her back to a time (if not a place) she doesn’t expect.
Even in a comedy-first episode Hanako-kun has feels to burn, and there’s no question that what Nene sees in July 18, 1969 will both draw her closer to Hanako and increase the distance between them. Seeing a vision is one thing – seeing a living, breathing boy (younger than she is, let’s not forget) injured and in tears quite another. There’s a little extra urgency in the greetings she shares with Hanako after he plucks her back to her own time (with a little of the past along for the ride), especially after he apologizes for ruining the donuts she made for him. I know this much – it’s going to be a criminal shame if we don’t get a second season, not just because Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun is a great series but because we’re barely even at the tip of the iceberg.
I can’t imagine how they’ll end this if they aren’t planning on a 2nd season.
If they’re re-adjusting to accommodate a 2nd, perhaps they’ll use the last eps to go back and do some of the skipped chapters before ending the first season. They could cover those missing arcs without having to alter much (I’m surprised to realize those are almost drag-n-drop in nature).
Finish moving Mitsuba around and leave the big developments in Nene’s story for season 2.
That’s what I would do if I had to make a late-season pivot.
They can’t pivot that much – surely too much production work has been done. When I use that term I meant more along the lines of their general thinking towards a sequel and a short animated announcement epilogue for the finale.
Even without changing what they adept, there’s still going to plenty of material out there. And as you note, the stuff they skipped can be dropped back in with minimal changes if they choose to do so.
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I’m surprised that Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun is behind Go-Toubun no Hayanome in Manga sales. I thought Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun was more interesting given the fact that Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun isn’t strictly a love story.
If Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun gets a continuation I will be so thrilled. I like the concept to the plot, it’s refreshing compared to the constant isekai titles every season. I’ll need to pick up on the Manga so I can read it.
When Nene was turned into a fish I was like ah c* game over! But when Nene was stuck in the otherly world with Natsuhiko I was like YES—Nene can flex her mermaid abilities! (I don’t think she has any unless you count being a janitor in the girls bathroom a gimmick.)
Over all I loved this episode too.
I wish how good a series was could be directly correlated to sales, but that’s definitely not the case. I’m frankly shocked it’s as high as it is (much higher than before the anime, though the manga was respectably popular already).
Think about the series it’s outselling at the moment – BnHA, Haikyuu, Tokyo Ghoul… Some really big names. Some of it comes down to when new volumes come out, yes, but it’s still a big spike for the series since the anime premiered,
So why didn’t she turn into a fish when the was being enveloped by that water or more like why was she so worried about drowning in the first place?
If you are referring to when Nene and Natsuhiko being tied down to chairs and something was filling the room prior to being sent to the other world. Who’s to say that was water, maybe it was a portal that has fluid like physics.
Exactly what I was going to say. Was that even water?