So, in MAL I came across this 93 chapters long manga called Kodomo no Jikan (A Child’s Time). At first, I thought it was just some random fanservice manga. The summary itself doesn’t inspire much (be aware that I read Nijigahara Holograph just a little bit before I got started on the manga.) The sole thing that drove me to reading is the curiosity: why is a lolicon manga this long?
Although this manga has a great story, it contains a lot of lolicon element in it. Those who do not prefer lolicon please stay away from Kodomo no Jikan.
Now let’s get on with the review. I’ll tell you when the spoiler comes.
23-years-old Aoki Daisuke, the main protagonist and a newbie elementary school teacher, is put in charge of class 3-1. The first few chapters of Kodomo no Jikan focuses on Aoki-sensei’s efforts to become a good teacher despite having no experience. We get to see a bit into teaching life and what it is like to be a teacher. He has a big problem though. One of the girls in his class, Kokonoe Rin, is a mischievous girl who would not hesitate to threaten adults. She developed a crush on Aoki and here comes the problem where Rin is super aggressive on getting the teacher’s affection. Aoki does not want to lose his job, and this relationship between Aoki and Rin is the main conflict of the story.
Aside from the main heroine Rin, we have two of her friends, Kagami Kuro and Usa Mimi. Kuro-chan has a crush on Rin, which leads to her being extremely jealous of Aoki. She’s foul-mouthed and pretty violent. She likes to wear expensive clothing, particularly gothic Lolita style. Kuro-chan hates men. The other friend, Mimi-chan is the complete opposite. She’s quiet, sweet, and shy. At first, she also has a secret crush on Aoki. Mimi’s a daddy’s girl, who first refused to go to school because her previous teacher bullied her. She has the idea that she’s only worthy because of her grades.
At the beginning we see a mini relationship map drawn by the author. Trust me, there will be a lot, lot more added to that.
This is probably the best thing in Kodomo no Jikan (I’ll shorten it to Kojika)
What does it mean to be an adult? Have you ever found yourself asking this question?
“Adults know when to give and take”
This is a quote from one of the characters. The story of Kodomo no Jikan explores the morality, relationships of children, relationships between child and adults, and today’s society in a light-hearted and serious way. Where exactly does the line between right or wrong lies? Sure, this is comedy, but once the drama comes, it’s pretty intense. The story ties in many different characters, each with a different background and raised in a different way. (I’ll explain more in the character section if you’re interested) whose actions and internal conflicts tie closely with their past. This is what I like the most about Kojika. The characters interact with each other and changed tremendously as the story progresses. With all the comedy, Kojika still has the great drama slice-of-life that should not be underrated just because it is ecchi involving little girls.
Spoiler starts here~
First, I’d like to say that the quotes are not exact because I wrote them from memory.
“Our lives are short, that’s what makes them so precious.”
The thick headed and newbie teacher is our lead male protagonist. He started off fresh from college, and having little experience of actual teaching, has trouble dealing with his students. From the very first chapter till the end, we see Aoki strives to improve himself as a teacher, and as the student’s second “dad.” This guy is not that stupid as one would expect the main character of this genre to be. He learns to adapt to his class and deals with difficult co-workers. He is the one who would side with his students when they’re right, even if he has to go against the parents. An example is at the very end of the story, when Mimi’s mother says no to Mimi going to a private school just because her brother failed to get into one. (I know this sounds unreasonable. C’mon, you’re an adult, moreover, a mom!) He explains that he’s happy when his little sister accomplishes something, so hey, why doesn’t Mimi’s brother? (Let me repeat that Mimi is a daddy’s girl, and obviously does not get along well with her mom.) Together with Mimi, they managed to persuade the mother (who is being illogical) to agree into private school plan. At the beginning he was like ‘being a teacher is so tiring but I’m gonna do it!’ and then he was like ‘how can I tell someone I fell in love with a grade schooler?’ and then it became ‘time flies by so fast, they’re graduating already!’ So, yeah, definitely improved his teaching skills and his communication skills. I would probably like him more if he was a female, haha.
“Grownups lie all the time. They hurt others without any remorse. And they do cruel stuff with no regret.”
“Once I am loved, I can’t give in to the darkness anymore.”
The tragic heroine, I think. After her mother’s death, the only ‘parent’ she has left is Reiji, who’s equally broken. In grade 1 she’s like a dead doll, until one of the teacher manages to get her to open up. Rin is the type of girl who’s overly mature for her age. Her actions are very inappropriate for kids, but she also deals with difficult situations well. (When her father who left her and Reiji came to take her back, Rin deals with the situation better and calmer than Reiji who panics all the time.) Rin is like Reiji’s saviour, and without her, Reiji would have already committed suicide or worse. She comforts Reiji when he needs it.
She could give in to the ‘darkness’ to protect her friends. She was the one who drove the teacher that bullied Mimi into quitting. She threatens adults without hesitation. At the end, Rin changed. (and by change, I mean mentally, not physically) She cannot give in to the darkness anymore, and the cause of that is Aoki. How sweet.
Rin is a strong girl who’s respected by her peers, but inside she is still weak, like any other girls.
Gotta love her hair, man. Her hair looks gorgeous. You can even use it as a weapon.
“When exactly…do you become grownup?”
She may be tsundere and foul-mouthed from time to time, but Kuro-chan is actually just lonely. Because of her father, Kuro-chan came to hate men. Her mother is busy with work and left her with a credit card, so she decides to spend a whole lot of money as a way of getting attention. Kuro-chan doesn’t really say what she thinks about other people.
Later in the story, we get to see how she warms up to Shirai-sensei, and how they interact is just adorable. She entered, not a teacher-student relationship, but a best friend-like relationship or even mother-child like. This fills Kuro’s emotional void which caused her to be a lesbian towards Rin in the first place. Kuro is one of the character that has a huge influence on Shirai-sensei. She grew up to be a popular and respected senpai.
“You don’t have to force your smile when you’re with me.”
The shy, intelligent, and devoted girl. Mimi-chan got made fun of a lot because of her lack in athletic skills and because she hits puberty earlier than the rest of the kids, which I’m sure many girls can relate with her on that. (Me being one of them) Mimi loves to go to cram school because the people there are mature and doesn’t make fun of her. At home, she often get into fights with her mother because of various things, like her mother throwing her books away.
When Rin is feeling depressed, Mimi will be one of the friend that stays by her side. She is willing to give up a lot for her friends. Mimi also has some kind of love at first sight with Reiji. Because they have similar emotional state, Reiji and Mimi gradually (very, very, very slowly) get closer, to the point where Mimi says it’s okay if her first time is with him. Even though it isn’t shown directly, at the end, Reiji and Mimi goes to Mimi’s house to see her mother. It’s up to the reader to think how they will go from there.
He is Rin’s cousin and her guardian. They share a brother-sister relationship. He is Rin’s official guardian after her mother’s death and works hard to raise Rin as best as he can. He was Aki, Rin’s mother’s lover for a short time before she died. Reiji never did get over Aki’s death which caused him to push his affection towards Aki onto Rin. He is very protective and very jealous of Aoki because Rin likes him. Reiji is a little tsun when it comes to this matter. Even though he serves the comedic part of the series, he also have a huge role in the dramatic side, thinking of himself as a failure.
Let’s explore what makes Reiji such an interesting character: his background. Reiji wished he could live a normal family life, but fate decided to throw him in the abyss of despair. Reiji’s father was “the type who’d scream at the slightest thing.” He was harsh to Reiji’s mother and ignorant towards Reiji. The reason being: he has another lover. Reiji then locks himself in his room after domestic violence, and at that time, his parents died from traffic accident. He then was adopted by Aki and stayed with Rin. At first, he was very cold towards them, thinking that she used Rin as a pretext for getting married like his mom did. But it turns out that it was actually Aki’s lover that told her to have Rin aborted, but she disagrees. This made Reiji wish that his mother would be just like Aki. After being comforted by Rin, he opened up to both of them, and become Rin’s big brother, and fell in love with Aki. He refused adoption because he cannot marry her. (*cough* 13 years age gap *cough*) As Aki starts to get sick, he finds a job and tries to hurry up and become an adult for her sake. They became lovers, and as things are looking good, Aki is diagnosed with stage 2 lung cancer. Oh. Darn. It. And then, Aki dies, and he takes care of Rin from then on, not wanting her to get betrayed by adults like his parents did to him.
Reiji has PTSD, which I think the cause might be from his parents + Aki’s death. But, the manga only emphasize on his parents.
“If you cannot forgive, then forget.”
Aki is regarded as “a woman who was abandoned and left with an illegitimate child”, and that child is Rin. Chapter 11-12 of the manga are practically her chapter. She is Rin’s gentle and warm mom who gives a fluffy feeling when looking at. She is also Reiji’s lover before cancer took over. Aki supports Reiji through his emotional traumas. For Rin’s sake, she did not abandon her work to treat herself and has to be hospitalized. Her condition does not seem to get any better. Aki-san left with “I’m sorry for dying.” While Rin sits beside her, completely hollow, with paper cranes surrounding her like flowers. Aki played an important part in Rin and Reiji’s emotional development. Her death is just heart breaking.
“No matter how old you get, being an adult still hurts.”
She is first introduced as your average strict teacher. She is the daughter of the chieft of the board of education. She has a fearsome reputation from children and co-workers. She first doesn’t have much role besides giving negative opinions of things, but then she became a major character because of Kagami Kuro. She gets to know Kuro, and thinks of how her life would have been better if Kuro was her friend when she was young. She was raised strictly and have trouble getting into relationships because of her upbringing. When her mother opens her mouth, nothing will come out but criticism. She vows not to be like her mother, but because of the way her mother raised her, she ended up being what she doesn’t want to. Her peers also regard her as gloomy and asocial which cause her to be what they say and she became hateful towards children and the world. Shirai-sensei is the exact opposite of Aoki-sensei and they argue on every little things. Her personality and her heavily disciplined attitude caused her to not have any dates, well, that’s before Kuro and another guy comes in.
Kuro first approaches Shirai-sensei because she intervened when Kuro called Aoki virgin. They started talking, but although Shirai-sensei is annoyed, they end up, after a series of events, friends. This cause her to soften up to a lot of people including Houin, another teacher who she first thinks is kind of an airhead. After the turning point Kuro brings to her, she started talking to Oyajima-sensei who confessed his feelings to her. It became very awkward, but then Shirai-sensei, with her new attitude that Kuro reformed, considered his confession seriously. They talk, and after many events and interactions and problems, they end up married with Kuro often visiting them and comments on how her kid has eyebrows just like Oyajima-sensei’s. Definitely a good end for her.
“The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s apathy.”
“If everybody were kind to others, wars and the like would come to an end.”
Often called “Boing.”The teacher of Aoki-sensei’s neighbouring class. She is a cheerful lady who loves kids and often gets confessions from her male students. She cares for Aoki while he was at work and has a secret crush on him. She is Rin’s love rival and Rin is jealous of her. Houin-sensei is a huge drinker and often gets drunk and do rather unpredictable things. After she confessed, Aoki turns it down because he is in love with Rin, but it made her think that he is gay. Aoki also thought about how perfect it would be if he married Houin-sensei, but no, he chose Rin.
Shirai-sensei entrusted Houin-sensei with her kid in case she ever has that endless criticism attitude her mother had. If that ever happens she asked Houin-sensei to save her child. At the end, she works hard to be a guidance counsellor.
I don’t think art is this manga’s strong point, but I see a big improvement from the first chapters and the later ones.
I didn’t think I would end up liking this manga. I thought it would be just some manga that’s read and forgotten. That’s not it at all. The characters are loveable, and the story is deep and enjoyable while not too serious. The relationships are all tangled and are reasonable in itself. It’s a very memorable series for me. Do I recommend this? Well, this series is not for everyone. If you don’t like it, then don’t read it. You’ll end up hating it. But, if you’re open and willing to take in what this manga has to offer, then why not?
Thank you for reading! See you next time ~