Kodomo no Omocha article published in Animerica Extra Vol. 3, No. 4, March 2000
This article was written by and is copyrighted to Patricia Duffield and may not be reproduced in part or whole without permission.

Kodomo no Omocha (Children's Toys) is creator Miho Obana's most successful series. The tales of eccentric child actress Sana Kurata became popular so quickly that the animated series began within a year of the April 1995 release of the first collected comic. Though this Ribon series is populated primarily by pre-teens, its wacky humor and compelling drama appeal to audiences of all ages.

Sana lives with Mama, who is a famous author; Rei, Sana's manager; Shimura, their house-keeper; and Maro, the squirrel who lives in Mama's many bizarre hats. As star of a schoolroom TV comedy called Kodomo no Omocha, Sana is funny, charming and very energetic. Like Mama, Sana is also very eccentric, expressive and independent. So it's no surprise, when her real classroom degrades into chaos, to find Sana the champion of goodness.

Sixth grade, class three, is a war-zone. The boys, led by the seemingly emotionless Akito Hayama, are running amuck. Their meek homeroom teacher, Miss Mitsuya, is incapable of controlling them. After attempts at persuading Hayama to get the boys in line only escalates their bullying, Sana decides to take action. With the help of Tsuyoshi, Hayama's friend, she discovers Hayama's weakness: a fear of heights! Unfortunately, Sana's elaborate scheme -involving bungee jumping from the gym's rafters- backfires. Stumped, she talks to Mr. Tanaka, the P.E. teacher. Once she learns Hayama is blackmailing his teachers with a photo of Tanaka kissing Mitsuya, Sana sets out to get a compromising shot of Hayama. Again with Tsuyoshi's help, Sana stalks Hayama to his home, only to be shocked by what happens. "It's all your fault!" she hears Hayama's sister say, "I don't even want to look at you. Get out! You're a fiend! If you hadn't been born-" Hayama slams the door shut, only a subtle change in expression showing how he feels. After smashing a fist into a light, Hayama stalks off. Sana barely recovers in time to engage her plan: Tsuyoshi pulls down Hayama's pants, and Sana snaps a Polaroid of Hayama in his undies! Mission accomplished, order returns to sixth grade, class three.

As class settles down, Sana can't help but feel sorry for Hayama. Even after finding out his mother died at his birth, she doesn't understand how a family could be so cold. This is just one of many complex, real-life situations Sana must struggle with. Her preferred method of dealing with problems is to throw as much energy and enthusiasm at them as she can, but she eventually discovers this does not always work. Sana is fiercely loyal and instinctively kind, which, combined with all the people she meets as a student and a star, makes her life very challenging. As she faces these challenges, we see her grow up.

Oh, but let us not forget the toys! On top of regular children's toys in the story, there are at least half a dozen toys which were created for the show and woven into the plot. One of them, the NoriNori Machine (a toy music synthesizer), makes Sana even more hyperactive in the show, for she regularly breaks into ‘song' to express herself. Another animation addition is Babbit, an odd little mascot animal whose amusing asides make the TV version even stranger than the comic.

If you can handle weirdness mixed with a story of unexpected plot twists, a story which will remind you of the frailty and goodness within us all and make you laugh your head off -- then try this series. It's as addictive as caffeine without the side affects; plus, it's a lot more fun!