For our next review, we will be doing a cute recent anime, Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan. Also, it should be mentioned at this point the anime is a short, with each episode lasting just over 3 minutes. As such, it will analyzed in comparison to previous shorts I’ve seen, though length is also a major factor in its grade still. So beware of bias and minor SPOILERS.
Now without further ado, let us begin the review.
Summary: Hakone is about the hot spring spirit Hakone who descended to a spa resort on Earth. Due to her long slumber however, she now looks like a little girl. High school boy Toya stumbles across her at a hot spring and ends up helping Hakone retrieving her original powers. -Crunchyroll
Hakone-chan has a bit more plot than the typical short, with the conflict spanning over several episodes and the story moving forward. The first five episodes focus heavily on the initial problem of Hakone-chan getting her power back, but beyond this point, the story becomes more loose and less focused. A plot returns around the last few episodes, where the series tries to be more serious as opposed to the primary comedy aspect it carries. The conflict at the beginning of the series also seems to have faded in significance, and a new conflict had emerged, which something else I take trouble with. Granted, the whole purpose of the anime is serve for an advertisement for Hakone, and other hot spring regions in Japan, and it does a decent job at this. Most people agree that the series could have been into a full length anime, but I digress. Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan has an actual plot (to a degree), more than most shorts I have seen.
Again, length prevents the series from developing characters too much, but the characters are all pretty good at sticking to their original characterization. It is a bit confusing at the beginning who the initial main character is, but it becomes easy to guess that it is the titular character Hakone-chan. There is not too much to put about the characters, other than they are pretty likeable and fit into the show well.
The animation is the biggest suffering point for Hakone-chan. It seems rushed, and the backgrounds for scenes tend to be sort of poor. While it is by no means the worse animation out there, it is nothing stellar.
The soundtrack is pretty decent, and serves the purposes of the show. However, the opening song may come across as annoying to some people, though I personally like it. Overall, the soundtrack is pretty general.
As both a short show and one that is meant to act as an advertisement, there aren’t any heavy themes being promoted. Beyond stuff like the “power” of the hot springs and the importance of tourism, the show offers subtle themes on the importance of serving others. Many of the characters are willing to help others out, though several are still motivated by selfish reasoning. The comedy in this show is nothing really original, but is still fairly entertaining and a quick laugh. The more serious parts of the show, which granted also ruin the comedy vibe, may prove difficult to muscle through.
Final Score: 7/10
Final Grade: C
Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan was an interesting series of shorts. It was a cool idea but it was sadly too short for its own good. It had some interesting characters, which I unfortunately felt no connection to. The character could not grow or really get any depth added to them. It even ended up making the last episode a letdown. When you were supposed to feel bad for the characters, I just felt nothing. It managed to be funny and it made me laugh several times but there is really only so much you can do with 3 minuet episodes. If it was not 13 episodes or if the episodes were longer than this could have been a great anime, but sadly it was just average at best. It also felt like some episodes were just filler, which it was way too short to need. It left you often a bit confused at how they managed to get where they were and defiantly made you wish you got to see more. Out of 10 I would have to give this anime a 5. It is not a bad anime but it is not good either, it is just kind of average. I would recommend you check this series out because it is short and enjoyable and it won’t take up much time. – B-Ro
Hakone-Chan, Hakone-Chan, Hakone-Chan…. I didn’t suspect that I would like this series so much, or any series in this format (three minute episodes seemed quite strange to me at first). Sure, there aren’t really deep character and plot developments with extremely dramatic buildups and cinematic scenes, but that is not what this show is trying to do. This show’s main goals seem to be the following: 1. To bring quick humorous entertainment 2. To showcase the beauty of the springs And when it comes to humor, Hakone-Chan succeeds with flying colors. There were numerous moments where I couldn’t stop laughing hysterically (which usually caused my roommates to stare at me strangely). I also liked the characters a lot, especially considering how little time the show had to develop them. Other than Hakone herself (but only to a slightly higher degree) I really didn’t know much about the characters, but it felt like I didn’t need to. Rather than trying to force all of these developments and messy plot points and such into the three minute episodes, it instead keeps things simple and focuses on its goals (except at the end, which I’ll get to soon). Though the show promotes the relaxing spring environment quite well, the show is indeed all about speed, as you might’ve guessed by the episode lengths. The opening song really reflects the characteristics of the show. Fast (almost rushed), but full of wit and charm. The last two episodes show this format faltering a little bit when…. um…. not to spoil anything, when a person or when people cause(s) a thing that leads to a thing that makes a thing happen, and then another thing as well. Basically, it tries to be serious. This ends up feeling quite random, since the entire tone preceding this moment has been bright and quirky, and even returns to a state like this after the aforementioned things for the ending. It doesn’t ruin the show, it just feels strange. The locations in the show are presented pretty well and don’t feel too much like an ad for the real life versions of these springs (though they definitely have me interested in visiting someday). Since the time it takes to read this review is already probably greater than an episode of this anime (or two), I’ll leave with this. Hakone-Chan is quick busts of humor and charm that will definitely make your day. I highly recommend it if you need a pick me up, if you need a good laugh, or if you just want to have a good time. Oh that’s right, the soundtrack! It fits its purpose quite well, but I don’t foresee me buying this soundtrack anytime soon. Mostly because the entire soundtrack will probably last about 20 minutes…
Final Comments: For a quick laugh with charming characters, look no further than Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan. Do not take the short too seriously, however, as it is weak in several aspects.
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