An anime series (Tottoko Hamutaro in Japan) based on a series of children's books about hamsters, Hamtaro and his Ham-Ham buddies lead exciting adventures while his owner Laura is off at school having her own adventures.It ran from 2000 to 2006 and lasted for nearly 300 episodes, only 104 of which were translated into English and aired on Cartoon Network. It later spawned a spin-off series of five-minute episodes known as "Tottoko Hamutaro: Norisuta Hai!". There were also four movies, none of which made it overseas.It also spawned six handheld video games which, although largely obscure to those not familiar with the series, were considered to be rather good games for licensed media.Bizarrely enough, it was initially featured on Toonami, Cartoon Network's block for specifically action-based shows (that can be blamed on Cartoon Network's management at the time). It actually received a Lampshade Hanging in this promo. The show also aired on Fox Kids in Europe.A new series named Tottoko Hamtaro Dechuhas been aired; however, it's only a rebroadcast with a handful of new scenes.
Ascended Extra: Mr. Yoshi went from just Laura and Kana's teacher to a character with a small spread out arc about him and Charlotte's relationship. Maria also became Laura's friend after the latter ran away from home.
A few characters of the day show up now and again for cameo or plot reasons.
Animal Talk: The hamsters are mostly seen talking with each other. Other animals can't talk. Usually the hamsters have to keep themselves silent around humans.
And in one episode, Oxnard suggests that the Ham-Hams should go talk to Kana's friend about looking for Sandy's brother, but Hamtaro tells them that she's a human and wonders how they can talk to humans.
Demoted to Extra: Even though they're counted as main characters, Sandy, Stan, Maxwell, Cappy, Panda and even Snoozer shows up once in a blue moon. Occasionally they will have episodes and sometimes lines but they're not necessary to the story other than filler.
Hidden in Plain Sight: The ham-hams usually hide in trees, bushes or high atop of buildings but sometimes they hide in places in where a person should really be easy to spot them such as on Brandy's head or on a jungle gym.
Iconic Item: A majority of Ham-Hams have iconic items or accessories that they are never seen without.
Image Song: The original is full of them, mostly Ham-Hams that are major characters. A few such as Panda or Cappy don't really have their own.
The movies give us Tensai Let's Go! Ayayamu for Ayayamu for her image song and the credits song.
The dub has their own spin on Kuru Kuru which is Stan and Sandy's song as well as a few of the songs from the Birthday OVA. Strangely enough there's an Italian album that has image songs sung by Cristina D'avena that has songs about several of the Ham-Hams including Panda and Snoozer that never got their own song in the original.
Nerd Glasses: Dexter's fur is in the shape of a pair of glasses.
Nice Character, Mean Actor: Glitter. Onstage, she's a bubbly J-pop singer with Tastes Like Diabetes lyrics. Offstage, she's a sharp-tongued, egotistical bitch, and tries to drive Travis away from Laura so he can spend time with her.
Punny Name: Most of the Ham-Hams' names were puns in the original Japanese version.
Real Ham-Hams Wear Pink: Boss is a rather strong and tough ham-ham, but on occasion, he will act disturbingly effeminate. In a later season, he becomes a nurse along with the rest of the girls, complete with fake blush and eyeliner!However, from season 5 onward, he becomes Hero-Ham!
Speaks Fluent Animal: Mimi, Panda's owner, is young and innocent enough to be the only human who can talk to the Ham-Hams directly.
Laura is able to communicate with them, but only in her dreams.
She also can be said to telepathically communicate with Hamtaro during the times where she writes in her diary, as sometimes they respond to each other's thoughts.
Spoiled Sweet: Bijou. Her owner is rich thus granting her some luxuries the other ham-hams don't have and she can be somewhat vain on occasion. Most of the time, however, she is very nice and will do her best for her friends even if it means getting her paws and fur dirty.
Also Bijou's owner Maria, a softspoken Lonely Rich Kid who becomes friends with Laura.
Verbal Tic: The entire ham-ham language is made up of them. For instance, they say "Krmpkrmp" when eating, "Ticky-ticky" while walking, "Heke" in response to something that confuses them...there's a lot.
In Japanese, Hamtaro ends his sentences "Na no da" while Bijou ends her's with "Dechuwa".
The ham-ham's are also afraid of chickens as well as little chicks, but to their credit, the chickens on the show are pretty damn scary. One of the chickens that belongs to said Overprotective Dad has an eye patch for crying out loud.
A lot of the conflict between Laura and Roberto can be traced to the fact that he's deathly afraid of mice and other small rodents....like hamsters. Hamtaro twigged to it immediately but it took a while for Laura to do so.
Yamato Nadeshiko: Parodied with the teacher's girlfriend, Charlotte, who comes from a traditional family and has been raised as one... but acts like a borderline Wild Child cow girl whenever she's out of her Big Fancy House.
The games provide examples of:
Bag of Spilling: In the beginning of Ham-Ham Heartbreak, Hamtaro trips and falls into a bucket of water while carrying his Ham-Chat dictionary, smudging up most of the words.
Copy Protection: The second game prevents you from achieving 100% Completion and the third game will lock up at the very start if it detects that you're playing them in either an emulator or on a flash cart. And let's just leave it at that.
Edutainment Game: Hamtaro: Wake Up Snoozer for PC/Mac and Hi! Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Challenge for the DS. Also, the bunch of No Export for You games for the Sega Pico and Advanced Pico Beena.
Fleeting Demographic Rule: The second DS game which actually got a quiet US release. Apparently, Alpha Dream/Natsume thinks that no one remembers the hamsters anymore, so they threw in a reintroduction of each of the characters in the opening title cinematic. After all, the show has been off the air in the US for over two years by then, and the last game was released in the US market over 4 years prior.
Genre Shift: The first GBC title was a WJT title, essentially a fortune teller/love meter program with a virtual pet function threw in as an afterthought. The second GBC and first GBA titles were of the adventure/RPG genre, the second GBA title was a adventure/RPG+minigames genre game, the third GBA title was a sports title made to tie in with the 2004 olympics, the first DS title was a quiz game, and the second DS title as well as the only PC title was an edutainment title. Yeah.
The Kiddie Ride: Bandai/Banpresto made one in Japan using the same base design as one they used for an Ojamajo Doremi ride. It dispensed candies after the ride ended. Also made were about half a dozen knockoff rides from China. Those are, sadly, much more prevalent.
Minigame Game: Both Rainbow Rescue and Ham-Ham Games, though the former also has a story similar to Ham Ham Heartbreak.
Ship Tease: ESPECIALLY in Ham-Ham Heartbreak and Rainbow Rescue.
Shout-Out: To The Legend of Zelda, in two places. First, the shady Ham-Merchant says 'Buy somethin', will ya!?' like the original Zelda shopkeepers did. The second is much funnier. You collect three marbles throughout the game, one red, one green, and one blue. Then you place them in a pedestal that looks like it has a sword in it. Then you tug on the sword. The 'Opening a Treasure Chest music' from Zelda plays. And... IT'S A SPOON!
Toilet Humor: The Go-P verb. First time you see it? When you're facing a tree.
Verbal Tic: Ham Ham Heartbreak villain Spat's "pfpth!" His angelic counterpart, Harmony, has "tee hee".
Video Game Cruelty Potential: In the right circumstances the player can bite and scratch other hamsters, and even poke them in the face with a stick; this rarely accompishes anything beyond making them distressed. Bodyslamming is the only way to get certain hamsters to pay attention to you, and you have to outright knock some out of trees and off ledges or other great heights to learn their ham-chat words. The game remarks that you feel bad for it, but if you leave the area and come back they'll be right up there again, and you can keep shoving them without any consequences.