Despite her fame and her career, eccentric 11-year-old child actress Sana Kurata lives an almost normal life with her even-more-eccentric author mother, Misako Kurata, and her manager Rei Sagami. She even attends a public school, where she has many friends. But in school she comes into conflict with sullen, laconic Akito Hayama, de facto leader of the boys in her classroom.Akito holds some secret blackmail on two of the teachers, allowing him to get away with a great deal of misbehavior — something which enrages Sana, especially when it disrupts the class. She vows to defeat Akito, and restore peace to the school. After several failures, she succeeds in beating Akito at his own game, but her victory over him is just the beginning of a surprising evolution of her relationship with the quiet, angry-seeming boy, as she discovers why is he so angry and starts trying to fix it...Kodomo No Omocha ("Child's Toy", and frequently contracted to "Kodocha") is a fun, entertaining shojo series that mixes comedy and drama in equal parts. It was created by Miho Obana and published in Shueisha's Ribon magazine from 1994 to 1998. It got adapted into an anime series in 1996 and run into 102 episodes, directed by Akitaro Daichi, the later-director of series like Fruits Basket and Now and Then, Here and There.Sana's irrepressible energy and rapidfire dialogue is second only to Excel of Excel♥Saga for its speed and outrageousness. (In fact, Excel's original North American voice actress, Jessica Calvello, once expressed an interest in voicing Sana in English.) But unlike Excel, Sana is a force to be reckoned with, despite her non sequiturs and baffling leaps of "logic". Possessed of an immense empathy and a willingness to help even someone she characterizes as her worst enemy, she plows through troubles and problems with a bold determination and a choice of skills from the acting school she attends. It has frequently been described as "Marmalade Boyon crack" due to Sana and Akito's superficial resemblance to Miki and Yuu.During 2005, FUNimation started to release licensed DVDs of the anime series in North America under its abbreviated title, "Kodocha". It is interesting to mention, that the dub of the first DVD had been censored heavily, but it stopped by the next releases. Additionally, the original opening credits from the first season were replaced with the second season ones because of legal pressures exerted by Johnny & Associates, the management behind TOKIO, the band who recorded the opening "7 O'Clock News". Even the cameo of one of the members of the band was bowdlerized in both English and Japanese tracks to keep any mention of the group out of the North American release. Due to licensing contracts and low sales of the series, the second season was never released and as of February 2012, Funimation lost the license of the series.
Abusive Parents: Volumes two and three of the manga heavily suggest Tsuyoshi's dad is this. It's never brought up again, since he and his family move away from him. The fact his anger over people insulting his mother seems to be linked to this suggests Domestic Abuse too.
Adaptation Distillation: The anime took a more diverged comedy direction since the very beginning of the series. That's more clear if you take a look to the first chapter of the manga and the first episode of the anime. Some characters were changed a little in personality, there's a bit more of exposition of others, the situations are a bit more exaggerated, and even some of the events got more tamed in the animation. That's also considerating that the manga was still being published in Japan at the moment that the anime was airing (it was also a monthly manga series) so they had little to work with. In the end (also probably because of the popularity it had), the series had 102 episodes, it overtook the mangaseveral times as pointed below, and so, it had a lot of filler, and ended with a Gecko Ending.
Adaptation Expansion: As a result of the above, some arcs are ridiculously expanded with filler, trying to make time between some events that are canon in the manga.
Art Evolution: Mostly expected since the series lasted for 4 years, but once you see how the main characters look in the future, in Deep Clear (released 10 years later after its end), the art evolution is pretty notorious... which Shuri and Sana look almost the same...
Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Sana is mostly to play the Straight Man role, all with complete Tsukkomi's weapon, a hammer. Akito happens to be her 'partner', or another one when the situation called it. Fuuka, also counts in a manner, her living in Osaka and all.
Given that the anime got canceled at episode 102, the 'epilogue' are omakes of non-continuity and AU events of the anime itself, and possibly Sequel Hooks from those filler arcs. Such like a yakuza member wanting to marry Sana or Naozumi finding out his found-biological family going broke.
The final volume of the manga in Japan contains several greetings messages from people such like Akitaro Daichi and even the band Brilliant Green.
The kanzenban of the series got nice extras as the original color illustrations of the chapters' covers, clean illustrations of the Ribon covers and at the end, a recent (by 2003 speaking) sketch of Sana and Akito if they were High School students.
Before even considering the DVD Box Sets, Funi released boxes to keep the DVDs safe with a freebie Babbit plushie.
The recent anniversary edition (20th anniversary of Obana's career) of the DVD Box Sets in Japan (from 2010) contain addition material as bonus gifts and new covers drawn by Obana herself.
Also, the Ribon magazines are a general example for this, but since the magazine was directed to girls, without a doubt they gave freebies of this series (and others as well) when it was still being serialized.
Boy Meets Girl: Akito and Sana. Well, Sana knew he was a troublemaker. She starts to know him better. He gets her.. She loses him. He gets her again. She was way too close to lose him again.
Brick Joke: When Akito gives Sana her First Kiss, a couple classmates on the background tell us that Akito gave his first kiss when he was a kindergartener, and when he admits it, they also add they had bet 10 yen each he couldn't do it. Halfway in the series, the girl he kissed as a kindergartener (Fuuka) returns to Tokyo and slap him for that.
Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : Mami never forgives Akito after he tries to drown her for calling him a demon, and when she learns about it Misako explicitly tells him it's his own fault for his abuse of her.
Akito is one even in-universe, and has actually been shown chasing away a fangirl. Between Sana and Fuuka, it's implied he'd be literally surrounded by fangirls if his personality wasn't such a turn-off (in grade school the girls even found him disgusting as a millipede due the shit he pulled there).
Child by Rape: Hinted to be the case with Sana in the manga. Keiko gave birth to her when she was 13 or 14 years old and her dad was not only a much older man, but Keiko's uncle. In the anime, we only know that Keiko was a teenage mom and that's all.
In fact, in the anime we get to know Sana's father, and he's apparently a nice man, so it's doubtful that he did rape Keiko. Then again, the anime series is an Adaptation Distillation of the manga...
Continuity Cameo: Babbit may be an anime-exclusive character, but it doesn't mean he is an outsider of the group character portrait cover of the final volume of the manga.
Cool Big Sis: Natsumi, after the Hayama family's problems are partially resolved by Sana and they start to emotionally heal.
Cool Shades: Rei uses a pair of sunglasses almost all the time.
Creator Cameo: Miho Obana appears many times in the manga's panels and theorically she could be the M person that appears at the end of it, but it isn't totally confirmed and in the anime she also makes several cameos only saying "I'm Obana". Bonus points for Maro-chan, since it is based on Obana's own pet (even named Maro) from the time she was writing this series.
Crossover: There's a special chapter that is a crossover drawn by Obana and Mihona Fujii (mangaka mostly known for her work, GALS!. Counting as cameo, Erika Sakurai from her other work, Passion Girls, also appeared in the series as well.
Dancing Theme: In both openings, but more specifically Ultra Relax.
Death by Childbirth: Akito's mother, Koharu, died right after she gave birth to him. Of course, milked as melodrama for all it's worth, since the badly traumatized Natsumi psychologically abuses her brother and blames him for that for years.
Defeat Means Friendship: Once Sana has the opportunity to blackmail Akito, he could be considered a friend for her, so much, she tries to help him make better all of his family situation. Of course, this also leads to something else between them.
Diary: Though it is not very relevant as it is at the beginning of the series, Sana keeps a diary since she was a child as a petition from Misako.
Maybe because of a misunderstanding (the diary doesn't play any RELEVANT role later, it's just something that Sana likes to do), when the manga was licensed in Mexico, it was called El Diario de Sana rather than El Juguete de los Niños (direct translation of Kodomo no Omocha, and maybe not taken because the publisher wanted to avoid confusion with an 80s telenovela called El Mundo de Juguete) or Kodocha.
Gecko Ending: The anime adds an entire "America" Arc, where Sana goes to America with Naozumi for an acting gig and runs into an American version of Akito. At the end, they return to Japan, and trying to play the same arc of the manga where Akito looks one of his classmates succumbing with his arm disability, just eliminating all the suicidal and mutual suicide triggering themes in it.
Gene Hunting: An early major story arc involves Sana and her mother's hunt for her birth mother.
Genki Girl: Sana is the most easy example. Fuuka could be considered but to a lesser extent.
Curiously enough, as soon the manga progresses, she gets rid off them because she was growing up. In the anime... WELL...
Good Parents: There's Misako, and when he finally realizes what his home situation is really like, Akito's dad becomes one as well. In one episode where Akito is framed for shoplifting, his father gives a long speech about how he expects Akito to come forward with the truth on the situation. All Akito says is he didn't do it, and his father adamantly believes him just because he has that much faith in Akito.
Head Pet: Maro, the squirrel, lives in Mama Kurata's hair.
Heroic BSOD: Once when Sana was a child and she got a bad grade, fearing that she'd be sent back to the Orphanage of Love where she grew up, and another time when Akito had to go overseas to get his arm cured.
The Men in Black: Subverted, Rei is a big softy, and the glasses are worn at Sana's behest because she thinks his "beautiful eyes" should remain hidden.
Merchandise-Driven: Exclusively in the anime series, since it had Tomy (present day known as Takara Tomy) as a co-producer. Every single product that Sana had (the Burucha and the Nopia, for example) were real toys. There should be noted that these line of toys (at least the majority of them) didn't exist in the original manga itself. However, as of now, finding them in certain auction sites is way too difficult to do due the age the series has right now (more than 15 years old). The most valuable of them is probably the Polaroid Camera (made by Tomy) that was available as a series-related edition (in two colores, the blue one is HARDER to get).
Mood Whiplash: So, so much. From one moment you can treat the funny antics of Sana trying to tame the mood, but then, sadness happens. One of the best series that could describe this whole in its genre.
Motor Mouth: Sana, Sana, Sana... the subtitles can come in paragraphs.
The Movie: WELL, not exactly the movie, but Mizu no Yakata, The Mansion of Water, the movie that Sana, Naozumi and Asako were filming in the series was later adapted as a sole separate volume as a side story. It's as obscure as it was intended to be as a film in the manga, too.
My Beloved Smother: Exclusive on the anime. Misako's mother, Shizuka Kurata, is often trying to get her to take on the responsibilities of running the family hot springs. When this fails, Shizuka tries it on Sana. It doesn't work either.
My God, What Have I Done?: Akito's sister has this reaction when she sees the TV movie Sana and Asako were in that pretty blatantly parallels the situation with Akito's family, and she realizes just how horribly she treated Akito all these years. Akito's dad has a more subdued version of this.
Miss Andoh also has this reaction when she remembers that a teacher's job is to help the students understand their work, not enforce arbitrary grading, and realizes her proficiency test is making her look like a heartless monster.
Narrator: Both Babbit and Sana narrate at different points in the anime series.
The Idiot from Osaka: Fuuka - though it's subverted, as while she's obnoxiously hyper (though not any less than Sana, whose personality and accent say "generic Tokyo area native anime character") she's quite clever and somewhat more astute than Sana. When Fuuka first appears the rest of the characters briefly discuss the Osaka stereotype.
However, she also subverts it, given how implied from the narration in the manga when she accepts that Rei must go on with his life (he has a longtime girlfriend) that he must have been her first Precocious Crush.
Out of the Inferno/Unflinching Walk: After the house where Mizu no Yakata was being filmed was burning, and Sana was still harmed from her leg... she manages to make her dramatic exit just in time (while the others were worried that Sana would die in there), and this ends up being the perfect scene of the movie.
Overprotective Dad: After Sana stopped seeing Rei as her boyfriend, he starts acting like a dad for her. To the extreme of being a bit overprotective to her. He doesn't like Akito, he tries to calm down the situation of Sana and her mom when her book was published. In the manga, it is more obvious, especially after he took so seriously his role as a manager and wanted to Sana to keep working, and when Akito became seriously harmed after their classmate's attempted homicide-suicide, he really took a more parental role to her, declining an important gig for her, remembering that she was still a girl, because her dearly Akito was in that thin line between life and death.
Overtook the Manga: The manga ended in November 1998 (recollected in tankoubon until January 1999). And the anime ended in March from the same year. The anime adapted the original story up until volume 7 (with added fillers, the America arc and finally, a Gecko Ending) until around episode 75. Of course, since the manga started to go in a dramatical point since volume 6, and the anime clearly was made for more comedy moments... However, this wasn't the only time that this happened: the anime overtook the manga series at least twice when it was still being aired.
Sana was abandoned by her birth mother Keiko (who actually gave birth to her at age thirteen, and in the manga Sana's birth may have been product of sexual abuse), and the less said about her birth father the better except in the anime, where he's actually a really nice guy. Her adoptive mother, Misako, is divorced from a parasitic money-leech.
Akito's mother Koharu is dead and his father Fuyuki is so absorbed in his work that he never sees his children (though to his credit, he does try be a good dad once he and Natsumi get over themselves).
Tsuyoshi's father is estranged from the family, and it's implied that he physically abused Tsuyoshi; might be the case why he reacts so strongly to people insulting his mother.
Rei's parents died in an accident not so much long after he broke up with Asako. He thought they were rich... but they also had lots of money debts, resulting him to go homeless for a while.
Pilot: There was an OVA, produced by J.C. Staff, released in 1995. It's a little bit more closer to the manga, actually. But, compared to the actual anime series, it has not only different designs, but also a different seiyuu cast, notably Chisa Yokoyama as Sana and Megumi Ogata as Akito.
Poor Communication Kills: The whole debacle of rumors and gossip stating Sana and Naozumi are a couple while they film a movie. Not only does Akito decide to date Fuuka as sort of a rebound, but Sana gets physically assaulted by rabit Naozumi fans to the extent that they break her leg. When Sana finally returns to school after shooting the movie none of her friends ask her about Naozumi. Including Akito. They all just assume she'll just talk about her relationship with them, but then they all get insulted when she doesn't. Sana only finds out they believed the rumors when she feels left out in the middle of hanging out with two couples (Akito and Fuka, Tsuyoshi and Aya) and then they bring up Naozumi.
Puppy-Dog Eyes: The teacher, Tanaka-sensei, pulls such pathetic Puppy-Dog Eyes that Sana has to tell him to stop because he's gonna make her cry.
Puppy Love: This is what it could be considered from the very beginning that Akito and Sana, or Tsuyoshi and Aya (and Naozumi & Sana, and Akito & Fuuka) are kids of 11-13 years old.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Misako actually hands out a few of these. She raised Sana with an even mix of independence and rules, and often never lets Sana back out of the consequences when she does something wrong. She delivered a subdued and absolutely scathing one to Sana's birth mother Keiko over abandoning Sana when she was a baby, regardless of how young Keiko was at the time, followed by a slap in the face.
Recruited From The Gutter: Rei is literally begging on the streets when Sana finds him and brings him home with her to be her "boy toy" (of course Sana has no idea what being a boy toy actually entails). After that he works he works for Sana's mother as Sana's combination manager/bodyguard/nanny/father figure.
Sadist Teacher: Mr. Sengoku. He goes so far as to take Akito aside and punch him in the stomach, then getting him suspended when he fought back. In the Manga, after Akito loses function in his right hand, Sengoku forces Akito to write a sentence on the chalkboard with his left hand. This pisses Sana off so much she goes and yells at Mr. Sengoku after class.
It's actually much worse than that the teacher has Akito write out all the written work for his group's lab work on the board, including drawing the diagram. After Akito makes some progress, the teacher forces him to erase it ALL and start over because he "can't understand it". Akito spends almost the entire lab period writing out their group's work while the class watches in discomfort (and even Aya's on the verge of tear). When Akito finally finishes, Sengoku picks up a red chalk and circles all the work, most likely implying that he thinks it's wrong. He puts Akito through that humiliation, knowing his disability, and marks all that work as WRONG.
Actually, in Japan, red circle means that the work is right. Red Xs mean that the work is wrong.
Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Sana and Akito wanted to do this before he was sent overseas, but Sana proved to be too ticklish and the mood was ruined. Plus Rei and Misako barge in before anything else can happen. She gets an earful from her mother about what a bad idea this was.
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: In-universe example, when he believed that Sana and Naozumi were together, Akito dated Fuuka because, for a strange coincidence, she resembled Sana in both looks and character.
Theme Naming: Akito's Missing Mom loved the seasons and everything about them, and named her children after the season they were born in. The "aki" in Akito is "autumn" and the "natsu" in Natsumi is "summer." This theme naming extends to the entire family: Akito's mother's name (Koharu) includes "haru" for "spring," and his father's name (Fuyuki) includes "fuyu" for winter.
Talk Show: Asako, besides being a quite profilic actress, has a talk show since the very beginning in the series. Later, in the manga, after resting a bit of her TV actress career, Sana ends having a Phone-In Talk Show in radio.
Too Long; Didn't Dub: In a rather literal application of the trope, Tomomi Ayanohanamarukoji becomes Tomomi Ayano in the English dub. Additionally, many jokes, puns, and songs were re-written to function better in English.
Undying Loyalty: Rei to Sana in some ways, after she 'saved' his life from being broke and homeless.
Unlucky Childhood Friend: Naozumi, who grew up in the same orphanage Sana was once in and has been carrying a torch for her. Though, as Sana was there for a very brief period of time, they never met in the orphanage. He was just told that she lived there once and it inspired him to become an actor and someday meet her.