Vital StatisticsTitle: Hanamaru Kindergarten
JP Title: はなまる幼稚園
Director: Seiji Mizushima
Based On: Yuto's manga of the same name
Release InformationLicensor: Crunchyroll
Episodes to date: 1
The StoryA simple formula: Kodomo no Jikan - Fanservice - Child abuse - ~4 years = Hanamaru Kindergarten.
Okay, it's an oversimplification, but it'll get you to the right overall plot. A precocious and energetic kindergartener, Anzu-chan, is waiting for her mother on the street, and Tsuchida, a recent graduate and new kindergarten teacher, spots her alone. Wanting to make sure everything's okay he talks to her, and she immediately decides he's "hitting on her." And then he turns out to be her teacher, of course; cue introductions of the rest of the cast.
It's that simple!
The ReviewBut this isn't KoJika, and the hitting on doesn't lead to serious contemplation of Tsuchida being a pervert...mostly. Anzu also doesn't come from an unusual (and arguably dangerous) home setting, but is rather the daughter of a young woman who married her high school art teacher. So it's no surprise Anzu may develop a crush on Tsuchida, who of course turns out to be her art teacher.
I won't spoil other aspects of the plot, but another big difference: while Anzu is absolutely adorable, it's her mother who's a bit over-the-top, and definitely amused me.
Hii-chan and shy, timid Koume-chan, both of whom are adorable and I'm already totally in love with Hii-chan's cat pajamas. Insert "cat's pajamas" joke here. Of course, Tsuchida also has several co-workers, including the sweet (if generic, so far) Yamamoto-san, as well as three other female co-workers...they make quite a thing about how unusual a male kindergarten teacher is, and even cite that only 1 in every 50 teachers in Japan is male...I couldn't tell if they were only talking kindergarten, though; it seems a bit low-ball to refer to all teachers, once you start adding in high school and/or university.
All in all this looks like it could be a really cute, fun comedy. So far it's not ecchi at all, unless you count a semi-almost-kinda upskirt (it was a long skirt so you didn't actually see more than a bit of lower-thigh). Unless, of course, you count seeing up the "skirts" of all the little preschoolers, but I personally don't find a big fat diaper very titillating. If you do, well...don't tell me about it.
Anywho, it's Gainax, so I'm sure there'll still be some euphemism, and quite possibly some out-and-out fanservice, as we go on, but I'm actually surprised at how non-fanservicey it seemed, given what I was prepared for. So if Kodomo no Jikan made you uncomfortable, I think you'll still be okay with Hanamaru Kindergarten.
Once again it's Gainax, so I need hardly tell you that the animation is good-- not at Gainax's peak levels, of course, but very strong. I'll tell you one little item that I noticed that made a big difference to me: when Anzu is waxing philosophical about being hit on as shown on TV, Tsuchida reacts WHILE she's speaking, rather than after. It's a small touch, but an appreciated one nonetheless.
The voice acting is strong and the ED theme is decent musically, but the really cute visuals pick it up a lot. You'll recognize Gainax's touch a bit more there than other parts of the series, probably, although it also made me think a lot of Junko Mizuno, especially palette-wise.
And I think that's about that's about all I can say about Hanamaru Kindergarten for now. It's really cute, with a lot of potential for silliness, but nothing particularly deep or ground-breaking but some characters that I think people will really get into.