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"What's wrong with being cute and bossy?"
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. 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 Boy on crack" due to Sana and Akito's superficial resemblance to Miki and Yuu.
An extra note of surrealism is added above and beyond that which normally surrounds Sana by the presence of Babbit -- an albino bat who acts as a Narrator and Greek Chorus for the show. In addition to his other schtick, Babbit is quite aware that he and the other characters are in an anime, and sometimes upbraids Sana and her friends for doing things they shouldn't on TV.
As of August 2005, FUNimation has begun releasing licensed DVDs of Kodomo no Omocha in North America under its abbreviated title, Kodocha. The dub of the first DVD had been censored heavily, but it stopped by the next release. Additionally, the original opening credits from the first season have been replaced with the second season credits because of legal pressures exerted by the recording company behind Tokio, the group who recorded the original theme song, 7 O'clock News. A cameo appearance by a member of Tokio in the first episode has actually been bowdlerized in both English and Japanese to keep any mention of the group out of the North American release. Any audio relating to Tokio in the Japanese track is completely muted, including the 'next episode' previews in the first 16 episodes, which have Tokio's 7 O'clock News playing in the background. The second half of the series has yet to be released.
- Absurdly Youthful Mother: Sana's birth mother, Keiko.
- 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.
- Anime Theme Song
- Bad Export for You: Everything involving the band Tokio
- According to some reports, Funimation proposed re-scoring the music for relevant scenes in order to avoid referencing Tokio or dropping the audio entirely, but the Tokio handlers didn't find that solution acceptable. For some reason Funi was allowed to substitute different music in place of Tokio music for the English track, but not for the Japanese track.
- Take That: One enterprising fan reconstructed and subbed the original.
- That as of February 2012, it gives a 404'd video because of copyright of the footage. Pretty ironic, huh?
- Berserk Button: Akito CANNOT stand being called a demon. Natsumi used to call him that; their mother died giving birth to him. Also, Tsuyoshi if you insult his mother.
- Beta Couple: Tsuyoshi and Aya.
- Big Ball of Violence: On a few occasions.
- Big Fancy House: Both Sana's house and her grandparents'.
- Bishonen: Akito and Naozumi. Rei may count.
- Blue with Shock
- Bowdlerise: The first disc of the FUNimation dub.
- 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 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 returns to Tokyo and slap him for that.
- Broke Episode: Or more accurately, broke filler mini-arc.
- But Not Too Foreign: Naozumi.
- 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.
- Character Development: For a comedy, a pretty good one.
- Cherry Blossoms
- 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.
- 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.
- Cross-Popping Veins
- The Danza: Zenjiro as Zenjiro.
- 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 traumatised Natsumi psychologically abuses her brother and blames him for that for years.
- Distant Finale: In the manga.
- Drives Like Crazy: Rei, at Sana's behest. But also Misako, though she does so inside the house in some kind of mini-car.
- Everythings Nuttier With Squirrels: Maro-chan, who lives on Sana's mother's head.
- First Kiss: One that's pretty important for Sana and Akito's relationship, as well as surprising and terrifying for poor Sana.
- But it is absolutely hilarious, as her reaction causes a good deal of traffic accidents, and they were on the top floor of a tower.
- However, it wasn't his first kiss. That one was with Fuuka.
- For a BET!
- But it is absolutely hilarious, as her reaction causes a good deal of traffic accidents, and they were on the top floor of a tower.
- 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.
- Gene Hunting: An early major story arc involves Sana and her mother's hunt for her birth mother.
- Genki Girl: Sana
- Genre Blindness: Subverted.
- Gratuitous English: Sana uses it quite a lot.
- Greek Chorus: Babbit, in the anime.
- Hand Behind Head
- Happily Adopted: Sana.
- 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.
- Hidden Eyes: The only way The Stoic Akito expresses sadness.
- Hot Mom: Subverted. Misako would be one for Sana (even other characters remarked that if she wore her hair normally she'd be submerged by marriage proposals), if she hadn't adopted her.
- Played straight by Akito's late mother and Sana's biological mother.
- Human Hummingbird: Sana. ALL THE TIME.
- Hyperspace Mallet
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: Unfortunately, Funimation dropped the license for the first 2 seasons in 2012.
- Idol Singer: Sana becomes this alongside other two girls, once Zenjiro's show is cancelled.
- Improbable Hairstyle: Mama Kurata purposely adopted this look as part of her persona.
- Instant Bandages: Too many to count, applied to people, cars, you name it.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Naozumi; Sana, eventually, at least in regards to Akito going overseas.
- Sana also encouraged Rei to reunite with his old girlfriend Asako.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Sana has a habit of forgetting unpleasant memories (and the people it involves) when she suffers from Heroic BSODs.
- Looming Silhouette of Rage
- Love At First Punch: Sana very harshly calls Akito out on his blackmailing of Mitsuya-sensei and his treatment of Mami. Akito falls in love with her, predictably.
- Also a subversion, since the first girl who called him out was Sana's friend Mami... who committed the mistake of calling him "demon", not knowing it was his Berserk Button. That ended very badly.
- The Malaproper: Sana has a tendence to massacre proverbs.
- Meaningful Name: Sana is named after her birthday, March (San) 7 (Na).
- 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.
- Miniature Senior Citizens: In the anime, Sana's grandmother.
- Mood Whiplash: So, so much,
- Motionless Chin
- Motor Mouth: Sana, Sana, Sana...the subtitles came in paragraphs.
- Must Make Her Laugh: Gender inverted -- Sana always tries to make Akito laugh, or at the very least smile.
- My Beloved Smother: Misako's mother, Shizuka Kurata, who 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.
- Narrator: Both Babbit and Sana narrate at different points.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: This of course comes up with Zenjiro, since he's The Chew Toy and The Danza.
- No Export for You: The second half of the anime was never dubbed.
- No Fourth Wall
"This is supposed to be a Shojo anime!"
- The Nose Bleed: Sana's Stalker with a Crush, Ishida (No, not THAT one) has chronic nosebleeds. Other characters too, though much less often.
- Odd Friendship: Akito and Tsuyoshi, as well as Akito and Sana.
- Orphanage of Love: Where Sana and Naozumi were raised.
- Parental Abandonment: 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 is dead and his father 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.
- Playground Song: The "Drawing Sana" and "Drawing Babbit" song
- Portmanteau Series Nickname: Kodocha.
- 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.
- Rain Aura
- Relationship Voice Actor: Laura Bailey and Jerry Jewell as Sana and Akito.
- Repeat Cut
- The Rival: A couple different pairs, fading in and out as relationships evolve.
- 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.
- Selective Obliviousness: Sana becomes very brokenhearted when she hears that Akito is dating someone else. When someone explains the obvious, she tries to rationalize it away one last time.
- 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.
- Show Within a Show: Also called Kodomo no Omocha, it's actually based on a real Japanese TV show that sits 30 kids in a simulated schoolroom with a standup comedian as the "teacher"/emcee.
- Sunglasses At Night: Rei, because Sana told him to never remove them in public.
- Squeaky Eyes
- Stern Teacher: Miss Andoh. Subverted in that, her original goal for becoming a teacher was to make children happy, but she started worrying more about arbitrary grading and enforcing the rules.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: Akito.
- Surprise Pregnancy: Sana's biological Absurdly Youthful Mother Keiko didn't even know she was pregnant until she gave birth. She assumed she was being ill, and the pregnancy didn't show.
- 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.
- The Sweat Drop
- Talking Animal: Babbit.
- 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.
- 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.