by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun ?
We're seeing the format of Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun shift before our eyes. Previously, it was more-or-less a Monster of the Week format, and I expected “The 4 O'clock Library” to be more of the same. Instead, the show threw us for an emotional loop in the second half, at last opening up about Hanako-kun's mysterious origin story. I've heard whispers from manga readers that this story isn't half as silly or cute as I've been led to believe from its beginnings, and this episode is the first indication that there's a lot more at play than the Hanako and Nene spirit detective show. At the same time as it revealed the strikingly melancholy past of our lively Toilet Imp, the show also offered us a complicated new facet of its narrative.
If you had the chance to learn your own future ahead of schedule, would you take it? Childish Nene doesn't think twice about the possible consequences before she sneaks a peek. Her discovery isn't particularly momentous (I still love your daikon legs, Nene!), but it still triggers one of the more disturbing outcomes thus far—a book that bleeds all over Nene and Kou. Though they've snuck into the 4 o'clock library with the objective of covertly learning more about Hanako, he's still the one that comes to their rescue when the arachnoid librarian looms. Now that I've read the manga (at least the first volume) I think the action sequences are where the anime differs most drastically. The music sounds and pacing feel more suited to a shonen battle series, temporarily breaking from the taut, occult atmosphere of the rest of the show. Like when we switch from jokes about donuts to emotional backstory, it's enough to send any viewer reeling.
Another duality: Hanako before and after his death. Aside from that rare, hatless show of remorse to Nene last episode, the Hanako-kun we know is always playing around, always smiling that smile that seems to be more of a display of intimidation than a show of real happiness. And then, through Tsuchigomori-sensei's Yorishiro, we finally get a glimpse of Yugi Amane, the unsmiling, wounded boy Hanako was before he died. Tsuchigomori-sensei says he's only met one person who has ever managed to change the future written in their 4 o'clock library book, and even before he tells us it was Hanako we can easily guess he's the one. Hanako, we learn, ought to have grown up and become a teacher. Instead, he died young and fulfilled his insistent proclamation to his teacher: that he was never leaving this place. The implied tragedy of Hanako's life gives the show an altogether different mood than it had when we were focused on Nene's misadventures in romance and mischievous spirits.
This episode covers so much ground, it eschews both its opening and ending sequences. With all that extra time, it has given viewers a lot to think about this week. Who is the human being who is meddling with the School Wonders by spreading powerful rumors to change their abilities? How did Hanako change his fate? Is there one Hanako, or two? This story has gotten deeper and messier while still retaining its fantastic, painterly style. It's becoming more and more difficult to wait for the next installment each week.
Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun is currently streaming on FUNimation.
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