Hakone-chan – Anime Review
Synopsis: Based off of the manga Onsen Yosei Hakone-chan by Daisuke Yui, Hakone is about the hot spring spirit Hakone who descended to a spa resort on Earth. Due to her long slumber however, she now looks like a little girl. High school boy Toya stumbles across her at a hot spring and ends up helping Hakone retrieving her original powers.(Official Crunchyroll Synopsis.)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: From the start, Hakone-chan makes it clear that it is a low budget series. From its 3 minute episode length to its animation quality, there is no denying that visually, this show will never rise above mediocre at best. It looks cheap and everything from its simple character designs to the very flow of the animation screams tight budget. It’s decent enough however, getting the point across as Hakone works her way into the lives of Toya and his friends. But even if it gets the job done, it doesn’t get it done well, as the entire production is all in all visually unimpressive, even during the brief battle sequences between other Hot Springs Spirits that show up to challenge Hakone in a game of water mayhem antics. The animation takes a dive, opting to present several sequences in nothing more than slideshows. Unfortunately animation is the least of Hakone-Chan’s problems.
Tom: Hakone-chan’s characters are a huge negative point. Every single one borders on generic or marks a clear attempt to create a cookie cutter cute, moe mascot, from Hakone, who is your adorable, slightly-oblivious moe god weakened after awakening from centuries(?) of slumber, to Toya, your awkward, shy, goodie-two shoes guy. Most of the creative energy went into ensuring that the female mascots looked adequately moe and there’s no avoiding the notion that everything in Hakone-chan feels like an ad, especially as midway through the season the show turns into a full blown advertisement for the hot springs region featured.
Linny: The show makes an attempt at a cohesive and actual story during the first few and last handful of episodes. But the middle completely undoes all that work. There’s some comedy and hints of plot but there’s no denying the show’s true purpose, which is to advertise the real life location hot springs regions. What really proves to be Hakone’s ultimate downfall is its rushed and nonsensical ending. To have the show try to put in a serious and tragic event, only to undo it in the next 5 seconds will have most viewers either guffawing or feeling unsettled and confused.
Tom: Hakone-Chan isn’t something I couldn’t really recommend unless you’re in dire need of a dose of cute moe girls and vague comedic antics. Even then there’s far better offerings out there and the only thing Hakone-Chan has going for it is its exceedingly short run time. It’s never offensively bad, but makes zero effort to rise above mediocrity and provide something resembling entertainment.
Linny: For those curious if the source manga has more variety, there isn’t any good news. Yes, there have been 2 volumes of it released in Japan, but no licensing outside the country. From what little glimpse I could get of the manga, I’d say the anime stays extremely true to its source. Hakone-chan thoroughly feels like a show whose only fans would be moe-starved audiences. If you were hoping it might at least be educational about the hot spring region featured, it’s really nothing more than an extended promotional ad for a sightseeing trip, meaning you’ll probably find far more meaningful and entertaining series by the dozens before you’d ever have to scrape the bottom of the barrel with this series.
Hakone-chan is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.