Toilet-bound Hanako-kun is an anime that is both supernatural and comedic, with its fair share of fanservice in between. However, the series has surprising moments of insight. Through the show’s lens, we see protagonist Yashiro works through a high school girl’s awkward, embarrassing journey toward romantic maturity.
Yashiro: Flawed, and Painfully Relatable
Toilet-bound Hanako-kun tells the story of how high school girl Yashiro summons Hanako-kun, an apparition haunting the girls’ bathroom at her school, and the supernatural hijinks that follow. The story follows an apparition-of-the-week format, with the pair working together to keep unruly apparitions in check. Beneath this, however, is a genuine, painfully relatable character study of a teenage girl’s romantic struggles. It’s awkward, it’s cringey—and it’s sincere.
At first glance, Yashiro seems ditzy, gullible, and borderline shallow. She idolizes her crush, Minamoto, putting him on a pedestal after one interaction with him (he picks up her pencil case), even though she doesn’t even know his first name. To top things off, Yashiro reveals this is her chance to get “revenge” on another boy who rejected her. She explains to Hanako that if she gets “a wonderful person” like Minamoto to return her feelings, it would “prove I’m too good for” her former crush.
All of this casts Yashiro in a less than flattering light. However, while Hanako and Yashiro try several hairbrained schemes to help win over Minamoto, Yashiro reveals her own insecurities.
It boils down to this: Yashiro thinks she needs to be more “feminine” to be loved. She tells Hanako that, prior to the events of the anime, she heard her former crush liked “feminine” girls. Because of this, she started gardening, cooking and sewing, telling herself that she would only confess to her crush after she became good at all these things. This all happens over the course of three years and when Yashiro finally confesses, she is flatly rejected.
Yashiro also has significant body insecurity. When she is rejected by this former crush, he insults her for having “fat legs.” This comes up again and again in Yashiro’s mind, and is clearly a body image issue that she has a tough time letting go.
Where Hanako-kun Comes In
This subplot to Toilet-bound Hanako-kun does have a bright side, though. Yashiro first summons the school apparition “Hanako-san” to help her win her crush’s affection. However, Hanako gradually helps break down both Yashiro’s insecurities and her more shallow ideas about love and romance. His assistance is both sweet and sour. He praises Yashiro’s hard work at gardening, cooking, and sewing not because of the feminine angle, but because she put so much effort into it. In his first scheme to help Yashiro get closer to her crush, he encourages her to give Minamoto some of the vegetables she grew, saying, “come on, make the most of what you’ve got–you’ve put in all this hard work.” Yashiro is clearly happy (and surprised) that Hanako says this to her.
Hanako also often makes remarks to the tune of “I’ll treat you much better” than the guys at her school. This is more on the fanservice-side, but over time becomes more genuine. These small moments build up over time, to the point wherein five episodesYashiro suspects Hanako has romantic feelings toward her.
On the flip-side, Hanako is unafraid of making blunt remarks to challenge Yashiro’s unrealistic romantic ideals. When he learns Yashiro is using Minamoto to get back at a former crush, he says, “So anyone would do?” meaning she simply wants someone to appreciate her. While Yashiro initially fights Hanako on this, she later admits that he has a point.
As the duo spend more time together, Yashiro begins rethinking her own ideas about love and romance. Her maturity doesn’t develop overnight; she still sometimes falls back on her unrealistic romantic expectations. However, after the first few episodes of Toilet-bound Hanako-kun, Yashiro’s emotional development starts to become more genuine.
In episode five, the apparition-of-the-week leads Yashiro to think Hanako is going to confess having feelings for her. Typical of Yashiro, her imagination runs wild with the idea before anything happens. She starts to think about Hanako versus her “type” of guys romantically. As she says to herself many times, Hanako doesn’t fall into her type, meaning he’s not tall enough or generally handsome enough in her mind. Still, Yashiro starts to reconsider how valid her own standards are.
Even though the story then undercuts the big moment (Hanako only confessed to her because of this episode’s apparition), Yashiro can’t un-think the idea of Hanako as a crush. As a result, she also questions what truly drives love and romance.
Even More Room to Grow
As of this writing, Toilet-bound Hanako-kun has just released its sixth episode. Yashiro wants to learn more about Hanako, and secretly begins investigating on her own. While there are other reasons for her curiosity, this is the first time in the anime Yashiro tries to learn more about someone she cares about; at this early stage, her feelings towards Hanako aren’t 100% clear. Regardless, the current cliffhanger paves the way for what should be an even deeper emotional, heartfelt experience for Yashiro in episodes to come.
You can watch Toilet Bound Hanako-kun on Funimation