Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan

Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan

imageOnsen Yousei Hakone-chan is all about a hot spring spirit who has descended to a spa resort on Earth. She has been asleep for a very long time, and due to this age-long slumber she now resembles a small girl. On this fateful day, high-schooler Toya discovers Hakone and finds himself helping her to retrieve her original powers.

imageHakone-chan is your typical fun-and-colourful anime short series that, instead of having a one-off hot spring episode, brings them in for every single one. Young Toya helps to keep the attractive hot springs resort clean and presentable. His life is normal and he’s even interested in a local girl named Haruna, but his life takes an unexpected turn when he makes that fated offering in the hot spring and the spirit of Hakone descends from her slumber to help him out.

Hakone herself resembles an eleven-year-old girl yet has the attitude of a snarky teenager, especially when dealing with guys innocently looking for ways to strike up a common interest with the opposite sex. Hakone’s personality is one that is made apparent right away – she loves food, getting her own way and thinking that she is ‘helping out’ when she really isn’t. She doesn’t hit it off straight away with Toya of course, and Haruna can’t help but be suspicious of her since Hakone doesn’t exactly resemble a traditional hot spring spirit. Nevertheless, this trio is slowly brought together through a series of hi-jinks and shenanigans revolving around the hot springs.

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An underpowered spirit isn’t exactly a groundbreaking catalyst for a story, but that fact that Hakone is so small and inefficient adds additional humour as we watch her struggle with her frustrations and her impotencies. The show does the expected in adding the stereotypical younger sister, (though thankfully it’s not Hakone’s but rather Aki’s). This has its own obvious and familiar gags to work with and there is plenty of time focused on these types of situations. While the series isn’t exactly stretching itself here, there is still plenty of fun to be had and a certain cuteness even as it plays up the usual fanservice that you expect to be involved in a hot springs-centred anime.

Hakone gets into various situations that involve her dressing up or helping a character, which isn’t to dissimilar to the standard HackaDoll plot. She’s got her powers and control over hot spring elements and she uses them to ensure her status with the other characters whilst at the same time using it to enchant the visitors and show them how good she is at serving the hot springs.

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Since every episode is just a three-minute mini-adventure, Hakone-chan distills the traditional show into good short-form. Our three leads are quickly introduced with sufficient characteristics and the basics are laid before us. Who and what Hakone really is is explained rather quickly, getting the fundamentals out of the way and jumping right into establishing the relationship dynamics and getting the gags in. After all, three minutes isn’t much time, especially when you consider the beginning and ending credits.

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Hakone-chan doesn’t do anything new or particularly exciting, but the episodes are mildly funny and easy to watch when you’ve only got a few minutes spare. All the expected elements are present in each episode and the pacing continues to be competent throughout. It’s not overly rushed but it’s also trying to get a lot in. We get the usual jokes, including the whole falling-down-on-a-girl-and-squeezing routine, so you know that they’re not really pushing the boundaries to explore new ground. But if you’re looking for that quick hit of silliness within the classic anime environment of the hot springs, it might be a nice diversion for some colourful characters and quick escalations.