Review: Kodomo no Kodomo (Manga + Movie) [Updated 9-24-2015]

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Kodomo no Kodomo (Child of Children in English) is controversial in Japan almost 10 years after its release. It’s the story 10-year old Haruna Mochida, who becomes pregnant. You read that right. It’s one thing for a 15, 16 or 17 year old but this story is about a 5th Grader who becomes pregnant. The way the story’s set up, the sex act is an experiment between her and one of her classmates. It also happens off-screen so you don’t have to worry about seeing anything sleezy. Remarkably, she manages to keep her pregnancy hidden from the adults with the help of her classmates and gives birth to a boy.

I’ll pause for a moment and say while this is a pretty sick plot element, not too long ago in Texas a 12-year old who became pregnant with twins made headlines when her mother was threatened with excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church for wanting to take her 12-year old daughter, who’d been raped to get an abortion. The thing that needs to be said is while more girls in western countries have been getting their periods at younger ages, their bodies are still growing. A 16 year old may be strong enough physically to bear a child but definitely not emotionally.

A 10 year old is definitely not strong enough to have a baby physically, let alone without medical intervention. For the Manga, some rules were ignored for the sake of storytelling. The big thing for the Manga was once Haruna confirmed she was pregnant, it was kept a secret from the adults until a few days after she gave birth. The only person who figured it out–Haruna’s grandmother died minutes before she was planning to tell Haruna’s mother a few days before she gave birth.

As for how the 10-year old’s pregnancy was kept secret, the Manga took the “in plain sight” approach. The adults noticed she was gaining weight and eating more than usual. Given her age, you can’t fault them for jumping to the conclusion the weight was from all the snacking and and larger portions she was eating–this is a Japanese 10 year old, we’re talking about. Like I said, alot of stuff was overlooked to make the story work,

Haruna getting pregnant actually brings the class together: Their antics put them at odds with their teacher, Yagi-Sensei. The second-most powerful moment after helping Haruna give birth was she participated in field day, running a relay race and participating in a cavalry battle. Remember, everyone who didn’t know just assumed she was getting fat.

It isn’t until after Haruna gives birth to her son–assisted by some of her classmates–a certain incident happens that Yagi-Sensei wins the trust of her class. She is also the first adult other than Haruna’s grandparents to find out Haruna was pregnant. Her grandfather, whose dementia worsens after her grandmother dies mistakes Haruna for her mother (who never had a son) and wanders off with the baby. When word gets out among the adults, the adults band together to support Haruna and her baby due to the circumstances.

The story ends with a reunion 12 years later. Haruna is a model and her hair is now brown (the color pictures of her as a kid shows her with brown hair so I assume that is her natural hair color). The kids are now young adults. It’s never said in the story’s epilogue if Haruna told her son she gave birth to him when she was 10. The interesting thing that felt like a retcon earlier in the story is Yagi-Sensei, who is now the school principal is pregnant when they meet up outside the shack where Haruna gave birth. You’re led to believe early on Yagi-Sensei was pregnant and didn’t know it throughout the story but it looks like the idea was ultimately scrapped yet left in for some reason. No other reason for her throwing up while Haruna was dealing with morning sickness was ultimately given. On the other hand, I can see how cliche it would be to have Haruna and her teacher pregnant at the same time.

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The movie adaptation  came out in 2008 in Japan. Haven’t actually seen it but from what I’ve read, it sticks to the source material. Haruna is portrayed slightly out of character and is a year older but everything is more or less the same.

Overall, I give the manga a 6/10. The subject matter isn’t something I’m willing to overlook. The story is also strictly adults only for the subject matter alone. It’s nothing sleezy with how it was approached but that doesn’t make it any less controversial in Japan, which is pretty open-minded with alot of things most Western Cultures shy away from. Like I said, alot of real-life issues around a preteen getting pregnant is overlooked so…yeah.

Update 9-24-2015:

I watched the movie on Daily Motion a few days ago. Only the raw video (no Subtitles) is available online but it looks like they just used the the dialogue from the Manga. The movie is 2 hours long and crops the side stories to focus on Haruna.

Two major changes from the Manga are instead of field day, her class does a play. During a rehearsal Haruna collapses and blacks out, likely due to the strain the pregnancy is having on her body. The movie also cut the 10 years later chapter from the Manga, likely due to time. Overall I give the movie a 5/10 due to the lack of subs.

 

 

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