Kodomo no Omocha (Child's Toy) is a show about some children finding out about love, family, and what everything in life really means.
Actually it's this completely spastic show about some insane 11 year old kids. I firmly believe that every character in this show is completely nuts, except Hayama, who's just suicidally depressed. Fun guy, that Hayama.
Kirai ja nai.
This show has been called "Marmalade Boy on LSD," but I can't agree. MB, while a decent show, was ALL about a bunch of love triangles and hurt feelings. Kodomo no Omocha (or Kodocha for short) is a show with a lot more substance. The only reason I think they get compared so often is that the art is very similar (although Kodocha's art is better, especially backgrounds and so on, because it's a much newer show.)
The main character is Sana-chan, a child actress who stars in a TV show for child actors called "Kodomo no Omocha." In real life she also goes to elementary school, where she's in 6th grade. Her female classmates love her, but her male classmates are mostly under the control of one Hayama Akito, a cold, calculating, unemotional jerk. He's got some dirt on the teachers that allows him and his little monkey brigade to trash the class if they want. Sana, an honest, kind and good person (if not always that bright upstairs) can't stand what he's doing, so after annoucing is crimes on national television, she thinks of several ways to get him to stop his evil ways. Her schemes don't exactly work, but they're good for a laugh, and she starts to find out more about this mysterious boy.
When she finds out about his horrible home life and the daily misery that is his life, Sana-chan feels pity for him, but she doesn't think that's a good excuse for his actions, and she makes sure he knows it. But after more or less ending his reign of terror she finds that Hayama really has nothing, so she throws her incredible amounts of energy into trying to improve his life, with mixed results.
Later on the focus of the plot moves to other characters and other problems; the show covers various things such as love, sickness, being abandoned, having a dead parent, being adopted, divorce, first crushes, suicide, growing up in a bad home, obsession, depression, loneliness, and other social problems. What do all these things have in common? They're things kids have to deal with, and the interesting thing about this show is it presents these problems from a child's point of view.
Hayama is a cute male main character who specializes in glaring and giving other sorts of looks which are pregnant with meaning (and you just want to smack him and yell, "What?! What are you thinking?!"). Whenever Hayama super-deforms or does something other than glare meaningfully he's really cute. He also doesn't hate sushi.
You might be thinking, "This sounds kinda dramatic now," but I assure you, heavily interspersed throughout this somewhat serious-sounding plot are tons of random silly things. Sana raps for 20 seconds or so every episode; she's got a boyfriend/manager/driver/pimp named Rei-kun; her mother is an eccentric award-winning author with a squirrel living on her head; and of course the ever-present Babbit, the show's cute little mascot, is an integral part of the show, even though it never actually DOES anything and the characters can't even see it. The show is ultra-spastic and wacky and rarely serious for more than a few minutes at a time, if that. They manage to find humor in almost everything; even the episodes about suicide were somehow very funny. (The ways Sana imagined Akito trying to kill himself were ridiculous.)
This show seems to be a love/hate sort of thing--you'll either love it or hate it. If you can stand any kind of shoujo comedy and don't mind that there is NEVER violence or swords or guns or hot chicks, then it's worth at least checking out. It is a girls' show, as a warning to you boys out there, but don't let that deter you, it's got lots of good stuff. I've shown it to guys and most of them were very fond of it (the open-minded ones who weren't action/mecha/hentai buffs, that is). The show is heavy on character development (it IS shoujo) but there's enough action and humour happening every ep to make anyone who's immature enough take notice.
In most episodes, Hayama and Sana talk about something important to them as children, and sometimes the show gets downright philosophical, in a child-like way. Of course, it stays serious for about 5 or 6 seconds, but it's still cool. It really points out that they're kids. The show is really from a kid perspective, and in addition, the kids do not act like or think like miniature adults; they think like kids and they are all in the process of growing up. They really change over time, learning things about life in the course of the random wackiness all around them.
The kids in this show know that they're just kids, and they don't try to control their worlds or everything that happens; they know they are not the center of everything. They comfort each other when they're sad and sometimes do stupid, selfish, or petty things because they're young (although unlike adults, they are also able to admit when they are wrong). One of the cutest things about this show is that when the characters hug or embrace or fall asleep together, it's completely innocent and non-sexual and just too cute for words, most of the time.
As for other factors about the show: The music of the opening and closing is very catchy. The opening animation is not all that great from an art perspective, but it's awesome to watch, and I love it. Plus the first opening song, 19'o'clock News, is be mega-cool rock band Tokio. (BTW, Tokio's lead singer is a sexy babe, and I dare anyone who's seen him performing to say otherwise.)
The show's art is unusual but you'll get used to it fast and start loving it. It's a pretty good representation of the original manga art by Obana Miho. Her artwork is more soft and delicate and wispy, but it's obviously very difficult to reproduce an effect like that with anime, so I feel they did a pretty good job.
Another thing which may be interesting to note is that this show was directed by the same man who directed Fairy Princess Ren (Elf Princess Rane in the US) and it has the same wacky, incredible fast and odd humor to it. The nice thing is that Kodocha is very plot-heavy, which is where Ren suffered (it didn't actually have much of a plot). He also directed the series "Jubei-chan and the Secret of the Lovely Eyepatch" being sold in the USA as "Jubei-chan the Ninja Girl," and a few other series which were extremely melodramatic dramas. (But I think that's a good thing.)
Yet another thing about this show is the extreme Japanese-ness of it. I have never noticed this as much with any other show (except Tenshi ni Narumon, which is actually worse). Included with almost every episode is a bunch of translation notes explaining the weird puns and actions and jokes that keep happening throughout. It really helps you learn about Japanese culture and at the same time, makes everything twice as funny (and it was already funny anyway). It really enhances your viewing pleasure to know these things.
A RANDOM RANT...
Anyway, this is a show which you should, if possible, try out, and maybe you'll like the hyperactive doings of the characters within. Everyone in this show is completely and totally nuts, most of the time, but it's in a good way. If you dislike kids, then this show, which features lots of stuff immature people like myself find hilarious, is not for you. But if you are among the ranks of the child-like, immature types, you'll probably be fond of it. Just keep an open mind and don't judge this show by its first episode (of course, you should NEVER do that...) and we'll see what happens!