Kodomo no Omocha/Kodocha (こどものおもちゃ Kodomo no Omocha?, lit. Child's Toy) is a manga series by Miho Obana, helped periodically by her sister, Kaori Obana. The series is commonly known under the name Kodocha. The manga won the 1998 Kodansha Manga Award for shōjo. In the year 2007, At the American Anime Awards the anime was nominated for best comedy anime. The series was adapted as an OVA and later as an anime television series.
In 2002, the manga was published in North America in English by Tokyopop as Kodocha: Sana's Stage. In 2006, Tokyopop lost the license to the manga, leaving it out of print. The first half of the anime series was licensed for North American distribution by FUNimation. It was translated in English in 2005 and the first DVD was released in English in 2006. Seasons 1 and 2 have been completely released on DVD.
The main characters of Kodocha are Sana, Akito and all of their other friends at school, in Sana's work, and their families.
- Sana Kurata (倉田紗南 Kurata Sana?) Voiced by: Shizue Oda (Japanese), Laura Bailey (English)
- At the start of the series, Sana is an 11-year-old child star who is exuberant, cheerful and generally outgoing. Because a boy named Akito Hayama is causing chaos in her classroom, and she sets out to stop him. However, as she learns more about him she becomes compassionate for Akito. Sana began her acting career at the Kowamari Theater Troupe, and now stars in a popular variety program called Child's Toy, as well as television commercials. During the course of the series, her career flourishes, and she stars in TV dramas and a feature film among other projects. However, when Fuka comes in the series, her relationship with both Fuka (her new friend) and Akito crumbles and all three are left hurting. Fuka, who asks Akito out, becomes his "girlfriend". Sana in the meantime is in the mountains starring in a movie and doesn't know about this, and cannot call Hayama or Fuka. Naozumi tells her he loves her, but Sana remains faithful to her love for Akito which is revealed during a night with Asako. She matures quickly during the series but, in her heart, remains a true child. In 2009, Miho Obana published a 100 page crossover manga between Kodocha and Honey Bitter called, Deep Blue in which Sana is shown as an adult, 26 years old, married to Akito and is shown pregnant with his child and ends up giving birth to a girl, who in the ends names the baby Sari. 
- Akito Hayama (羽山秋人 Hayama Akito?) Voiced by: Tatsuya Nakazaki (Japanese), Jerry Jewell (English)
- Akito is a sullen boy of few words and physically strong, with a powerful karate chop. At the beginning of the series, it is shown that Akito has acrophobia. Akito's mother died when giving birth to him, which leads to his older sister Natsumi resenting him, frequently becoming angry with Akito and calling him "Demon Child." In addition, Akito has a distant relationship with his father, who works long hours. Despite his troublemaking ways, Akito is smart and gets good grades. His friendship with Sana softens his behaviour, and she helps him have a better relationship with his family. Although capable of cruelty, Akito has his own code of honor: even the teacher who he terrorizes will admit that Akito will never lie, and Akito refuses to pretend to be nice to anyone he doesn't like or respect. Inspired in part by Sana's devotion to her acting career, Akito takes karate classes. He always gets jealous when he sees Sana with another boy. As he puts it, "he doesn't hate her." Later in the series, he becomes angry with the so-called oblivious Sana, who is unaware of his love for her even though he had kissed her three times (and touched her chest throughout the entire series). He then tells her that "he has always loved her, even though he didn't say anything." In 2009, Miho Obana published a 100 page crossover manga between Kodocha and Honey Bitter called, Deep Blue in which Akito is shown as a an adult, 26 years old, married to Sana and in the end is shown with his and Sana's daughter who is named Sari.
Kodocha was generally well received by critics and readers. It won the Kodansha Manga Award for best shōjo manga in 1998 and received a 3.5/4-star rating in Jason Thompson's Manga: The Complete Guide.
Kodomo no Omocha was originally serialized by Shueisha in the magazine Ribon from August 1994 to November 1998. It was collected in ten tankōbon volumes. The series was published in North America in English by Tokyopop under the title Kodocha: Sana's Stage. As of 2008, this English edition is out of print and Tokyopop no longer has the license.
|No.||Title||Japan release||North America release|
|1||Welcome to the Jungle Gym||April 1995 |
|June 11, 2002|
|Hayama, a tough kid, is terrorizing Sana's class. When Sana finds out that he has been blackmailing the teachers, she sets out for revenge. Tsuyoshi tells Sana that Hayama's weakness is heights, but just as he is about to confess his love for Sana, the girls have to rush off to save Mami, who Hayama is trying to drown. Sana confronts Hayama, and he pins her up against the wall, telling her not to interfere anymore. After numerous failed attempts, Sana decides that she should try to blackmail Hayama with a photograph (the same way he is doing with the teachers). She enlists Tsuyoshi's help, and stalks Hayama to his home where she finds out more than she wanted to know. Hayama's abusive sister throws him out of the house, and father blanks him. Regardless, Sana gets Tsuyoshi to pull down Hayama's trousers, at which point she takes the photo. After Hayama stops being a jerk, Sana discovers from Tsuyoshi that Hayama's mother died giving birth to him, which is why his family hates him. Coincidently, Sana is doing a movie with a similar plot (where she plays a little girl, whose mother got terminally ill after giving birth to her, and Asako plays an older sister who is abusive). After watching the movie, Hayama's family see how wrong they were, that Hayama's mother gave all of her love, even her life, so that Hayama could live. They start treating him better, and thank Sana helping them. Sana is 11 years old at the time. "The Hayamoth": Hayama plays a trick on the forest god, who punishes him by turning into a moth. Hayama turns Sana's mom, Misako, into a moth, too. As a result, Sana and Tsuyoshi go to find the Hayama Moth and are tricked several times. Meanwhile, when Sana and Tsuyoshi are shooting the Hayamoth,(which is no use because the Hayamoth and his clones are immortal) Misako takes a bath and is cured.|
|2||Love is in the Air||September 1995 |
|July 23, 2002|
|In this book, Sana gets invited to have an interview with Asako Kurumi. When the interview begins Asako starts to ask questions about Sana's manager. Sana tells Asako about Rei's past and Asako realizes that Rei is the man whom she dumped in college after making a decision of whether she wants to become an actress or stay with Rei. When the interview is over then Sana goes to the car to see Rei. She finds out that he is not there and goes looking for him. Meanwhile, Rei is getting a soda from a vending machine and Asako spots him as she is getting in the car. She calls out his name and chases after him because he is running away from her. She finally corners him in a dark alley and asks him if the rumors are true. When he is about to answer, Sana pops up out of nowhere and starts shouting at Asako for talking to her "gigolo". As Sana is talking, a crowd of fans starts to show up. Rei rushes Sana home and tells her that she's his #1 person in her life to make her stop worrying. When he goes to help make the tea, Sana starts dancing and jumping. All of a sudden, she bumps into the bookcase in Rei's room. A box falls from the book shelf and opens. Sana is surprised to find pictures of Asako Kurumi in the box. She has a harder time believing that she's the #1 person in Rei's life right now. Things get harder for her when someone in her class decides to surprise her with a kiss. Sooner then expected, Hayama's dad pases out during dinner and he is rushed to the hospital, Hayama call's Sana and Sana comes to the hospital as well, Natsumi is crying and panicking while Hayama tries to act all cool and strong. When he gets aways from Natsumi, he slumps off and Sana arrives, he really feels bad about his dad so he and Sana shared a hug while Hayama said "What would I do if he dies?". "Weather Report": Each character presents the weather and finds an individual way of completely messing it up.|
|3||My Daughter and I||February 1996 |
|September 24, 2002|
|Tsuyoshi and Aono's parents get a divorce, but Aya manages to capture Tsuyoshi's heart by getting him a present to help him get through the difficult time. Sana's class goes on a trip which includes an overnight stay, where Sana and Akito share a moment together. Naozumi, another famous child actor arrives, doing adverts with Sana. Hayama starts Karate lessons to help him out. Misako, Sana's mother, publishes a book called 'My Daughter and I' which reveals that Sana is adopted. The press is all over her to find out more, and Hayama helps Sana to get out of the public eye. Sana is 12 years old at the time. "Cool Girl Karen vs Spicy Girl Sana": Sana challenges people on the street to take the Child's Toy challenge: to eat a particularly disgusting food! Karen is chosen from the audience, and is immediately sick- at which point she sticks food down Sana's throat, and she is sick also. The show got the best ratings out of any Child's Toy episode ever. Karen is a crossover from a different comic book; the episode is co-drawn by Mihona Fujii.|
|4||New Beginnings||July 1996 |
|November 19, 2002|
|Sana has been attacked by the press about the book that her mother wrote, finds out that her real mother is still living in Japan, and wants to meet her. Hayama and Tsuyoshi provide support for Sana when she meets her real sister and mother at an amusement park. Naozumi, the famous child actor who works with Sana, reveals that he too is adopted and that Sana and he were raised in the same orphanage for a month. Sana hosts a half-birthday at her house, so that Hayama can celebrate his birthday for once. Hayama and Sana share their first consensual kiss. Sana and her friends begin seventh grade at a new school, where Sana makes a new best friend named Fuka. While introducing Fuka to Hayama, Fuka goes berserk and slaps Hayama, then reveals a secret about him. "Oponchi Sisters": Miho Obana thanks her hard-working sister.|
|5||Tabloid Romance||December 1996 |
|January 14, 2003|
|Fuka explains to her friends at lunch about how she went to kindergarten with Hayama and Tsuyoshi and Hayama stole her first kiss, which broke up the relationship between Fuka and Takaishi. Sana and Fuka join the gymnastics club, then their class goes on a field trip to the zoo, where Hayama shows Sana a beautiful scenery, and Tsuyoshi and Sana talk about how Sana has no confidence or time for her love life, and she will not believe Hayama loves her unless he says so himself. Also, Hayama catches some popularity from other girls. The next day, Sana has a press conference with the rest of the cast for "Mansion of Water". Ishida asks out Sana, but Sana lies and says its true she's going out with Naozumi like the tabloids say, to get Ishida to go away. Right before Sana leaves on the bus to location to shoot the movie, Hayama sees her off, shows her his brand new brown belt he just achieved in karate, and is about to confess, but says he will talk to her when she gets back in a few months. Hayama begins longing for Sana, while she begins shooting in the mountains. When Fuka finds out Takaishi and her old friends from Osaka are coming to Tokyo to visit, she asks Hayama to pretend to be her boyfriend to show off in front of Takaishi, which makes their ties with each other more friendly. Sana is enjoying her work on location but at the end of the book, gets attacked by Naozumi's jealous fans. Sana is 13 years old at the time.|
|6||Fiery Feelings||May 1997 |
|April 15, 2003|
|Sana ends up with a fractured leg from Naozumi's jealous girl fans, which makes filming harder for her. Naozumi is extremely upset about this, but Sana tells him she's mad also, but not to worry about it and keep filming. Hayama finds out Sana and Naozumi are dating from a magazine and from Ishida. Fuka asks Hayama to be her boyfriend. Sana gets the director's cell phone and is able to make a call. She calls Hayama right away and finds out that he and Fuka are dating. Sana becomes extremely shocked and goes into a state of sadness. Sana talks with Asako and realizes that she really does love Hayama. Naozumi confesses to Sana that night. Rei tells Mama to come over right away. When Mama comes she helps Sana to handle the fact that Hayama and Fuka are dating. They are finally filming the scene when Sana comes out of a real burning house. Before she is able to fully exit the house, she falls due to her fractured leg and cannot get up. Soon, she exits the house before it burns down and finishes the scene. When they go back to Tokyo, Sana stays at the hospital for a few months to let her leg heal. Then she goes back to school. Things seem to be just as normal until Hayama starts calling Sana "Sana" instead of "Kurata", and she finds out that all her friends believed the tabloids about her and Naozumi dating. After that, Naozumi is interviewed on TV and reveals that Sana is in love with the one who saw her off the day they left for location. "An Egg Full of Thorns": A story about Akito when he was young.|
|7||Star Crossed Lovebirds||October 1997 |
|May 6, 2003|
|Sana and Hayama reveal their feelings for each other, but Fuka overhears them. Sana says her feelings for Hayama are in the past, so that Fuka is not hurt. Sana takes as many job offers she can because she wants to concentrate on her acting career so that she can keep her mind off of Hayama and Fuka. While Sana is becoming more popular, Hayama is straying back to his old ways and having violent problems with his science teacher, Sengoku-sensei. One day after school, Hayama, Fuka, Tsuyoshi, and Aya go to the arcade to hang out. Hayama gets in a fight with two high schoolers, surprising Fuka and earning himself a suspension. Tsuyoshi tells Sana the news, and that night Sana happens to see Hayama jogging. His eyes are dark like in the past, but Sana makes him feel better. Sana returns to school and declares a friendly war with Fuka. Hayama is unintentionally horrible to a boy named Komori at school, who thought that Hayama was his only friend. A woman comes to school claiming that her son Komori is going to commit suicide because of Hayama. Thus, Hayama leaves to find Komori. Before he gets on the train to leave, he tells Sana that he still loves her.|
|8||From End to Beginning||March 1998 |
|July 15, 2003|
|Komori has run away from school, and says that he will commit suicide. Hayama goes after him to convince him otherwise. Komori stabs him in the arm, but then breaks down and is willing to return with Hayama. When they get back, Hayama has to be rushed to the hospital because he's suffered massive blood loss. In a near-death experience, his mother keeps him from moving on and makes him go back to life. He regains consciousness and stays at the hospital, but his hand is paralyzed by nerve damage. While he is at the hospital, Fuka breaks up with him because she realizes that he needs Sana. Komori's mother gets counseling to help her become a better parent and understand her son. Sana finds out Hayama and Fuka have broken up, but does not get together with Hayama yet. Meanwhile, when Hayama gets released from the hospital, he has lots of trouble managing with only his right hand. Sana plans another Christmas Eve party for this year. "Oponchi Monkeys": Miho describes a game that some of her friends play in the pool, and whoever loses gets punished. One of her friends loses and is punished by wearing a monkey suit the rest of the day.|
|9||The Day Sana Lost Her Smile (Part 1)||August 1998 |
|September 16, 2003|
|Hayama and Sana are very close now, and it seems like they will be inseparable. That is, until Hayama's father suddenly tells him that they're moving to America. (Later, the reader finds out that he did this so Hayama could have a special surgery that could return movement to his arm.) Sana goes into a shock, and her face becomes mask-like. She is completely unaware of this, thinking her expressions are normal. Her mother remembers that she has gone through this before and inexplicably recovered, and hopes the same will happen. Akito is torn between leaving Sana and going with his family. Her mother asks Akito to not confront her about her illness, because she is afraid Sana will break under the strain. Sana is 14 years old at the time.|
|10||The Day Sana Lost Her Smile (Part 2)||January 1999 |
|November 11, 2003|
|Sana continues to have a masklike face, her emotions begin running out of control, and she grows weak from being unable to keep food down. She briefly forgets who Akito is and decides to be with Naozumi instead, but Naozumi refuses to take advantage of the situation. Sana decides to "elope" with Akito. They escape and have fun at a theme park, but Sana's face remains masklike and she passes out when they go to stay at a hotel. When she wakes up, she sees the pictures they took and realizes for the first time that something is wrong with her expressions. Akito breaks down because he cannot handle Sana's illness any longer. He says that he's the one who will fall apart when he leaves her behind. Sana's maternal feelings for him resurface and they cry together. The next morning, Sana seems much more normal, and her face begins to show traces of emotion. They return, and she talks through it with a counselor as days pass. She decides it's better that she and Akito should be apart for awhile so she can find herself. When everyone sees the Hayamas off at the airport, she yells "I'm going to stay a virgin so you'd better not cheat on me!" to comic reactions from everyone. Two years pass, during which Sana (and then Fuuka) work on a Frasier-esque radio talk show where kids call in with problems. Akito goes through rehabilitation in America, and they live their own lives but stay in touch. Finally, Akito returns to Japan to enroll in high school, and at last they're together - but he still keeps making her mad enough to pull out her hammer and whack him. As Fuuka says, "That's just their style." Sana is 16 years old.|
The anime version consists of 102 TV episodes, which aired in Japan weekly from April 5, 1996 to March 27, 1998. The opening theme songs are "19 O'Clock News" by Tokio (episodes 1-44) and "Ultra Relax" by Tomoe Shinohara (episodes 45-102); the ending theme songs are "Panic" by Still Small Voice (episodes 1-39), "DAIJO-BU" by Tomoko Hikita (episodes 40-74), and "Pinch (Love Me Deeper)" by Rina Chinen (episodes 75-102). The first 51 episodes deal with the elementary school story arc and the remaining 51 episodes deal with the middle school story arc.
A single-episode OVA was also released earlier to the series, with significantly different character designs.
The series was partially broadcast on American TV in a syndicated FUNimation Channel programming block airing on CoLours TV and Los Angeles KSCI-DT channel 18.3. The first DVD was released in the U.S. on 2005-08-02, containing the first four episodes of the series. While no actual footage was removed from the series, the first two episodes of the dub has removed references to Rei being Sana's "pimp". (The Japanese word used, himo, can mean either "pimp" or the less problematic term "gigolo".) The first opening song, "7 O'Clock News", could not be used for contractual reasons concerning the Japanese boy band Tokio and "Ultra Relax" (the theme to the second story arc) was used instead. All references to Tokio in the Japanese version of episode 001 have been removed from the subtitles and are replaced with (XXXXX) where Tokio would be mentioned and the audio is silent as well. The name Tokio still appears in the end credits.
Funimation has released season 1 in two boxsets. There is a petition at Petitiononline.com to bring Kodocha back in Dub.
The anime included omake epilogues, including various alternate-universe scenarios. These include:
- Akito fails his black belt test twice.
- Asako marries Rei (Sana's manager).
- Akito gets attacked by a pickpocket
- A very angry Shizu gets her vengeance on Fuka for stealing Takaishi.
- The son of a yakuza boss demands Sana that she marries him, and when she refused, the gang beat up her and Akito. Misako and Shizuka Kurata brought together the entire Kurata clan and teams up with another clan to get back at the yakuza.
- Naozumi discovers that his family, the Hamiltons, have gone broke.
- Akito passes his black belt test,then confesses to Sana then they kiss
- Kodocha (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia, retrieved on 2007-07-25
- "Kodansha Manga Award". Archived from the original on 2007-08-16. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
- Kodocha (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia, retrieved on 2007-07-25
- Kodocha (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia, retrieved on 2007-07-25
- "Tokyopop Out of Print". Retrieved 2006-10-18.
- "News: Kodocha, Honey Bitter Get Crossover Manga in Japan". Anime News Network. June 27, 2010. Retrieved February 2, 2011>
- "News: Kodocha, Honey Bitter Get Crossover Manga in Japan". Anime News Network. June 27, 2010. Retrieved February 2, 2011>
- "TOKYOPOP Inc. Out of Print Titles". Tokyopop. Retrieved 2008-02-02.
- Ahlstrom, Peter (2007-04-12). "Ask the Editors: Manga from Ribon magazine?". Official Tokyopop forums. Tokyopop. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
Unfortunately for us, Shueisha is one of the owners of VIZ, so VIZ gets almost all of the Shueisha manga. We published Kodocha and Marmalade Boy, but they didn't even let us renew those licenses and don't want to give us anything else anymore.
- All Japanese publication dates are taken from Amazon.co.jp.
- A half-birthday party is a party between two people's birthdays, in this case the date in between Sana and Hayama's birthday. They could not celebrate Hayama's birthday as it is also the day that his mother died.
- "Kodocha Editing Report". Anime Prime. Retrieved 2006-09-06.
- Official sites
- , FUNimation's official English anime website
- Other sources
- Kodocha (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Kodocha (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia