“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing,” Socrates. “True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know,” Confucius. These are two quotes by wise men about understanding the limits of your knowledge. We can assure you that Yoshiko Hanabatake has never read them. She consistently scores zeroes on test after test, like not even a point for her name. Her philosophy is to accept she is stupid and marry A-kun, her childhood friend. She has also decided that she is going to marry him whether he likes it or not. The comedy is raucous and a little ecchi at times, but it delivers laugh after laugh in the tradition of the three stooges or a Jerry Lewis movie back in the 60s. The anime is adapted from a 4-koma manga (four panel comic) and the average length of each episode is about 12 minutes, minus two for the opening and closing. The short length is a good thing because it lets the creators maximize the punchlines before they reach repetition. The zaniness of the cast of characters is one of the strong points. You know not to expect a great drama from an anime title that translates to “Idiot Girl.” We now count down the Top 10 characters in Aho-Girl!
Nozomi is an elementary school girl often found playing in the park with her friends after school. She and her friends are introduced to Yoshiko one day when, as if out of nowhere, Yoshiko becomes “it” in a game of tag. The boys in the group begin to grill the strange interloper, asking her – as a grownup – if it’s okay for her to play all day. Yoshiko simply responds, “You betcha!” When A-kun, her straight-laced childhood friend, intervenes, he explains to the boys what an incredible idiot Yoshiko is. The boys quickly understand that she is a failure as a grownup. We find after several encounters with the irrepressible Yoshiko, Nozomi thinks “Yoshiko-onee-chan is kind of amazing.” Her attachment continues to grow, especially since during a super hero stage show, she is chosen out of the audience as the hostage for the bad guys. Nozomi pleads for Yoshiko to help, and though it’s just a scripted stage show, Yoshiko bursts into action challenging the villain. Yoshiko rescues the young girl leaving two young friends scared that if the bond grows too great that Nozomi might also become an idiot.
9. Akane Eimura
Akane is what some would call a “gal.” She hangs out with two other girls in her class who at least pretend to lead “loose” lives. The three girls have the misfortune of being in Yoshiko’s class and at some point, piquing her interest. Akane does everything she can to drive Yoshiko away. We find though, despite the standoffish attitude of the girls and especially of Akane, they genuinely want to be liked. Yoshiko, being an idiot, likes everyone. We watch Akane quickly begin to go along with Yoshiko’s craziness even when it means turning the spotlight on one of the trio’s relationship with a boy. Akane lets Yoshiko ask all the questions she’s always hesitated asking her friend about dating. We see periodically that Akane isn’t lacking common sense, she just has poor social skills. For all the bravado, she’s shy and Yoshiko brings a measure of the unreserved to her life.
Dog first makes an appearance on the playground and terrifies Nazomi and her friends. The big white dog, probably a mix of an Akita and a bear, is chasing the children around the park until Yoshiko comes to the rescue. Yoshiko is fearless as she challenges the dog for supremacy. She tackles and wrestles Dog. She eventually begins to ride the dog in an attempt to break him like a wild horse. She notices a tag around Dog’s neck stating that he had been abandoned. She makes an agreement with the bear-like canine to take him in in exchange for rides on his back. At several stages, we see Dog is not a normal dog. At times he’s a foil for A-kun and at other times seems to be the only one who understands the frustrated childhood friend. We even get an entire part of the show dedicated to Dog’s effort to deliver a flower to a female Pomeranian he likes. He tries his hardest while stopping robberies and rescuing people along the way to her house. We see that Dog, named only Dog by Yoshiko, may have a bigger heart and definitely a bigger brain than his master.
7. Sayaka Sumino
Sayaka has been Yoshiko’s friend since they entered high school. She genuinely likes the ever-outgoing Yoshiko and probably thinks that they make a nice match since she is a wallflower. Sayaka is also the voice of reason in many instances when the rest of the cast seems to be getting out of hand. She has the moral compass to tell people who may be too stupid to understand the basics of right and wrong and stop them when they are going too far. We only see her get to her limit once or twice and one of those times she is telling A-kun the cold hard truth that he is just as strange as Yoshiko. Yoshiko’s mother considers her a rival for A-kun. She is often put in cringe-worthy situations, but she doesn’t seem to let that get in the way of being a moron’s best friend. Interestingly enough, she shares the same name with her voice actress: Sayaka Harada.
6. Ryuuichi Kurosaaki
We first meet Ryuuichi as A-kun, Sayaka and Yoshiko are on their way home from school. Ryuuichi is sitting outside a convenience store looking at a magazine and projecting the image of a delinquent. He makes several advances toward Sayaka, stating that she’s cute and he wants to “play” with her. Yoshiko, on the other hand, only hears the word “play” and gets in the way of each advance by declaring that he can play with her. Yoshiko gets rough with him and begins analyzing him, saying that she understands that he never learned how to ask someone to play and that she would play with him. Ryuuichi then breaks down in tears, understanding that no one had ever seen the real him. “I’m a moron!” he states, “Will you still accept me?!” Yoshiko explains, “I’m an idiot too,” and the two nitwits immediately form a bond. Ryuuichi also wants to be buddies with A-kun. He looks up to him and thinks he’s cool. At Yoshiko’s instruction, he commits to being A-kun’s dog. It’s not exactly friendship, but it’s a step.
5. Akuru Akutsu aka A-kun
A-kun first meets Yoshiko in elementary school when he moves in next door to her. Their roles haven’t changed much since then, either. A-kun takes life seriously and Yoshiko takes nothing seriously, except bananas. A-kun was the first to introduce Yoshiko to the long, soft fruit wrapped in a yellow peel and has become one of her life’s obsessions. We find that A-kun has a vision of himself as a focused go-getter and serious student. He thinks he is respected by his classmates and teachers as an upstanding, normal guy. We leave it to Sayaka to set him straight. When he says he’s not going with everyone to the beach because of all the weirdos in the group, Sayaka reveals to him that he is very strange – which comes as a great shock to him. The sweet, patient Sayaka explains to him that he’s prejudiced, stubborn and doesn’t try to make friends. He defends himself by saying that he doesn’t make friends because everyone around him is a weirdo. “Birds of a feather flock together!” she exclaims. We think we can hear his brain break as he comes to the conclusion that he isn’t normal and that could be the reason Yoshiko and the rest of the cast are attracted to him.
4. Yoshie Hanabatake (Yoshiko's Mom)
Yoshie is not your typical parent. You expect that she’d be a bit different raising Yoshiko. She just might not be the kind of crazy you’d think. We remember a time when she is introduced to Sayaka and immediately considers her a threat. Sayaka’s a cute, sweet, intelligent girl so she could easily be a romantic rival for A-kun’s affections. Yoshino has been planning carefully and nurturing Yoshiko’s relationship with A-kun for years. The reason isn’t simply that she wants her daughter to be happy, it’s that she doesn’t want her daughter to be a burden on her when she gets older. She recognizes that Yoshiko is indeed an idiot. So, as a good mother she decides the only way to determine if Sayaka has no interest in A-kun is if Sayaka is wearing unsexy underwear. She invades Sayaka’s privacy to perform a visual inspection. She also shows up to confront some of Yoshiko’s friends, namely Fuuki Iinchou, before they go on a vacation to the beach. Yoshie flat-out accuses Fuuki of being a homewrecker and being after A-kun (which she is, by the way). A violent confrontation follows in which someone loses their underwear. We can see that the apple, or banana in this case, doesn’t fall far from the tree of insanity.
Ruri is the younger sister of A-kun. She is also not a fan of Yoshiko. Ruri can’t stand Yoshiko’s lack of seriousness. She also doesn’t like sharing her brother with such a dunce. We are lead to believe that she is a miniature version of her brother, all serious and academic. She is unfortunately as dumb as Yoshiko. She, unlike Yoshiko is extremely concerned with her lack of academic ability. She studies and studies and just doesn’t seem to improve. Ruri is even consoled by A-kun with him telling her it’s okay and he will always take care of her. The statement only reinforces her need to raise her school scores. We also think could one of the reasons she hates Yoshiko so much is because she thinks being a complete failure is her future?
2. Fuuki IInchou
Iinchou is the head of the disciplinary committee at Yoshiko’s school. She has always thought of herself as a controlled person who would never even think of doing something immoral. Iinchou, like most of us, toss what we thought we’d do right out the window when we are in love. She is in love with A-kun. She first met A-kun at the front gate of school when a misunderstanding caused by Yoshiko makes her think that A-kun is a perv. She then uses that as an excuse to keep tabs on A-kun and by “keep tabs on” we mean stalk. The head of the disciplinary committee decides that she is going to find a way to be with A-kun. We also mean sexually harass him by attempting to pat him down to look for contraband. The perverted looks and the way she comically stalks A-kun is a big reason for her being so high on this list.
1. Yoshiko Hanabatake
Yoshiko can be an example to us all about how to live a carefree life, or she can be considered the perfect example of ignorance is bliss. She lives her life impulsively and understands her limitations. She’s not smart, yet doesn’t feel bound by those limitations. She lives by a simple philosophy: sleep, eat, play and marry A-kun. She is completely devoted to her childhood friend despite the comically violent attitude he has toward her. She is also accepting of anyone. She acts as a friend to all, even if you don’t want her friendship. Her obsession with bananas is a bit odd, but it’s really just about bananas, not other banana shaped things. She is a likable idiot. Yoshiko has a lot of admirable traits but what puts her at the top of the list is the impact she’s had in the lives of those around her. Nozomi learns that life can’t be taken too seriously, Akane doesn’t need to be tough or a slut to have friends, Dog found an owner who loves him, Sayaka has a best friend, Ryuuichi gains a surrogate sister who understands him, A-kun finds a cute girl who will always be there for him – whether he likes it or not. Yoshie has a daughter who respects her mother, Ruri a challenger for her brother’s love (no, not really; A-kun would choose Ruri over Yoshiko any day), and Iichou learns what love is and that life can’t be taken seriously all the time -- especially with Yoshiko around.
Aho-Girl! has a lot a lot of critics calling it stupid and pointless and those criticisms have merit. The stories are silly. The behavior of the characters is ridiculous. The humor is over the top. The heroine is overly energetic to say the least. We tune in to anime like Aho-Girl! precisely for those reasons. We want a complete escape from reality, at least for 12 minutes at a time. We also like Yoshiko and like the people around her. We know she is helpless and beyond saving, we simply hang on for the ride. Also, like her friends we accept her because we are all a little weird in our own way.