Naisho No Tsubomi

April 9, 2009

What would you do and say if a little kid or a child of your own first asks you the inevitable question. The question I’m sure all of us too thought of back when we were in their shoes. That’s right. Where do babies come from? How are babies made? Yeah… Don’t those questions bring back memories? Back then, many parents would give that crappy stork answer to quell their child’s curiosity but I guess sooner or later, he or she is really going to find out the hard truth and facts.
Naisho No Tsubomi is a 3 episode OVA slice-of-life anime series which explores such issues. I mean, in this era whereby technology has enable us to gather and disseminate tons and tons of information, the age old question still burns with the younger ones who are still growing up. Though it’s still pretty much a taboo subject for parents when it comes to talking with their kids about sex and pregnancy at such an early age. Some perhaps would just shoot it straight but will the little kid understand?
That’s what life is about. It’s a never ending learning process. We learn new things every day and make important discoveries about the cycle of life. Thus in this anime series, we see how fifth grader, Tsubomi Tachibana, and her other friends go through and get to know such ‘sensitive’ issues when her mom gets pregnant with a second child.
Episode 1 – The Baby Is Secret
One morning as Tsubomi wakes up to have her breakfast, her mom tells her that she is already 2 months into her pregnancy and will be due around this coming December. Of course Tsubomi is ecstatic by the news. Which means she’ll have a little new brother or sister to play with and look after. Ah, those innocent years. Tsubomi’s daydreaming causes her to spill her drink, wetting her pants in the process.
It’s the start of another school year and Tsubomi finds out that her usual friends, Rea Katou and Yae Yamabuki, are in the same class with her as well. Not only that, the boy whom Tsubomi has a crush on, Daiki Nemoto, is in the same class too. You can obviously tell Tsubomi likes him when she blushes just by looking by him. Her face is so easy to read like a book. Also, the trio gets acquainted with a girl named Saya Endo. They think she’s a transfer student seeing that they don’t remember seeing her around before.
Later when Tsubomi tells Rea and Yae about her mom’s pregnancy, Rea tells her that she shouldn’t say such things. Is it a bad thing? Well, it seems Rea knows a little more on such matter. To put it in what she exactly said to them: "The fact she’s pregnant means that your mom and dad committed perverted acts together…". Since she said that out loud, it was enough to attract lots of passer-bys. And they’re all kids you know… Depends on how you look at it, unfortunately Tsubomi doesn’t know what the word perverted means. Yeah, she’s going to lose her innocence real soon. Rea tries to hint to her that it’s something like ‘doing it’ when their male classmates interrupted them. Naughty boy Futoshi Kuki, along with Nemoto and You Saegusa, has overhead their ‘perverted’ conversation and starts teasing Rea but Nemoto tells him to stop it.
Later as Tsubomi ponders about it alone on a swing, Saya comes by to have a chat with her. Saya finds out about Tsubomi’s case and offers her some words of advice and encouragement. For a kid her age, she’s sure pretty knowledgeable, calm and composed about this topic. Saya’s explaining it pretty well. That night, Tsubomi is shocked to of her new discovery. She now knows the meaning of the word ‘hentai’ when she looks it up the dictionary. She’s learning so fast…
The next day in school in the girl’s locker room, Tsubomi asks Rea what does one do during perverted acts. Woah! I guess she’s really curious to know, huh? Rea is shocked at first but soon tells her that it’s when a boy and a girl get together on a bed naked and starts hugging and caressing each other! Yeah, Rea sure knows her stuff. Anyway the duo gets into panic mode because one has found out what it meant and the other couldn’t believe she has said it out loud. Later Tsubomi once again gets another round of advice from Saya because the latter is worried that her dad and mom may have committed something erotic. Saya is quite open and frank on the subject, making Tsubomi feeling much better. As the duo walk home, Tsubomi thinks of visiting Saya’s place in which the latter thinks it’s not possible. Even a phone call too. Saya rushes off ahead.
When Tsubomi tells Rea and Yae about what Saya had told her, Rea thinks how suspicious it is and thinks of tailing her. Just then Tsubomi excuses herself to go to the toilet as she checks herself. From the looks of it, looks like she has her first menstruation. When she goes home, she does another round of checking but notices ‘stuff’ on her panties but doesn’t know that it’s menstruation. During the next few days, Tsubomi notices Saya isn’t feeling well even though Saya tells her she’s okay. After that she was absent from school. During class, Tsubomi once again wishes to excuse herself to the toilet when a couple of nasty boys teases her that she’s having diarrhoea and don’t want her sh*t to get mixed up with their curry lunch (can’t believe that they said that!). Tsubomi is scared stiff when Nemoto comes by to tell them off for shouting stupid things and that they’re immature. Well, I guess it’s enough for them to back down.
Tsubomi comes home to find her mom suddenly collapsing at her feet. As she waits at the hospital, her dad arrives and informs her that mommy could suffer a miscarriage any moment due to her condition but the baby is alive. Not wanting to trouble her mom, Tsubomi decides to be independent and do things on her own. Though she may need some practice in cleaning and doing the laundry. One rainy day after doing her chores, Tsubomi felt a pain in her stomach and decides to take a short rest. She is awaken by a phone call from Saya who is pleading for Tsubomi to save her. Tsubomi rushes out in the rain and I don’t know how she’s able to find Saya clinging on for dear life under the bridge with the fast river current threatening to wash her away anytime. Tsubomi tries to reach her umbrella towards Saya but they both eventually fell into the river. Tsubomi manages to pull her out as they lay on the river bank. But then it was just a dream. Should have seen it coming. Tsubomi goes to the toilet to check herself once more and this time, she sees blood on her panties.
She rushes out calling her mom when she passes by Nemoto coming out from a convenience store. He notices her not looking well and gives her a bird keychain. At the hospital, Tsubomi’s mom finds out that Tsubomi has experienced menstruation and explains to her about it and that she’ll have her period soon. Tsubomi is relieved that it wasn’t some sort of sickness. The next day at school, Tsubomi thanks Nemoto when excited Rea interrupts them as she smells something has happened between them and pesters Tsubomi for details, in which she denies. Tsubomi then spots Saya and finds out that she’s alright now. Saya then tells her she had a strange dream several days ago whereby she was saved by Tsubomi. Tsubomi too tells her that she dreamt the same thing and wonders if their hearts are connected. Saya thanks her as they both walk to class.
Episode 2 – Boys And Girls
Tsubomi’s mom is showing the girls a video of the developing baby in the womb. When Yae asks about the baby’s gender, Tsubomi says it’s a girl and Rea wonders how she knows about it. Tsubomi’s mom gives them the straight answer on how to determine a baby’s gender, that is the visibility of the penis. Of course she says that at this stage it may not be developed yet so sometimes it may be hard to tell. Rea seems to be ‘amazed’ by the word penis but feels a little disappointed because she thought there was a more complex way to determine a baby’s gender. Saya then says that it’s the most prominent difference of a boy and girl’s body, causing all 3 girls to blush.
At school, I think Tsubomi must be thinking too hard on Saya’s words so much so she can’t stop staring at the crotch area of Nemoto… Then Tsubomi’s class are being shown a video on sex education! Brings back memories of those days when we learn the human’s reproductive system. When the video shows the workings of the male’s genitals, all the boys go wild giving cries of bravo! Boys will be boys. The sex ed video goes on to narrate about sperm and ejaculation and even boys who reached puberty may experience wet dreams! Erm… It seems Rea is pretty amazed with what she has learned. Yeah, she’s saying now she knows that a boy’s penis isn’t only used to pee! The disturbing thing wasn’t her statement, but rather her happy expression on her face.
During swimming class, Futoshi seems pretty hyped-up after watching the sex ed video. Yeah, he’s talking about girls with big boobs and wonders which girls in their class has them. Nil lah. Seeing that You is too quiet, Futoshi teases him that he probably has seen too much of his elder sister’s boobs that the girls in their class isn’t enough for him. Later, Tsubomi notices Yae acting strange so she asks her if she likes You. To Tsubomi’s surprise, Yae has been going out with You since last year. Yae continues to tell how she has a complex for tall guys but You accepted that part of her. Since You is quite popular among the other girls and Yae didn’t want to be treated badly if they found out, they kept their relationship a secret. But Yae doesn’t feel comfortable with her body now and thinks she’s lagging behind while thinking Tsubomi has an ideal one her age. However Tsubomi too tells her that she also felt the same way while they had their school field trip previously (something about noticing the girls were covering their pubic hair even though the bath was only filled with girls) and after talking to Saya, she calmed down.
When Tsubomi and Yae head to class, they spot the girls outside because of a note on the door telling them to stay out and not to peep at the boys changing. As though… Rea opens the door a little to find that they’re discussing about which girls have the best boobs and are even giving some ratings! They’re starting young alright. Natural or not? You decide. When it comes to Rea’s turn, Futoshi says it’s impossible to give her a rating. Rea gets upset and yells for him to watch out that she’ll grow into a tall and beautiful woman. During recess, as the girls eat lunch together, Saya finds out that Rea and Futoshi are childhood friends and thinks how observant Futoshi is on Rea. She indicates that Futoshi may like her because he stopped those guys from ranting to protect her when it was her turn. Furthermore Saya adds that the reason why a boy does something to a girl she doesn’t like is probably he is interested in her. With that, Tsubomi too thinks she can’t get Nemoto out of her mind.
After school, Tsubomi is trying to find her lost handkerchief when Nemoto comes in and decides to help her look for it. He suggests going to the AV room as they had their lesson there. They found it when the caretaker locks the room. I can’t believe he didn’t check first but I guess at this hour, it’s normal for everyone to have left. They tried to shout for help but the AV room is built to keep the sound in. So nobody can hear them from the outside. Luckily the room is on the first floor so they decide to climb out through the window. The duo then spot something shocking. You and Yae are kissing each other! How daring! Kids these days… Tsubomi and Nemoto are embarrassed with what they saw and after the kissing couples left, Nemoto climbs out of the window but Tsubomi is a little afraid to jump out. Nemoto assures her that he’ll catch her. I don’t know how but she landed on him in an awkward position. In the sense that she got her breasts in his face and at the same time her leg on his crotch. As Nemoto gets up and runs away, Tsubomi says to herself how Nemoto really is a boy. Well, that confirms it right?
Back home, Nemoto has a dream whereby Tsubomi kisses him. Before their lips met, he wakes up to find himself a little wet. No it’s not that kind of wetting the bed. Yup, just like what he learned from the sex ed video the other day. Nemoto meets Tsubomi the next day at the school shoe locker area and the duo seems a little embarrassed to face each other. Perverted Futoshi then interrupts them as he tells Nemoto a new place where they can get porn mags. I hope this kid doesn’t turn into a big time pervert. Based on Nemoto’s body language, Futoshi thinks he’s fallen for Tsubomi. Tsubomi runs away in embarrassment and drops the bird keychain. In class, Nemoto is spacing out when You greets him and notice his strange behaviour. Since Nemoto could only think of was You’s kissing scene with Yae, he gets up and walks away flustered.
Sitting alone on the stairs, Nemoto finds Saya next to him as she tells him that since their minds and bodies are growing, it’s normal to think about ecchi stuff (note: there’s a limit to that too). And all that matters is to understand what is important to him. Just then, Nemoto notices how Saya resembles closely to Tsubomi when Saya says how Tsubomi lost her keychain (giving him that hinting wink). Nemoto decides to go give the keychain back to her but when he turns back, Saya is no longer there. Hmmm…. Something strange about that girl is bugging me. Nemoto gives the keychain back to Tsubomi in class, making her feel happy. Of course Rea happened to hear their conversation and pesters them for answers. Tsubomi narrates how thanks to Saya, she has gotten a little closer to Nemoto but feels it’s a mystery that she’s always there whenever when she needs someone to talk to. Me too.
Episode 3 – Why People Fall In Love
Rea is at Tsubomi’s place and excitedly tells the latter that she is absolutely 100% sure that Nemoto likes her. She asks her for her opinion on Nemoto. But Tsubomi doesn’t know, disappointing Rea. So Rea tells her to confess her feelings to Nemoto in order to find out if he has feelings for her. Thus Rea plans to have everyone over on Christmas Eve so that Tsubomi could do so. Rea’s so excited about it and you know it’s like she’s managing Tsubomi’s love life. Tsubomi’s mom then comes in and Rea notices her tummy now bigger. She tells her that the due date of the baby is on New Year’s Eve but can be anytime too.
Next day at school, everyone accepts Rea’s plan to have a Christmas party together and You suggests to have it at his place since her boyfriend-less sister can cook (though he was just hoping to invite Yae only). As Nemoto opens his shoe locker, a love letter falls out. Rea is excited of this new development as Futoshi reads aloud the details. How embarrassing. But Tsubomi looks a little worried. Later, Rea and Futoshi squeezes out the juicy details of Nemoto’s love encounter. He tells them that the girl confessed her feelings to him but he apologized and turned her down. Then Futoshi asks him if she had boobs because she’s a sixth grader and he deservingly gets a beating from Rea. Yae tells Tsubomi about it as she feels a little relieved. As Tsubomi takes a bath back home, she wonders how the sixth grader confessed to Nemoto and thinks she hasn’t the courage herself to confess to him.
Soon the gang arrives at You’s place for the Christmas party. Futoshi gets excited to see You’s busty sister and gets another round of beating. Is that all he ever thinks? As the gang goes into the living room, You’s sister turns around and notices that Saya has no reflection in the mirror. She clears her eyes thinking that she may be seeing things. Maybe she’s just seeing things because her reflection’s there. Hmmm… So the usual fun and games the little kids have but Tsubomi is feeling nervous as she can’t possibly confess under these circumstances. Tsubomi decides to go to the toilet as Saya accompanies her. Tsubomi then cries in Saya’s arms telling her how she can’t confess to Nemoto. Saya gives her another round of advice like how love can start even from the smallest things and that everyone is destined to fall in love since the day they were born. So it’s something more like fate rather than coincidence. Just like how they both met, that’s fate too. Thus Saya encourages her to confess her feelings to Nemoto. Just then, You’s sister comes by to tell Tsubomi that they’ve got a call from the hospital and that her mom is going into labour soon.
Tsubomi rushes to the hospital to find her mom with a nurse. She gives her mom a massage on her back to make her feel better. As Tsubomi waits outside the delivery room, she is surprised to see Saya who comes by to tell her that she has to go and she’s here to tell her true feelings in the end. Saya hugs Tsubomi and says she "I love you. Thank you. Let’s meet again". Tsubomi is confused by Saya’s words when she heard her father rushing in and asking her whether the baby has been born yet. Just then, Tsubomi notices that Saya is nowhere to be found. But she can’t worry about that now because she just heard the sound of a newborn cry. It’s a girl! Ah, tears of joy. As Tsubomi notices how cute her little sister is, her parents decides to call her Saya and say, doesn’t she have an uncanny resemblance… Tsubomi’s mom tells Tsubomi to go back to her Christmas party as daddy is here now and she and her newborn needs some rest.
Tsubomi heads back and reports the good news to her pals. When she asks about Saya, it’s like everyone seems unable to recall who she is for a moment before remembering her. Later as the party is over, Nemoto thinks of walking Tsubomi home as they live in the same direction. Futoshi and Rea teases them and says to use this attack chance while Yae tells them to stop. On the way home just before they part separate ways, Tsubomi manages to sum up her courage and confess that she likes him. Nemoto says he regret the fact that he didn’t get to say it first and that’s when he too confess how he likes her before rushing off. Obviously Tsubomi didn’t see that one coming too and is surprised by his words. So much so, she can’t sleep that night and wants to see Saya so that she could thank her.
But as Tsubomi narrates, how Saya stayed hidden from them and that her evidence of her being in this world are slowly vanishing, even in everyone’s memories. It seems all the photos of her are starting to vanish in every picture. But Tsubomi says she understands what Saya was. Tsubomi is seen holding hands with Nemoto at school when Nemoto tells her he had a strange dream about a girl with long hair telling him to take care of Tsubomi and that she looked a bit like her. Tsubomi then says she is Saya and she has been dreaming about her too as she tells her to get along well with Nemoto. The duo nearly kissed but stopped as they head for class. Tsubomi says even though she likes Nemoto, she can’t go as far as Yae yet because they’ll do things their way. As they walk hand-in-hand, Saya is seen watching them from above and afar.
The birds and the bees…
Well, it’s nice to see that eventually Tsubomi and Nemoto ended up together. I know they’re too young to be lovers but as they say, there shouldn’t be any barriers to love. Besides, even though they like each other, I find that their love are the innocent kind. Saya is a character which still boggles me. Is she some sort of a guardian angel which guides Tsubomi through or some sort of reincarnated spirit as Tsubomi’s future sister? I mean, if she was Tsubomi’s sister, then what about that last bit whereby we see her overlooking the duo? Perhaps she could exist in more than 1 form? Her presence is sure mysterious enough but she does play important and pivotal roles in providing Tsubomi lots of good piece of advice so that she could be prepared and face such situations without fear or anxiety of the unknown. If only there were more people in this world like Saya.
The drawing and art makes are more towards cute, making the characters your typical wide-eyed cute little characters. Of course the characters will turn into chibi mode when it gets comical. I happen to notice that the blush on the characters’ cheeks are like sketchy drawn lines. A trademark of this series’ art? Also, there is no opening theme song as the show starts right away with Tsubomi’s narration on what is currently happening. Besides, the ending theme is totally an instrumental and it sounds like a kindergarten song at first because of the chimes before the orchestral strings come in.
I wouldn’t really consider to be an ecchi anime even if there are tiny bits of those elements. I think it should be suitable for younger audiences to watch as well. Hopefully, Rea and Futoshi don’t turn into big time perverts when they grow up. But in today’s world and society, I guess every kid should’ve known about these stuff already. Unless they’ve been living in the jungle of course. Lost of innocence? But in a way it’s better to get to know these things at an early stage in life so as not to be ‘paralyzed’ in total shock when they find out about it. So next time a little kid asks about the birds and the bees, just give it to them straight in the face. Because honesty is the best policy. Jaw dropping reaction? Don’t worry. That’s natural…

Naisho No Tsubomi
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