DISCLAIMER: This is just an ordinary review. Even though I don't usually do reviews of this type (in fact this is my very first anime-related review), I have decided to do it anyway because the story line, although at times very, very wrong, is actually rather interesting. It also makes sure that I stop anybody else from doing this. There could have serious consequences for anybody else who tries to "embark on an icy expedition" unprepared.
Warning - contains spoilers!!!
Kodomo No Jikan has to be the most controversial series that I have looked at for quite some time, and for many people it would be a rather uncomfortable reading it, so I have decided to take out the graphic portion and just give out the plot, and say what I think of it. At this point I have read 31 chapters (and still have managed to retain my sight without having to grab the nearest fork...).
The main story circles around the "relationship" between Aoki Daisuke and Kokone Rin. Now this relationship is rather bizarre, as Aoki is an elementary school teacher in his first year of teaching, having replaced another teacher in rather unwelcome circumstances (apparently it was from illness, however I think otherwise, and I'm not talking about minderjährigen mädchen here). Rin is his 9-year-old student (is 10 by the end of where I'm up to), and automatically begins her "sexual assault" on Aoki from the word go (it was scenes like this which got the manga revoked in the States). Aoki tries to avoid her, not wanting to get arrested, and ends up making a whole issue out of it.
Things settle down after a while, and they end up being more like "close friends" then anything else. Aoki also spends a lot of time with Rin, not because of any perverse reason, but because he knows that she has problems stretching back to when her mother died back when she was in first grade. Since then she has lived with Reiji, who is currently her caretaker and who looks after her (I'll explain a bit more about him later).
Rin also has two other friends. One of them is Kagami, a dark-haired girl who always likes to dress up in gothic-lolita outfits and has the supposed power of voodoo. She has always been Rin's "bodyguard", and tries to kill off Aoki by threatening to tell the authorities about Rin and him. This in turn keeps Aoki on the straight and narrow. Her other friend is Usa, who looks like she belongs in the sixth grade. Although I had difficulty in trying to work out what part she had to play in this story, I found out that Rin sees her more as a motherly figure that she looks up to, kind of like a big sister in many ways. Between the 3 of them, they do a lot of the things any group of 3rd graders would (and trust me, I've seen what goes on amongst children of this age myself - I do have a younger sibling, and I know what she was like).
Among the other characters in the story are the two teachers that Aoki works with. Houin, a rather busty young teacher, is confided in a lot by Aoki, particularly when he discusses issues with her, in particular when it involves his students. She also happens to have a crush on him, and hence makes plenty of moves on him, which Aoki doesn't see (he's an airline, he'll never get it). and Shirai, who also reportedly is also the daughter of the head of the board of education (cliche anyone??). Although she portrays herself as an uptight little tart, she does have a softer side about her. This is exposed through Kagami's actions, as she sees her as a role model to look up to (although sometimes this is expressed in a somewhat awkward manner). I feel that this will lead somewhere, however the path is not yet clear (needs more development).
From this side, it looks like the story line is not all that unpleasant. Now for Rin's background....
Rin, in fact was born out of an incest relationship between her mother and Reiji, who now look's after her (they were cousins). Her mother died of some form of disease. Reiji is now the one who looks after Rin, and is very protective of her, to the extent that he refuses to let other men get close to her. This is the reason why he wants to put Aoki away. He also tries to make Rin forget about the past (Rin still suffers from the trauma of her mother's loss, and it shows). This is probably the reason why she chooses to do what she does (all that very disturbing stuff). It is if it is an "alternative reality" to her, a way for her to escape her problems (Her friends know about this, and hence they try to help her out in whatever way they can, sometimes this help can be quite bizzare!!). And little does she know what kind of person Reiji really is.
This is the most disturbing part of this story. If you read closely (and it becomes more apparent in the later chapters), there is something sinister about him. Basically he is the main worry here, since he has a really dark side to him. He is still reeling from the loss of his cousin, and is trying very hard to raise Rin in her absence. The problem is, as she develops, you can tell that his real intentions become inceasingly apparent. All that means is that he is waiting for the right opportunity to have his way with her, and to develop another incest relationship (which is so far wrong words cannot describe it). According to Kagami and Usa, Aoki could be the one to "set Rin free". This probably means that he could be the one to find out what Reiji is planning to do with Rin and to put a stop to it, whilst at the same time, Reiji is waiting for the chance to put Aoki away in prison, so that he doesn't find out what is really going on, and what his real plans are.
Overall, this has been, and will continue to be one of the most intriguing, although very painful series that I will be reading for some time to come. I just want to get some kind of high-powered weapon and kill off Reiji, because he is a real sick perverted illegitim!! My prediction is that Aoki will end up being a foster parent to Rin (although I sense a clash with the Board of Education first will pop up at some stage). At the same time, I think that Aoki and Houin will get together (I don't know how yet though, it's like trying to get two bricks to stick together with Clag glue).
As to whether or not I would recommend this to anyone else, I would say it's up to you, but make sure that you haven't eaten in a while, because it sure as hell won't help if you have! And keep a jar of glass eyeballs (or any eyeballs) handy at all times!!!