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Hamtaro 

Tottoko Hamutaro (original title)
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The story of hamsters who get together at meetings to talk about their adventures.

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2005   2004   2003   2002  
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...  Various 2 episodes, 2000
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Storyline

The story of hamsters who get together at meetings to talk about their adventures.

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Taglines:

Little Hamsters, Big Adventures


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2002 (USA)  »

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Hamtaro  »

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Howdy: This seed has no hair, so what's the point of combing there?
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Referenced in My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

Cute hamsters star in Japanese animated children's series
23 June 2002 | by See all my reviews

"Hamtaro" is a Japanese animated TV series first shown in 2000 and then introduced in the U.S. on the Cartoon Network on June 3, 2002. Focusing on a band of hamsters, it's one of the first Japanese series shown in the U.S. to be aimed at very young children. As such, parents should be more comfortable with it than they've been with the constant fighting and battle action on such other Japanese animated children's favorites as "Pokémon," "Digimon," "Dragon Ball Z" and "Sailor Moon." Children aged seven and up, however, will most certainly prefer the greater excitement found in "Pokémon" et al. That said, "Hamtaro" remains a genuinely charming entry for children aged 2-6 and boasts some very nice design, distinguished by bold lines and bright colors, and simple, efficient animation.

The title character is part of a growing band of "Ham-Hams," pet hamsters in a suburban neighborhood who sneak out of their homes to congregate in the well-furnished underground burrow of Boss, a field hamster who guides them on their adventures. Hamtaro is the pet of Laura, an elementary schoolgirl whose close friend and classmate, Kana, is also a hamster lover and has one of her own, Oxnard. Each episode tends to highlight a problem of Laura's or a project she's undertaking and then have the hamsters replicate it in their own world. When Laura has difficulty figuring out what to give her parents for Christmas, the hamsters endeavor to make sure Santa Claus remembers Boss on Christmas morning. When Laura and Kana have to come up with a piece for the school newspaper, the hamsters decide to start their own newspaper. (They're quite a literate bunch.) The hamsters talk to each other, but are unable to communicate verbally with their owners, except in a dream sequence in one episode where Hamtaro is a knight who comes to rescue Princess Laura from the Wicked Ham Wizard (Boss).

Hamtaro's design closely follows that found in the children's books by Ritsuko Kawai that provided the basis for this series. The hamsters are generally cute and cuddly, somewhat reminiscent of "Pokemon"'s Pikachu, and are differentiated from each other in clever ways. The English dubbing is generally good, although some of the hamsters have far-fetched accents that are not easily explainable. The design of Laura and her friends is different from the books and more typical of anime, resembling more closely the girls in "Cardcaptors." As of this writing, the original books are not available in the U.S. in English, although Japanese language editions can be found.

Shogakukan, the publisher of the books, produced the original series and supervised its English adaptation, maintaining a degree of control often lost to Japanese companies when a series of theirs is adapted for the U.S. market. The key change from the original is the replacement of Japanese signs with English ones in the homes and street scenes, although some Japanese lettering is visible to sharp-eyed viewers throughout.

Anime fans will want to see this out of curiosity, but will probably balk at the straight children's show approach and lack of abstract elements and fantasy touches found in just about all anime series seen in America. Teens and twentysomethings who remember all the "pro-social" Saturday morning TV cartoons of the 1980s (e.g. "The Get-Along Gang," "Pound Puppies," "Smurfs," "Rainbow Brite" et al) may see some resemblances here, although the once overarching insistence on group contentment over individual desire is thankfully downplayed.


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