So I’ve recently finished Binchou-tan and the above question came to mind early on while watching.
I was really surprised at the depth I found in this show: at a glance it could be written off as generic moetrash with no substance, but the reality could not be further from the truth. Despite having such an agonizingly cute cast, Binchou-tan is refreshing, philosophical, and highly unique. I was particularly intrigued by titular main character and the purpose of this article is to explore the somewhat tragic nature of her existence.
There’s a bunch of valid points on either side of this debate and there’s really no right or wrong answer. Lets take a look.
There are a number of things that suggest Binchou-tan is not an ordinary child.
Firstly – she lives alone, in perpetual poverty, in the woods by herself. On top of this, she has no parents, and the only person she seems to remember is her grandmother.
Realistically speaking, not many children could handle the loneliness that she faces daily. While it gets to her a little at times, she somehow manages to stay optimistic even when the outlook is incredibly bleak.
The way she gets through tough times is arguably a superhuman effort. Could it be that Binchou-tan represents a local deity that was abandoned by her followers? Should she be a spirit or goddess, her daily struggle would then be a fitting symbol pertaining to the pain of abandonment.
On top of this, the “spiritually perceptive” Ren-tan is noticeably perplexed by the presence of Binchou-tan. Ren-tan is a shrine maiden and stands out as a very intelligent, mature character in the show. She’s also incredibly lucky (she wins two lotteries) and is always the most calm and collected person on-screen. While she never voices her curiosity about Binchou-tan, the viewer can infer that Rin-tan knows that she is somehow unique.
Binchou-tan shows a bunch of spiritual traits but it would be a mistake to look past the distinctly human attributes she possesses as well.
She is enthralled by cute things and enjoys shopping for material goods. She also appears to have no obvious superpowers (although she possesses an ability to shrink down in size before riding a duck, this is not overly spectacular or noteworthy. It just makes duck-riding a lot easier).
She also relates extremely well to other humans and takes friendships very seriously. She understands people and works hard to make a living. Even if she struggles to fit in to a modern society, she manages to get by with a little help from her friends.
So, what do you think about Binchou-tan?
Is she human, or something else entirely?
…Or is she actually nothing more than a lump of charcoal?