016: Hinamatsuri

Aired: Spring 2018
Genres: Comedy, Slice of Life, Supernatural, Sci-Fi
Date watched: Dec 15 2018 – Dec 16 2018
Series watched: Hinamatsuri (12 ep x 23 mins)
Links: MAL

Why I started watching: Although no one in my circles had watched it, Reddit had a lot of hype for this one as the best comedy anime of 2018. I also liked Kaede Hondo (Demi-chan) and Rie Murakawa (Non Non Biyori) from previous shows, and hadn’t really gotten to see either of them play main characters since then. What could go wrong, right?

As it turned out, quite a lot. I had already tried Asobi Asobase from Summer 2018 and dropped that like a hot potato, and I was hoping this one would redeem 2018 comedy for me, but it didn’t. Not to say it didn’t have some funny bits, as it certainly did, but the show made me really uncomfortable to the point that I had trouble finishing it. I have not put my finger on exactly why so, but I think it is because I don’t like the way they treat the main girls. A friend later described this show as a version of black comedy, and looking at the description, that’s probably why I didn’t like either this show or Asobi Asobase.

Hina, the main character, is clueless and inept, which is meant to represent a complete inability to fit into the world as she’s some sort of alien girl. I still did enjoy most of her interactions with Nitta, however they exaggerate her personality nearly to the point of being autistic, and I do not like that sort of character archetype, because eventually it feels like you’re supposed to be laughing at the mentally disabled, and that’s disturbing. She also has multiple plot hooks that are mentioned once and then never again – for example helping out her yakuza guardian clearing out an opposing gang’s nest, or needing to use her powers frequently to avoid uncontrollable explosions. Both get introduced early on, and then never again brought up.

The other characters are actually better, and I liked both Anzu and Hitomi, however I despised what the story did to both of them. Both become victims of circumstance, with Hitomi forced to work at an illegal job via an overbearing adult’s blackmail, before coming to like it through some sort of Stockholm Syndrome, and Anzu having to live at a homeless camp at first, because for some reason she doesn’t want to use her powers, yet unlike Hina she won’t spontaneously combust every now and then if she doesn’t use them, for some reason. So instead of charming and interesting backstories, I felt that the show tried to build humour by indirectly poking fun at the lowest members of society – the mentally disabled, the homeless, and the enslaved child worker – but by making them middle school children and giving (some of) them superpowers, suddenly it’s okay?!

The show still isn’t all bad – the relationship between the three main girls is pretty endearing and there is a bit of character development as the series goes on. But even that gets shot up by the poor pacing of the show – a couple of new girls are introduced late in the show as though it were a two-cour season (24 episodes instead of 12), and given an episode, but they (particularly Mao) never get anywhere during this season, nor even meet up with anyone else in the end. Why even introduce them then? Entire pointless episodes were wasted focusing on side characters, and there wasn’t even an announced sequel season after the first one ended or anything. And the ending, while it formed a neat little loop with an earlier story arc, just ends with no meaningful resolution.

Music-wise, I liked the OP – Distance, sung by Rie Murakawa, who played Anzu, the show’s best character. It is possible that the show will get much better with a second season, especially if the main characters get redemption arcs and the side characters finally meet up with them, but as it stands it was an exercise in frustration for me.

  • Base: 9
  • Mood: -2
  • Plot: -2
  • Music: +0
  • Misc: -1

Final Score: 4/10