Hinamatsuri is a fun anime. It’s a good watch and will make you laugh. But the storytelling is a little weird. I’ll get to this in detail later.
The show looks like a generic slice of life centred on a few middle school girls if you start watching an episode at random, but let me tell you it’s definitely not.
Hinamatsuri begins when a weird pod drops on Nitta Yoshifumi’s head. Nitta is part of the yakuza and is in the middle of his ‘money is everything’ monologue and enjoying his wine when Hina’s pod comes crashing on his head.
Now, I don’t wanna give away the whole story but the first encounter shows us both characters', well, character. Nitta is a rich yakuza, but also a cowardly yet kind-hearted person, and Hina is a brat. The show revolves around a few characters but Nitta and Hina are the de facto main characters.
The art and animation of the series is not really outstanding and is pretty generic, which in my opinion is not really a bad thing. Anime nowadays look really nice and have a way of emphasizing things that other forms of media don’t.
The voice acting in the series is bang on. It’s not exaggerated, and the delivery of the gags is just right. Nitta and Hitomi (the ‘working’ middle school girl) are the best examples in this regard.
Now, we come to the weirdness that is the storytelling. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad: far from it. It’s quite thorough, with almost every character getting a good amount of character development, no plot points are ignored and every action has a consequence, even the gags.
In a sense it’s the opposite of Pyar Ka Devta (watch the Pretentious Movie Review for it): there are multiple storylines that interact with each other in just the right way. They do not influence each other too much and yet they are not like separate story threads in the same universe. The omission of psychic powers as a cornerstone of the story is a curious but welcome change. The stories instead focus on who the characters grow and mature and form relations.
But each episode, in the first half of the season, had two halves with different storylines, as if they cut the episodes in half and joined them by an offset of half an episode. I know you’re supposed to introduce plot points for the next episode towards the end of the episode, but this is extreme. You won’t notice if you are binging the whole season, though. Also why start the show with a character you won’t see till the end of the season?!
The gags are really fun and are absurd, extreme versions of the common anime tropes. But these gags do have a lasting effect on the series. Take the appearance of Anzu, another psychic girl sent after Hina. She gets stranded in Tokyo (because Nitta washed her teleportation pod), but she does not vanish into obscurity after the end of this story thread. She becomes another significant character with a parallel storyline.
The series is really funny but has a few moments where it throws the heavy feelz at you. These moments are really precious and act as pivots for character development. The show also tells us some really deep stuff, like problems of the homeless, the value of money, the kindness of others. And all this via middle school kids.
The characters are well written, and offer huge potential for growth from the beginning. Nitta becomes a good father figure, although a reluctant one. Hina, a spoilt brat, becomes less of a spoilt brat. Hitomi, who is thrust into a world of adults by the cutthroat bartender Utako (by blackmail, no less), becomes less naive and learns how to get things done in the adult world, be it through subtle blackmail or giving gifts.
Anzu gets the biggest character development in the series, from being a thief and arrogant kid with superpowers, to a homeless girl adopted into a homeless community, to a grateful daughter to an old couple running a restaurant.
The supporting cast is well fleshed out: you have the token idiot in yakuza handyman Sabu, the delusional homeroom teacher at Hina and Hitomi’s school, and their nosy yet friendly classmates.
I’ve been calling Hina a brat all this time, not because I hate her. She is the most relatable character for me. I’m the only child of a rich family (royal families are rich you see), who’s always got what I wanted. I’ve had a similar childhood, throwing temper tantrums, breaking stuff, and all that. The development that Hina shows in the show is not much when compared to others, but having been a spoiled kid like her I know how hard it is to stop being selfish and start thinking about others.
All in all, I liked the show. It had a few unique aspects and was a real blast to watch, with me bursting into laughter multiple times. A must watch for comedy fans. You can binge through it in a couple of nights.
Pretty decent but nothing unique.
Very good voice acting over all, but nothing unique.
Unique storytelling showcasing really different stories and how the really different characters can affect each other.
Generic characters but great development and relationships.
An extra point for sidelining the psychic powers in a way that makes sense, never felt like shouting at the screen, “... BUT YOU HAVE SUPERPOWERS YOU DUMB B###H…”