English Dub Review: Hinamatsuri “Yukimatsuri”

Hinamatsuri goes out in a wonderful way, with its usual blend of familial sweetness, punny humor, and unexpected detours.

Overview (Spoilers Below):

Hina, Hitomi, and a couple classmates are stuck in the snow-covered wilderness after getting lost on a school skiing trip. It’s basically Hina’s worst nightmare, due to the lack of food! With their time running out, Hina reveals her powers to her friends, only for them to be rescued later on. Hina shares a tearful reunion with Nitta at the hospital, which serves as a fittingly saccharine season finale.

For the second half, the episode skips us three years into the future and shifts it’s focus from Hina to Mao, the stranded island girl we met way back in episode nine. When a rocker/magician discovers her powers, she eagerly takes him up on his offer to come to Japan – he knows how to put her in contact with Hina.

Our Take:

I had no real idea what to expect from a show like Hinamatsuri when it came to the finale. Final episodes are hard to pull off, and the chaotic nature of this show makes the challenge all the more daunting. Luckily, Hinamatsuri has proven itself worthy of praise during its run, and Yukimatsuri is no exception.

Stranded in snowy mountains, forced to survive hunger and cold, Hina and co. open the episode in odd fashion. (Apparently the kids getting lost was teased at the end of last week’s episode.) Still, it came a bit abruptly, especially since we didn’t even get to see any of the ski trip itself. It feels like this could’ve been a prime opportunity for the show to use some of Hina’s trademark deadpan humor while hitting the slopes.  Still, I do love Hinamatsuri’s commitment to chaos. Dropping us into the hopeless situation immediately might feel disconcerting at first, but it worked fine in the end and fit the usual pace of the show. (Though it did go on a tad too long for my tastes.)

For a final episode, we sure didn’t get to see much of Hina and Nitta’s reunion in the hospital room. Then again, we’ve seen their bond demonstrated throughout the season – we already know the connection they share. The scene is hrief, but very sweet, and is complete with flashbacks to their happy times  together. What’s more, every character gets a quick check-in for us to see how they’re doing. I really liked this, and I’m glad the sequence actually felt like a proper finale.

The second half/epilogue is just so Hinamatsuri. It returns us to Mao, who was randomly introduced in episode 9, and never mentioned again until now. She’s been living (along with her wooden dolls) alongside controlling monks in their martial arts monastery. The entire storyline is head-scratching, with a magician rocker (who was in a band with Hina) discovering Mao’s powers and wanting to put them to good use on his tour. The fight from the first episode premiere is finally put into context, which I really liked. It’s neat when a show pays off it’s promises like that. And the fight sequence looked as beautiful as ever, with fluid animation and plenty of eye-grabbing visual flair.

The English dub ended on a great note, with an episode full of great performances, including the line: “I thought all you did was eat and poop, but boy, was I wrong!” Bravo, random classmate. The joke about the Lifeproof case didn’t land quite right for me, and felt like the writers were trying a little too hard to cram in a joke that would fit. I’d be curious to know what the joke was in the original Japanese.

The final episode of Hinamatsuri ends on a cliffhanger, with the series teasing us that Mao’s reunion with Hina and Anzu will happen in the near future. I would expect no less from a show that has constantly defied expectations and been unafraid to drop in random appearances from brand new characters. While I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of favorites like Nitta and Hitomi, Yukimatsuri is a very respectable finale.

Score
8/10

Caleb

graphic designer, writer, and animation addict. when i'm not writing words about my favorite shows, you can usually find me skulking about on Twitter. if you want, leave a comment or send me a tweet; i'd love to chat!

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