English Dub Season Review: Hinamatsuri Season One

A hilariously quirky show that’s not afraid to show some emotion between the fast-flying jokes.

Overview (Spoilers Below):

When a mysterious floating orb arrives in Nitta Yoshifumi’s living room, the guy is understandably uncertain. When a girl who can move things with her mind pops out of it, he freaks out. And then? He adopts her! Well, a lot of other things happen in-between.

Hinamatsuri is the kind of show where the journey really is more important than the final destination. Nitta and Hina meet all sorts of entertaining friends along their journeys, from the always looking-on-the-bright-side Anzu, to the destined to always have bad luck Hitomi. As Hina navigates fitting in with the kids at school, Nitta works his way up the ladder in the Yakuza. Ultimately, the show chronicles their relationship from strangers to enemies to family.

Our Take:

In it’s essence, Hinamatsuri tells the tale of a father and his adopted daughter, navigating the daily trials and jubilations of life in modern day Japan. Except she has physic powers. And he’s in the mafia. Yup, it’s an anime! But wait, this isn’t just your average, run-of-the-mill throw everything and see if it sticks type of show. Hinamatsuri is full of chaos, but it all works together and stays cohesive in terms of tone and themes. When it comes to the overall storyline of the series, there are things that may turn certain kinds of viewers off of the show. If you’re a fan of more narrative-driven stories that build up their themes to dramatic highs and angst-ridden finales, Hinamatsuri might not be for you. This is a show that pays little heed to traditional story structure and definitely doesn’t try to advance things much in terms of actual plot progression.

Make no mistake, though – it’s not that every episode is filled with randomly chaotic gags. (This is no Pop Team Epic.) Instead of building on plot points and surprise reveals, Hinamatsuri develops its characters over the course of twelve episodes, in both big and subtle ways. The main duo grow together to become better human beings. There’s Nitta, a Yakuza member who has to learn how to take care of a kid. Hina has probably the greatest challenge in learning the ways normal humans live while also trying to room with a middle-aged mafia man. Anzu has an incredible arc, too. She learns the value of hard work, and manages to get adopted into two different families – a group of homeless guys and a restaurant-owning couple.

The comedy of Hinamatsuri is wide-ranging and clever, with tons of giggle-worthy moments crammed into every episode. Even in the more emotionally-affecting episodes, the show still finds time to put a smile on viewers faces. I mean, just trying watching this clip of Anzu and Hina engaging in a classic battle of rock/paper/scissors without breaking into a grin a couple times. With so many different characters, the types of comedy increase, too. Fans of straight-laced deadpan humor will love Hina, while people who enjoy more bizarre gags will find plenty whenever Hitomi is onscreen.

The English dub is a very well-done affair. Jarrod Greene plays Nitta with an American-ized gangter accent, but it ends up working nicely for the character, and didn’t distract me as much as I initially feared it might. I must admit that Brina Palencia’s performance as Hina didn’t thrill me upon first viewing, but as time went by her take on the character grew on me. She plays it very on brand for Hina’s personality: extremely monotone, all the time. I kinda wish she’d shown a little more emotional range, but it worked fine. Tabitha Ray is routinely rad as Hitomi. Her high-pitched voice never goes overboard and the perpetually anxious tone fits the character perfectly.

Considered as a whole, Hinamatsuri makes for an exhilarating trip into the lives of uniquely interesting characters. It manages to draw consistent laughs with every episode, and dares to shake up traditional narrative structures by including glimpses of Mao’s journey sprinkled throughout its twelve episodes. While there are a few things that might have been done differently, like including a bit more of a meaty story and giving more screen time in the finale to Hitomi, Hinamatsuri stands strong as one of the best shows in the Winter anime season. It’s sure to become a show that will continue to attract fans just as strange as itself.

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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