Hinamatsuri Episode 8 & 9 – Anime QandA Review

An Anime QandA review for Hinamatsuri Episode 8 & 9

What’s the show? Hinamatsuri, Episode 8 & 9.

Right. So last time you reviewed this show it was for Episode 6 & 7 and it ended up turning into an essay about the different ‘classes’ in Japanese society, with each of the main middle school aged girls in this show representing a different ‘class’. Yes, that’s correct.

So what great pontifications on life do you have to draw parallels to with regards to Episode 8 & 9? None whatsoever!

Uh-huh. Well we’re off to a great start. Hey, I didn’t ask you to bring up the previous review, that was a fluke! Lightning doesn’t strike twice, you know!

Fine, so I guess this is going to just be a run-of-the-mill recap and assessment of these previous two episode then? Maybe, but I did notice and interesting topic I could talk about that links these two episodes in particular. Namely, the introduction of two new characters who’ve yet to prove their worthiness to an already well-established narrative.

Okay, I’ll bite. Who are the new characters? In Episode 8, Kei Ikarugu is introduced, she’s the Security Chief of the mysterious organisation that ‘owns’ the psychic girls from another world/dimension. She’s here to gather details on Hina, to see if she’s ~assimilated~ into everyday life, and whether she’s calmed down enough to return home. In Episode 9 there’s Mao, another psychic girl ordered down by Kei to bring with her another ‘red ball thing’ that’s meant to replace the one Hina “lost” so she can return home. Unfortunately for Mao she lands not in Tokyo, or even anywhere near and instead on a remote and deserted Japanese island.

Right… This show is weird and hilarious and I love it, FYI.

I gathered as much, so what did you specifically want to talk about with these characters? Since you seem to avoiding traditional recap style reviews for most of Hinamatsuri. I wonder, whether these new additions to the cast really add anything that want. I’m so used to slice of life anime that don’t really bother to focus on world-building outside the established niche that they carve out by the end of the 3rd episode, and so for Hinamatsuri to keep adding new characters which not only add to the ‘greater’ story but detract from the “everyday life” shenanigans kind of makes me feel conflicted.

How so? Surely ‘world-building’ is a good thing? No? I guess I didn’t really expect it nor need it in this show. Sure, it’s still suitably ~random~ on an episode-by-episode basis, it plays fast and loose with plausible scenarios and common-sense, but adding this extra dimension that fleshes out the world where these psychic girls come from or adding new characters that will do as much kind of isn’t a top priority for me. I’m just happy to watch Anzu be happy about her new life while being amazed at simple things us working class folk take for granted, and happy to watch Hitomi tend bar and get intermittently horrified by things. And Hina… well, Hina can be funny, when she’s not being mean-spirited and instead is actually trying to contribute (and fails miserably).

Okay. So you’re not happy with the way the show is going? Ugh, that’s not really what I’m trying to say… it’s just I’m not used to watching a show thats actively this invested in shaking things up. If these characters were being introduced mid-way through a second season I’d probably be more open to it, but it feels like we’ve hardly had time to have fun with our established cast, before new people are being introduced… as I said, I’m just not used to anime that has such urgency with the plot—at least not anime of this genre.

Wikipedia says its a “Science Fiction, Supernatural, Comedy, Slice of Life.” Yeah, sounds accurate now. But when I first started watching it I would have almost reversed them… assuming the order of them indicates the priority of genre.

I don’t think it does. Man, I thought this review was a good idea at the time… how wrong was I. This hardly makes any sense.

What else is new. Any words to wrap up? If you haven’t already started just watch Hinamatsuri, it’s better use of your time than reading my nonsensical ravings. Seriously this show is amazing at times and I kind of hate this review for being so critical of something that obviously knows what it’s doing a heck of a lot better than I do.

Previous Hinamatsuri Reviews:

Episode 1 Review
Episode 2 & 3 Review
Episode 4 & 5 Review
Episode 6 & 7 Review

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Hinamatsuri Episode 6 & 7 – Anime QandA Review

An Anime QandA review for Hinamatsuri Episode 6 & 7

What’s the show? Hinamatsuri, Episode 6 & 7.

Another show you said you’d stop reviewing week-to-week. Sometimes you watch a show and you’re not sure if it’s worth continuing with week-to-week reviews and sometimes you realise you’re in the presence of anime greatness and need to record the experience for posterity.

Uh-huh. So it’s that good then, huh? It’s always been ~that~ good, it’s just a show like this is easy to take for granted because it’s so effortlessly good. No, effortlessly great. And it’s kind of hard to put into words, it’s the kind of show that needs to experienced without preconceived notions or pontificating reviews.

And yet here we are? And yet here we are…

Umm, so then why exactly are you reviewing a show that you’ve both said is “hard to put into words” and is better “without reviews”? As I said, I want to be on paper as proclaiming this shows brilliance throughout and not just early on or as an afterthought but all the way through.

So ego then? Yeah, something like that.

So this review’s for? It’s for people who are watching the show and are enjoying it. Or better yet, maybe it’s for people who don’t know why the show they are watching is so good.

Then why are they still watching it? I don’t know why people do what they do, but there are some people out there who are ‘confused’ about this show’s tone, because in the blink of an eye it turns from broad laugh-out-loud character driven comedy, to brutally honest heartbreaking drama and—in this reviewers opinion—does so flawlessly.

But such tonal dissonance, isn’t that a recipe for an uneven and possibly confused show. You know what else is uneven and confused and painful and stupid and funny and dumb? Life. This show captures the unfairness and ambiguity and awkwardness and absurdity of life in all its beautiful and exhausting qualities.

Explain? Our three middle school girls each represent a different class in Japanese society. (And by extension most Western societies too.) Hina is “born” into her wealthy, upperclass lifestyle where she wants for nothing and is similarly sheltered from the realities of life for anyone under her, even when exposed to it. Anzu on the other-hand, choses the lowest of lower class, homelessness rather than ask for help. She works all day collecting cans just to afford enough to eat a meal—her allotment in life is pure hardship. Hitomi is middle-class to a tee, working so hard, though never truly suffering and ever at the beck and call of those a step or two higher on the totem poll (her bartender boss/Hina/the student council).

Seems like you’ve thought about this a lot. It’s hard not to with a show as unexpectedly rich and multi-faceted as Hinamatsuri. Admittedly on the surface it could seem like a silly sci-fi comedy with too much time on its hands but there’s no denying the depth to the writing and characterisation—even if it’s subtext—that pervades this entire show.

And we didn’t even get to the proper content of these episodes itself?! You know you probably could have saved this rambling to a full season review instead of blowing it all in this review only a dozen people will probably end up reading. I don’t care. It’s easy enough to look up individual episode synopsis’ at this point, or better yet just watch the damn show! Whether you take it at surface level or dare to dig a little deeper this is a show that’s not only worthy of watching and discussion and dissection, it’s just so damn good. I don’t know if I’ll continue reviewing this week-to-week, or every second week as has been the case here for a while, but know that it’s worth it and worth your time too.

Previous Hinamatsuri Reviews:

Episode 1 Review
Episode 2 & 3 Review
Episode 4 & 5 Review

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Hinamatsuri Episode 4 & 5 – Anime QandA Review

An Anime QandA review for Hinamatsuri Episode 4 & 5.

What’s the show? Hinamatsuri, Episode 4 & 5.

And how are these episodes? A pair of very solid, frequently funny and occasionally moving episodes.

Oh, well that was succinct summation, I do hope you have something else to talk about? In Episode 4, Hina is disowned by Nitta, he’s finally had enough of her vase breaking ways. So she goes to live with the still homeless Anzu, until Hina’s selfishness drives Anzu to kick her out too making Hina double-homeless(?) though when Nitta’s friends and colleagues find out about what he’s done he’s kinda guilted into taking her back.

That’s one way to get somebody to do something, cut off their booze supply!

Right, so everything back to normal by the end of the episode? Pretty much.

And Episode 5? Adventures in homelessness continue, Anzu wants money to play the video-games like Hina does and so gets a list of the most valuable ‘trash’ items to sell-on. She decides discarded televisions are the way to go—they fetch 3000 yen per one—but after a day of searching with Hina and Hitomi they come up with nothing. Hina, being the utterly clueless individual she is goes to ask Nitta for money to buy a television, does so and then tries to sell it to the trash-collector.

Many good faces in Episode 5.

Oh dear… Hina’s not too smart is she? Well she’s new to this world so I guess it’s forgiven. Meanwhile in the much more interesting story, some of Hitomi’s school friends see her enter a bar (where she’s been moonlighting as a bartender) followed soon after by one of their teachers (he’s a regular). They infer that Hitomi and the teacher have some sort of illicit relationship going on and a cavalcade of misunderstandings ensue.

She mustn’t have good peripheral vision.

Wait… “much more interesting story”? What do you mean by that? I’m kind of getting bored with Hina’s antics, she’s incredibly selfish and insensitive in these two episodes and it’s kind of wearing thin. Like, Anzu, despite being a tsundere has actually underwent more character development in these space of 2 or 3 episodes than Hina has done in nearly double that time! Also the plot lines with Hitomi are much more interesting than just watching Hina sulk and complain, I thought her getting disowned in the previous episode would have given her a chance to learn some compassion or self-reflection but evidently not.

Pinky swear.

Yikes, harsh. I can tell this show is capable of creating well-rounded characters, it’s just they seem to exist on the periphery. But obviously I’m willing to give the show the benefit of the doubt for the time being, it’s still terrifically funny—content to march to its very unique beat.

Right. Anything else to add? Somebody adopt Anzu already and give Hitomi her own show. Other than that, onward to next week!

If you have to ask, you’ll never know.

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Hinamatsuri Episode 2 & 3 – Anime QandA Review

An Anime QandA review for Hinamatsuri Episode 2 & 3.

What’s the show? Hinamatsuri, Episode 2 & 3.

That’s the one about the psychic girl and the yakuza who loves vases? You make it sound like a set up for a joke!

Well it is an odd premise. And yet the show feels more grounded and down to earth than it really ought to, though there is some truly outlandish comedic stuff that happens in these two episodes!

There’s alway one at a party…

Like what? Well, in true Terminator style another psychic girl arrives in Tokyo, her name is Anzu and her mission is to eliminate Hina! After Hina proves her strength over Anzu in a very creative, non-lethal way, Anzu agrees to let Hina live. But not before the two of them have a nice day together as middle-school aged girls should. Meanwhile her vase loving Yakuza guardian Yoshifumi is pretty much just has to sit back and let it all unfold around him, maintaining the peace whenever he can.

Psychic power!

And after that? Anzu attempts to go home but can’t because her return home button thing got damaged in the wash, too embarrassed to ask for help from Hina so she has to live a life of petty theft, stealing from local businesses to get enough to eat, that is until a homeless man takes her under his wing and helps her live a more honest and respectful life amongst their encampment of fellow homeless men.

It’s far less creepy than it looks.

Wow, that’s oddly serious. Yeah, I wouldn’t go as far as to say its tonally jarring but it’s certainly a change of pace, especially when compared to the lavish life Yoshifumi and Hina live. Maybe the anime is trying to say something about how wide the divide between the wealthiest and the destitute in the Japanese community is, or maybe it’s just a plot point to teach the headstrong and stubborn Anzu some humility and respect.

Anything else happen? Yes, I’m saving the best for last! Hina’s studious and straight-laced classmate (and only school friend) Hitomi ends up working in a bar as a bartender after the shrewd bartender Utako blackmails her into doing so—but only because she’s like a genius savant at making cocktails and all the patrons can’t get enough of them!

Again… far less creepy than it looks! I swear!

But wait, isn’t she a middle schooler?! That seems kind of harsh! Maybe on paper it comes off that way but it’s a very funny plot line, Hitomi’s facial expressions are pure gold throughout those scenes. Plus by the end of the 3rd episode she does seem to be enjoying herself, or at the very least enjoying the money she’s making!

It kind of sounds a little problematic… Oh did I forget to mention at the end of episode 2 they all go to a girly bar, the middle-school kids included!

We’ve all been there right?!

I revise my statement to be “quite problematic”. Again, it may seem that way on paper, but never has a night of drunken adults hanging out with middle-school kids been more wholesome than in this anime! I don’t know how it gets away with it, but it totally does! Whether it’s the fact it knows how to be funny without being creepy, or the fact there’s like zero sexuality in this show (or at least none around the young girls) it just works.

That’s the look of someone ready to blackmail a middle-schooler!

I’ll take your word for it. So still a show you recommend? Absolutely, even more so than the first one, it’s not always consistently funny, and there’s some more darker and dramatic moments but they don’t detract from the show—rather they give it a kind of depth and realism that helps ground the sillier, more fantastical elements. It’s a treat of a show and while it’s not spectacular or ‘must-see anime’ it’s still very entertaining throughout.

Hinamatsuri Episode 1 – Anime QandA Review

An Anime QandA review for Hinamatsuri Episode 1.

What’s the show? Hinamatsuri, Episode 1.

Uh-huh? And what’s it about? A Telekinetic middle-schooler materialises in a metal pod in the upscale living room of a vase collecting Yakuza enforcer and promptly inserts herself into all facets of his life while he is kinda, strangely cool with it, even as she destroys all his worldly possessions.

Among the stranger imagery this anime season.

I, ah… wait what? I don’t know! This show just kind of happened to me, I don’t understand it, I don’t know what’s going on or why, and I don’t know what’s going to happen next but I’m totally cool with it all the same!

Hmm, okay. So what genre is it? Again, I don’t know. Comedy I suppose, but not in the same way that a lot of other anime are. It’s almost like an 80’s Hollywood comedy where some gruff detective or criminal type is partnered up with a precocious kid or a talking animal. Except it’s so sincere here that whatever cheesiness that could have come from the set-up isn’t there, and it’s all the better for it!

Don’t we all… wait we don’t? Oh no…

So this telekinetic girl and this Yakuza guy? How are they? Oh! They are the best, and that’s a part of what makes this show work so well, because if these characters were in the slightest bit unlikable it could so easily fall apart but here we’re given Hina, who yes is lazy and wry, but has a depth to her characterisation that makes you sympathise with her just a few errant words. But—and here’s the real surprise (at least for me)—is that Yoshifumi Nitta, the vase collecting Yakuza dude is the real grounding force for this show.

Not the vases! Anything but the vases!

Why’s that a surprise? C’mon, you know me, I’m all about the female characters. But here we have a main character who is so unbelievably understanding and acutely aware of his new housemates needs and neurosis’ that he embodies the viewer, at least the more sympathetic among viewers.

Grown-ups suck. But not all grown-ups suck.

Well that’s good I suppose. And he’s remarkably asexual toward her, which considering she’s a middle-schooler that shouldn’t be anything noteworthy, but even the show itself is not the least bit interested in sexualising her, which feels so rare and refreshing! Like this could have so easily gone down a creepy route both with the characters and with the framing but it doesn’t! And I’m just kind of in awe of how disciplined and mature it treats their whole situation while still maintaining a sense of humour and personality throughout. (But then again I’m used to watching shows that are pretty creepy so maybe this isn’t anything unique at all.)

So you recommend it then? Absolutely, usually I feel like my recommendations come with conditions like “oh you have to be into x and y but not z to like this show” but I think I can confidently say that almost anyone should be able to enjoy this show. It’s a rare and unique treat amongst a sea of wearying repetitiveness and tired tropes.