Series Premiere: Hinamatsuri Ep. 1 Review

Right off the bat, Hinamatsuri snatches your attention and doesn’t let go, opening with a pink-haired heroine facing off against several opponents, kung-fu style. The flowing animation of this fight could not be more perfect. Right when she takes out the first wave of attackers, a second group approaches and then…

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Smash cut. “Three years ago. Japan.” The scene changes from the streets of a karate film, to the glittering skyline of a modern city. Here the real story begins.

Yoshifumi Niita, a member of the yakuza, is doing well for himself, living in a nice highrise apartment and collecting expensive porcelain vases and other art pieces. His cushy life is turned inside out as a metal egg teleports into his home, opening up to reveal a young girl. The strangeness does not end there, as this girl, calling herself Hina, uses her psychokinetic abilities to coerce Niita into complying with her demands: expensive food, tons of clothes, and a rent-free stay at his apartment. In writing, this might come off as malicious blackmail, but Hina is as innocent as a newly-hatched girl can be.

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If you gaze long into the anime, the anime will gaze back into you.

We are treated to a few more hijinks, but then the criminal nature of Niita’s job catches up with our heroes, and he is tasked with taking out the head of a rival group, alone. He hesitates before partaking in this suicide mission, and in this moment Hina volunteers her powers, stating that she was created to follow orders and such a mission would be no big deal to her. Niita watches in horror as she easily dispatches the entire complex of thugs and takes the rival boss hostage. As he is congratulated by his boss on the success, Niita and Hina realize they can transform their initial relationship into a mutually beneficial one.

The Hinamatsuri manga started serialization in 2010 and is still ongoing. The anime adaptation is produced by Feel, who, despite working on 2nd key animation and in-between animation on a ton of projects since its inception in 2002, also did primary animation for Mayo Chiki!, Outbreak Company, Dagashi Kashi, and Tsuki ga Kirei. Aside from the initial fight, the animation quality rarely dips into sakuga territory but is still competently done. The coloring also stands out to me to as great, Hina’s hair color and shading being an excellent example.

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The tone of Hinamatsuri should also be noted. In the above synopsis, the show might come across as grim, with one main character being tasked to kill a rival boss and the other being engaged as a child soldier, but it does not dwell on the implications for too long. Larger plotlines are foreshadowed in this first episode, but for now, Niita’s softheartedness and Hina’s alien innocence are the major themes. Snappy dialogue between the two forms the base of the comedy of the series.

The manga has been on my mind for several years after receiving a recommendation but being too lazy to follow up on it. Had it not been for this earlier interaction, I probably would not have checked out the anime, but I am glad that I did. Hinamatsuri won’t blow you away in any sense, but it is a fun, supernatural comedy with styling reminiscent of a decade ago, with promise of good character moments to come. I will certainly follow through on the next few episodes, reviews of which you can check out right here on the blog.

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Hinamatsuri is simulcast on Crunchyroll every Saturday.

 

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