Hinamatsuri is the biggest surprise hit of the spring season with its quirky characters, unusually good animation, and great comedic timing. Despiting headlining Hina as the main character, one of the biggest draws for the anime is that it has established three primary characters that all its quirky vignettes revolves around, Hina, Anzu, and Hitomi. The secret to its success has been keeping its jokes fresh by neatly splitting the anime into a three-in-one show. Although they intersect, each of these girls spends the majority of their time in an entirely separate genres. While comedy is the common theme, even the jokes change from light-hearted to seriously dark between the three stories of Hinamatsuri.
Hina – Found Family Hijinks
As the title character of the show, Hina’s ended up in a pretty sweet situation by twisting the arm of a wealthy member of the yakuza into becoming her caretaker. After coercion grows into some genuine affection and mutual respect, she’s effectively become Nitta’s daughter, which means a free ride of video games, fish eggs, and sleeping through school. All she needs to do is single-handedly waste the occasional rival gang.
Nitta could be said to be the victim in this, and most of the jokes are at his expense, but both seem to genuinely care about one another. The odd couple has found something in one another that they treasure and most of their problems arise from them coming from vastly different worlds and Hina being kind of a lazy jerk. Literally the worst thing tha’s happened to her was living Anzu’s life for two days.
Watching the two of them you always get the feeling that, no matter what’s going on, it’s always gonna turn out ok. Whenever things get dark, the series springboards you back to safety with a chorus of flying yakuza screaming “ouchie!” When Hina gets kicked out, you know it’s all going to amount to Nitta becoming concerned and the two eventually reaching a touching reunion. It’s safe and silly, nothing at all like what her friends are experiencing.
Anzu – Inspirational Coming-of-Age
Say goodbye to a bit of your safety as things with Anzu can get traumatic. If you need a bit of drama with your slice of life, Anzu’s experiences in our world have been significantly harsher than Hina’s. While Hina is living it up eating fish roe in a highrise apartment, Anzu is stuck trying to survive on the streets. The kicker is it almost seems as if Hina has stolen the role of protagonist from her fellow dimensional traveller, Anzu selflessly sharing what little she can scrape together with others making her a natural choice for the main character in most anime.
While there is an element of pride involved in Anzu’s plight, with her taking to the streets rather than returning to Hina’s apartment because… it would be really awkward to come back after saying they’d never see each other again? Her subplots are a strange mix of silly and sad as she suffers under what feel like very real experiences of those living in poverty while misunderstanding a full half of every situation she finds herself in because she’s from another dimension. Where Hina’s story feels cozy, the pressure root for Anzu is real since her happy ending seems far from a sure thing.
On that subject, her most recent subplot has been traumatically bittersweet. As the homeless are being driven out of the neighborhood, they ensure that Anzu doesn’t end up in their tragic circumstances by finding a local family to take her in. Anzu is effectively lifted out of poverty and given a new place to belong in the local ramen shop at the cost of her friends and mentors who have done their best to help her through her unique culture shock. This one wasn’t even funny, actually, it was just really really sad but I’m so happy for Anzu, are we sure this is a comedy show?
Hitomi – The Cosmic Victim
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. To maintain the karmic balance of the universe, Hina’s amazing luck in landing literally head-first into the home of a remarkably compassionate and wealthy member of the Yakuza must be matched by equal misfortune upon another, and the victim of this equalizing universal force is none other than Hitomi. Where Hina and Anzu have both gone from child soldiers to living with loving families, it’s all been downhill for Hitomi since she met Hina.
Her comedy has black as midnight and usually manifests as a punishment for her compassion toward others. Helping Hina ends with her illegally working nights as a bartender after being blackmailed by Utako. When her classmates believe she’s being abused by a teacher, their concern transforms into a new form of torment when one of them discovers her inner sadist as she finds she takes delight in watching Hitomi panic when she’s backed into a corner. Trying to help Anzu has twice turned into trouble ending in an unwelcome adventure after missing a nights sleep and getting in trouble with the police for littering.
Basically, no matter the circumstances, Hitomi’s life is going to get worse and her attempts to be a contributing member of society and a positive impact on her friends lives will inevitably be punished. If you have trouble watching bad things happen to good people, you may need to look away during this, er, third of the anime. Where Hina’s troubles always pass with a heartwarming moment and Anzu inspires us to optimism about her future, we can be certain in Hitomi’s anguish. At least she’s getting a headstart on saving for retirement. Hopefully Nitta’s gang tips well.
Whether you enjoy an inspirational tale of rising above circumstances, an easygoing slice of life, or a nice girl endure eternal suffering (???) Hinamatsuri has got something for everyone. Every episode is a surprise since there’s absolutely no way of knowing what to expect each week and the jokes always feel fresh since switching between characters feels like starting a different show. Given how different each of their stories are, how Hinamatsuri manages to have these three stories overlap so often is honestly a magic trick, but, like an icecream sundae, the different flavors combine into something greater than the sum of its parts.