Spring 2018 First Impressions: Hinamatsuri – All The Toughest Yakuza Do Pinky Swears

Yoshifumi Nitta, a member of the yakuza, likes the finer things in life: specifically, incredibly expensive vases. But when a teleporting metallic egg bursts into his home containing a girl named Hina who quickly destroys his collection with her psychokinetic powers, he is powerless to do anything about it in case she destroys him next! Before he quite knows what is happening he finds himself looking after Hina, making her meals, buying her clothes and toys, and even enrolling her in a local school so long as she promises not to use her powers on him. Unfortunately her powers cannot be so easily contained: one day after holding them in for too long she destroys his apartment. Lucky for him he has an outlet for her; his boss has asked him to clear some land for development and Hina is the perfect partner to make that happen. But when Nitta is ordered to perform a hit on a rival yakuza boss he finds that Hina is all too willing to help with that too. What has she been through, and how can Nitta make sure that she is well taken care of and her powers aren’t used for nefarious purposes?

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It’s as if somebody has been spying on me, realised how much I love both the Yakuza video game series and dad anime, then combined the two in an elaborate plan to make my perfect show. Hinamatsuri is charming, hilarious, and has a whole lot of heart in the first episode alone. I’ve only just finished it and I’m already tempted to watch the whole thing again!

A big part of what makes Hinamatsuri great is the main characters. The two are immediately likeable in their own ways. Nitta reacts to Hina and her strange habits with a sense of calm disbelief, like this is all some strange dream that he’s going to wake up from eventually so he may as well just go along for the ride until then. Despite his rough exterior he is a surprisingly caring person who quickly warms to Hina and becomes protective of her rather than trying to find a way to get rid of her at his earliest opportunity.

Imagine if Renge from Non Non Biyori had psychokinetic powers: congratulations, you’re imagining Hina. She is constantly deadpan and comes out with weird non sequiturs, and all she really wants to do is sleep and eat plenty of food. Girl, same. She’s a great source of comedy but she also shines in the more serious moments of the episode. Her powers have been taken advantage of by grown ups before, enough that she thinks this is normal behaviour, and over the course of the episode she goes from mild bemusement that Nitta won’t order her around to realising that she enjoys his company and appreciates that he doesn’t ask for much from her. The two play off each other really well and I look forward to seeing them grow closer as the series continues.

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In addition to the main characters, the comedy is where this episode really shines. The use of deadpan humour really worked for me and the scene where Hina first shows up in her metal egg is one of my favourites, because the camera pauses for about twenty seconds with Nitta just staring at this egg with a girl inside, until he suddenly stands up and says, “Cool. I’ll just pretend I didn’t see that.” The timing is great; this show isn’t trying to cram as many jokes in as possible and it gives them room to breathe, instead a lot of the comedy comes from smaller moments and observations by the characters rather than being loud and in your face with how funny it is. The repetition of certain jokes works well too because the script switches up the circumstances and makes them feel more like callbacks instead of tedious repetition.

Another positive is that the visuals in this first episode of Hinamatsuri were great as well. We open on a fluidly animated fight scene which is a really impressive opener even if it doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the episode, and although it doesn’t get a chance to pull out the big guns again the rest of the animation still looks good so far. The character designs are aesthetically pleasing, the minor characters still look varied and the rest of the artwork is nice to look at. I hope that the next time we see a fight it will look as good as the sequence from this episode.

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My only minor gripe so far is the fact that the first scene of the episode, set three years after the rest, seems a bit superfluous. All we learn from it is that the woman who was fighting was looking for Hina, but we don’t know who she is, where they are or what has happened. It could work as a hook for people who need to know where the show is headed past the domestic slice of life shenanigans, but for me it felt unnecessary and we could have had an extra minute or two of Nitta and Hina playing off one another. I’m already invested, you don’t have to try and get me any more hyped! However, I did love the guy who got hit really hard and his only response was to start hollering about his smartphone so it wasn’t all wasted. His love for his smartphone is incredibly relatable.

So other than the fact that I feel I should be on high alert for somebody watching me and taking notes on my likes and dislikes so that they can make the perfect anime to somehow entrap me, Hinamatsuri was wonderful! If you like tough dudes with a secret heart of gold, deadpan kids, dad anime, or you’re just a massive fan of the Yakuza series you’ll probably love it too. The only way it could get better is if they go out for a spot of karaoke and then go and get in a fight with Goro Majima. If it doesn’t happen then I’m sure somebody out there will write me some fanfiction about that very scenario.

Highlights:

  • Every scene involving the big metal egg is gold
  • The scene where Hina realises that Nitta isn’t a bad dude warms my cold little heart
  • Great animation in the opening fight scene

Lowlights:

  • Despite the great animation in the opening fight scene, it is a bit disjointed with the rest of the show

2 thoughts on “Spring 2018 First Impressions: Hinamatsuri – All The Toughest Yakuza Do Pinky Swears

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