Welcome to a review of a show that spends the first three minutes telling you that it’s going to be one kind of anime, and then immediately ditches it for a different style all together for the rest of the series until the last five minutes of the final episode (which, I might add, are mostly just a literal repeat of the first three minutes). I am, of course, talking about Hinamatsuri (Hina Festival;ヒナまつり). Spoilers ahead.
The vast majority of the anime takes place three years prior to the opening sequence, choosing to show an awesome fight scene and then “show” the audience how we got there. Personally, I think the fight and the rest of the anime are mostly disconnected and it was only there to serve as a bit of a hook for an otherwise fairly tame Slice of Life anime.
When we jump three years into the past, we see the shows main male protagonist and yakuza member, Yoshifumi Nitta, at home. But he isn’t alone for very long before the main female protagonist, Hina, drops in onto his head via some kind of electric warp portal. She’s encased in a metal container until Nitta frees her. Hina then showcases psychokinetic powers and threatens to destroy his expensive vase collection if he doesn’t take her in and essentially raise her (Hina is middle school aged). It’s a weird start to an odd relationship.
It turns out Hina is from some kind of time or world where there are others like her, though the show never really digs too deeply into exactly what this society or group is. Eventually, others show up in pursuit of Hina (including my favorite series character, Anzu; more on her later). But, even with the addition of these characters, not a lot is divulged. The most you learn is that Hina, while powerful and valuable, was uncontrollably violent and she was exiled as a result.
The first character to arrive after Hina is Anzu. Anzu also has psychokinetic powers, and she has been ordered to terminate Hina. But in a battle of strengths, Hina easily overpowers Anzu. Anzu agrees to lie, allowing Hina to continue enjoying her new peaceful life. However, when Anzu attempts to return to her world/time, she discovers her traveling gadget is broken and she cannot return. This kicks off my favorite character arc of the entire series.
I could probably write an entire separate piece on Anzu’s story (that’s actually true for most characters, even supporting roles, in this series; there’s a lot that happens for only 12 episodes!). Anzu is now stuck, with nobody to turn to. Her pride won’t let her tell Hina her predicament. She’s homeless and must learn to survive.
Anzu first resorts to simply stealing and hiding for a living. She’s afraid to use her power and alert Hina, but she’s small and fast enough to get away from most shop owners quickly. Her luck eventually runs out. Just when it looks like she’ll be cornered and caught by the angry shop owners, a man named Yassan shows her a hidden path out of the market.
Yassan is a member of a local homeless camp located in a nearby park. He noticed Anzu’s desperate attempt to survive, and took pity. He gets her accepted into the camp and he, along with the others, begin to show her how to survive as a homeless person in the city (they even build her a small shelter next to theirs). She becomes the surrogate granddaughter of the group. Anzu learns the best way to hunt for coins and sell cans and magazines gathered from street bins. Her life becomes an all day work cycle just to allow her to afford food and other necessities.
Soon, Anzu’s paradise is taken from her. City law prohibits the homeless camp in the park and it is to be torn down. With no other place in the area large enough to hold all of them, the group will disband and everyone will be on their own again. However, Yassan is able to help secure a permanent residence for Anzu with a local man and his wife, who themselves have no children and are getting older.
At first, Anzu carries with her a lot of guilt when she settles into her new home. She suddenly has a roof over her head, food that is freshly prepared for every meal, a soft bed, and she doesn’t have to pay for any of it. Rather than being comfortable in her new luxury, Anzu spends her time worried about her former homeless family.
One thing the homeless experience taught Anzu was the value of money. Her new family also owns a (relatively normal/inexpensive) restaurant, and Anzu almost faints at the sight of the menu prices. She vows that since her family is supporting her with their money for free, she should work in return. A lot of the life lessons that Anzu was taught by the men in the homeless camp (responsibility, frugality, respect, mindfulness) stick with her and make her a better person as a result.
I wasn’t joking when I said I could write an entire piece just about Anzu (I haven’t even covered everything). And that goes for several other characters as well. I haven’t even had the chance to talk about characters like the middle-school bartender, the sadistic classmate, or the other members of the cast with psychokinetic abilities (maybe another time). This show is filled to the brim with unique personalities, strong character arcs, interesting story direction and good life lessons. There are moments that make you laugh out loud and others that have you reaching for your tissues. It’s honestly a very well-rounded anime.
What I can say, is that if any of this sounds even remotely interesting to you, you should definitely give Hinamatsuri a try. This is one of those anime that has a little bit of everything, so a lot of people will be able to enjoy it. Just don’t expect what you see in the first three minutes of the pilot to be an accurate reflection of the rest of the show. Trust me, it isn’t. But it’s not one of those “downhill from here” scenarios either. They left it open, so I honestly hope there is a second season (though I can’t find any confirmation of one yet). But I’ll continue to hope, because I would love to see the story continue for these characters.