This Week in Anime
Why Hinamatsuri Was the Best Comedy of the Season

by Michelle Liu and Steve Jones,

Hinamatsuri warmed hearts and busted guts this past spring with a treasure trove of unexpected gags. This week, Michelle and Steve reflect on their favorite moments and ponder on just what made this show special.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.


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You can read our weekly coverage of Hinamatsuri here!

Steve
So Micchy, I just finished watching Hinamatsuri, and I just have one small question.

Micchy

What was Hinamatsuri, and why is it the greatest thing to happen to me since that time you dissuaded me from engaging in DARLING in the FRANXX discourse?

It's so weird to think about, because I genuinely loved the show. It's up there with my favorite anime comedies of all time. But if I had to explain exactly why it's so consistently funny, I'd be tongue-tied.

But that's what this column is for, so let's unravel this mystery!

For me, it's gotta be the cast. Garbage child and disaster dad are all well and good, but since the last time we talked about this gem of a show, we've added a fair number of equally entertaining characters. Hina's still deadpan and hungry as ever, but we also got more of her and Hitomi's classmates, as well as Mao, the purest child to ever exist.


Mao's great because her introduction is literally just the movie Cast Away but instead of Tom Hanks and a volleyball, it's another psychokinetic girl and a coconut Hina.

a very accurate coconut Hina, might I add

Coconut Hina eventually gets upgraded to Log Hina, but those defining features never go away.

Mao's episode also embodies what I think might be the core philosophy of the show's comedy. The old adage is that comedy is tragedy plus time, but in the world of Hinamatsuri, comedy is often just absurdist tragedy. Mao's story is played completely straight, and she ends up unable to bear the loneliness of being stranded, crying and shouting into the night. But then it's punctuated by the appearance of her deadpan Hina coconut friend who she jettisons off a cliff.

It shouldn't be funny, but that's also what makes it work.


Mao's segments, and to a lesser extent Anzu's, are what happen when you turn the :' D emoticon into a cartoon.

Anzu, my perfect beautiful shining daughter.
She's come such a long way!

Their circumstances are genuinely sad, but juxtaposed with the other weird stuff that happens in this show, (what kind of psychic kid just loses their teleportation device?) it results in just the funniest shit.

Like that time angel child Anzu spends a weekend with petty disaster dad Nitta:

Anzu's arc in particular is great at this, because she goes from a bratty delinquent to the platonic ideal of a good girl. Literally every character agrees on this.


All it took was a few months of homelessness and learning to appreciate other people's struggles, no big deal. It's honestly amazing to me how quickly the show took the punchline "Anzu can't get home because she lost her orb" and turned it into a story about a homeless girl learning to fend for herself, but that sure was a thing that happened.

That's another thing about Hinamatsuri; it's confident enough in its comedy to not have qualms about devoting a mostly serious and totally straightforward episode to Anzu saying goodbye to her homeless friends. The result is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, and the fact that the show is so good at drama despite spending most of its time on elaborate shitposts is just another level of its comedy.


For the latter half of the show, the primary joke around Anzu is that she's so nice and selfless, she makes everyone around her want to cry. That's super messed up but kinda brilliant.

The contrast with spoiled garbage child Hina is what really makes that joke work, imo. Here's Anzu charming literally everyone around her, while Hina has exactly zero things on her mind aside from food.


Easily my favorite episode is the one where Nitta tries to pamper Anzu to restore her bratty delinquent self, but she's grown so much that none of this spoiling works. The gulf between Nitta's pettiness and Anzu's selflessness is just So Much, I can't take it.

It does become obvious why Nitta ended up bonding with Hina instead of Anzu.


Nitta exists in constant flux between Pretty Okay Dad and Worst Dad Ever, but I suppose that's what living with Hina does to a person.

The documentary on him might've been mostly faked, but the bits about his parenting style were spot on. He's trying, but any dad who throws himself a "daughter going-away party" is kinda lousy. Hey, that's why we love him.

There were a handful of moments in the show's run where I literally could not breathe because of laughter, and this was absolutely one of them. In true Hinamatsuri fashion, the worst possible thing at the worst possible time is comedy gold.


But it's also great at these deadpan lines that just hang there awkwardly for a few seconds.

The timing in this show does so much heavy lifting, letting those one-liners sit for just long enough to be painful.

It's ALL in the timing, because 50% of the punchlines are just someone making this face, but it cracks me up every single time.

Speaking of which, poor Hitomi. While Hina and Anzu are both absolute disasters, Hitomi perhaps beats both of them on the disaster scale by being too functional. As if bartending weren't absurd enough for this middle schooler, she somehow gets roped into even harder jobs because she's too goddamn nice to turn them down.

Through no ambition of her own, she ends up with her own swanky apartment and a network of powerful connections to every business owner in the city. Because being Hitomi is suffering.


Scoot over Aggretsuko, there's a new office lady comedy in town. I just want more painfully real comedies about the perils of work life, even if the office ladies in question are 13 years old.

At least by the end of the show, Hitomi seems to understand the error of her ways.

Lest we forget, the adult way of dealing with problems in this show is to pretend they don't exist.

Luckily, it is very hard to ignore Hina, especially after she developed a unique method to communicate her innermost feelings.

Hina's slogan-changing shirt is the MVP of the show.

And on the subject of moments that robbed me of my ability to breathe, her KASHIRA shirt here was
icing on the cake:

Hina's trying her best! Her best is not very good, but hey, points for effort! So now that the show's over, here's the important question. Of all the good children (and Hina), who's the best child in Hinamatsuri?

God this sounds so lame but it really IS like choosing a favorite child. I can't do it in good conscience. That said, I gotta go with Hitomi, because she's definitely the most similar to how I was growing up, minus the whole moonlighting as a bartender thing.

Same, and she certainly speaks better Chinese than any other character in the show.

Also honorable mention to that one girl who straight-up called her teacher mommy.



Since when was this Persona 5?

Well, since when it was Uma Musume?


Man, how this show has betrayed our expectations...

Hinamatsuri is by default the best anime of the season because it is every anime of the season.

But seriously, I was blown away by how much I enjoyed it. Hinamatsuri is a masterclass in the subtle craft of building up to a punchline, and nowhere is this more apparent than seeing it only resolve the bizarre cold open of its very first episode in the season finale.

All so Mao can end the show on this line:

God, that punchline was incredible, and I'm still in awe that the crew had the balls (hyuk) to bookend the show with complete non-sequiturs. What a ride, honestly.

There's nothing else quite like Hinamatsuri, and you owe it to yourself to check it out. Once you get accustomed to its weirdness, it'll warm your heart and bust your gut multiple times over.

Just remember: never entrust your fortune to a weird psychic child that falls out of your ceiling, because she will misuse it in her hopelessly misguided attempts to help a friend.

Hina knows what's really important.


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