Yoshifumi Nitta wants it all! Money, a luxurious home, the power to charm women… and he’ll do anything to get them. Nitta works in the Yakuza, and he’s actually doing quite well. However, one day, completely out of nowhere, a young psychic girl appears in his room. Initially, Nitta wants to kick her out, but when he sees how useful she can be, the two come to an agreement. From there on, Hina and Nitta begin to bond as a father and daughter pair. This relationship is what Hinamatsuri is all about.
For what could have easily been a very seedy premise, Hinamatsuri manages to depict the relationship between Nitta and Hina as a genuine father/daughter duo. What makes it work is that, despite the fact that Hina is obligated to follow any of his orders, Nitta refuses to order Hina to do anything she’s uncomfortable with. When Nitta is given the duty of invading an enemy Yakuza territory, Nitta initially rejects the idea of making Hina when he sees how dismayed the idea makes her. This adherence to some level of morality, combined with the ways Nitta figures out how to work with Hina (bribing her with salmon roe, taking her out with him on the town every now and thing, etc), is what gives the relationship credibility. Despite the responsibility being thrust on him out of nowhere, Nitta actually makes attempts to be a father to Hina rather than making a minimum effort.
Establishing the core relationship between Hina and Nitta early on also gives Hinamatsuri the ability to have some fun developing its side characters, as it doesn’t need to spend time overexplaining how the two work together. The standout member of the cast has to be Hina’s non-standoffish classmate Mishima Hitomi, who accidentally becomes a bartender at Utako’s pub. Hitomi’s pathetic attempts to try and get out of mixing drinks, only to find herself already obeying orders, are a great source of comedy.
Despite being billed as a comedy, there’s a surprisingly emotional core to it. There are a lot of very sweet, tender moments be for both Hina and Anzu. Such as Nitta going as far as to accept the responsibility of being called Hina’s father. Or Anzu dealing with the loss of her own family of homeless people. There’s also this interesting contrast between the two situations. Where Hina was “born” into a higher social class and doesn’t struggle for acceptance, Anzu was “born” into poverty has to work much harder. And that’s what drives the story.
The animation is surprisingly a standout as well. Hinamatsuri could have easily gotten away with a modest budget on the strength of its content. But the added detail to the movements helps to improve the comedy. In episode 2, Hina has a psychic contest of strength with her rival Anzu. Then Anzu uses her powers to force Hina to look in another direction. As a result, you can really see each lose flap of Hina’s face wibble and wobble in synch to the psychic waves and distorting her expression. The meticulous motion adds to the believability of the moment. The detailed animation of Hina’s ridiculous face really drives the joke to a new level.
Overall, Hinamatsuri is shaping out to be the comedy to look out to this season. It manages to balance both humor and warmth without either being forced. To add to that, the characters are turning out to be ridiculously charming!
Regardless if you want comedy or emotion, Hinamatsuri is definitely a series worth checking out!