I am going to
go on a rant about review Hinako Note because this was one of my favorites for this season and I assumed that others would like it as well. However, Hinako Note received a lot of hate.
“Too much fan service.”
“The animation is bad.”
I am usually open to others’ opinions, but these negative comments really, really upset me. Why is this? I have been pondering why I liked Hinako Note so much and I finally figured it out. I see a lot of myself in this anime and being able to personally relate to it made me enjoy it so much more.
Hinako: Representing Exaggerated Shyness
What do I mean by this? Firstly, the premise. Hinako, the main character, is an extremely shy girl who freezes up and “turns into a scarecrow” whenever she meets new people.
This is me. I obviously don’t do exactly what Hinako does, with my arms outstretched and animals flocking by my side (though, the animal part would be awesome). However, it portrays exactly how I feel. When I meet new people, I freeze up. I don’t know what to say or do, so I just kind of stand there. I exist, but I am not really doing anything, just like a scarecrow.
To overcome her shyness, Hinako decides to join a theatre club. This represents another part of me. I never joined a theatre club or acted out a play, but I danced for years. This included warming up, practicing, preparing costumes, dress rehearsals… many of the things shown in Hinako Note. And just like Hinako who was able to perform on stage but froze up irl, I am able to dance in front of people and not get nervous. When I dance, I know what I am supposed to do. I know my routine, I know the music, I know the steps… Therefore, I don’t freeze up the same way when there is an open conversation where anything could happen and I begin to imagine the worst case scenario (just like Hinako).
Other Relatable Characters
I saw myself in the other characters as well. My favorite was Kuu-chan. She is just adorable, in my opinion, both on the outside and inside. I like how she loves book since I am an a bookworm myself. But… Kuu-chan goes a step further and eats the pages of books she likes. This is something I would never do (it breaks my heart when a good book is ruined), but I can understand her desire to “devour” a good book. Although some people complained that the show’s gags weren’t funny (I disagree), I thought Kuu-chan’s appetite in general was funny. The “girl who eats a lot” has become kind of a thing in anime lately, but I thought they portrayed Kuu-chan’s food obsession in funny and clever ways. Another thing I adored about Kuu-chan was her costume and kiragarumi collection. Her costumes were sooooooo cute! I am a sucker when it comes to that kind of stuff. (As a side note, if you like Gabriel Dropout, she played Gabriel’s voice)
Next is Mayu-chan. Again, I see myself in this character. She is technically older than the other girls, but she has a tiny and cute appearance. This makes it hard to take her seriously, and people often mistake her being younger than she really is. THIS IS ME. I am 25 years old, and everyone thinks I am a high school student. One time someone thought I was in middle school and another time someone thought I was 12 years old. This is why I love loli characters and like to cosplay them, such as Anzu from Idol Master Cinderella Girls. I feel Mayu’s pain. Every day. I also liked how she loved dressing up in different costumes, but was also very easily embarrassed (again, this is me). If I could, I would have a whole closet of frilly dresses like Mayu.
I liked the other two main characters as well. I love androgynous, quiet yet mature types. Hence, I loved Chiaki. I also like tsundere characters, especially when it comes to yuri. Yua was a failure of a tsundere and also a yuri character so I couldn’t help but adore her.
Negative Comments Vs. My Opinion
Overall, I think the characters are what made the show for me. But I have seen comments saying they are generic… they are forgettable… It is upsetting when they are all so close to my heart.
Another thing I cannot agree with is negative comments about the animation. In an Anime News Network article, Chris Farris (who really trashes the show) said that the chibi animation is one of the things that ruined the show for him… I LOVE THE CHIBIS! I thought the chibi animation was absolutely adorable. Every time they went into chibi mode, I couldn’t help but giggle.
Chris Farris is another person that says the show is generic. I really disagree with this. Is the show the most innovative slice-of-life show in the known anime universe? No. But the show actually shows characters participating in theatre (there are so many shows where the characters will be part of a play or something, but they never show anything behind-the-scenes). I personally think the characters are great and unique. The show has fun twists on tropes, like Hinako’s scarecrow pose representing her shyness, and Kuu-chan having an appetite for books. The show is bright and colorful, and has WONDERFUL chibi moments. How is this generic?
On the other hand, some people found it boring, such as Dee from Anime Feminist. She explains, quite accurately, that Hinako Note is low on plot, and high on character interactions. If you are looking for a story, Hinako Note isn’t the place to find it; however, this is the case with most slice-of-life anime. I know going into these shows that there isn’t going to be much plot and I am perfectly fine with that. Although I love well-written and dynamic plots, I find something very soothing about the lack of plot in these shows. It gives my brain a chance to rest, instead of hyper-analyzing everything.
Another comment from Dee about Hibnako Note was “But as it stands, I’d be hard-pressed to recommend this one to any but the most dedicated cute-girl enthusiasts.” I fall into this category. Perhaps other people who don’t fit this category won’t find the show as engaging.
One negative comment I can agree with is how the show had too much fan service. There was really no need for the fan service and I admit it got pretty bad by the end. At the same time, however, the fan service was not the center piece of the show. It is something they threw in on the side. And in the show’s defense, the fan service was only used for the more mature looking characters like Hinako and Chiaki. It did not sexualize Mayu who, as I explained, looks like a child. Fan service is always a legitimate complaint in my opinion, but it kind of bothers me when it comes to this anime. Yes, there was too much fan service. But why does everyone trash this show about it when Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid had a lot more fan service? Why is Kobayashi forgiven and still much more popular than this series? (I am not hating on Kobayashi; I love that show. I am just using is as an example)
Relatability Shaping Our Enjoyment
I guess I am just biased. I don’t understand why people didn’t like this show. Then again, they may not have the same perceptions and experiences that I have. As I explained, all of the characters and the premise were directly related to me and my personality in some way, making the show very close to my heart. But if you are an outgoing person who has never experienced a lot of social anxiety, or if you are a tall, mature-looking person who has never been mistaken for a child, maybe you can’t relate to Hinako or Mayu. If you are someone who isn’t interested in reading or quirky female characters, maybe Kuu-chan isn’t funny in your opinion. Maybe you need a plot to help keep you engaged. Maybe you aren’t as obsessed with cute girls the way I am. I literally devour these series. I can’t get enough of them (I have a problem xD). I am also willing to forgive the fan service because these other elements make up for it, but I guess others aren’t as forgiving.
When I think about it this way, I begin to understand why some people may not have been as enthralled as me. However, I still think some people were a little too harsh on the show. I have watched a ton of slice-of-life / cute girls doing cute things anime, and I didn’t find this anime generic. I thought it was extremely enjoyable. But again, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and their perceptions may be entirely different than my own.
I personally give Hinako Note a 9/10. The only thing preventing it from a full 10 is the fan service. If you can relate to any of the characters or situations the way I did, I think you will enjoy this show. If you like cute girls, quirky girls, lots of chibis, slice-of-life anime, and some yuri, I recommend this show to you.