That’s it, I’m not making predictions about this show any more. As we see this episode, my prediction that this arc about Hinako’s mother and the play that the Hitotose troupe was planning would take the remainder of the show turned out to be in error, as they blew through it all in this episode. That’s what I get for assuming they would actually devote any time to genuine theater content.
The first segment of the episode is spent with Mayuki indulging her fetish for dressing the people around her up like dolls. Well, somewhat like dolls. Assuming young girls dress their dolls up in maid outfits, playboy bunny suits, nurse uniforms, Chinese dresses, and erotic lingerie. It’s rather like a cosplay obsession, except she’s too embarrassed to do it herself, aside from her standard maid outfit. Not that I blame her for wanting to see these cute girls in cute outfits now and again, but it definitely racks up the fanservice levels for the first part of this episode.
I assume somewhere in between when Kuina finishes the script and the point when they have the play the girls must have practiced, but we don’t really see any of it aside from a few moments of doing a read-through of the script during the impromptu pajama party. It makes me rather sad that it’s all just glossed over. It seems to me that there’s a lot this series could do for both cuteness and humor (and fanservice, since that seems to be one of its preferred focuses) if it spent more time showing the actual theater aspects of what the girls are doing, rather than just saying “Yep, these girls are doing acting, see? Here are two seconds of generic practice that could be for ordinary plays or ballet or stand up comedy for all you know, now quick change the scene before we have to show anything that proves we’re too ignorant to actually go into depth about the supposed premise of our series.”
I may be doing this series a disservice. The source material remains untranslated, so I have no idea how it matches up to the anime, but it’s not like any of the content we’re getting here is bad. It’s still a cute girls doing cute things series, and most people go into those expecting them to be about nothing. But I can’t help but find myself comparing this to, say, New Game!, where the basic premise of young women working at a video game company developing a sequel to a popular game remains a significant element throughout the entire series, having an influence on most scenes and character interactions. You could not remove that premise from New Game! without having to rewrite almost the entire series: there are very few scenes that would still work without the game and game company concept as a base. But in Hinako Note if you were to remove the premise of Hinako attempting to join the theater club and involving everyone with her, I believe you would find that a majority of the series would still play out exactly the same. I can’t really explain why this bothers me precisely, other than to say that it feels like wasted potential. There could have been more here. This series could have been deeper. The fact that it chooses time and time again not to take that path just… bothers me.
But enough of that. We finally get to properly meet Hinako’s mother; the first time outside of a flashback or Hinako’s imagination; and she blows through things very much like a storm, as Yua aptly put it. It’s hard to imagine how such an outgoing, cheerful, non-stop-talking bundle of energy managed to raise a child as shy as Hinako, but the very dichotomy adds to the hilariousness of their interactions. There’s probably some deep dramatic analysis I could make of the fact that we never see Hina’s mother walking anywhere (she’s always zooming around at full speed on that Segway S1), but my days as an English major in university are 12 years behind me, so all I can say is that it just fits with the energy she throws into everything else. Why walk when you can run, and why run when you can use a scooter-thing to zip around as fast or faster and still have energy to do what you want when you reach your destination?
Of course, with her mother in the crowd going overboard like only a proud parent can, and with Ruriko’s famous mother watching as well just to add additional pressure, poor Hinako is especially nervous going into this play. Fortunately, seeing the effort her friends put in to help her get through this manages to break her shell and center her mind once again. I can’t even imagine how much effort it must have been for Mayu-chan to write out the entire script on those menu boards for the restaurant just to use as cue-cards for her friends, but seeing how much she cares is what Hinako needs, and she is able to establish the mindset, the method, of the character she is performing, and her nervousness vanishes just like at the school festival.
And so in the end, despite the small road bumps here and there, Hitotose Theater Troupe succeeds in its first performance, and Hinako succeeds in convincing her mother that she is growing up, and that moving out to live in Tokyo has been good for her. It’s a very touching moment… just slightly spoiled when Hinako’s mother tells them “Wellp, now that that’s done I’m off to catch the bullet train back home seeyoulaterbye!” and zooms away again just as quickly as she came, leaving everyone staring after her speechlessly. She rushed in, blew everything over on its head, and then rushed back out before anyone could even think of how to react. Very much like a summer storm.
So, after ten episodes of them doing stuff like this, I think it was just the culmination of seeing this episode skip not merely all the preparation steps for the play, but also the entire play as well, that just ended up setting off my frustration with how the series has been avoiding actual theater-type content like the plague. As I said above, that does not make this a bad series. If you come to a series like this it is generally because you enjoy watching cute girls do cute things together. Listening to their conversations, watching their daily interactions, just seeing how they go about their lives is relaxing and enjoyable. And that all remains true for this series. The fact that I feel they could have gone a lot more into detail about the behind the scenes content of a theater group without losing that relaxing and enjoyable feel doesn’t keep that content we already have from being relaxing and enjoyable. It may frustrate me personally, but I’m still enjoying the series quite a bit, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the last few episodes will turn out, since they completely undermined any predictions I had for it.
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