Cute girls did cute things with decent artwork and humorThe series lacked much feeling of depth compared to similar sorts of shows. In particular I felt that the girls' time with the theater could have been explored more deeply, and their individual characters could have used more development and exploration as well


Sometimes it can be difficult to decide what series I want to cover each season. There are a number of factors, some of them judged more subconsciously than others, that determine whether or not a series is something I should cover. Sometimes several series fit those criteria, and I have to choose among them. In other cases it quickly becomes obvious that only one series fits my criteria for blogging for a season. In this past season it was clear to me pretty much right from the start that Hinako Note was the only one that suited me.

For those who have followed my reviews before, that probably comes as no real surprise. Hinako Note is a fairly cookie-cutter cute girls doing cute things series that you can just relax and watch and feel comfortable without having to worry about anything. I tend to watch pretty much every show of that sort that airs each season, and compared to more dramatic and exciting shows which I may start but then abandon in the middle when it becomes too much for me, I am much more likely to finish watching these comfy series.

I will admit, when I first started Hinako Note I was looking for slightly more than just generic cute girls doing cute things fare. The story of a shy, socially anxious girl from the countryside coming to Tokyo and seeking to participate in the theater with her quirky new friends struck me as a potentially interesting premise that I thought might give us a bit more of a backstage view on theater life: something that hasn’t really been explored in anime that I’ve watched. Certainly it felt like the potential for such developments were there, and I believe there were a number of opportunities to explore it without compromising the lighthearted slice of life nature of the series as a whole. But in the end those opportunities weren’t followed. Our view into practices was kept minimal, generally just showing us generic content, or focusing on non-practice conversations and such, while the actual plays happen almost entirely offscreen as well. As this happened time and time again, I couldn’t help but be disappointed. That disappointment is my own fault for having set expectations like that ahead of time, but it still doesn’t change that I felt that the series could have been stronger if they’d just been willing to these areas in a bit more depth.

What Hinako Note did turn out to be is mostly a character piece. Its comedy, its cuteness, and its ability to relax you all build off its cast of oddball characters. While Hinako serves as the catalyst to a lot of the events that occur throughout the season, without the ingredients the others provide to the mix there would have been no reaction. Kuina’s cheerful outgoing personality makes her easy to be friends with, while her playful nature leads to some amusement when she decides to play a prank or two (like dressing up as a shark to tease Hinako), and her gluttony never ceases to amaze. Mayuki is always available for teasing about how childish she looks, yet her skill with clothing and other backstage needs has helped the girls out quite a bit, and her steady presence in the cafe shows her diligence. Chiaki is the soft-spoken mother/older sister figure who always looks after everyone, always has some good advice, and who all the girls idolize. And Yua is the would-be rival who became a friend, a good girl who gets carried away sometimes, but once she truly accepts Hinako as a friend she really becomes her friend, and becomes quite devoted to her.

All of these girls, while not being exceedingly deep as characters go, work together well to make a whole that is stronger than just the sum of its parts. Watching them practice and perform and play and just basically bounce their personalities off each other is fun and relaxing. And those are the things that I want out of a series like this.

On the technical side I think the art in this series was handled quite well. While chibi-style characters were used quite frequently it never felt like an attempt to save money on the art budget, but rather something dramatically appropriate for the scene in question. It was never used at a point when it would clash with the mood of the scene. The character designs themselves were well done (although a couple of the bustier girls seem to have breast sizes that magically change depending on whether or not they’re in a fanservice scene), and there are several backgrounds and scenery shots that are quite beautiful and detailed.

It is worth noting that fanservice is one thing this series has going for it more than is normally expected in your average cute girls doing cute things series. Not that such series are devoid of fanservice, but Hinako Note has a way of pushing it with a number of very precisely planned camera angles and character poses. Nothing compared to what you’d get out of a true fanservice show, of course, but more than normally comes from this genre.

The music is decent, although not outstanding. It tends to blend in to the show to the point that I barely notice that it’s there, which is a sign of a good soundtrack. Special notice does have to go to the kazoo remix of Also Sprach Zarathustra from episode 6: never before has introducing festival stall food been so epic. The OP and ED are both surprisingly catchy as well, although they both have a remarkable degree of frenetic energy that doesn’t really fit with the rest of the show. They do, however, help make it memorable, so perhaps they’re working as intended?

On a whole I did enjoy this series. Once I finally accepted that it wasn’t going to become any deeper than it seemed and just accepted it for what it was, I actually started to enjoy it more. I still feel it has potential that it didn’t explore, and I think it’s sad that it didn’t choose to do so, but it still works as what it is: a fairly generic cute girls doing cute things series. I always want to have at least one to relax to, and this time this one was it. It will likely not be among the most memorable of series I’ve seen, but for simple fun and relaxation it works well enough. When all is said and done I’ll rate this series with a C+.

Everyone thanks you for watching, and bids you good night. 🙂

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An anime fan in his mid 30's, Random Wanderer has been actively following anime since the early 2000's. Is generally a fan of almost anything upbeat, optimistic, and/or having a happy ending. Is new to the blogging scene, so he hopes readers can give him a little patience and understanding as he gets his feet under himself.

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  • Killsqu4d

    Why are you guys always behind on Boruto reviews?

    • Please keep the discussions relevant to the the series being discussed. if you have questions about the time of any particular review, feel free to post a coment in the relevant section (i.e the last published Boruto review) and I’ll do my best to get back to you. Please don’t clutter up comments for other reviews/posts with unrelated comments/concerns, and review the Comment rules 🙂

      • Killsqu4d

        Alright my bad

  • Flower

    Reposting and slightly re-editing a comment I left elsewhere on the series:

    “Interesting … for me the fanservice in Hinako Note actually felt awkward … although to be fair I have the same reaction with its presence in New Game (though to a lesser degree). Urara Meirochou was a little less, but not quite as jarring for me. I think the element that seems to separate the fanservicey elements, though – it is their being used in a “brazen”, “in your face” way with a degree beyond and intent what one expects (aka a “liberal” usage).

    For me Hinako Note was plenty okay, but not on the level of enjoyment for me as KinMosa, GochUsa or Hidamari Sketch. It was more in the general category of series like Anne Happy, Sansha Sanyo and Stella no Mahou – which were all fine, mind you, but were on a different level of enjoyment to be sure.

    For me one of the indications that a Kirara series works for me is re-watcheability. The “top tier” Kirara series are those that are eminently re-watchable.”

    • Random Wanderer

      When I said it has fanservice going for it, that may not have quite come out right. I didn’t necessarily mean “the fanservice made this a better series” (although some people might argue that) but rather that it’s a significant point that can’t be ignored. There was more of it than I expected going in, and I didn’t feel that any review would be complete if I didn’t at least mention it was there. I do think in some cases it did feel awkward: for example, there was one point in episode 9 where the camera suddenly went under the table while Chiaki and Hinako were talking and gave us an upskirt view of Chiaki’s panties while she crossed her legs. Compared to the times when the girls are caught in poses and costumes and such (where at least some degree of consent to be seen that way is implied) that shot just felt voyeuristic.

      Certain I’m not going to try to place Hinako Note on the level of GochiUsa or KinMosa or HidaSketch. As I said above, Hinako Note feels “generic.” Another term for the impression I get off it might be “superficial.” Hinako Note doesn’t give a particularly strong or lasting impression, very much unlike those three shows. Hinako Note is a show that I can watch and enjoy for a season, and then forget when the next season’s offerings come along.