Back when I first started Hinamatsuri in the midst of other shows for the Spring season Hinamatsuri felt different. Compared to the others, it pulled me in and in a different way too. In the first five minutes I was slightly taken aback by the artstyle but when I continued watching it, it hit me with it's wonder. Hinamatsuri is exactly that kind of anime, and it continued to be so till it's end, it calms you down, then immediately rushes out with the comedy and before you know it, you're laughing out loud. Oh and there are tons of heartfelt moments too, what more could you ask for such an innovative and hilarious anime? Original Review published June 22, 2018 on AniList
For starters, Hinamatsuri is a fresh take among the many comedy anime we see nowadays. It's not a school romance comedy and thanks to that it pushes out a huge cliche (there are exceptions) right out of the window, add to that it's supernatural nature mixed with clever comedy and you've got a fresh anime that people not only laugh with, but cherish for the coming seasons because you won't see such an anime so common, not every season, not every year either. Hinamatsuri uses tons of elements and jokes in it's run and it was very hard for me to find recycled jokes among them, it was all new and innovative and that says a lot about it's quality as a comedy anime. Oh and by saying it's supernatural you might think it relies too much on supernatural stupidity to tickle your funny bone? No, the best part is that Hinamatsuri can stand even on normal comedy and make everyday situations so hilarious despite having a huge arsenal of supernatural jokes at its disposal but Hinamatsuri uses both of them very wisely with the end result being us viewers holding down our stomachs while we laugh.
A huge reason why Hinamatsuri is so incredibly amazing is because it's got various approaches to the comedy, and it almost always nailed them, first off it has a buildup of jokes, the situation starts getting crazier and crazier and you're left laughing at every second. This is common in comedy anime since you can put up over the top situations and make people laugh as well, but Hinamatsuri unlike many others not only looks at that but it also looks at the premise where it's using it in, something surprisingly uncommon in other anime. What am I talking about? Many times we see anime attempt at comedy but use the wrong approach at the wrong time, thus even though the joke was actually funny, the wrong approach didn't give the writers the result they wanted and this anime thankfully crosses that hurdle.
Another approach it has to it's comedy is somewhat of the opposite, it sets your expectations low on purpose before hitting you with the punchline, this also has a largely positive effect since if the joke is successful, it can almost equal the hilarity of the previous take and on the other hand serve as an element of surprise to its viewers which as well plays a huge part in making it so funny since Hinamatsuri rarely failed at this as well. Yet another approach Hinamatsuri took was to use the “straight man” principle to effectively. What is the straight man principle you may ask? It's when the characters do something stupid and another character takes the “straight man” role and points out the stupidity in shock and while on paper this may seem unfunny, in reality it's very successful if implemented properly, two of the best and most famous examples of characters using the straight man principle excellently in anime are namely Saiki Kusuo (Saiki Kusuo no PSI Nan) and Shimura Shinpachi (Gintama). Instead of attributing this principle to only one character, Hinamatsuri gives the role to multiple characters depending on the situation and thankfully does it well.
Why did I list these and explain the different approaches to comedy? It's because few anime use so many approaches and few of them are successful in doing so as well, and the good news is that Hinamatsuri can use those very well, reason being it keeps them fresh with the comedy and helps keep things varied.
Note: The following is a comparison of Hinamatsuri, Saiki and Gintama, if you haven't watched the latter two completely, please skip the next paragraph as you may not understand the references talked about.
COMPARISON BEGIN: Since comedy shows get compared a lot, why not compare Hinamatsuri with an anime it shares a lot in common with arguably the giant of comedy anime, Gintama along with a relatively recent anime that's also been doing fabulous, Saiki Kusuo, note that I used these both as examples as well above for the straight man principle. First off with Gintama, Hinamatsuri shares the nature of smile+tears, meaning that both anime make you laugh with it's jokes, but it also has it's sad arcs that give you the feels and usually make many cry. Apart from this, both are supernatural anime (along with Saiki of course) that use their premise very smartly and have varied approaches to comedy, not just one. For Saiki, both feature modern-day Earth but retain the supernatural nature along with the occasional school comedy (but good) thrown in. COMPARISON END
All three feature this element and excellently use their numerous weapons at their disposal wisely along with using one of the best comedy methods as well, unpredictability. You never know what comes next and when it does, you're left laughing your ass out. What does this entail? This entails that Hinamatsuri is an anime comparable to such greats and can stand on its own as well without having to mooch off anything else. Hinamatsuri also at times jumped straight to the comedy itself without any caution (although this wasn't used much) and served as possibly the best form of surprise it could muster. What sets Hinamatsuri apart from other comedy shows is that Hinamatsuri uses an outsmarting “lazy approach”, such that when you're watching Hinamatsuri, much like Hina, it looks sluggish and slow and lazy as well but the moment you think that this is how the whole episode will be, it lands in a sudden joke and you're left flabbergasted in laughter (can people be flabbergasted in laughter? Maybe :P) so you'd be dumb to write Hinamatsuri off if you think it's a bit slow at first because there's a huge punch coming really soon as well.
Now let's step aside from the comedy for a bit since that's not exactly everything Hinamatsuri offers, we also have the occasional sad arcs. These were usually of Anzu (primarily) and at times a few other characters realising the importance of friendship or a life lesson as well. The reason why people loved Anzu to the point that people very soon ranked her higher than Hina for the best girl of the anime was because her arcs were so damn powerful. Poverty, learning to live as a homeless person, the community you make with them, and many other things beyond that I can't cover since they're spoilers, her arcs have a lot of thought and emotion into them and no person with a heart could not at least get a lump in their throat when they see the way she works hard to do her best for her friends who she treats like family as the feeling is mutual, this is really what should make us smile and laugh, the happiness of a human being doesn't come from being rich, but from enjoying what's next to us, what we have, not what we want, and this serious message was shown through her in these arcs. Getting why the anime is so amazing?
On the other side of the spectrum we have the duo who we started with, Nitta and Hina, these two are like father and daughter, despite one being a Yakuza and the other having dangerous superpowers, they went like bread and butter, and for the opposite reasons. If you took them individually, Hina wouldn't be as funny by herself and Nitta could only be used as a straight man if he's not with Hina. The anime is such that not only can Hina and Nitta not live without each other, but their comedy as well can't live without each other, and this is a testament to the genius mangaka behind this. As such, this erases most doubts about people possibly thinking of possibly axing one of the two, but much like Nana and Popo in the Ice Climbers (I s'pose no one will get that NES reference), they both need each other not only to live, but to make us laugh. Needless to say, Hina and Nitta’s sketches leave their mark clearly.
Let's move to arguably the most powerful character of the show, Hitomi. Why did I call her so? It's because she highly influences both Hina and Anzu. Anyway, Hitomi is fantastic as a character since she's very relatable thanks to her being given the straight man (or woman if you may) role by handling the BS that her daily life gives her and her arcs as well were hilarious as well as cute. She suddenly gets forced to work as a bartender and surprisingly becomes adept at her job and this is used as a baseline for many of the jokes at her. She also as mentioned played the straight woman for the crap that she has to deal with Hina and sometimes Anzu and her work. The best part is that she's amazing since she's so ordinary in the midst of idiots around her that it's hilarious in its own right and I seriously can't complain when even this is used well for it's jokes. Pretty reflective of the anime itself.
The thing is that Hinamatsuri has its own share of flaws as well. Even though it's comedy is almost always on point, if the jokes DO fail, the episode can fall apart pretty quick if nothing is done, and although this did happen once or twice, it pretty much saved itself in the next joke and went on, but this issue does exist and could be done better. And one issue that many point out is that since the anime is named Hinamatsuri, it still doesn't focus much on Hina in the first place. Although Hinamatsuri's purpose is to follow and balance screen time for all characters, many times Hina felt off the mark either because she wasn't given too many lines or she wasn't the person making the joke at that time. This is also a problem since based on Hina’s character, it's hard to bring in new stuff for a lazy brat since a lazy brat doesn't do much in the first place. This shows that you can't do much with the character as you would with others so Hinamatsuri's comedy gets held back at times when Hina doesn't do much.
Overall, Hinamatsuri is an anime that does a lot, and a lot of that is different from the usual. Apart from being able to stand on its own legs for support, it is comparable to the legends in its genre and can hold its own to a respectable level. It's truly an all round comedy in part because it makes you cry then laugh in just a span of a minute. Why is that you may ask? It's because comedy isn't just laughing at stupidity, comedy is also trying to find the funny in tragedy and the sad times, that's what Hinamatsuri is all about. And that's what comedy should be all about isn't it?
P.S: This season has a multitude of amazing last episodes demonstrating the best of the show’s offerings overall and Hinamatsuri was no exception. The last episode excellently showed us everything that made the show so amazing. A combination of feels, slapstick comedy and recent nostalgia made for an epic end to an epic anime (despite that minor cliffhanger?), and as a fan, I couldn't ask for anything more. It's a fan’s dream come true. Here's hoping we see a season 2 anytime soon!