The transition from childhood to adulthood isnt always an easy one. We are expected to choose a path that will shape who we are for the rest of your lives from a very young age, when our brains and emotions havent fully developed yet to be able to understand the implications of said choice and its importance, and we are given a very small window of time that demands we understand all of this and pick wisely.
Its no wonder that so many of us are never able to discover what that path is and come graduation we find ourselves asking "What now?", and due to peer pressure and society expectations, end up choosing a random course or career path that we never actually saw ourselves picking in the first place.
Hisone Amakasu is our main character in this story, a secluded and very socially awkward girl right on the cusp of entering that period of life that leaves so many of us in a state of perpetual anxiety and dread. Amakasu is a girl of no particular talents, so with high school reaching its end and being forced to pick a role in society, Amakasu makes the choice of enlisting in the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (cause why not?).
Like high school, she hopes to go through this period of life with the least amount of hassle possible and without having to open her mouth and ruin any kind of socially acceptable relationship she can have in this job. Things dont work out how she wants however, and she finds herself placed in a position way above her head, being tasked with piloting a Organic Transformed Flyer, which so happens to be a dragon disguised as a jet.
From here on, Amakasu has to accept the cards she has been dealt with, and she has to decide if she can take this opportunity and turn it into something worthwhile for her and for her future.
This is why Hisone to Masotan is such a great show. Despite its obvious fantastical elements, its a show incredibly grounded on reality and about well known anxieties of young adulthood. Being placed on a setting and position you arent familiar with is a concern many of us have when facing the world of adulthood, and it can be daunting when you are faced with responsibilities you never had to deal with as a teenager.
Amakasu's first moments in this new role dont work out the way she would like them to, and the people who put such high expectations into her start to raise an eyebrow at her. It doesnt help that she is surrounded by people who would gladly take that opportunity and are clearly more passionate about their jobs, like the great character Nao Kaiazaki, a resentful cadet whose role as a D-Pilot has been taken over by Amakasu.
However, with time Amakasu starts to develop an appreciation for her responsibilities, and despite a few bumps on the road first, she develops a special bond with her co-workers and newly made friends. She is able to find her place in a world she never found herself belonging to and puts in the work to make that longstanding.
The show then proceeds to expand on its themes and subject matters through its cast of characters, developing ideas about commitment to the things we are passionate about, the the weight of failure, shattered fantasies, realizing this isnt the place you had hope to be at, sacrificing personal life in detriment of our dreams, and so on.
But it does so in such a charming and optimistic way, that not many stories out there are able to. We are bombarded our whole lifes with stories of success and of heroes, that sometimes it feels like we have been deceived when things dont go the way we wanted them to go, and its hard to get passed that dellusion. But Hisone to Masotan says thats fine. Giving up sometimes is fine. Not knowing what you want to do is fine. Its all gonna be fine. As long as you are able to appreciate what and who you have around you, there is no reason for you not to build something out of it, no matter the circumstances you find yourself in. The people you least expected can be there to support you, the responsibilities you took for granted can provide you with an amount of self growth you never knew it could.
It's not without its flaws, and it stumbles a bit on its execution a few times, although most of those fumbles did seem to be a product of the cultural differences between Japan and the West. But the good moments far surpass the bad ones.
Hisone to Masotan belongs to a rare breed of anime out there that targets itself to an older generation of viewers, next to shows like The Eccentric Family, Ping Pong The Animation and Welcome to the NHK.Its not a show for everybody, but if you are tired of the onslaught of high school and shounen shows out there, and if you are in your early 20s and anything I said about the show resonates with you somehow, then you owe it to yourself to watch it.
Its a show with a great and adorable cast of characters, each with their own quirks and personality traits that greatly support the main character, all with the help of some of the best character designs I have seen in a long time in anime. The presentation of the whole show is just gorgeous, with a simple artstyle that is able to express so much, without the need for such lavished production like something out of KyoAni.
Original shows like this need to be championed and incentivized, and im very glad i got to spend my time with it. And I hope you do too.