Welcome, all, again. Having last reviewed a futuristic fantasy, I decided to relax with some comical slice-of-life this time. Hinako Note, which follows the efforts of high school first-year Hinako Sakuragi to develop her social skills, is a whimsical and warm show full of physical humor. To be sure, there are plenty of quiet jokes and shaded (if not downright shady) dialogue to propel the storylines. But it’s the physical humor, often bordering upon slapstick, that drives the show as a whole. Meanwhile, what I initially found most interesting was the cast of characters–a collection of renamed favorites seemingly stolen straight from other shows, all epitomizing the concepts of moe and kawaii. Oh, go ahead and watch an episode–you’ll see what I mean! (I can wait. . .)
Well, did you see? Did you notice Cocoa wearing the hair accessories she so obviously borrowed from Wakaba? What about Konata? Seriously, doesn’t Kuina–especially her facial expressions–remind you of Konata? We’ve even got Ritsu standing in as (what else?) the landlady Chiaki. Add Hana (now called Mayuki) floating fairy-like through the cafe, then pull in the obligatory tsundere and ridiculously overdeveloped youngster, and you’ve got “guilty pleasure” viewing gold! When you get right down to it, this series seems to be only one or two characters shy of triggering mass cute-steria. Now imagine what might happen if they dropped in Ren-chon from Non Non Biyori or Kanna from Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. I’m telling you, they just don’t make enough insulin. . .
That said, the story is a pretty simple one. Hinako, a country girl who has a gentle way with animals (be they domesticated or wild), moves to Tokyo to begin her first year of high school. She has great difficulty conversing with others, and chooses her high school based upon having seen its theater club perform. Hinako hopes that joining the theater club will help her overcome her petrifying shyness. She soon finds out, however, that the club is on hiatus while their advisor is gone. But what she also discovers is that the other residents of her new home all attend her school and are all supportive of her ambition. And while Chiaki was already in theater, Hinako’s enthusiasm draws in her other new friends, as well. Cue the love!
Again, this show is pure whimsy, this season’s warm and welcoming feel-good piece. Relaxing, pointless fluff (but that is the point!). From Hinako’s former part-time job as a scarecrow to Kuina’s literally devouring literature, we witness a certain mundanely manic effort by the characters to create fulfilling lives for themselves. And for the most part, I have faith in them succeeding. I’m even pretty sure that Hinako will make progress against her awkward shyness; I just don’t know how many of her housemates or classmates will survive the process.