Title: Hinamatsuri Vol. 1
Author: Masao Ohtake
Publisher: One Peace Books
Genre: Sci-Fi, Comedy
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Hinamatsuri is a story from Masao Ohtake involving a girl named Hina who came to Earth in an egg-like cocoon, crashing into the home of Yoshifumi Nitta, a member of the Yakuza. To make matters worse, Hina has telekinetic powers that she has to use in order to keep them under control. Life for Nitta just got turned upside down when he takes her into his home but a bond between the two of them begins to form!
In the first volume of Hinamatsuri, we are taken through several different scenarios involving Hina and Nitta ranging from dealing with a rival mob’s boss, collecting debt from a mafia client who robbed a bank and took Hina’s class hostage, to a simple fishing trip with some of the mafia brass. While the first volume seems to set up the series to be a situational comedy with each chapter acting like a separate story arc, you quickly realize it’s simply done on purpose to do a bit of world building. It’s there to allow you enough time to get used to Nitta and Hina as characters and have a few laughs along the way.
One of the running gags throughout the first volume is Hina eating anything she finds delicious. It just so happens that everything she finds delicious is also extremely expensive with her favorite dish so far being Salmon Roe. This is causing Nitta to spend millions of yen on a monthly basis to the point where it almost breaks his bank account! Towards the end of the volume, we get a pretty hilarious revelation when it comes to Hina’s taste buds, though so the running gag pays off in the end!
The end to the first volume takes us away from the separate (yet connected) stories of each chapter and introduces us to a yet-to-be-named new character which gives us the sense of an overarching story. Typically, in a comedy series such as this, introducing a new character in a dramatic way doesn’t really cause much drama. I can already foresee more comedy out of this new character’s introduction and it has me looking forward to the second volume because of it.
The story in and of itself is rather straightforward without too much in terms of twists or turns. It’s simply about Hina showing up on Earth, being taken in by Nitta, and then Hina experiencing the world around her at Nitta’s expense. It can’t can any simpler than that but even a simple story can provide great entertainment and HInamatsuri is doing just that thus far. Then again, simplistic stories are usually propped up by their characters and this volume does a great job of giving us an example of that.
Nitta is a member of the yakuza (mafia) and becomes Hina’s guardian against his will. Before meeting Hina, he was a womanizer who loved to go out and party and didn’t really take his position in the mafia too seriously. He was good at making them money through his business sense but that was about it. All of that changed when he met Hina as he seemed to take a bit of an initiative. He acted like a fish out of water on his new jobs but thanks to Hina’s powers, he managed to make it through just fine. This ends up getting him some undue recognition that he knows he doesn’t deserve but he has no choice but to accept it otherwise it would blow Hina’s cover.
Even though his words don’t say it, his actions show just how attached he has become to Hina. He was extremely against harboring him, let alone becoming her guarding in the beginning but as the volume goes on, he realizes that he needs her. He does get to a point where he feels enough is enough and begins to leave Hina behind in an attempt to go back to his old way of life but he soon realizes that he can’t really keep that up because of her. Right now, I would say their relationship is more of convenience as he does see Hina as a bit of a scapegoat to accomplish some things but not to the point where he wants to straight up abuse her powers. It’s more like he needs her powers to get himself out of situations he doesn’t want to be in. At least he’s kind enough to reward her for helping him out, though!
I’m really liking Nitta as a character. He has a nice balance to him where he really isn’t selfish but there are times where he feels he does need a break from responsibility. It’s the type of character that anyone can relate to. Sure, we’re all not going to go club hopping to break that feeling of responsibility (okay, some of you might) but you get what I’m saying. Take away the mafia gig and Nitta isn’t really any different from the rest of us which makes him so relatable.
Hina, on the other hand, seems naïve and mature at the same time. It’s a bit of a weird balance because you get this sense that she’s not completely helpless and that she can take care of herself but at the same time, she’s a bit oblivious to things at times. That’s all due to the fact that she’s not from Earth and had a much different life experience from wherever she came from. Anyone in that kind of situation would probably end up reacting the same way.
Her personality; however, is what really sells that aspect of the character. She’s rather emotionless, yet observant. It’s not that she’s emotionless to the point where she doesn’t care about anything, it’s just that she just doesn’t understand some things. Even when finding out she loved Salmon Roe, you could tell that she was in love with the food despite not actually showing any happy or content emotions. It’s kind of hard to describe but it’s a unique combination that makes her an interesting character.
For a first volume, I feel that Hinamatsuri did everything right. It introduced us to our two main characters, put us in situations to where we had enough time to breathe and get to know them. It built the world that these characters lived in while establishing the genre of the series. It even went so far as to leave us on a cliffhanger that showed us that there’s more to this story than individual situations each chapter! If you’re going to offer a little bit of something in your first volume to make a reader understand what your series is about, this is the way to do it!
I thoroughly enjoyed the first volume of Hinamatsuri and if you’re looking for a new series to pick up that will give you a few laughs from a sci-fi/slice-of-life standpoint, I’d recommend that you pick up a copy of this. If you end up enjoying the story, there’s also a television anime that aired earlier this year in Japan and is currently available on Crunchyroll for legal streaming.
Looking forward to volume 2!
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This item was provided for review by One Peace Books