It’s Day 5 of the 12 Days of Anime! As we start to get into the Christmas season, the holiday spirit filling the air, thoughts of friendship, service, and giving begin to warm the hearts of humankind. Christmas is a time to celebrate, a time to show your love for your fellow man, and above all, it’s a time to be with family. Families are so important in our lives; they give us support, love, and a place to call home. This year, one show in particular went above and beyond all expectations, to deliver a heartfelt, soul-shaking view of the true meaning of a family.
I know i’m not alone in saying that when I started watching Hinamatsuri, I was immediately captured by the hilarity and absurdity of the show. I mean, the first few episodes were nothing but nonstop shenanigans, excellent comedic timing, and a lovable cast of dorky characters. I also know i’m not alone in saying that I was taken by total surprise partway through the series, as a series of touching scenes led up to some of the most heartfelt and emotional moments of the entire season.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Hinamatsuri tells the story of a young girl with psychic powers, Hina, who appears from somewhere in the apartment of a gangster named Nitta. Frightened by her power, Nitta agrees to take care of Hina, quickly falling into the role of Hina’s father. Another psychic, Anzu, comes to retrieve Hina, but quickly ends up stranded and homeless.
Following these two girls, we experience two very different views of the world. Let’s start with Hina. Having stumbled into meeting Nitta, Hina begins to live a lush and wealthy life, Nitta having plenty of money to go around. They live in a penthouse apartment, eat plenty of fancy food, and Hina is able to attend school with Nitta as her guardian.
Of course, Nitta isn’t very happy about this arrangement… at least at first. Hina’s general denseness to social norms and inability to control her power is a source of constant trouble to him, and many times he considers simply kicking Hina out on her own to be rid of the trouble.
However, Nitta soon finds himself warming to Hina in a way he never thought he could. Though she still continues to be a source of troubles for him, the two have created a familial bond with each other, such that life begins to feel incomplete without the other around. After all, it’s part of a family to accept the troubles caused by each other, and work to protect one another.
On the other side of things, we have Anzu. Determined to make her own way in the world, she declines to stay with Hina and Nitta, but quickly finds herself living on the streets with nowhere to go.
Homelessness is a struggle no matter what, but for such a young girl, of course it’s going to be especially hard. Thankfully, Anzu meets several other homeless people, who are nice enough to invite her to their makeshift community. While there, she is taught all sorts of things about manners, how to survive without a home, how to work for her meals, and they even help her build a makeshift home of her own.
This happiness, however, is not to last, as not too long after Anzu begins to truly fit in among the homeless community, the government acts to reclaim the park they had been living in, forcing them to move on. While the elderly homeless begin to pack things up, however, they tell Anzu that she can’t come along with them. They find a family willing to take her in, and share a tearful farewell.
Anzu’s story isn’t over, however. Faced with an enormous change in lifestyle, only now does Anzu realize how bad the homeless had it. Clean clothes, warm, running water, plenty to eat… But she can’t accept it. She offers to work in the restaurant owned by the couple that took her in, in an effort to earn her keep. Anzu’s hardworking, self-sufficient attitude is a result of the hardships she faced, and her earnest desire to work is a blessing to all those around her.
Some of you may have picked up on the double entendre hidden in the title of this post. Hinamatsuri is a series that focuses heavily on family, showing the love and care, through happiness and through trial, that families must endure. And yet, there’s more to it than that. Because, the difference in our two girls here are a DIRECT RESULT of their “family matters”.
Having lived a lavish lifestyle from day 1 since arriving in this world, Hina is, well… spoiled. She’s lazy, belligerent, and has no concept of the value of money. Well, maybe some of that is just because she’s kind of an idiot, but… the fact remains that she’s spoiled. Always asking for expensive food to eat, playing games, watching TV, and generally lazing her days away. Of course, Nitta’s occupation as a yakuza, penchant for luxurious living, carousing, and partying probably has a lot to do with this as well.
Anzu, however, has led a very different lifestyle. Living on the streets, she had to scrape for each penny, earn her meals one at a time through hard, honest labor. The kind homeless community taught her to always be polite, and earnest. Showing her by example how to earn money day by day, collecting cans or picking up stray coins. the product of this upbringing is the hardworking, honest, and genuine girl we see by the end of the series.
Very rarely have I seen any show deal with family as wonderfully as Hinamatsuri manages to, while still toting the mantle of a “comedy”. While the show is still outrageously funny, there’s always a chance that the tone will take an abrupt, dramatic, yet appropriate shift to deliver what I can only describe as one hell of an emotional moment. And when it does, you’d better hope you’ve got some tissues on standby, because you WILL be in tears.
So, as the Holiday season draws ever nearer, let us all take some time to appreciate our family. The people we are now is a result of our upbringings, good or bad, but that’s how family works, after all.