Hinako lives in the countryside and is poor at speaking. She wants to improve her speech to be able to talk to people fluently, so she moves to Tokyo and plans to join the drama club in high school. When she arrives, however, it turns out her boarding house is a secondhand bookstore, and a beautiful girl who eats books lives there.
"A E I U E O Ao! (あ・え・い・う・え・お・あお!)" by Gekidan Hitotose (劇団ひととせ) [Hinako Sakuragi (Mao Ichimichi), Kuina Natsukawa (Miyu Tomita), Mayuki Hiiragi (Yui Ogura), Chiaki Ogino (Hisako Tojo), Yua Nakajima (Marika Kouno)]
TL;DR – A cute girls show that is never quite sure what cute things they should be doing, Hinako Note feels unfocused whilst at the same time increasingly focusing on the characters bodies. The potential for a good cute girl show was there, but it really needed a redraft or more editorial oversight to achieve it.
It's not easy starting again in a new city. It's even harder for Hinako, a girl whose social anxiety makes her freeze like a scarecrow when approached by strangers. It wasn't as bad in the countryside, where having a human scarecrow to attract animals away from fields was useful. But
it won't do her much good in Tokyo.
Yet that's partly what drew her there, because she has come up with a solution to overcoming her shyness: acting. After meeting her new house mates – the book-eating Kuina, maid dressing Mayuki & landlady Chiaki – they resolve to form an acting troupe to bring more customers to Chiaki's cafe & maybe even perform on a famous stage. That is if they can find time between all the other cute girl shenanigans they get up to.
At the start, Hinako Note seems like it will be a spin on the cute girls running a shop set-up that proved popular in Is This Order a Rabbit? There's both a bookshop & a café to split time between, as well as a high school & threatre club – where they meet the final main member of the group; the bratty Yua. However, it flits between settings with abandon, leaving things feeling unfocused & unconnected, particularly as it becomes increasingly episodic. It's almost as though the original author couldn't pick one cute girl location, so tried to have all of them.
It also has the effect of making Hinako's progression towards overcoming her shyness feel disjointed. The idea is that the acting will cause her to gradually gain in self-confidence so that she no longer freezes when talking to people, which is what happens – twice. While the show generally does a fine job showing her friendships develop over time, her own shyness increasingly seems to come & go when it's convenient.
One might expect it to have been structured such that, for example, she starts off barely able to talk & ends giving the leading performance on the big stage, symbolising her finally overcoming her anxiety. Alternatively, it could have gradually dropped the idea altogether, perhaps shifting the theme from overcoming your weaknesses to accepting them & finding people who accept you for who you are. Instead it peaks & troughs throughout the series, with apparent breakthroughs being followed by a return to the scarecrow pose the next time it's funny.
But in some ways that's to be expected, given how the show evolves over its runtime. While it starts out looking like an ensemble anime, all about the importance of friendship & the various relationships between the characters; by about episode six it increasingly seems more about waifu worship & how great Hinako is. Ditsy, vulnerable & air-headed yet also amazing & perfectly proportioned, Hinako quickly becomes the centre of almost everything happening around her. She may not be every viewers favourite character, but she clearly is the director's, it becoming rather eye-rolling by the time a clamshell pillow has been added to her bath scenes like she's some sort of discount Venus.
There is some indication that this is all meant to be presented from Hinako's point of view. A notebook, presumably Hinako's, is often used as the image to break up segments of the show, perhaps suggesting this is all being taken from her diary. But while that may somewhat explain why the show focuses on her, it doesn't explain the things about her it focuses on.
To be fair, all of them get a degree of back story & time to further distinguish themselves as characters, though it all feels a bit predictable. Yua has a girl crush on Chiaki that somehow seems to end up being directed, effectively if not explicitly, at Hinako. Mayuki is insecure about her height & being treated like a child while Chiaki is...attractive & responsible? Kuina, despite looking like Konata from Lucky Star, doesn't fill that or really any role. She eats paper & dresses in animal onesies, quirks compensating for lack of character.
As if wanting to visually parallel this shift, there is progressively more fan-service as the series goes on, particularly once it's revealed what a great body Hinako has. There are two or three of what might be charitably called dress-up episodes, with each one seeing characters striking progressively more risqué poses. The incidental pervy cuts become increasingly so, with body pans escalating to close-ups of T&A while the images used for the next episode previews become increasingly fetishistic - one being of Kuina licking Hinako's foot. A degree of this is to be expected in cute girl shows, but at times Hinako's Note ramps it up to sex comedy levels despite never being one; the lewd parts never feeling in character or particularly connected with what else is going on.
Oh & since important industry types undoubtedly read every MAL review, I have a request: Please stop using moo sounds to indicate big breasts are on screen. Please, just stop.
Of course, if this sounds like your kind of thing, then Hinako Note's production does a fine job presenting it. It looks & sounds pretty much as you'd expect, with suitably bright & colourful images, standard but appealing character designs & an upbeat, whimsical soundtrack. There were no notable dips in quality, though a minor but noticeable thing is the increasingly static background characters. By the same token, though, it never really excels, with no memorable animation sequences or the like. The OP & ED are somewhat notable for being the type of music that goes through multiple key & time signature changes, creating a sort of bubbly, schizophrenic mashup of cute girl sounds, unfortunately accompanied by some rather lacklustre dance routines.
There are some good things in Hinako Note. The characters are likeable, if not utilised to their full potential & some episodes deliver good enough cute girl antics. But it never manages to hold its focus on any one of its ideas for long, even as the camera increasingly focused on the characters vital assets. An okayish show that needed more editorial oversight to become a good one.
& I didn't even mention the busty 9 year old club advisor.
I liked this series, wouldn't mind a second season, something about it I enjoyed simple story, a young girl who is super shy moves to the big city to do plays in hopes it will help her be less shy. Simple premise but I enjoyed it.
the art is usual fair for this kind of anime.
Characters: they are fascinating, particularly the main char wich I can't help but feel is a human fluttershy from my little pony, even good with animals, The others are passable each with their own quirks, but it's really about the main char.
I enjoyed it, just
enough there to keep me interested for the most part. I suggest it for those that are interested in something along these lines.
This will be my first ever review for an anime. Since it's my first, I'll get better at doing this in time.
As someone who has quite a liking towards moe anime, I found this show fairly alright to watch. Hinako Note was a fairly decent moe slice of life anime. It wasn't really anything standout, but it was overall an alright anime to watch.
When I first started this show, I didn't really think I'd like it a lot because it couldn't have felt more generic to me. It felt like the show was trying to be too cute with things like the character having
very high pitched voices and how they would have to turn into chibis to act out small scenes at some point in every single episode, but I thought the show got just a BIT better I kept watching to the end.
The story isn't anything unique or anything it's pretty simple. The main character Hinako is a shy girl who came from the countryside to move to a cafe/ bookstore called Hitotse so she could attend Fujiyama High School in the city that has a club where she could practice becoming an actress in plays to help boost her confidence with being around and talking to people. When ever she speaks to people at first, she'll freeze up and turn into a scarecrow. To help her topple her fear, her friends at Hitotse decide to help Hinako run a theater trope in the cafe on the side at times.
As Hinako moves into the cafe she meets...some generic anime personalities.
Kuina: The blue haired girl who has a hefty appetite, eats quite a lot which happens to include books (yes, BOOKS), & will make you think of Konata from Lucky Star.
Mayuki, the girl with blonde hair who is supposedly Hinako's senpai being a grade above her, but has trouble with her height as she looks like a loli. She looks and acts like a cute little kid at times, but is reliable as the age she claims to be.
Chiaki who'll play the role of the landlady and the popular girl who supposedly looks hot & just so happens to be in the same age range as Hinako and the others so she can go to school with them just because.
After Hinako has time in school, she'll meet the girl who eventually tries to become her rival for a very short period of time, but ends up becoming friends with, Yua, a very generic tsundere girl who pretty much likes Chiaki and gets very shy around Chiaki.
There's also a girl who happens to run the club Hinako was trying hard to get into named Ruriko: a loli with giant oppai.
The art was good, nothing special. You'll notice how low budgeted this show really is after the first few episodes. The flashiest scene in this comes from the opening with 2 short dance like scenes, which looked like the most expensive animation used in the show. As mentioned earlier, assuming it was used to substitute for the low budget, the characters will turn into chibis for short segments of every episode. It seemed like the character templates felt a little wonky to me because they all look like they could be adults (Excluding the short girl Mayuki). The background art for each scene was pretty good though. The scenery was beautiful & one of the best things about the art in this.
The sound factor for this was ok. Their voices are high pitched as hell so the point where I couldn't feel even a bit serious while listening to them at first, but I got used to that. The opening wasn't really anything special nor memorable. It's kinda decent, but it couldn't be a more generic opening for a moe slice of life. It actually mimics the OPs from a few shows sneakily like Lucky Stay & Nichijou with the dancing bits. The ED was just a little bit better though, but still pretty bland.
With girls working in a cafe & some of their characteristics, the first thing this reminded me of was an alternative cheaper take on GochiUsa. That thought lingered with me for the rest of the show, but it slowly split itself from that route as it seperates itself from the usual moe anime by trying to act TOO kawaii, and even trying to display some sex appeal which isn't something that doesn't feel right with moe sometimes. Throughout the show, they sprinkle some ecchi on it by showing a few shots of the characters (mainly Hinako & Chiaki) with some sketchy outfits and poses & Hinako in the bath a little. When those two get in bathing suits, their oppai suddenly got much larger than they look from the outside layer of their normal clothing. Even a few of the end cards would have some unusual shot for moe anime.
It was a pretty generic show overall and I might've given it a five if not for the little extra feeling it soon gave me, as I can't say I didn't enjoy it just a little. Nearing about episode 6, it got more enjoyable to me. It MIGHT give you a reminder of shows mostly like GochiUsa, Yuru Yuri, & Hanayamata while a bit like Anne Happy & Non Non Biyori as well. If you like those shows, then there's a chance you MIGHT enjoy this show. If you're not one for slice of life or moe anime, then I can't say I'd even recommend it for you.
Gimmicks here, Gimmicks there, Gimmicks everywhere. There is no problem that Hinako Note has more of then letting the Gimmicks take too much space in the show. The gimmicks themselves aren't the worst but they get repeated so often that it clearly becomes a crutch of the show. Maya is small and childlike, Hinako is a scarecrow, Kuina eats EVERYTHING (especially books), the gimmicks can be somewhat creative, the scarecrow, but there's so forced that it's hard to see anything good in them. Especially when one's like Kuina's have been done so much before. It's telling when standard tsundere is one of the better characters
of the story, although that may be due to my own like for tsundere.
Sadly the gimmicks get in the way of character development. Rather than give them depth and shine, time is spent using this gimmicks and setting up weak comedy skits. The characters are mostly the same throughout the show, they don't change nor do they get any depth. They're shallow and the roles they're introduced as are pretty much what they are. The only exception is Mayu who does get a nice episode that focuses on her, but even then it doesn't add much to her character.
Adding to the weak gimmicks is an OST that makes me cringe. The songs are fine, but the sound effects are the most cliche and corny things they could possibly find, complete with BOING BOING and Moos when they focus on Hinako and Chiaki's large breasts. There is something about the sound choice which makes it feel that much more offputting to watch. The fanservice wasn't even the worst but the sound effects that they chose did a good job of making it seem as sleazy as they could. It was a terrible choice.
The show tends to switch off between well-designed episode ideas and bad jokes, the plot itself is decent enough to provide a sort of idea of where it's going but not good enough to be immersive itself. The acting itself was covered well enough as well as their reasons for why but the actual development of that plot feels lackluster. That may be a side effect of the adaptation blues though.
The interactions between the characters are pretty cute though, and if anything it does succeed at being a cute show. If one wants to watch something just for the cuteness this wouldn't be a bad choice, but for any other reason, it doesn't have much merit. That said I'd personally suggest skipping it, there are much better CGDCT shows that don't force their gimmicks every couple of minutes.
P.S. What were they thinking with Ruriko and her age?