“It might have looked that way to you, but I’m just normal ”
~ Setagawa, ep 4.
And that’s practically ever BL protagonist ever, isn’t it?
Anyway, if you aren’t interested in reading my entire review (because who enjoys reading long reviews, huh?), here’s a TL;DR version of it:
If you’re a fujoshi or someone who's tired of the same tropes being used in BL (abusive seme, weak MC, cliché romance), then Hitorijime is something you’ll enjoy. But if you’re looking for something new, refreshing or path breaking in the BL genre, look somewhere else.
This review will contain my opinions on what I liked and disliked about
the anime. If you’re interested, read on! Man, I remember when news of a new Shounen Ai anime was released. EVERY fujoshi account in existence went crazy over this development, and the Mystic Messenger fandom couldn’t get enough of the fact that one of the MCs totally looked like Jumin Han (which he really did from certain angles, honestly). My Insta and FB newsfeeds were littered with scenes and GIFs from episodes as and when they were released. But me being the kinda person who waits for an anime to finish airing so that she can binge watch it in a day, patiently waited for three entire months for Hirotijime to, you know, finish airing.
Now, since it’s Shounen Ai, the entire anime’s focus is on the increased closeness between our two MCs - Setagawa (the blond aka MC1) and Kousuke (the Jumin Han lookalike, aka MC2), as well as the doubts and trauma they both go through. The anime’s first three episodes, for some reason, were dedicated solely to the love story between MC1’s bestie (Kensuke) and his long lost friend Asaya (whose character design looks suspiciously similar to that of Sunagawa’s from Ore Mongatari). The dialogues were lackluster, the story had tropey elements and had certain aspects that I sincerely hoped the BL genre would have got rid of by now. The biggest sinners, ofc, are tropes where the seme kisses the uke WITHOUT HIS CONSENT and that’s portrayed as totally okay bc the seme is in love with the uke. Uh, no. Consent exists for a reason. But I digress. I did not like how this secondary romantic relationship developed – the seme gave the uke an ultimatum – bed me, or leave me. What the fuck?? That’s not what you say to someone who genuinely thinks of you as a good friend. And magically, this ultimatum made the uke realize his actual feelings for the seme and tadaaaaaaa!! They’re lovers. Again - what the fuck??
The dialogues in the first few episodes were lackluster and the character responses were 1 second too late. So that was annoying.
However, things did improve for the better when the relationship between MC 1 and 2 was explored. But there were several things that were not explained. Like, at all. First, how does a ruffian like MC2 become a respectable teacher in a boys’ school?? How and when did he get such an education? What forced him to make the change? How was his violent past (and I’m assuming, his criminal records) NOT an issue with the principal when hiring this dude as a temp??? Second, when and why does MC1 colour his hair blond?? The change in colour isn’t even used as a plot device, so why bother changing his hair colour at all? If you really wanted him to be blond this badly, then why not make him a blond child, instead of a child with ginger coloured hair?? These two things confused me till the very end if anybody reading this review has an answer, do let me know. Third, and most importantly, how could MC2 be so chill about kissing MC1 so openly in the school hallways? I mean, I get that you don’t care about what people think and all, but DUDE. You could literally be jailed for getting physical with a MINOR. Fourth, why did MC1 have to be a minor? The setting could have easily taken place in a college instead of a school and literally everything would have remained the same, except for the fact that this anime wouldn’t have been normalizing paedophilia. Ugh.
So, anyway. Some of the dialogues were very well written, especially in the second half. My fav was when the dude who was ‘grossed out’ by MC1’s relationship (and was eventually shunned by his friend circle) said,“Nobody’s on my side. The one who speaks out is automatically the villain”. Not because it’s very deep, philosophical or ground breaking, but simply because of how REAL it was. I also enjoyed the little character details which made the show a little more memorable for me. For example, MC1 is a nice boy, yet he has ear piercings and wears rings on his knuckles (which nice guys absolutely never do in anime). His mother’s a prostitute, and it’s a miracle the boy turned out to be as normal as he is. Perhaps that’s also why he was totally chill when his bestie started dating a guy – you’re not exactly in any position to judge anybody when you yourself come from a pretty questionable place, you know. MC2 is a chain smoker (I didn’t like that, but it’s a unique quality nonetheless) and has big eyes, while it’s the uke who has smaller eyes. Generally, it’s the other way around, so this one thing that definitely stood out for me. However, MC1’s eyes were so beady (they reminded me of the eyes of the MC from Yahare Ore whatever the fuck its name is) that they actually made me not like him as much as I’d hoped. Why go for such an eye design? And he was the only one with such small eyes. Another breaking of clichés that I enjoyed was the seme encouraging the uke to take an initiative to kiss him. We don’t generally get to see that in BL bc it’s almost always the seme who’s the more dominant one (and by extension, the one more in control) in the relationship.
It was cute to see how one of MC1’s friend reacted (and handled) to his relationship with MC2. The friend then went on to join a different group of guys, and the way the group leader spoke to him made for an unnecessary (and yet more likeable) aspect of the details of the anime that I enjoyed about it.
Episode 11 was definitely the highlight of the series. It had raw dialogues, show cased the internal/emotional struggles between both our MCs when MC1 decided to call of the relationship, and both the boys reacted exactly like normal people would in such a situation. I believe that episode was handled quite well. The engagement at the end of Episode 12 was totally ripped off Yuri on Ice, but I liked how it was handled.
***End of Spoilers***
Art: 6 (basic)
Story: 6 (predictable)
Sound: 6 (Catchy OP)
So, why an overall score of 7? Because of late, this has been the only anime that I binge watched in two days. It was nothing path breaking, but it was definitely worth a onetime watch.