I thoroughly enjoyed Hinamatsuri, as evidenced by my glowing review of the series this Monday. I scored it an 8.5/10 on AniList as well and several of my friends have been subjected to my rants about just how great the show was. However, one issue that has continued to irk me since watching the 12-episode comedy series is the way it started and how it ended.
Hinamatsuri kicks off on a battle between a young girl and a horde of martial artists, without any context for who these people are or how this situation came to unfold. As the unnamed girl mentions the name “Hina”, the show cuts away and reveals that this battle takes place some years into the future. It’s functional as an intro and has some funny moments, but it also feels entirely unnecessary.
The entire rest of the show unfolds afterwards without ever really hinting at this future event we have been teased with. The only character involved in it isn’t introduced until some ways into the show and only plays a minor role even then. The story about Hina, Nitta, and all of their friends doesn’t even feel tangentially related to this intro or this character; some might find that intriguing and start to wonder how it might tie together, whereas others might just mentally dismiss it after a while.
We only get back to this intro at the literal end of the show, after the actual story has already been wrapped up and we got all the emotional pay-offs out of the way. Not only is the entire intro sequence repeated, but this time we also get the full context around it and we get to see how it concludes. Without spoilers: it’s just a sequelhook that hints at a new storyline.
That’s pretty lame.
Not only does this tacked-on series of events take away from the emotional high of the story’s actual conclusion, the fact that it’s just a sequelhook leaves it without any pay off for its own. All that waiting to see what the opening battle may have been about, just to get a teaser for a hypothetical season 2. I’ve heard some argue that it’s a joke at the expense of the viewer, but I don’t really buy that.
I take endings in anime very seriously, which is also why I previously argued against epilogue episodes. The ending is the final note; the last impression that an anime is going to leave on you, and probably one of the strongest memories you’ll associate with it when looking back on the anime. When I think back to Elfen Lied, the first memories that come to mind are the escape from the laboratory that acts as the anime’s opening moments, followed by its puzzling open-ended conclusion. Both these respective moments for Hinamatsuri go towards the sequelhook, which has nothing to do with the actual story or characters that feature in the vast majority of the anime.
And the sad reality is that a lot of series just don’t get sequels; even if there’s room for them or even if there’s more source material to adapt. We never got that Soul Eater: Brotherhood, nor did we get extra seasons of No Game No Life, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, or Panty & Stocking, in spite of years of fans clamoring for a continuation of these franchise. Spice & Wolf was a hit anime based on one of the most popular light novel series to date, and it still took 13 years before they finally announced a season 3.
I am not going tell you to abandon hope for a continuation, but the odds aren’t looking good. 4 years is a long time to wait, especially as news and discourse about the series slowly dries out. And as seasons go by without any hint of Hinamatsuri season 2, the knowledge that an entire episode worth of runtime went towards teasing it becomes a painful memory.