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Hinako Blu-ray Anime Review

7 min read

Hinako Blu-ray CoverYou’ll find comfort in this.

What They Say:
Hinako used to be a normal human. Then she was magically changed into an anime character! Now, she mostly does things like play the heroine’s best friend, but, in between anime, she’s got a lot of time on her hands. One of the strange things about Hinako is that, unlike most anime characters, she’s completely aware that she’s being watched! That doesn’t bother her, though. She likes the fact that the viewers are out there, and she considers them her friends. If she’s doing something and thinks of something to say, she’ll just say it to the people she can’t see. Or CAN she see them? The fourth wall is shattered as the most self-aware anime character ever invites you to peek behind the screen and experience the intimate interactive life of Training, Bathing, and even Sleeping with HINAKO!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this show is done up in its original Japanese language only using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is pretty standard dialogue stuff with some nice incidental sound effects and minor music moments that gives it a bit more life but mostly it’s just Hinako talking to us. There’s not a lot going on here that really taxes the audio mix but it has some nice placement moments from time to time and it handles the varying levels of dialogue well in a way that helps to keep you immersed in it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and you’ll hear every little groan and strain through the workout or the sighing in the middle of the night.

Video:
Originally released in 2009, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The episodes are kept to a single DVD and Blu-ray disc with plenty of space to move around with as it’s just over a hundred minutes between the three episodes. Animated by Studio Hibari, the visual design for this is fantastic and should just be a lesson for animators to watch in how to do movement in a lot of ways. The settings have a good bit of detail to them and the character design does as well, though the focus on quality of outfits and the fanservice is what takes most of the attention. The big sell here is that these things are all done with some great color design and fluidity overall so that it feels rich and engaging, far higher quality than you’d expect and that keeps you watching more than anything else. Maybe.

Packaging:
The packaging design for this release comes in a standard sized blu-ray case where the two discs are held against the interior walls. The front cover artwork gives us a cute shot of Hinako doing a situp in her standard outfit within a heart while we otherwise get a simple pink background. I kind of wish they went for the Japanese key visual for it with her leaning over to just let it all hang out as I imagine that might have sold more whereas this one might fool some people that don’t know what it really is. The back cover carries over the pink with a light touch of orange along the way and it has a pretty detailed summary of the premise that feels like it’s far more detailed than it should be for such a simple show. The shots from the show definitely play up the sexuality and we get a good breakdown of production credits and the technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu for this sets the tone perfectly as we get an above shot of Hinako laying down on her bed so we can see her ample cleavage spilling out and a good hint of her posterior through the comfy pajamas she’s wearing. It’s cute and fanservice oriented in all the right ways with some good colors that sets the mood perfectly. The navigation along the bottom uses the pinks and oranges to break out the episodes, complete with the second one having the “bonus feature” of scene select for it. The layout is easy to navigate and with so little here it’s functional and problem free as both the main menu and the top level menu.

Extras:
Zip.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After watching the recent series Anime de Training, a show like Hinako doesn’t surprise me too much, though it predates that other show by several years. Known as Isshoni Training, the three OVAs focus on a young woman named Hinako who at age sixteen has found herself in a precarious position as she’s been sucked into the anime world from the real world. The live-action sequence actually opens up the show as she’s enjoying snacks and being a layabout before she gets sucked into this world. So when we suddenly turn on the TV and she’s there she’s kind of shocked by us but glad to have the company. It’s amusing as we get the tidbits at the beginning about how being in here has changed her shape a bit and she’s shy about being seen in full – mostly when naked – but the show moves quickly to its real intent.

And that’s to get you, the viewer, moving. The first OVA is the roughest of them all in a way because it’s really just a set series of different exercises that she takes us through while wearing her tank top and short short jeans. The repetition is a bit mind numbing as it gets into it but you can definitely appreciate the quality of the animation and the intent because it’s taking the viewers health into mind. Hinako’s bright and bouncy personality and assets does help to keep you watching and if you’re doing the exercises along with her even more so. It may be repetitive but it’s the best kind of repetitive animation you can have outside of something 18+. The little personality tidbits we get along the way as well are nice as it shows there’s a bit more to work with here.

What got me in a way was the second episode, sleeping with Hinako, as it has her heading to bed. This one runs about forty-five minutes and essentially has us watching her toss and turn, cuddle her pillow, roll about, and more as she sleeps. There’s setup and winding down aspects to it and they throw a few dreams into the middle of it for some variety but I can totally understand why this would kind of unnerve people. Some folks like to go to sleep with nothing, some with music, others with TV in order to drift off. When I ended up single again I went from the comfort of cuddling to drift off to having to have on some background noise like a movie to help with the insomnia. So I can imagine for a number of anime fans that something like this might be an ideal way to help them drift off smoothly and with a smile on their face.

The final episode is bathtime with Hinako where a friend of hers is involved and they bathe together. It makes sure that Hinako is very, very, clean and the fanservice is dialed up to about twelve here. This one runs about half an hour or so and it touches on a few areas but the whole bathing together while soapy thing is all you really need to know combined with some of the repetitive elements that populates this property.

In Summary:
With the early experience back in the 90’s with video girls through Video Girl Ai and having seen similar projects to this one over the years, Hinako is a comfort character in all the ways that you see coming in science fiction shows about how people will interact with technology to find some ease to various issues facing them. I can understand the value in a show like this for people that need it and find comfort in it, and also why a lot of people are likely to mock it since they don’t have that need. What helps is that the release is just strong in terms of visual quality and that alone almost makes me want to recommend it as a title worth checking out. I feel weird about this one while knowing it’s a niche within a niche and that it’s very easy to just rake it over the coals and that in some ways it probably warrants it.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Scene Select

Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A

Released By: Maiden Japan
Release Date: October 3rd, 2017
MSRP: $29.98
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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