Confidence is an interesting thing. It’s probably why I get annoyed when I see people who have the skills lack the conviction to use them to the best of their ability (like some of the tennis players in this year’s US Open). It’s also why I get annoyed at myself when I fall into that trap, and I know that I’m falling into that trap, yet I don’t want to do anything about it. Perhaps those factors why Hitohira moved me as much as it did. Rooting for Mugi throughout the series, it left me feeling bittersweet, but hopeful, but that’s life for you. 😛
As some people have already mentioned, there are similarities between Hitohira and Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight (the latter of which I’ve kinda written a bit about. We have the group of likable people (I couldn’t dislike someone in either of these series) who, through trials and tribulations, come together in order to accomplish a number of causes. And we also get a nice dose of reality in the fact that moving on is a course of life and that things don’t always turn out right, although that’s severely cutting short the many, many things that both series had through their runs. While I prefer Manabi over Hitohira, the drama angle that the latter plays makes for a “better” ending, if you want to look at realism. Life goes on, but it won’t always be happy, and while Manabi with its feel good attitudes stays away from that angle, Hitohira tackles it full on, and I’m grateful that it took that path.
When life comes at Mugi fast many times throughout the series, I could relate to how she felt to some extent; while my life wasn’t turned upside down as hers was, the feelings of being lost, lonely and longing to remain in their comfort zone are familiar to myself, as well as others. It also helps in terms of how prominent the issue is for the last bit of the story. With Manabi, Mikan feels the same as Mugi, but it doesn’t become a very strong part of the series time-wise despite the fact that we can say that the story revolves around Mikan. We have to factor in the rest of the quintet, and while Mikan’s feelings play a big role in the series, it doesn’t have the same impact.
In Hitohira, we felt Mugi’s feelings and we felt them for the entire series, which is why I could strongly empathize and sympathize with her in her despair. And it’s also why I felt much joy at her will to finally change what she had always thought she couldn’t. It’s hard to perform as someone’s best when they limit themselves, and those limitations can change with the situation, as we found after we thought the main problem was over. And often, we can only often spend time focusing on those barriers and not realize that there’s a whole lot of things that are beyond that. It was a good thing that Mugi had a willing Nono to help her overcome those self-imposed barriers, move away from being the “Mugi that can’t do anything”, realize that life isn’t nearly as simple as expected, and be ready to tackle the great world that is ours. Lord knows I’d be angry at her (and angry at myself) if she couldn’t get over herself. :3
I really liked the interplay between Nono and Mugi-choco, with the person who has confidence and knows what she wants versus a person without either of these. How their goals interacted with each other (especially because Mugi’s seemed to be essentially at Nono’s behest initially) was an important point; both end up getting things out of the connection, and there really isn’t a way to say who benefited more in the situation. We can say that Mugi’s newly acquired and slowly growing self-confidence and self-reliance is the main point of the anime. Yet that wouldn’t be doing justice to Nono striving to meet her goal at whatever cost to her. And like Mugi, we also saw the problems and ever-present uncertainty that Nono had to deal with in making what she felt was the right decision for her, despite the strong confidence she possesses that Mugi didn’t have. The struggles that both make in order to do so are admirable to say the least, and made me root for both of them throughout Hitohira.
Hitohira is a good anime, and probably one of the more overlooked series this year. Probably a little bit because of that, at the moment, I’m still at a jumble trying to figure out how to express how I feel about the show (unlike Manabi, which freely came out), so this post may seem like a lot of words that have no real point other than just… impressions. But I think it’s a good starting point for me to think, and I have a feeling that I’ll be coming back to deal with this anime in the future. If nothing else, I can complain about the lack of “romantic” tension actually going somewhere “positive”, which I guess says a lot about me. 😛
Oh. And the student council president is awesome~