Hisone to Maso-tan is…weird. I guess I should have expected as much from a show that’s about cute girls getting vored by transforming dragons, but hey, while anime can be pretty out there, premise alone certainly isn’t enough to determine much about a show regarding quality or even themes, narrative and general character. What strikes me as particularly interesting and entertaining about Hisone to Maso-tan is just how goofy it can be while still playing it’s story for some genuine drama. For some, I imagine, there are aspects of the show’s bizarre development that might be a hindering factor, but I think there’s plenty of interesting things that make it fairly worthwhile.
The show certainly is ambitious, if anything. Not only does it establish this very unique premise, get across all the major rules and limitations of the system and give at least some modicum of the history behind it, it also develops our five Mains, well actually six with Maso-tan, and a pretty good portion of the supporting cast as well. On top of just the dynamics between the crew itself, it attempts to pull of a pretty intense and dramatic final stretch, all this with the grand total of 12 episodes. I almost enjoy the fact itself that it is trying to do so much, more than necessarily it’s skill at doing any one thing, though I was rather surprised at just how well it manages to balance all these elements, establishing a very memorable cast and developing them and their relationships accordingly, though some more than others, all alongside establishing the premise without feeling excessively expository.
The actual narrative itself felt a bit unsure of what it wanted to be, yet again, I can’t help but find that amusing in itself. While these characters fly with lives on the line, I’m struck with a sense of care for them as individuals but also can’t help but laugh at just how silly it all seems with these goofy looking characters chilling in the stomach of these goofy looking dragons. And the show itself is acutely aware of this aspect. A key example is how Hisone interpret’s Maso-tan licking her as a display of affection, and so in turn returns this licking in an extremely comical fashion. More than a one time gag, this turns into a running exchange, even at times breaking what had previously been a dramatic moment. And even in how silly and humorous it is, both conceptually and in expression, it works not only in just how amusing the whiplash of tone is, but in how it shows Hisone’s care for Maso-tan in a perfect display of her eccentric personality.
The expression of the narrative plays into to this dramatically humorous atmosphere. Not to knock the other good stuff coming out nowadays, but it definitely is a nice breath of fresh air. Aesthetically it’s a pretty far jump from your average show, with the use of inconsistent line width, very flat coloring, black dot eyes, and the charmingly doofy characters. Everyone looks kinda off, but in a good way, it feels like there’s personality and character to every frame, which is only furthered by the lively movement and eye-catching expressions that feel straight out of a Trigger show. Each character has their own way of expressing their feelings and moving through a scene, in a way that makes character dynamics and personality traits jarringly obvious without need for even a single line of dialogue. That said, the dialogue, particularly the delivery of the dialogue is surprised me by ending up being one of my favorite aspects of the show.
The vocal performances from all of the cast are unique, memorable and an absolute joy to listen to. To be honest, most of the time I can barely tell one voice from the next, with some key exceptions, and oftentimes I find the characters that climb the rankings in my favorites list are those with especially appealing vocal performances alongside just being great characters. Just like with the visuals, the voicework here doesn’t shy away from being a bit broken, and in this case in a much more literal sense. I’d love to see a compilation of all of Hisone’s adorably compelling voice cracks. This plays into the running theme. Sure the voices are caricatured and a bit silly, but that establishes them as unique individuals, maybe the vocals get pretty exaggerated, but it only sold me even more on the emotions the character felt, be it dramatic or comical. I totally buy into Hisone’s voice squeaking as she tries to give an emotional speech at the top of her voice, it’s hilarious and at the same more stirring than anything I could possibly imagine.
Hisone to Maso-tan, even with it’s more dramatic developments later on, is a positive show to the extreme, which is part of why I enjoy Hisone so much as a character. Even with her crappy personality, as she would say, she strives to do the right thing and is the type to say that if the rules don’t give us a solution where everyone wins, then let’s break the rules and write our own. I’m no prude to the nihilistic side, but I also really appreciate genuine unbridled positivity and hope when it’s done well, and I think it is done well through the lens of Hisone as our pivotal character, especially with how she is developed.
Yeah, Hisone to Maso-tan has its flaws to pick apart, and it very much so bears a lot of Mari Okada’s staples. In some ways I almost wish it pushed things farther, especially with the mostly unremarkable but most definitely uneccetric ost. Some of the themes feel like they could have used much more exploration, and honestly I just really wanted to see more of this setting and the characters than this short season allowed for, but as a whole it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, largely because of the cast and presentation behind it. To take a second and just embrace the absurdity of the fact that this show exists and that Hisone is delightful and I love her (coincidentally that is also my full review of Hinamatsuri except with Anzu). Also the ED is just perfect, I could watch it on repeat till the end of time. You can’t help but wanna dance along with cast of characters when it comes up at the end of each episode, the delightful tone and irresistible visuals, I couldn’t imagine something more fitting for the show itself.