This anime is kind of a mess. A beautiful mess, which looks almost coherent gazing upon it for the first few minutes. Inevitably, however, someone comes in to clean it up, causing the room to look spick and span, without an ounce of personality. That’s kind of how the story goes.
Hisone to Maso-tan starts out pretty well. The introductory elements are provided with a gleeful gusto that immediately garners attention to its already wacky premise. With the addition of new characters comes further progress into a zany and fun slice-of-life-type experience following eccentric personalities and dragons. It looks, sounds, and feels great, with only the cracks of mediocrity creeping in through short individual scenes in each episode that hint at something grandiose. God, do I wish it kept away from the grandiose.
If this series had ended any worse, I’d probably consider putting it on a redux edition of my Top 10 Anime That Crashed and Burned list. Without providing any major spoilers (meaning general spoilers are to follow), this series ends in a very standard, tried-and-true, formulaic fashion. I’ve elaborated on this point a few times in the past on this blog, but a lot of anime series have a tendency to begin light-hearted and cheery, only to end on a dark and serious note—almost inexplicably. I don’t really understand why this is so prevalent; my only guess is that it’s safe and keeps people’s attention through to the end. For me, this wouldn’t necessarily be a problem if it wasn’t executed in the most dull and overdone fashion possible.
This decision to stick with the grandiose is an absolute shame, too, as the first-half of this series is such a delight to watch. A little too transparent with its intentions and features some clichés within its character interactions, yet the cast is excessively charming and refreshingly eccentric. The use of the dragons as a device for self-improvement is also a neat scenario… if only they didn’t ruin it. I didn’t hate a single character in this show, with all of them having some merit as a character within the story and only becoming detestable because of the overindulgent writing. Really, I believe this show would be a lot more impressive if it just stuck to what it did within the first six episodes.
And I adore the design of Hisone to Maso-tan! Many folks wish to have the big, the bold, and the detailed in every facet of anime. Violet Evergarden is a great-looking anime that pulls this off to great heights. For me, Hisone to Maso-tan is almost like the Wind Waker to Twilight Princess‘s industry standard design. Its simplicity has great merit, and allows for more expressiveness and comedic interpretation to brighten up the mood. This anime actually had me chuckling on more than a few occasions from character interactions alone, both by animated expression and personality. And I don’t find anime funny!
One thing that’s prevalent throughout the first-half that I’m not totally fond of is the amount of meaningless sexual fan service done in the form of blatant sexual harassment that goes relatively unpunished. This series takes some liberties in camera angles and settings (showers) to get this across, which irritates me. However, this also makes for an interesting tidbit that’s likely nothing, but I’ll bring it up, regardless.
In certain spots of the show, the all-female cast of “D-Pilots” are surrounded by an all-male group of higher-class(?) pilots who occasionally chastise the girls for incompetency and, in the words of one superior officer, being “troublemakers” (which has become an iffy term in recent years). A character named Eru, who becomes a major character a few episodes in, gets angry with another character and chides her by saying, “Do you know how hard it is to become a pilot as a woman?” (Paraphrasing.) This turned my progressive brain on, which started looking for clues as to how this series could symbolize some sort of feminist message about treating women better in the workplace, especially within fields typically presumed to be too masculine. My search came up fairly fruitless, as everything afterwards cares more about THE POWER OF EMOTIONS!!! over everything else. Still, it’s interesting to think it may be in there somewhere.
The previous point, unfortunately, is just one example of how messy this anime’s story really is, as implied in the opening paragraph. There are so many things that could be in play theme/moral-wise, but nothing is ever completely developed in favor of an ultimate final act that traces the dotted line carved by those before. At first I thought the show would just be silly, then I thought the show was satirical, then I thought it was feminist, then I thought it was empathetic, then I thought it was promoting self-encouragement, then I thought it was trying to be Neon Genesis Evangelion, then I thought it was just boring. It’s all over the place, especially near the middle and end portions of the anime’s run—the plot holes that arise within the narrative because of this make the ending all the more nonsensical and anticlimactic. At the very least, the mess was interesting while it lasted.
I cannot stress enough just how fun this series is for a good portion of its run. The characters are all so likable and fun that I’m shocked I never continued this after picking it up last June. Their interactions evoke the wondrous aroma of friendship and camaraderie that make me want to go around and hug everyone. Such an enjoyable and off-the-grid series when it wasn’t trying to be a Greek tragedy. The art style and animation is commendable—even the soundtrack isn’t bad—and there’s a sense of realism to these weirdo characters that allows me to empathize with their situations almost naturally. Perhaps I’ll write up a Top 10 list of most disappointing second-halves of anime series one day. This may be in the top-five.
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.
If you’d like to see more reviews like this, feel free to look at my full list of anime reviews!