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Manga / Hinako Note

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From left to right: Yua, Ruriko, Kuina, Hinako, Mayuki and Chiaki

Hinako Note is a manga by Mitsuki that has been serialised in Comic Cune since August 2014. An anime adaptation began airing in April 2017, following Hinako Sakuragi, a girl who leaves her rural home into Tokyo after being inspired by a theatre performance that inspires her to join her new high school's drama club, with the intent of overcoming her shyness and difficulty in talking with others.

Moving into Hititose Bookstore, Hinako meets a colourful group: Kuina loves eating and reading, even consuming pages from books on occasion, Mayuki, who is fond of maid attire and appears younger than she is, and the beautiful but soft-spoken Chiaki. Gradually, with encouragement from her new-found friends, Hinako slowly breaks out of her habit of freezing into a scarecrow-like stance when frightened and begins learning theatre. The anime can be watched at Crunchyroll, and additional details about the characters can be found in the character page.

Hinako Note provides examples of:

  • A-Cup Angst: Yua is self-conscious about her lack of endowment, especially feeling snubbed when Ruriko picks Hinako over her to be the lead actor of the school play because of Hinako's figure.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: When Hinako's mother arrives on a hover-board shouting out her name to watch her play, Hinako is sufficiently humiliated that she is at a loss for words and temporarily reverts
  • Big Eater: Thoughts of food never stray too far from Kuina's mind, and when presented with the opportunity, will happily partake in eating something.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • StarBox Coffee is seen in episode seven
    • Hinako uses a Banasonic video player in episode eight
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Yua spends a large portion of Valentine's Day struggling to give her chocolate to Chiaki and even asks Hinako to help her; when she has the opportunity to do so, Yua's remarks are similar to the other girls who had given her chocolate earlier, expressing admiration rather than romantic interest.
  • Cat Smile: Kuina is commonly seen with a cat-like smile, reflecting her mischievous nature.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Despite her propensity of adopting a scarecrow-like posture, Hinako is the most normal of the group when compared to Kuina, who eats books and Mayuki, who constantly wears a maid outfit.
  • Comically Missing the Point: While intending to make Hinako appear incompetent, Yua's frequently stepping in to help out Hinako leads the latter to assume that Yua is a remarkably kind individual keen on befriending her.
  • Country Mouse: Hinako grew up in the countryside and moves to Tokyo at the series' opening with the aim of joining a theatre group and becoming more outgoing.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Hinako is adorable and clumsy in equal measure.
  • Dancing Theme: The anime's opening and ending sequences feature the main cast performing a dance routine to the music.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The voice actresses for Hinako, Kuina, Mayuki, Chiaki and Yua perform both the anime's opening and ending themes.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: During Valentines' Day in the twelfth episode, there's a large number of female students wanting to give Chiaki chocolate.
  • Expy: Kuina resembles Konata Izumi with her blue hair, Playful Cat Smile, Idiot Hair, slightly teasing nature and closing her eyes about half of the time.
  • Extreme Omnivore: When sufficiently hungry, Kuina will take to eating pages out of books.
  • Eyecatch: In Japanese, "note" refers to a notebook or journal entry. In keeping with the title Hinako Note, the eye-catches take this format, depicting various thoughts and feeling the girls have about their everyday experiences with one another.
  • Fish out of Water: Hinako's origins from a rural setting means that she's unfamiliar with some aspects of modern Japan. For instance, in episode eight, she tries to place a DVD into a VCR and is bewildered when nothing works, forcing her to contact Yua for assistance.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Hinako is more comfortable around animals than people.
  • Green Rooming: Despite being the theatre club's advisor, Ruriko is absent until the fourth episode, when she returns from her studies abroad to formally manage the theatre club.
  • Imagine Spot: Hinako is susceptible to lettering her imagination run wild when misinterpreting a situation.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Hinako's Imagine Spot moments occasionally lead her to fear the worst, such as when she supposes that Mayuki concocting a poison for Chiaki, only for it to actually be chocolate for Valentine's day.
  • Meido: Mayuki is very fond of maid outfits and is almost aways seen wearing one.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Though the girls are sometimes put into this situation thanks to Mayuki wanting to dress them up constantly, Hinako and Chiaki are subjected to this the most. The camera even does several Male Gaze focuses on them when they're wearing various outfits.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: When Kuina elegantly describes the various foods she's tried at their school's culture festival, a kazoo version of Also sprach Zarathustra can be heard in the background during her monologues.
  • The Napoleon: Despite being a year older than Hinako and Yua, Mayuki has a much shorter stature that leads to the impression she is also younger. She resents being teased about her height, which precludes her from reaching items and occasionally, she is mistaken as a child. A lullaby theme usually plays when Mayuki starts getting upset about this.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Yua becomes so consumed with making sure Hinako remembers her lines during their first play, that she forgets about the prop handkerchief she was supposed to bring with her. Fortunately Mayuki improvises and brings one for her.
    • Hinako becomes separated from the group in the labyrinthine subway station en route to Suzuran; rather than staying put, she moves to another exit, hoping to find the others. When the others start looking for her and reach the exit Hinako had departed from, they cannot find her, further delaying the group's unification.
  • Older Than She Looks: Mayuki looks like an elementary school student, despite being a year old than Hinako and Kuina. One of the show's Running Gags is her frustration over other characters treating her like a child.
  • The Quiet One: Chiaki has a very gentle voice and speaks quietly.
  • Running Gag: When Hinako develops a fever during the eighth episode, Kuina and Yua try increasingly outlandish methods in an attempt to cure her, only for Chiaki to intervene and pull them away.
  • Schoolgirl Series: The series revolves around schoolgirls and their Theater club adventures.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The eyecatches make reference to other theater productions, such as West Side Story in the first episode.
    • The full version of the opening theme has a musical nod to Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Shrinking Violet: Hinako is painfully shy, to the point of freezing up as a scarecrow-like pose from anxiety attacks, and her desire to overcome this drives her to take up theatre.
  • Sick Episode: In episode eight, Hinako falls ill from overwork, and the other girls care for her. Once Hinako recovers, her friends all fall ill shortly afterwards.
  • Slice of Life: At its core, Hinako Note is simply about a shy girl trying to be more outgoing.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Hinako can generally understand what animals are thinking. This skill is particularly useful when she forgets her lines; small birds hiding in her hair help her quickly remember them.
  • Super-Deformed: In the anime, the artwork shifts to this style fairly regularly, sometimes jumping back and forth between the girls appearing normally and taking a chibi-appearance.
  • Third-Person Person: Yua occasionally refers to herself as "Yua-sama".
  • Token Mini-Moe: Ruriko, the adviser of the theater club, is only nine years old.
  • Tsundere: Yua is haughty to everyone, save her crush, Chiaki.
  • Tsurime Eyes: Chiaki's eyes are more angular than those of the other girls, but this belies her personality — she's very sweet and gentle.
  • Valentine's Day Episode: The first half of episode twelve is set on Valentines Day, as Yua struggles to come up with the courage to give chocolates to Chiaki, who receives chocolates from her numerous admirers.
  • Yonkoma: The manga is in the four-panel format.
  • Younger Than They Look: Ruriko has the appearance of a short teenager with her figure, but in actuality, she's only nine.