The first anime in this feature is a sports anime, and its strength is clearly in character development. The next series that will be introduced has nothing to do with sports, but its strength is also in character development. It is perhaps one of the few anime that will be hard pressed to get a license due to the lack of fanservice in the story. It is also a little non-mainstream in nature, as the plot driven school life story is not something that will appeal to the masses.
Nevertheless, it is a small piece of art that will touch you enough and I hope you will slowly fall in love with the series like I did. Let me introduce to you the drama orientated series, Hitohira.
Asa Mugi is an extremely shy girl that starts to stammer whenever she is nervous. She does not like to be in public and often hides around. However, during the opening ceremony, she suddenly screams out with a sparkling, refreshing voice when she realizes that she is in the same class as her best friend. The scream captures the attention of the drama research club. With some stumbles and jumbles, she is inducted inside this club and begins her journey to open her spring, the Hitohira inside this drama research club.
Why you should watch this
I will not deny that there are a few flaws in this series. For one, the graphics ain’t that great at all and it might be more old school (not that bad) compared to some of the nice moe character designs such as Clannad, Negima and Kanon. There is also some standard themes that have been used in this anime. The initial drama in the first few episodes also seemed a bit fake and forced, and it can be a bit stale at times. However, do not let that detract you from viewing this anime because the positives out of this series is much more. It is an anime that has the important factor to attract me: the breaking of boundaries.
One thing that is similar to Oofuri is the fact that the amount of character development, and the fleshing out of the character in a short 12 episode series is close to excellent. You know that a story definitely works when it is able to draw you to empathize with the character. From a timid shy girl, Mugi finally grew to be a beautiful and confident woman (well, not really confident but not that shy anyway). Nevertheless, it is really amazing to see a natural progression of the character blooming, rather than viola, she turns all great. She stumbles, and is entrapped in realistic situations. She runs away from problems, eventually meeting them
A plus point that Hitohira did well is that it does not succumb to the common stereotypes of school life anime. They do not have stereotypes, they do not deliberately impose a harem. Without fully spoiling you to the end, they do not have a true fairy tale end like most school life series. The way that you expect them to end will definitely not surface in this series, as it does not allow all the misgiving of common school life genre anime to hurt it at all.
If there is one thing that deserves your viewing after a slow start, it is the arc of Nono that will definitely draw you. From Episode 5 onwards, get ready for a hell of a ride as the strength of the series really shines. It will really touch you at the end of episode 9, and I remember how much I cried when the end happens. The end of the arc is something you have to really view by yourself in order to understand its impact.
If you are willing to give a different twist to the school life instead of all the moe blobs, watch this at all costs. It’s worth your 6 hours of time for sure.