Series Review

Anime Hajime Review: Hisone and Masotan

Original Run: April 13, 2018 - June 29, 2018
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Military

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Hisone and Masotan. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Hisone Amakasu (voiced by Misaki Kuno) has always had trouble interacting with people. To distance herself from others, Hisone decided to join the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).

This decision would change Hisone’s life in a way she never expected.

Hisone was chosen as a possible recruit for the JASDF’s most top-secret unit: the D-Pilots.

D-Pilots do not fly airplanes. Instead, they are partnered with an Organic Transformed Flyer; better known as a dragon.

However, not everyone can become a D-Pilot. Only a dragon can choose their rider.

To everyone’s shock, not only was Hisone chosen, the dragon who picked her (voiced by Matsunojo Kanda) had not had a rider for years.

Although this pairing was unexpected, Hisone grows to love her new partner, who she names Masotan. Together, these two become a sight never before seen in the skies above.

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Series Positives

Please do not make the mistake I would have made had I not committed myself to reviewing all anime – regardless of perceived target audiences.

Don’t instantly disregard Hisone and Masotan if you think it has the look of a children’s series. You shouldn’t let the giant derpy blue dragon fool you.

This was the second dragon-centered anime I’ve seen from 2018 (the previous being Dances with the Dragons), and this one was so much better.

Hisone and Masotan was great.

There was a charm to this series that is hard to explain. Nevertheless, I am going to try and do precisely that.

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The Animation

This show was extremely visual in its execution. Hisone and Masotan used its art style to convey all that it wanted to say. The characters were expressive, and without a single word, you always knew what a person — or dragon — was thinking.

This series’ art was what initially got me assuming this would be a not-to-be-taken-seriously kids anime. However, when I saw it fully animated and within the context of the story, I was blown away.

Hisone and Masotan was easily one of the best-looking shows I have seen out of 2018.

This series captured a hand-drawn look that was both refreshing and beautiful. It was a terrific reprieve from the ever-growing amount of modern anime that try to throw in cheap-looking CGI.

Granted, I only said this series captured a hand-drawn feel. There were a few moments where a computer probably lent a hand. But even these instances were stunning. CGI does have a place in anime.

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To be a little cynical for a second, many shots throughout Hisone and Masotan were “unfair.”

It takes a horrific talent to have a shot of the Sun over the horizon thousands of feet in the air look like garbage. As such, what real meaning is there when I say these moments were breathtaking?

It’s not animation that makes an anime good. A show can look amazing, but still be crap. Conversely, a show can look like crap and still be amazing.

Hisone and Masotan was one of those special series that was great both visually and substantially, and that is the distinction I am trying to make.

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Whenever this show had one of its “unfair” shots, it evoked a sense of tranquility and trust.

The first time Hisone went flying with Masotan, she was still scared of him; unsure of what to make of her new situation. All those hesitations faded away when she gazed upon the vast landscape from her cockpit. In that instant, a bond between dragon and rider was formed.

This show did this without ever uttering a syllable of exposition.

That is the art of visual storytelling, and that was why Hisone and Masotan was so powerful.

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The Story

I won’t deny, Hisone and Masotan’s silliness was a plus. This series was a lot of fun. However, that was not what drew me to this story.

This show explored its characters and grew the relationships between the D-Pilots and their dragons. That is what made this series good.

This was not an action based anime. There were no sky battles. There was never any fighting with arms. Ignoring the existence of dragons, this was a very human show.

Even when coated with its stylish — a.k.a., cutesy — paint job, Hisone and Masotan dealt with many mature themes. Among these were ostracization, finding acceptance, gender relations, and the struggle between duty and personal want.

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This show never diluted these topics, but it never went ham with them either. This series found a nice balance that will work for younger and older audiences alike. Any story that can bridge that gap deserves a lot of respect.

I won’t go into specific details. I would rather you experience this series for yourself.

That said, the episodes that took place during the D-Pilots’ survival training were exceedingly well-done. The scene where Hisone was sitting around the campfire with her comrades Liliko Kinutsugai and Mayumi Hitomi (voiced by Satomi Ara and Kaori Nazuka) was my favorite of the entire show.

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Hisone

I think all the characters of Hisone and Masotan were fantastic. The D-Pilots, the flight crew, the officers, and the dragons were well-defined and three dimensional. I could go into why I liked each one of them.

I’m not going to do that because I will have no energy left after I explain why Hisone is one of the best characters to come out of 2018.

Hisone wasn’t combative, aggressive, or intimidating. Just looking at her, one might think she was a complete pushover. In a way she kind of was, but there were times when she pushed back.

Hisone had a poor filter when she spoke. If she didn’t keep herself in check, she tended to say whatever was on her mind, and she was often quite critical about everything. As you might expect, this got her into trouble.

Nevertheless, whenever Hisone went into one of her rants, she picked apart the nonsense of any given situation. This included deconstructing certain story tropes.

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There was a point when Hisone spoke up about her reservations about being a D-Pilot. Her superiors were annoyed with her because she had waited so long to say something.

Upon hearing that, Hisone went into a wonderfully satisfying tirade about how she was never given a chance to object and that no one had considered how someone should handle finding out that dragons were real.

Hisone went into a lot more detail and laid into a lot more people, but I can’t do her justice.

Hisone was someone you wanted to cheer on. She had a stubbornness that was enough to push her forward against the odds, as well as a goofiness that allowed her to remain grounded and likable.

Also, I want to make it a point to say that Ms. Misaki Kuno gave an incredible performance as Hisone.

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Series Negatives

Organic Transformed Flyer sounds dumb. They were dragons. Just call them dragons. Who was this series trying to fool? Everyone could see that they were dragons. Was there some legal reason this show couldn’t say dragon? I doubt there was. So, why not call them dragons?

DRAGONS!

This was weird and unnecessary, and I had to get it out of my system. I won’t bring it up again.

Hisone and Masotan had a solid story that stayed on its chosen path. It often didn’t venture down some needless tangent. The only issue I can think of had to do with the entire ending.

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The conclusion to this series wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t complete either. Many facets surrounded the main narrative that weren’t as fleshed out as the rest of the show had been.

For instance, Hisone and Masotan wanted to have a love plotline. This wasn’t a bad idea, and from the beginning, it was apparent this story was probably going to go down this route.

Too bad this series never went beyond the obviousness.

The love plotline began without warning. There wasn’t much build up to it, and when it came, it was accompanied by a ton of other narrative seeds which were ultimately anticlimactic as well.

Plus, this love story involved the most uninteresting character of the entire series.

This was sloppy, and that by itself was bad enough. What made things worse was that this love element became one of the critical elements of the finale.

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Another issue with this show’s ending involved the motivations of the characters. I’m not saying they were good or bad, or that I agreed or disagreed with them. Instead, I’m saying I wasn’t sure what anyone’s motivations were.

On multiple occasions during the final few episodes, several characters “powerfully” expressed their viewpoint on the events that were happening around them. They recalled their painful experiences and frustrations that led them to think the way they did.

These were dramatic, we-want-you-to-feel-something-here scenes. There was a lot of shouting and heart pouring. Everyone had a point to make.

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For the life of me, though, I’m unable to tell you what any of those points were.

Again, this wasn’t an issue of people being right or wrong. It was more people saying things without really saying anything. There was a lot of noise, but no meaning.

Fortunately, the primary goal of Hisone and Masotan’s climax was simple. The D-Pilots had to do A to prevent B from happening.

Thanks to this, this show successfully crossed the finish line — a bit battered, but whole nonetheless.

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Final Thoughts

There was enough strength to this series that allowed it to absorb the impact whenever it had the occasional stumble.

The animation was lovely. The story was thoughtful. All the characters were fantastic, particularly the protagonist.

Not bad for a show I thought was going to be a painfully cheesy kids anime.

Hisone and Masotan is one I absolutely recommend.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Hisone and Masotan? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

And if you liked what you read, be sure to follow me on my social media sites so that you never miss a post or update. Also, please share this review across the internet to help add to the discussion.

I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

Post Editor: Onions

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