Sleeping with Hinako
After all that time spent exercising in Training with Hinako, it's time for a coed sleepover. Watch as this cute, barely-dressed high school girl flirts with you, nods off to bed, talks in her sleep, drowsily confesses her love for you, then sleeps some more.
I don't know what's more creepy: the fact that this was made in the first place, or the fact that there is a large enough fanbase of desperate, dateless Japanese otaku that this is part of a series. Well, I'm not reviewing this for those people - I'm reviewing this for THEM, so this won't be the nicest review I've ever written (though it may be among the shortest).
Virtually the entire content of Sleeping with Hinako is right there on the tin: she's actually sleeping for a fair amount of the forty minute runtime. She is, however, a sort of loud sleeper, as she mumbles and even sings in her sleep, so it's actually sort of hard to, you know, sleep while watching this. The actual intent of this OAV is made apparent from the frequent closeups and pans of Hinako's panties and cleavage (who is apparently sixteen by the way which may be legal in Japan but toes serious legal lines here in the States) - that, my friends, is what separates what could have been relatively harmless, innocent fun to ... well ... what this thing really is.
Weirdly enough, Hinako may be very much a true-life Video Girl Ai - an idealized super-cute girl who plays video games, likes holding hands, and is generally super adorable. I don't have a problem with the character per se: Mai Kadowaki (Ilyasviel von Einzbern from the Fate universe; Rorona from the Atelier games) is very good at voicing "cute". At least in Training with Hinako, she's getting the audience to at least minimally exercise, but here, it feels like the creators seem to actually be rewarding its audience for being creepy mouthbreathers, and, well, I have a pretty hard time excusing that. I mean, why pursue a real girlfriend if you can have Hinako sit there in her jammies telling you how much she likes you? Oh yeah, maybe 'cause this is a freaking cartoon and we're not sitting in some Japanese echo of Cool World.
So much for this being a short review, but the more I think about it, the more I feel compelled to discuss what is wrong with this show.
There is certainly an audience that would get something out of this, but I like to think our readership is largely beyond this sort of nonsense. Any claims of this being harmless fun are quickly dashed by a very naughty "cameraman" -- I can't imagine any real-life girl actually being okay with having a camera pointed at her panties while she's trying to sleep, after all, and it really destroys the illusion of intimacy that could have made this remotely bearable. (Yeah, I practice "male gaze" as much as the next guy, but I'm not stupid or tactless enough to telegraph it to the entire world. Or even my wife!) Even the very premise is beyond contrived, because I can't even begin to think about the kind of girl who would be perfectly okay with having this OAV's intended audience for a "sleepover", largely because I have a good idea what else these guys have been fantasizing about, and we're all pretty sure it ain't just "sleeping".
What is truly hilarious about this anime is that they actually bothered to credit a "scriptwriter" - Muneshige Nakagawa apparently planned, wrote, and funded the entire Hinako project. An interview mentions he wanted to do something "no one would be stupid enough to do" and he has very clearly succeeded. I just can't believe I was stupid enough to watch this. Training, at least, I kind of understand: not everyone wants their butts kicked by Jillian Michaels. But sleeping?!? GOOD LORD, Japan!
While it's not the most offensive title I've seen, or the worst drawn, or even the worst written, Sleeping with Hinako commits the cardinal sin of being perhaps the most utterly pointless endeavor in Japanese animation I've seen to date, and moreover, is highly detrimental to the very market to which it panders because it essentially rewards creepy otaku by letting them leer for forty minutes at some caricatured version of a Japanese high-school girl, instead of giving actual, useful pointers on how to replace their body pillows with actual, real-life girlfriends.
Or, for that matter, actual, useful pointers on how to get good, restful sleep.
And now, some comments from the THEM peanut gallery:
"I'm sorry to hear that another human had to sit through that steaming pile of absolute nothingness." - Nash from Alabama
"This whole series is really weird - but the sleeping one is the worst." - Diana from Arizona
"I barely got through 15 minutes or so of Sleeping with Hinako when I watched it a long while back. You deserve some sort of medal for sitting through all 40." - Tim
"I agree with all of the above." - Stig
And there you have it.
I contemplated giving this an extra star out of pity because Mai Kadowaki really is quite cute as Hinako, but honestly, if you're this desperate for company, then you need to spend less time pursuing imaginary cartoon girlfriends and more time on Training so you don't have to rely on crutches like this. — Carlos/Giancarla Ross
Recommended Audience: No nudity, and the worst violence is a scene where Hinako accidentally falls off the bed, but the barrage of essentially constant fan service by way of naughty camera angles makes this utterly unsuitable for children.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital source, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Sleeping with Hinako © 2010 Primastea
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