Hinamatsuri’s Imperfect Adoption

I love shows about adoption. I’ve already written several blog posts about the subject in anime, and even in recent years, shows on the subject have continued to be some of my favorites. So naturally, when last season provided a show about a yakuza guy who ends up adopting a girl with psychic powers from the future, I thought, “you know, I think I’ll like this.” And I was right! Hinamatsuri turned out to be my favorite show of the Spring 2018 season, thanks to how well it balanced human emotion with seriously gut-busting humor. The show splits its attention across multiple characters’ stories, and all of them are great in their own way, but this post will focus on Hina’s story and her life with her unwitting adopter and yakuza member Yoshifumi Nitta.

Warning: Spoilers for Hinamatsuri ahead.

What makes Hinamatsuri different from other shows about adoption is that in most shows, the adopter is usually at least reasonably committed to his caretaking duties, and the adoptee is also usually relatively well-behaved. Hinamatsuri, though, gives us a far more troublesome cast for this unusual family comedy. At least in Hina’s case, she just never had a proper upbringing to begin with; she was raised as a human weapon with telekinetic powers and was only ever told to obey orders. Ending up in an unfamiliar world with no superior to report to, she acts entirely on impulse and self-interest. She gets Yoshifumi to take care of her by threatening to telekinetically destroy his valuables, and even as she starts wanting to show gratitude to Yoshifumi, her lack of common knowledge leads to her making a mess of things.

Yoshifumi, though, is definitely not an exemplary adoptive parent. He largely considers Hina a nuisance, and when she messes up her apartment trying to clean, he kicks her out of the house, and is surprised when others call him out for trying to abandon his “daughter”. He does start to get better and actually try to care for Hina, but then when he thinks she’s left for the future, he throws himself a “Hina is gone” party… which makes things awkward when she returns. It’s hard to really blame him, though; he’s a yakuza member for whom parenthood was probably the furthest thing from his mind. He reacts to impromptu parenting how one might expect your average, sinful person to it: treating it like it’s a bother. That he manages to still provide Hina with a relatively happy family life just shows how powerful the bond of family can be.

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Hina’s deadpan response of “Not cool” is spot on.

One particularly notable moment comes in the latter part of episode 11. Here, Hina is off on a school trip in the snowy mountains. Instead, Hina’s fellow psychic Anzu stays over at Yoshifumi’s place in order to let her adoptive parents have a hot springs trip to themselves. Anzu used to be every bit as troublesome as Hina, but having been forced to live as a homeless person when her means of going back to the future is lost. She eventually gets adopted by a kindhearted older couple who run a restaurant, where she works as a server. Between her homeless experience and the guidance of her adoptive parents, she has developed great character, which surprises, pleases, and also annoys Yoshifumi as she’s such a more helpful daughter that he wishes he had her instead of Hina. He starts to enjoy it while he lasts, but as she leaves, he realizes that the reality of the problem child he has adopted is coming back to his house…

…and then, he gets a call from Hina’s teacher saying that Hina got lost in the mountains.

Thankfully, Hina and the other students lost with her were rescued safely, and Yoshifumi tells Hina that he’s glad that she’s okay. Because however much he might find Hina to be a bother, in the end, Yoshifumi still considers her family.

The fact of the matter is, as much as we might want our children (either present or future) to be well-behaved like Anzu, the fact of the matter is, children will be more like Hina: not necessarily “bad”, but lacking the guidance to make good moral decisions and generally likely to cause a mess even when they act with good intentions. Even if one were to raise a child well, that child will still misbehave and cause problems, ranging anywhere from “overall good kid but with occasional slip-ups” to “how did my child grow up to become a criminal?” The thing is, we cannot just exchange a problem kid for a better one. A parent who says, “I wish I had [some other person’s kid] instead” will get disapproving looks. Parents are expected, both culturally and legally to care for their children, no matter how problematic they can be, until they become full-fledged adults.

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Though at least we probably don’t have to worry about psychic powers.

After all, when we step back and look at the greater, spiritual picture of adoption, and how God adopted Christians into His family, it becomes clear that, as “children”, we are even worse than Hina. At least Hina has the excuse of simply not knowing better; we, being the sinners we are, know that sin is wrong and we still do it. That God still loves us and cares for us as His children just goes to show how great His love and grace is.

The beauty of human adoption is that we can show some of God’s incredible love by choosing to take care of someone we have no blood connection to, regardless of how many problems they might cause us. The catch is, just as we make for problematic adoptees in God’s family, so we also make for imperfect parents, adoptive or not. When I think of what I would do if I suddenly had to take care of a child, I would have to admit I would probably be more like Yoshifumi than I would like to be. I probably wouldn’t throw a party when the child left, but the stress from my lack of experience and trying to adjust from a lifestyle that does not accommodate child-rearing well would probably bring out some of that all-too-natural selfishness. I could probably manage with a lot of help from God and others, which just emphasizes just how great God is, and that’s the way it should be. Still, it is definitely humbling to look at a character like Yoshifumi and think, “he’s not really the best parent but can I honestly say I would be any better?”

That is probably why I like the adoption of Hinamatsuri so much. Both Hina and Yoshifumi are problematic in their own ways, and their makeshift family is clearly imperfect. And yet, their family life is still fulfilling in its own way. Sure, there are plenty of troubles and mishaps, many of which caused by their problematic natures, but even despite that, they live happily, grow together and become better people. It shows that even imperfect people can take part in displaying the beauty of adoption, and that by God’s grace, even when we make a mess of it, family can still be a wonderful thing.

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