Hatena Illusion – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Since he was a boy, Makoto Shiranui has dreamed of being a famous magician like his hero, Mamoru Hoshisato. He travels to Tokyo to train underneath his mentor and reconnect with Mamoru’s daughter, Hatena, at their haunted mansion. It seems like Hatena has a few things she can teach him as well. What kind of magic can these two conjure up when they finally take the stage? (Official Funimation Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Going in I was braced for endless fan service thanks to Hatena Illusion’s Ecchi tag but to my surprise, this is actually one of the tamest Ecchi I have come across in recent seasons. Heck, it’s even tamer than NekoparA which wasn’t even listed with the Ecchi tag, despite its origins. All the fan service in this first episode is limited to a shot of Hatena’s mother in her master thief outfit, which is a little revealing (but still plenty modest by Ecchi terms) and the camera never once pans over or lingers on any inappropriate body parts. And while there is a scene where Makoto walks in on Hatena after her bath, she is more or less modestly covered up and the scene plays it all out pretty straight forward. So surprisingly, Hatena Illusion might be the most general audience friendly Ecchi ever but could also prove to be a massive disappointment for anyone picking it up for unabashed fan service content.
Tom: Otherwise Hatena Illusion’s first episode sets the series as this cute, easy-going story about Makoto becoming the pseudo apprentice to the great magician Hoshisato. Hoshisato quickly goes on a business trip however, leaving Makoto to get along with the magician’s daughter, Hatena, a former childhood friend who becomes a Tsundere upon realizing Makoto is a guy, not a girl. The series has an almost slice of life-like appeal, with much of the drama feeling light and inconsequential. The series also hits a lot of tropes, the tsundere love interest, the childhood friends turned reluctant lovers, the contrived ‘he comes to live with her’ set up, the quiet but accepting little sister, and more. Ultimately this leaves Hatena feeling quite predictable, or at the very least familiar, but coasts along thanks to a generally solid execution, making the series a somewhat engaging watch even if it doesn’t feel all that unique.
Linny: Hatena Illusion’s first episode plays out very slow. While Hatena herself is pretty energetic early on, once she realizes that Makoto is actually a boy, she too simmers down into a more subdued characterization. In fact much of the characterization and drama in Hatena lacks energy. For example, when Makoto accidentally breaks a possibly priceless artifact, the incident itself and the decision of making him work as a butler to pay off the cost is portrayed with an almost matter of fact feel, whereas similar scenes in other anime play out more animated and feisty. That’s not to say it’s an outright boring episode; it’s just not high energy, which could be a negative for those who like more bubbly personality in their characters.
Tom: What makes Hatena Illusion a little hard to judge is how it doesn’t feel like we’ve finished introducing the core concept. Just as the episode ends Hatena reveals herself, to the audience exclusively, to be a Master thief, throwing a much needed wrench in an otherwise banal concept. The synopsis above gives a decent idea of what we might experience week to week, now knowing Hatena is a thief, but not having that realized in the premiere leaves me feeling like I still don’t really know what kind of show this truly is. I’d almost give the series a cautious recommendation, but that’s more so based on how utterly awful the other anime titles have been the past couple days. The truth is Hatena Illusion is fine. Not great, not amazing, not even particularly riveting, just fine. You could do a lot worse this season, so for right now I think Hatena is simply a Take it or Leave it.
Linny: The end of the episode also hints heavily that Makoto might hold one of the keys as to the long absence of Kana/Hatena’s mother, who is also a master thief. But because we address her absence so little and so vaguely throughout the episode, it makes this premiere feel like the precursor to the actual opening of the series. Honestly, I am conflicted about what to say about Hatena Illusion as while I did not have any strong negative reaction to any of its content, I also did not find myself getting pulled into the story. Because this first episode still leaves so much up in the air, it’s hard to set up expectations for what’s to come. I’d say maybe give Hatena Illusion a go if you’re curious about its premise or patient enough to wait till its second episode to get a better grasp of what’s ahead. If you don’t find yourself particularly drawn by the synopsis, it might be better to wait for something more appealing further into the season.
Hatena Illusion is available for streaming via Funimation.