Wednesday, January 27, 2016

"on being" ~sleeping with hinako~

drcakey writes about WHAT????

Oh boy, what have I gotten myself into this time? For the uninitiated, Sleeping with Hinako is a forty-five-minute OVA about Hinako...sleeping. You may have been able to piece this together for yourself. It's achieved a certain degree of notoriety for being creepy and terrible. Having watched it, I can assure you that it is, indeed, creepy and terrible. The 'creepy' part speaks for itself, I think, and I'm sure other anibloggers and internet people have spilled more than enough digital ink on that subject already, so I'm going to take the road less traveled and discuss the 'terrible' part.

Simply put, Sleeping with Hinako is a poorly composed anime. It's clear very little thought went into figuring out what it should be and how it should be made. One could go so far as to argue that, rather than be too creepy, Hinako doesn't lean hard enough into its premise.

For instance, Hinako dabbles in a POV camera like Ani Tore! EX (or, if you prefer, like the first episode of iDOLM@STER), in which 'you' are supposed to be present in the world of the anime but, also like Ani Tore, it doesn't commit to this concept in the slightest. Whenever Hinako talks to 'you' the camera behaves like it's actually from a person's point of view - for the most part - but at all other times it does the standard cutting and panning any anime does. Presumably this significant concession was made because the POV conceit wouldn't allow for the multitude of innovative camera angles Hinako indulges in:

Alright, so I'm next to...
...wait, where did I go!? 
 It might be possible to accomplish at least some of this acrobatic cheesecakery while retaining a POV camera, but that would require far more animation than Hinako is capable of providing. This raises the question of why they chose to attempt the POV conceit in the first place, but without it Hinako would lose its...what's the polite term...its intimacy. So the reasons for this half-and-half (or more accurately this 10%-and-90%) approach are clear, but that doesn't change the fact it combines the weaknesses of both and the strengths of neither.

This actually wouldn't be too much of an issue (Ani Tore weathers this half-and-half approach reasonably well, assuming you like That Kind Of Thing) but - and maybe this is a personal problem - there's no attempt made to give the 'you' in the anime any sort of physical presence.

Alright, so it looks like I'm...
...not on the bed. Maybe I'm...
Nope. Am I...a ghost!? Please, Hinako, you must accept my
death and allow me to move on to the next world...
Even though the POV conceit is barely touched upon, I still feel like making even a cursory attempt at it demands the audience have some bare minimum of physicality in the world of the anime.

Those are all minor issues, however. The main problem is that Hinako has no idea what it's trying to be, and so once again combines two approaches and thus fails at both of them.

So far, all the screenshots I've shown have been of Hinako sleeping, so you might assume that, in an OVA called Sleeping with Hinako, this takes up the majority of the run-time. You would, however, be wrong. Sleeping with Hinako contains twenty-one contiguous minutes of Hinako sleeping, or just under half the run-time. What takes up the rest, you ask?

Dreams! (Memories?)
Hinako dreaming about losing weight!
(I couldn't have done it without Training with Hinako!)
Heroically saving Hinako from having a midnight snack!
Hinako dreaming about gaining weight!
(This Training with Hinako garbage was useless!)
Hinako waking up!
Actually that was just a dream. Hinako really waking up!
Hinako really really waking up! (Rule of Threes)
What are these 'bits' here for? If they're an unwelcome intrusion on what is supposedly Hinako's focus, then why are they present? And if they're a respite from the twenty minutes of uncomfortable nothingness that preceded them, then why did those twenty minutes exist in the first place?

This is what I mean about Hinako not knowing what it's supposed to be. Independent of whether one or the other is 'better' or more palatable, the two parts of Hinako seem incompatible to me. The bits - which all suck, in case that was in doubt - meander between humor and some kind of relationship wish-fulfillment, while the sleeping portion is exactly what it appears to be (which is actually somewhat impressive). They even fail to jive on a mere noise level: Hinako's dynamic range is so wide it can't comfortably be watched with headphones without adjusting the volume, a particularly notable issue because the bits are divided by 10-30 seconds of quiet sleep.

I imagine the creators were aware no one wants to watch forty-five minutes of an anime girl sleeping ('no one' of course being a somewhat relative term) and felt the experience should be broken up in some way, but they still included twenty minutes, twenty minutes of uninterrupted sleep. If someone doesn't want to watch forty minutes of an anime girl sleeping, it seems unlikely to me they want to watch twenty. On the flip side, the bits make it so Hinako can't be used as a sleep aid, which otherwise I think wouldn't be an unreasonable way to use it.

I'm not saying Hinako would be 'good' if it were all one thing or all the other, but it would at least be coherent. It would at least be something. It would have some use or value to someone. As it is, I think the only people who have a use for Sleeping with Hinako are YouTubers.


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