It’s fair to say that Hibiki has been the weakest link among our major goals. Sure, she works well in a group dynamic as a stabilizing factor for the more chaotic characters to fly about, but her sole major focus episode was a field trip with no conflict or thematic pillar to develop around. When compared to Reimi’s solo episode, Sonia’s efforts throughout the school festival, or all of Kana’s different personal difficulties, Hibiki has been kept quite static. While episode 10 doesn’t completely solve the problem, it does make some significant progress in giving her more texture.
Surprisingly, we don’t get a complete episode dedicated to Hibiki, but instead spend the first 10 minutes or so inside her thoughts, going back to her youth idolizing her cousin Ria and fighting with confidence about becoming a Healer in her own right. It’s good material that adds some much-needed emotion to Hibiki’s role in the plot thus far. Despite her role as the dependable group mom, she has her concerns, especially since her measuring standard is The Witch of KMU, who appears to have advanced the science and acceptability of Healing by decades on her own. I enjoyed how she purposely exploited her commitment to her brothers to excuse abandoning her aspirations. It’s incredibly human to justify fear rather than face it.
It’s the type of struggle that could potentially cover an entire episode, interspersed with some conflict in which Hibiki needs to confront her feelings of inferiority and cast aside the crutch of other obligations. That sort of happens in the sense that she volunteers to be the Center when the apprentices perform at their next Halloween party. But that entire notion appears just before it is resolved, about halfway through the show.
It’s extremely human to rationalize fear rather than confront it.
It’s the kind of battle that may fill a whole episode, alternating with some confrontation in which Hibiki must confront her feelings of inferiority and abandon the crutch of other duties. That sort of occurs when she offers to be at the Center at the apprentices’ next Halloween party. However, that entire concept occurs right before it is resolved, roughly halfway through the show.
Granted, I’m still a sucker for the aforementioned Fuckin’ Around. I don’t care how many times they’ve played that song, I’ll always grin when the girls start singing their way through humdrum daily life, especially when they pirouette about random individuals who aren’t singing. Who needs a short shopping montage when you can convert it into a musical number? The mere sight of these figures dancing and singing amid packed streets and uninterested spectators brought back memories of the Love Live! girls dancing in the middle of traffic all those years ago. And the song at the Halloween party is insanely entertaining on its own. Even by the norms of anime’s relatively low-key association with the spookiest of holidays, it’s not very Halloween-y. For atmosphere, add some pipe organ sounds or a thunderclap. Or, at the very least, don’t throw this party in the middle of the day! Witch Ria helps to compensate for these creepy and/or crawly shortcomings but do better, y’all.
Then, in the last minutes, there’s the major step. Because that wicked Mona Lisa grin is so mysterious, it took me a minute to figure out what was going on when Ria momentarily stepped in during her trainees’ song, but the context implies they were on the verge of unleashing some major Healing Power on an unsuspecting gathering of bystanders. We haven’t witnessed any true out-of-control Healing yet, but based on Ria’s concerns, I believe the impacts would have been worse than the elderly in the crowd feeling less achy when it’s going to rain. It also drives her to encourage them to test for C-level licensure, the same practitioner level as Sonia, implying that Ria’s days as a Healer – or, at the very least, their mistress – are numbered. It’s also unclear whether she believes they’ll succeed or whether this will be a lesson for them to rein in their rapid advancement.
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