Springtime heralds new beginnings and at Kumataka Art Acedemy Asai Mugi is just entering a bright new high school life.
Cute but clumsy and totally lacking confidence, Mugi hides a talent contrary to her desperately shy and demure manner; she has an incredibly powerful voice. Mugi fumbles through, remaining mostly silent or softly spoken, that is until her emotions peak and vitality of her voice breaks out. When excited, her powers of projection are second to none.
Unbeknownst to Mugi, art school is a place where a voice has real value and her conspicuous ability catches the interest and ear of the one of the school’s theatre clubs. With a persuasive cast of players, Mugi soon finds herself roped into the thick of theatre life. Despite her detrimental diffidence can it be that the club members are right and that acting is her natural calling after all?
Hitohira is a series I knew from the anime adaptation that aired in 2008. It has a warm and sweet style and an intriguing story. Set amidst the pretty pink sakura blossoms of spring, it tells a tale of a timid teenage girl, the bud of her character kept tightly closed by her own insecurity. Mugi watches the school world around her spring into life when she finds herself carried away with the winds of change, to the most unlikely of extra-curricular club callings – acting.
It is interesting to see how despite all her terror and turmoil Mugi is still drawn to both the Theatre Research Group and to acting. This is not only due to her coercion by overbearing club members and it’s not down to passion (as is often the case with drama or sports stories) but by what lies hidden within her, to the power of potential. There is the possibility that the powerful voice could point to a core of real strength within Mugi and for this Hitohira is a resoundingly positive title. This is where the hope rests, as a shining counterpoint to the all the inner turmoil, to the school club rivalries and to the tragedies that occur behind the scenes.
Hitohira, like Mugi brims with potential, one that remains unpolished by the close of the first volume and has a long way to go before it reaches greatness, yet in the intermission between Aurora’s release schedule I am anticipating the future of the theatre troupe and the fate of its newest struggling star. If played right, Hitohira is a series that stands to be an inspiration to the shy looking for a way to unlock the power of their inner strengths.