Hinata Hajime’s characterization from SDR2 to DR3: an analysis
First of all, I’m not a writer or something like that and I’m not an animator either, so it’s not like I’m a professional figure in these fields but I agree with most of the fandom about the fact that DR3 is a mess. Especially zetsubou-hen/despair arc.
I’m still grateful for the hard work that they did with this anime though, I also understand that it’s not easy meeting all the fans expectations since we’re all different and each one of us has their own personal tastes/opinions.
Speaking for me, the SDR2 cast is absolutely my favourite.
Part of the charm of the SDR2 cast was their involvement in Enoshima’s schemes. Discovering that they were the bad guys was such a twist in the game! I totally didn’t expect it and it left me amazed. I was so curious to see how Enoshima played with their weaknesses, how did she manipulate them, how did she made them all fall in despair.
Zetsubou-hen/despair arc and the brainwashing device totally ruined this, as the former ruined Nanami’s character as well, but I’ll talk about this later.
Many people also complained about Hinata, saying that in zetsubou-hen/despair arc he was out of character. It may be an unpopular opinion but I actually disagree with this.
At the beginning of SDR2 Hinata states that he isn’t that special to *have* to introduce himself and he feels uneasy and embarrassed having to do so. He deliberately chooses not to talk about the reason he’s been chosen by HPA and he says he’s always dreamed to attend it to “feel like a member of society, to become someone he can be proud of, to take honor in himself, to feel part of something bigger than himself” and before his memories get deleted in the NWP he says “until now, I’ve never wanted to admit how painfully ordinary I really am”.
This shows that Hinata already had deep insecurities and self-esteem issues, that he couldn’t accept himself as he was, that he felt almost worthless.
Now, it’s kinda normal for the average teen to have these complexes (not at this extent, though) and we also have to remember that DR is a Japanese game: in Japan society exerts a HUGE amount of pressure on the individual: if you aren’t an accomplished person and/or if you don’t have a prestigious position, basically you’re DAMNED. You’re literally OUT, you’re not a worthy member of the society.
Do you want to be an accomplished person? Do you want a prestigious position? That’s what HPA can give you. That’s all Hinata wants. Having all of these things, to him, it’s what can make him feel proud of himself.
Hinata as we’ve known him and loved him in SDR2 is a smart and logical person who suddenly finds himself literally thrown in a totally nonsensical situation. He’s in front of HPA first, then, without any reasonable explanation, he’s in a tropical island in no time. He doesn’t understand what is going on around him, he trusts no one and he becomes so anxious he gets a panic attack and then, he faintes. This suggests also that Hinata is a very sensible person.
When he manages to recover, the way he reacts to this situation reflects his pessimistic, grumpy, snarky, sassy and sarcastic personality. He has no memories and when he realizes to not remember what talent he’s supposed to have, he starts to get agitated again. He then decides not to give into it for the moment because he still has to understand what’s going on around him, first.
Interacting with the others he often snaps at them and acts sassy but that’s because he thinks to be equals with them, he feels one of them because he thinks he has a talent. This belief makes him feel comfortable enough around the others that he can be himself. But it’s still something that haunts him.
In SDR2 there were a lot of things that kept him busy from the matter, but there were many moments in which he still showed concern about it.
When in Mioda’s free time events she tells him she wanted to help him remember his talent he’s moved by it.
When Komaeda messes around with him in the 4th trial Hinata tells Owari she can punch him even if he previously chose to not give in to Komaeda’s provocations.
When Kuzuryuu at the beginning of chapter 5 asked him what Komaeda meant saying that he was the only one who didn’t rely on his talent, Hinata begrudgingly gave him and the others an explanation that he really didn’t want to give, and he’s annoyed about it.
In the 5th trial when Kuzuryuu remarks that it’s natural that Komaeda relied on his talent because that’s what everybody else did, Hinata looks away uncomfortably.
During the 6th trial he said he’s done with everything, he didn’t even understand why he was involved in a situation like that since he’s different from anyone else and that’s because he doesn’t have a talent.
He also recalled the memory of his former classmates picking on him (despite having these memories deleted, that’s how deeply all of this affected him) for the same reason. This shows that Hinata is easily influenced by the opinions that other people have about him.
In DR3 Hinata is involved in a context and in a situation that are completely different.
He knows he’s a talentless person, he remembers very clearly the nasty rumours about him spread by his former classmates and it makes him feel bad. He managed to be accepted by HPA but he’s not there because he naturally deserves it, not because he has been scouted, not because he could be a main course student, not because he’s talent. Not because he’s worthy.
HPA environment is a toxic one, it didn’t make him feel better as he expected at all, it made him only feel worse, to the point he started to refer to himself as a “lowly reserve course student”. Kamukura’s mindset is a consequence of what his “teachers” thought him: “This world is full of boring people. People without talent stick together and oppress those who do possess talent… Even though they know they’re insignificant, they don’t try to acknowledge their true superiors… They are profoundly desperate to drag them down to their level… And because of these bastards, this world has come to a deadlock. This world has stopped evolving.” or “People without talents are like ticks. Fattening themselves on the blood of the talented, they are ticks, capable only of reproducing”. The main building and the reserve course building are totally divided so that the useless reserve course students don’t mix up with the main course students, the talentful, worthful, useful ones. If you’re a main course student you can go around the reserve course building as much as you like, if you’re a reserve course student and you dare to be around the main course building you literally get your ass kicked. The reserve course students lives mattered so little to this system that the Steering Committee, who were the ones who really held power over HPA, saw them just as lab rats, they weren’t even considered human beings.
The circumstance that brought him there wasn’t neither a normal or a correct one. When the zetsubou-hen/despair arc profiles came out, Hinata’s profile said this:
A student in the reserve school who aspires to attend the main academy. He feels that his life as a talent-less person is boring. He has been accepted to the reserve school and exempted from tuition for meeting certain requirements. The ambition-less attitude of the reserve school disagrees with him, and he often spends time alone.
Basically, Hinata has been blackmailed. If he didn’t accept the compromise of joining the project he would have been kicked out from HPA, the place he always dreamed to attend. He had not enough money to stay there, not enough money to waste for being just a lowly reserve course student.
Tengan told him that he could go back to his old school.
But who’d go back to a place where people are mean to each other for no reason? Why did these guys laugh at Hinata? There was no reason to pick on him like that. He’s an ambitious person, what’s bad about being ambitious? He wanted something better for himself, as a human being he had any right to desire something better for his own future.
Tengan also told him: “Do not fear normalcy”. Well, that’s exactly what Hinata feared, in fact. Being normal gave him nothing, he was nothing because he was normal.
He knew from his first day at HPA that he had to take a decision about the project. He knew that he hadn’t much time to decide, too.
Hinata isn’t a superficial nor a dumb person and he knew that this decision carried a certain weight with itself. He knew that he would have gotten exactly what he wanted, he’d become a talented, worthful and useful person, his life could have changed forever. It happened but not like he would have thought.
Then, he meets Nanami. He randomly meets a main course student who tells him that that’s exactly because he has no talent that he can become anything he wants, he’s free.
It’s a point of view that apparently Hinata hadn’t considered yet, as focused as he was on the possibility to join the project. We didn’t see him acting as his usual self for this reason: because he had a huge decision to take in a very forceful and toxic environment, of course he had no time to get to know people or to make friends in the reserve course. Lil’ Kuzuryuu too noticed how Hinata seemed spaced out from their classroom because he was busy staring at HPA main course building 24/7.
He really desired to be part of the main course, but he didn’t fully trust the Steering Committee either. In fact, we saw him doing some research at the beginning of the 3rd episode.
This is important too: Hinata doesn’t trust people around him that easily. Sometimes he doesn’t even trust himself.
In SDR2 as soon as Monokuma says that in order to escape from the island they have to kill each other, Hinata istantly becomes wary of all the others saying that he couldn’t tell what the others could do, that he had nobody to trust but he also thought that he couldn’t tell what he himself could do and the he couldn’t trust himself, either.
In DR3 it’s implied that between the 1st and the 2nd episode of zetsubou-hen/despair arc some time has passed and that Yukizome and Hinata knew each other: Yukizome treated Hinata exactly as if he was one of her students and Hinata did the same, referring to her as sensei and not as Yukizome-san as he did with Tengan whom he called Tengan-san. The point is that when Yukizome asks him if he has a transfer option to the main course he lies. He doesn’t tell her the truth.
Hinata is an introvert who does a lot of mental reflection and keeps things to himself, in SDR2 he doesn’t openly talk to others about how he feels, he just listens to them, in DR3 he tells nobody about the project, he talks about it only with Tengan, a person who already knew about the deal. He doesn’t mention it to Nanami either.
That’s my main issue with Hinata and Nanami’s relationship in DR3.
We see them just playing games and doing nothing else. Hinata isn’t that passionate about videogames in SDR2 but being a teen it’s normal for him to have played some so I didn’t think it was forced for him to actually know about Gala Omega, it could have been a totally random thing for him. That’s not the problem.
If I saw Nanami actually struggling to understand what was going on with Hinata I would have been more satisfied. She sees him complaining about his lack of talent but the only thing she does is just repeat to him what she heard from Yukizome. I’m sure Nanami believed in what Yukizome said but she should have tried harder than that. Her approach to Hinata’s problem was very superficial, she didn’t give the impression to care about him that much. I know she did care about him but what was their relationship based off, again? They actually did what only Nanami wanted, I never saw Nanami bothering to ask Hinata even once “Is there something different you’d like to do, today?”.
I appreciated the fact that they tried to actually develop her character showing that she felt lonely and had a hard time socializing with the others but all of that character development was thrown out of the window just in the following episode.
Two of Hinata’s classmates have just died, one of them was murdered without any doubt, Hinata had a bruise on his chin and he very obviously felt like shit, and what do you do? You ask him to play some new videogames?
Are you fucking kidding me?! I would have slapped her.
To me, Hinata and Natsumi’s relationship was way more genuine.
She saw in him someone who was similar to her and she wasn’t wrong. Hinata Hajime and Kuzuryuu Natsumi were both two ambitious people who wanted something better for themselves, who had no one who could really understand how they felt, because Nanami definitely didn’t understand Hinata’s feelings.
When Natsumi tells him: “You’re always gazing at the Main Course building” he says: “Yeah, so what?” like when Komaeda looked for him in the prologue of SDR2 Hinata told him: “Leave me alone”.
When Natsumi tells him: “It’s not like I have friends either” he says: “Well yeah, if that’s how you say hello to people” (guess who got snarky?) and when she tells him “I do have a talent, I’m the SHSL Little Sister”, Hinata’s like… I mean, look at his face:
Like, “Are you serious? SHSL little sister? The fuck does that mean? Are you kidding me?”.
What I’m trying to say is that Hinata’s been himself only with Natsumi.
When he saw her picking fights with Sato he stopped her, but when he saw her crying he understood her. He understood how lonely she felt, because he felt lonely too. Natsumi is also shown to be a very prideful person, yet she lets Hinata seeing her cry. He tried to comfort her as much as Nanami tried to comfort him, because despite everything, Nanami’s company did comfort him, she was his only friend, a friend from the main course, a talentful person like he wished to be, a person to look up to, an important person.
THIS struck a nerve. Spending time with Nanami was his only comfort, even if they just played some videogames, Hinata found some relief from the pressure of the project and from the pressure of the reserve course staying with her, even if he got annoyed with videogames. As many other people here on tumblr pointed out, Natsumi basically told him he wasn’t worth of spending time with Nanami.
Then add HPA/Steering Committee’s blackmailing, Natsumi and Sato’s deaths, Sakakura’s dickish and senseless beating up (he had good intentions I know, I even like him as a character but I’ll never forgive him for having spat at Hinata, that was really nasty, petty, disgusting and uncalled for), Nanami’s naivety, Hinata’s parents apparent lack of love, care and support, because why the fuck did they sign the documents for the project where there was very clearly written that it would have carried some consequences?! Did their son (only son I presume, since Hinata never mentions having siblings, and this makes it even worse) value less than their fucking money?!
Of course neither Hinata or his parents could imagine the truth but DAMN. Where the fuck were Hinata’s parents?! Did they really care for this poor boy?
Apparently they didn’t give a fuck. This irritated me because at least they could give Hinata some background story. In SDR2 6th trial after having known what happened to the world, Hinata worries for his family, in Owari’s and Kuzuryuu’s free times he says that their lives can’t be more different from his, but we don’t know anything about Hinata’s personal story aside from the fact that he has no talent and that he decided to join the Kamukura Izuru Project. He’s the one we know LESS things about amongst the SDR2 characters. Hell, we know more about Mitarai.
Last thing, his last thought before having his memories repressed.
Many people here on tumblr said: “Wow, Hinata wanted to gain a talent only to impress Nanami, that’s bullshit” and many claimed that they ruined Hinata’s character saying that they gave him the dumbest reason to do it.
I think these people didn’t understand Hinata’s character at all.
He didn’t want to impress Nanami. He wanted to feel worthy of her company, worthy to spend time with her and worthy to be her friend. He had an inferiority complex towards Nanami, because she was a main course student. He thought only of her and not about his family because she was his only friend and because he didn’t know he was going to vanish.
If this isn’t a friendzone I don’t know what it is. Yeah, he blushed around her but I think that it is more because he isn’t a happy-go-lucky guy and he feels easily flustered around girls. He blushed also during their first meeting but she kind of violated his personal space.
DON’T EAT ME PLEASE.
Maybe he was attracted to her physically, okay. He also liked her as a person, okay. He told her “You’re not only the SHSL gamer, you have many other good points, too” (I didn’t see them, tho) but he was already grateful to her for being his friend, and knowing Hinata and how much he hates himself, he wouldn’t even dare to have any other expectations, just saying. So, I think Hinata really cared for her, but not in that way. (This is a personal opinion, of course).
In conclusion, I think Hinata’s been perfectly in character in DR3 but the context wouldn’t allow him to behave like he usually does, I would have liked to know more of his personal story and I would have loved it if he got more screentime but I understand that with the Kamukura Izuru Project going on it wasn’t possible.
Side: Hope from Hinata’s point of view satisfied me. He decided to live on exactly as Yukizome used to say “interacting with others, building character and making new memories”. I also loved the fact that he went to see Yukizome for the last time even if he wasn’t one of her students.
I haven’t much to say about Kamukura, actually. I’m satisfied of how they showed him. He’s exactly as I expected him to be. Many people complained that he had no personality, well, what did you expect? That’s the core of his character.
Having no emotions he can’t have a personality. He knows everything and he knows to do everything, that’s all.
Hinata had no talent but he has personality.
Kamukura had no personality but he has talent.
A final note on Nanami: I liked the fact that Nanami realized and pretty much admitted she’d been incapable of helping Hinata at the end and even if I didn’t like her in DR3 I felt sorry for her and I cried a lot when she died. Nobody else in DR died in such a cruel way in my opinion. She had her flows and she pissed me off but she definitely didn’t deserve it. I also accepted the explanation of the AI creation: Fujisaki and Alter Ego may have built the standard observer (I believe that the sleepy attitude and the childish writing style were characteristic of the AI base) but the AI’s final personality was the projection of that person everybody cared for and missed.
This is an analysis I tried to write when an anon asked me what did I think about Hinata’s character throughout all of DR3, in particular how it connected to his arc in SDR2 and his relationship with Nanami. I deleted the answer by mistake but fortunately I managed to recover the text, I couldn’t reblog the post so I re-posted it here.
Also, credit for Hinata’s DR3 profile goes to jinjojess.tumblr.com.