At the time of writing (let’s say nothing about the time of publishing…), it is 3 March 2017, the 28th birthday of Katsura Hinagiku. It is hard to believe that Hinagiku in real life has reached the age of her elder sister Yukiji in the manga, but this is the thing about growing old: it happens, and there is almost no way to avoid it. Heck, even the Wolverine gets old in his newest movie!
Yet growing old doesn’t mean that you are also growing up. The term “man child” basically describes a person (a male, usually) who physically grows old but doesn’t mentally grow up. It is entirely possible – and unfortunately it becomes more and more common – for physical adults to at the same time be a child at heart. Yukiji herself has been accused of being an oversized child, while Hinagiku behaves much more like an adult even though she remained underdeveloped in certain ways.
I’d say that a person has reached maturity when he or she stops seeing things in simple ways. When we were young children we see things as binary: something is either good or bad, someone is either nice or nasty, and some deeds are either good or evil. As we mature, though, things become less black-and-white, but more shades of grey. We can see good in bad, and bad in good. Our judgement becomes more complicated, and we as true adults become more tolerant to others. Maturity is more or less the complications of certain core values: truth, love, justice and so on.
When we were children, we love to see the word “justice” in a manga or anime. We love the heroes for their courage, and we cheer when they uphold justice. As we grow up, though, we start to feel uncomfortable when characters keep on yelling “justice” like it is some kind of keyword. Sometimes we even wonder if such characters are too single-minded when they insist they are always the representatives of justice, because we have learned from our own experience that things are just not that simple.
It is for this reason that Hinagiku’s claim that she was “an ally of justice who is passing through” might have raised some eyebrows. The thing is, it is not a one-off incident: it happened in the Tiger’s Den for Butler, and it happened again at Hakuou Academy. It is also not some distant memory that we can simply ignore either: okay, the Tiger’s Den for Butler incident happened in Ch. 64, but the Hakuou Academy incident happened in Ch. 562. Quite simply, Hata himself insists that Hinagiku should be defined as THE “ally of justice”. So, what’s the deal with this? Is Hinagiku one of those single-minded idiots who only see things in black and white?
As always in my Featured Articles, my answer to the last question is: yes and no.
When you come to think of it, Hinagiku always makes her judgement by her friends’ wellbeing and feelings – given that her friends could tell for themselves what makes them happy, that is. If Hinagiku knows what kind of happiness her friends are chasing, she is more than willing to offer help. She cheered Ayumu for her pursuit of Hayate, she made it possible for Hayate and Athena to reconcile, she helped Ruka with her manga career and family, and she was even there to support Nagi for her doujinshi – even though she had nothing to do at Nagi’s Comiket campaign. Not to mention the number of times she helped Hayate, directly or indirectly, on his endless problems, no matter how big or small they are.
As such, Hinagiku’s sense of justice is actually rather simple. If something makes her friends happy, it is good and she will go along and help out. If something makes her friends unhappy or even harm them, it is bad and she will exterminate them like cockroaches (well, they are most certainly bad, so…). This is why Hinagiku herself has sometimes been seen as a plot device: when shit gets too deep, Hata would just throw Hinagiku in to sort it out because she will always help her friends. To say that Hinagiku is an “ally of justice” is sometimes no more than saying that she is an “ally of her friends”, which to be honest is a meaningless title. Who on earth isn’t an ally of his/her friends?
Yet, for a very interesting reason, Hata’s approach of “throwing Hinagiku into deep shit and solve it” actually proves that Hinagiku is not a single-minded justice warrior. On the contrary, it somehow managed to prove that Hinagiku did indeed have an instinct for what is really right and wrong in the flow of the plot.
I said that Hata’s trusting approach is “throwing Hinagiku into deep shit and solve it”. It very often means that Hinagiku is seldom an “insider” in the first place – you cannot be thrown into deep shit if you are already in it, right? In many cases it is true: people start by doing things on their own, things do not work out well and the news somehow spreads to Hinagiku. She might not even know what has happened, but the moment she hears that her friends are in trouble, she would jump in to solve the problem without even knowing the full picture.
Hence she managed feasts like helping Hayate and co. in the Tiger’s Den of Butler despite never really knowing who Sonia was, helping save the world despite not really knowing who King Midas was, helping Ruka with her manga despite not knowing the rivalry between her and Nagi, and now fighting Himegami despite saying it herself that she did not know what was going on. The thing about her deeds is that she always only gets the bare minimum of information before being forced to make a judgement. Yet with the bare minimum of information, she can almost always figure out one thing that she could do with the current situation, and she would proceed to do just that. This is not some black-or-white judgement call; it is an instinct to figure out the best course of action.
Of course, the “best course of action” doesn’t mean that you won’t get hurt; on the contrary, sometimes you might end up being the only one hurt for the benefits of others. Hinagiku took it real hard in the Athena saga, but she never stopped helping her friends even if they have gone astray. This does help solidifying Hinagiku’s status as the “ally of justice”: she really is someone who does good deeds not for herself, but for the good of the situation and her friends.
The result is that Hinagiku has the very awesome ability to make excellent judgement calls without personal bias. She instinctively knows what is good for everyone in a given situation, and she finds ways to make sure her friends are happy and safe even if it means she is the only one hurt. As a result, she is either loved or at least respected by her friends and allies, and they are always more than happy for her to help out, to make judgement calls for them, and to uphold justice for them.
“Justice” for Hinagiku is not something that she shouts out blindly. She is not someone who makes wrong judgements because of a set of rigid principles. As discussed before, Hinagiku has only one principle: she wants her friends to be safe and happy, while every judgement is made on the information given to her, no matter how little. With her instinct and her open mind, Hinagiku manages to mostly make the right choices. Justice, essentially, is about how to make the right choices.
“Ally of justice” could be a very cheesy title for anybody else, but it fits Hinagiku perfectly. As we approach the Grand Finale of the series, let us sit tight and witness the Ally of Justice take on Himegami.