It's short, it's fully CG, and it's seemingly a light fantasy anime that would be perfect to pass the time; but did Hanare Toride no Yonna succeed at stealing my heart?
Watching Hanare is less like watching an anime, and more like watching every FMV of an RPG from start to finish. At only thirty minutes in length, there isn't much time for any sort of a story to be developed. What little we know of Yonna is that as a young child, she cursed a boy who looked at her the wrong way - and was thus cast out of the village, along with her brother. Somehow, they end up at a large abandoned castle, and now are being hunted down by the Imperial Government for fairly unknown reasons (except that they have special powers). Little else is known, including why Yonna and Stan's powers are so unusual than the norm, why the duo is in the castle, and what else is going on behind the scenes.
Though I would have liked to, I didn't enjoy Hanare. The story is too short and confusing to appreciate, especially given that there are plenty of things that we don't understand from beginning to end. I like knowing a little bit about the world an anime takes place in, and its people; Hanare doesn't bother explaining any of this, and that ends up being a definite handicap.
There are plenty of scenes that are completely unnecessary, as well, and seem thrown in simply to show off the animation. For example, there is a lengthy sequence where Yonna summons an (admittedly cute) imp of sorts that tries his best to amuse her. The creature doesn't show up again, and otherwise this wasted several minutes that could have been used on the story.
The lack of character development, combined with the skeleton of a story makes Hanare a very uninspiring watch as far as plot goes.
Hanare is fully CG-animated, and that alone makes it worth watching for fans of eye candy. The characters are strongly reminiscent of Final Fantasy 9 or Shrek - they are short and stubby and sprite-like, with features that make them appear almost like animals (Yonna, for example, looks an awful lot like a cross between a pig and a monkey at times). Backgrounds are incredibly gorgeous, with shots of the fortress and a forest that appear to be real. The physics engine clearly needs work though, as shots of flowers falling to the grass appear incredibly fake once they hit the ground.
If you watched Hanare for any reason, you'd watch it for the animation.
Though forgettable, Hanare's audio track fits the tone of the anime nicely. Like the overall story, the audio is reminiscent of an RPG, and is light and orchestral. Voice acting is fine by everyone involved.
Totally undeveloped and misunderstood, the characters of Hanare are a major disappointment. This is because of a single reason: the lack of history. We don't know any details about practically any character, except for the bit about Yonna mentioned above. The characters seem 100% flat personality-wise, and we don't care about any of them by the end of the anime. Perhaps this would have been solved with a longer length, or stronger personalities that stand out well enough, even with no additional character development.
The story is unfulfilling and the character development is non-existent - two major negative points for any anime. Thus, Hanare is good to watch if you are interested in the unique animation; otherwise, it's definitely one to pass up. For a much better take on the idea of a person being locked up in a castle, in a fantasy-rich world, check out Studio 4C's Princess Arete.
Yonna and her big brother Stan are outcasts - magic users who’ve been shunned by their village and now live a solitary life in a faraway fortress. But the pair’s idyllic, safe existence is threatened when the Imperial Government garners an interest in their powers, sending agents to try to capture them by any means necessary. Now, one such agent named Galda arrives at the castle eager to complete his mission, but it won’t be easy with Stan, and another fellow agent named Piggott, standing in his way...
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My fav genres include sci fi and horror, but you'll find a lot of obscure reviews from me too, given I watch a ton to add to the database. My new reviews are written a lot better than my old ones, so when in doubt, sort by date! ^_^ Enjoy, and I welcome any and all feedback.