What I Liked: The character designs were quite pleasing. Sally-chan-sensei. The Yosakoi shop owner, who was woefully underutilised. Backgrounds and set-designs are all gorgeous, and the show has this wonderfully soft and relaxing colour scheme to it. The subtle character development for all the main girls, especially Naru and Yaya (even if she did start of as a bit of an arse).
What I Didn't: There was a lot of needless clichéd melodrama in the show, especially in the later half, making the whole thing tonally inconsistent. Some episodes jumped multiple times between dramatic and happy scenes. A lot of the events surrounding the final episode's Yosakoi festival felt plot-convenient (i.e. registration closing, but being open at the event). Not much focus spent on Yosakoi itself. Hannah's whole parental situation subplot. Yosakoi scenes are mostly stills, except for the final major dance.
Final Verdict: For a show about cute girls doing cute things, Hanayamata felt less like a cute and breezy high-school comedy and more like a massive slog through a mountain range of melodrama, clichés and fluff. Still, at least the journey was visually pleasing with some of the nicest pastel visuals and cutest character designs I've seen for a long time.
So i'm Dion and i have a condition.I swear a lot and i can't hold back my sarcastic,nihilistic side.So if you're not old enough to know what your willy is for then i suggest you read something else for a bedtime story.
And onto Hanayamata which is just another "cute girls doing cute things" type of anime...Cause we needed one in 5 minutes,right?But then i'm a soulless fuck so what do i know.
The story is about a girl who one day while walking past a shrine at night while on the influence of LSD,she heard rhythmic clacking coming from the shrine grounds.Curious,Naru follows the sounds and finds a ferce dragon.The dragon started chasing her and then a fairy came to her aid and with might and a tazer she fought off the bad dragon and then Khaleesi came and some shit went down and the rest is history.What i don't understand is how they took this fantastic premise and made it all about something called yosakoi.
Yosakoi for those of you who don't know is an orgy that takes place every year in China...Nah i'm fucking with you.Yosakoi,is a type of Japanese dance,involving girls wearing yukatas or happy coats while synchronizing the playing of small wooden clappers known as naruko.It's a large event in Japan,with some teams consisting of hundreds of members!An annual festival called the Yosakoi Matsuri even attracts as many as 200.000 participants.In other words it attracts more people than a Bieber concert..And that's good cause we have enough braindead people walking around as it is.
So not to waste your time with many many details,the fairy aka Hana Fontainestand who,to my surprise is American and not German invites the crack addict to the yosakoi club so they can start dancing and clapping the wooden clappers and of course on the way gather more members like Naru's best friend Yaya,Naru's upperclassman Tami and Tami's best friend Machi..
Everything sounds normal so far.You have moe girls,you have yosakoi,you also have a first episode which is as stunning to look at as Jenna Jameson.Honestly when i saw the first episode i was left with my jaw hanging like an 80yrs old testicles.And we have Madhouse to thank for that visual excellence.But all of that was in vain cause what happened next beggars belief.
The whole show somehow became a bad clone of K-On! and Love Live.I mean look at the characters or even the plots that are lifted straight off the aformentioned animes.And it's not like they did such a good job ripping them off,either.And to make matters worse remember the first ep's animation i praised?After the 1st one the quality becomes...Lesser..Don't get me wrong it's not like it's unwatchable it's just that quality drop is noticable.And it's a show about dance so the animation should have been absolutely amasing but every time we are about to see any actual dancing the camera veers off and shows some fluffy kittens instead or it shows stills of dancing.As for the characters themselves they looked kinda weird to me,they had minimal facial characteristics and the eyes were like a monk's bald head....And just as huge.
And if the animation is bad wait till i get to the characters as characters.Well to be honest with ya they're not characters they're a collection of stereotypes.Naru is pretty much spiritless,Hana is an energetic American blonde who reminded me of Barbie before detox,Yaya is the tsundere best friend of Naru's,Tami is the big sister and Machi is a grouch.Then we have Seiri,their woman adviser who's is a rip off of Sawako from K-on! in every way possible..She even has a thing for animal ears...The only character that wasn't in the mix bag is Masaru Oofuna the scary-looking but harmless owner of a yosakoi shop who teaches Naru and Hana the basics of yosakoi.But as a character sadly he's not being used as much as i might have wanted.
So ok,you might think,some stereotypical characters and some not so good animation..That doesn't sound terrible..AHA but wait,i haven't finished.You see it's also how you present the characters as well,it's how you handle the delivery of each plot.And trust me on that the show does nothing at all to seperate itself from the other similar shows.It also fails miserably to make us connect with the girls.It's ok and dandy making us watch every girl's backstory but the way it's done doesn't float my boat.And there's no balance.One minute it's all laughs and this and that and then for no reason at all they switch to drama mode.Every new episode a new "problem" that makes the previous problem look unecessary and childish.It was drama for the shake of drama.It had no real substance to it,it felt totally out of place and ruined whatever good experience i had with it.
Now for the next paragraph i shall go berserk with spoilers so skip to the part where i write with big bold letters "end of spoilers".
START OF SPOILERS
So you see,Yaya is already in another club.A girls only rock group,and if that sounds familiar it's because it is familiar..But nevertheless she is chased around by Naru and Hana and after much following she joins the yosakoi club while still a part of the band.The band later enters a contest but they don't qualify and disband immediately and Yaya has fallen into depression.Naru tries to talk Yaya which ends up in Yaya telling Naru and Hana she hates them and never wants to talk to them again...Ok?!...The next day Naru and Hana start shouting on the rooftop that Yaya is a bakaaaaaa,which gets her to chase them upstairs.Then Naru and Yaya jump at her apologizing and then everyone cries and friendship wins the day.Now Yaya can permanently join the drug addict's club and forgot everything that had to do with a project she spent months on working..Sound legit!
Machi's plotline is just as stupid.Machi and her sister Seiri don't get along because Seiri broke a promise with her when they were little girls.But the whole thing isn't addressed in any way until about episode 9.And another thing.Later on in the series Seiri must step down as the girls' adviser because she isn't a full-time teacher.As for the reason she never spoke of this to anyone?It's a fucking mystery not to be ever solved.
And after that we have the special Love Live rip off plot where Hana has to go back to America to spent more time with her mother and father.Here's the thing though.Hana's father still has some things that need to be done before he leaves as well.And for reasons other than the one "we are out of ideas" her mother wants Hana to leave right before the big festival Naru and the others have been getting ready for all this time.Hana like Seiri didn't bother telling her mother of the yosakoi club she's in or about the festival until she was fucking back to 'Murica.But thank god for capitalistic pigs her mother sent her back in time for her to go to the festival..The moral is that having a big bank account trumps all.
END OF SPOILERS
And now i must conclude this review by saying that i was deeply disappointed by this show.First episode aside it's value drops faster than a pair of drawers falling down a cliff.The characters are walking-breathing cliches,it looks like a war wound,the music's aaaahhhh cheesy there's next to no dancing or even exploring anything to do with it,there's abso-fuckin-lutely nothing going for it and it's a damn shame cause i wanted to like it.
What got me interested in this show? I trace it back to the first season of Shugo Chara! and the character of Nadeshiko/Nagihiko Fujisaki, the boy who assumed the persona of a girl to learn traditional Japanese dance. This series introduced me to yosakoi, a combination of traditional dance and flash mobbery. Rows and rows of dancers in perfect synchronization, decked out in full costume and carrying simple hand props as fans, umbrellas, or percussion instruments. Elaborate routines involving a lot of practice and commitment.
Hanayamata is named for the five main characters that make up a middle school yosakoi club which has been formed and is running through all those phases of acceptance, finding support from members, the needs to meet school requirements yada-yada. Each character displays a unique personality that causes the club to stumble about as each dancer shows what strengths and weaknesses (and the weaknesses are what makes the plot go ... or sputter) make her click. So, it's best to meet each of them.
Hana is a transplanted American girl (and a Jersey girl at that!) at the middle school and is still finding difficulties in adjusting to the new scheme. She is an exuberant spirit with a dash of step-on-toes tactlessness. She is in love with Japan, but she’s also hopeful for a reunion of her recently divorced parents. In her drive to gain a team for yosakoi, most girls in her class avoid her, except for ...
Naru, who first meets Hana one evening at a shrine dancing with almost superhuman ability. She is impressed with Hana, but Naru is a timid soul with a deep yearning to find that 'dazzling' inside her, the thing she most wishes to excel in. But the shyness which controls her has always made Naru vulnerable and clumsy. She has always needed the support of ...
Yaya, who is jealous of Hana's interest in Naru. So much so that Hana calls Yaya a 'tsundere,' grumpy on the outside, marshmallow soft on the inside. Yaya has other interests, including being on a successful rock band as the drummer, but wishes to help Naru make the club official by becoming a nominal 'member' of the yosakoi club, the fourth because of ...
Tami, the vice president of the school council who has been supportive of the yosakoi club even though teachers and council members have frowned on the formation of the club. Perhaps, she joins due to her father who pictures Tami as the perfect 'Japanese maiden.' Trying to please father has been Tami's goal, but as this has been difficult after being forced to stop ballet, Tami decides yosakoi is a new direction for her. Her position in student council makes it easy for her to convince the president of the council …
Machi to join as the fifth member. Machi is stubborn, hard-driven, and hard-working. She has an axe to grind with Sally-sensei, the club’s advisor, and douses the yosakoi club with red tape to hamper, even stop the yosakoi club. A complex back-story explains her hostility to the club. But once that’s resolved, yosakoi allows her to enter something in which she needs to put this drive and determination to work.
Knowing these five characters makes it important to create the theme of teamwork and unity as the club bungles along. Finding an advisor, then losing her, then getting her back (over Machi's protests). Striving to perform at a local yosakoi festival, then not registering for it. Losing tempers over clashes of personality or style. All those profound introspections which embarrass Naru as the shy girl begins to emerge from her cocoon. Losing Hana to America as her mother comes to Japan to bring Hana back home to New Jersey Getting her back at the last moment as the girls perform at the festival. All leading to the bonds of friendship of five diverse girls with differing backgrounds whose only wish is to always dance with each other.
The animation limps, however. I was hoping that the yosakoi scenes would have been spectacular. The yosakoi scenes are static, more like poses of the girls in costume as they sweep and freeze position. There is more effort made in those clumsy moments during practice, but often the action moves from picture to picture as the girls prepare for the day of the festival. The plot moves forward in jerks, running into that predictable complication which ends the episode. And the complication is usually resolved shortly into the next. The key problem with the girls is their hesitancy to discuss their personal problems, from Naru's history of choking in performances to Hana's sudden need to go home with only one week before the festival.
All in all, a great piece of Iyashikei, if all that warmth and affection overcoming obstacles is all you need to say, 'Great job!'
A glance of the blurb for Madhouse’s 2014 “Hanayamata” and you would think it was some coming-of-age comedy. In some respects, it is but if you think it is about a girl who loves fairy tales to escape growing-up then you will be mistaken. It is, in fact, one of those after-school club stories. The club activity is “yosakoi” – a famous type of traditional Japanese folk dance performed at festivals. The only real twist here is that the prime protagonist is Hana Fountainstand, an American girl in Japanese middle school with a remarkable command of the Japanese language. It is as good as her command of basic English is bad. (It always amazes us that English-speaking roles in anime are never given to VA’s who, you know, can actually speak English.) Hana turns up one day as a transfer student and start recruiting for the Yosakoi Club in quite a loud and brash way. This obviously doesn’t go down well amongst conservative Japanese school-girls. Shy girl Naru Sekiya is in Hana’s class but is at first terrified of the American despite having met her previously at a local temple. The tale pretty much becomes a stock-after-school-club story. The girls fight to recruit members and an advisor despite the best efforts of the Student Council President to shut them down. It is all ultra-girly and moe. Nobody in real life behaves remotely like these girls do rendering it all a silly fantasy.
One principal low-point of the show is the actual lack of dancing. Sure, the girls are shown in endless practice but no fully choreographed dance routine is ever animated for the audience. The highlight of the show is probably the role of the club advisor Sally Tokiwa who at one point tries to get the girls to adopt a cosplay theme complete with ears and tails. That could have been fun but the idea gets dropped out of the story. In short, the whole thing lacks any sense of fun. If anything, it descends into emotional drama across the last few episodes. It builds at the end towards the club's first performance at a professional festival show much as you would expect. Yet this anime fails to really build up the excitement dwelling as it does on side stories. Despite the occasional nice touch there is no sense that the audience is meant to fall in love with the dancing. The actual cultural element seems almost to be an afterthought applied to a generic after-school-club format. The story adapted from the manga, written and illustrated by Sō Hamayumiba, appeared in the form of game in the same year. This show is an example of how to not to deliver this sort of drama. Billed as a comedy it wasn’t particularly funny and fails to make anything of its core asset – the dancing. Miss it and you haven’t missed a thing.
Story: usual slice of life with practically zero story. bunch of girls start a club and spend time together.
Animation: one beautiful scene in first episode. if you expect to see some awesome scenes after, forget it. single short dance practice in first half of anime using mainly static images, fully animated minute of dancing on stage in last episode.
sound: standard. not annoying but also nothing worth remembering.
characters: unoriginal personalities. multiple different characters, but just archetypes. development? at start, some of them are unsure, but over time they find joy in being together and doing it. nothing new, nothing interesting.
overall: what one would expect from medium-rated slice of life. if you enjoy this genre and have nothing better to watch, can serve as decent time killer. if not, there is nothing new, original or interesting in this anime and no reason to spend your time watching it.
comedy: you wont find any jokes here. its not parody nor comedy or anythign of that sort.
drama: if you think having to find 4 members to start a club and having to find a place to practice, or making up their mind about something is drama, then it is. not for me though.
Seinen: you have a bunch of teen girls to look forward to, so why not. but dont expect panty shots or anything of that sort.
dancing: mostly girls spending time together, not dancing though. they talk about dancing or visit shop selling dancing goods, giving you very little of basic info on the topic.