Annotated Anime: Hanayamata episodes 4-5


Let's gather crew!

If you survived the initial three episodes, Hanayamata goes straight for the jugular using its array of fantastic visuals and adorable middle schoolers talking about adorable things. Things like hopes, aspirations, and what it means to go out on a limb and accomplish something as a team of friends are at the heart, and Hanayamata, like Hana's gaijin antics, shows it off, bears it all, whatever.

In terms of anime and manga, this is welcomed development. Hanayamata, if anything at this point, is but slow. The narrative progresses steadily. Friends are becoming, well, friends. There isn't much in terms of dancing, but slowly and surely there are more. Tami busts a move from her ballad days--just a handful of years ago for Tami, but when someone says "back in elementary school" it always feel as if it was an eon ago.


It was also a relative eon ago when Naru was just a timid girl who doesn't want to do anything but to escape into her books. Now she is all caught up with the whole team dance thing and pushing the others along in her limited ways. Thinking about this difference, it made sense that Tami would find Naru totally inspiring. Throughout these two episodes, Tami has been struggling with similar issues, as she matures into not just daddy's favorite person but someone with a strong sense of self and empowered to act on her own will. 

Tami, on that note, brings a new chemistry to the group. As someone who is thoroughly on her own pace and probably feels a lot more mature than she really is, Yaya has the toughest time to bond with Naru's long-time family friend. This is where Hanayamata takes a baby step approach to illustrate that awkwardness between them, and how Yaya and Tami both slowly wears that away. Granted it's not so different than how Naru, too, is the catalyst between how Yaya and Hana reconciled, and how Yaya yet again gets caught up in someone else's pacing. It is, however, one of the more remarkable aspects to Hanayamata.

I looooved this part

Expectedly, winning the school council vice president Tami over means actual school council president Machi is no longer a real obstacle in the way for Hana's yosakoi club. Despite some pulling-of-teeth on their makeshift practice area on the roof, it was rather easy to talk to Tami about the whole situation, and Hana, unlike Yaya and Naru, doesn't seem to have any particular hangups about that.

The story takes a turn as Hana manages the prerequisites for creating a new club, and convinced Sally-sensei to sponsor it. The full group visits the yosakoi shop and we learn more about both the owner and yosakoi in general. In episode five, the group visits a nearby yosakoi festival as a club field trip. Sally and the shop owner Masaru meets first serendipitously at a nearby cafe, but Hana introduces them in a pretty funny but awkward way. 

So adorbs!

I have no complaints about Hanayamata up to this point. There might be a few places where the writing stumbles, but it delivers exactly what it advertises, which is awkward teenage friendships between middle-schoolers looking to break out of their shells. It is perhaps way too serious, in a  yuri manga kind of way, but with the story focused on actually doing yosakoi and forming the club, Hanayamata doesn't dawdle or worse, fall into long bouts of showing us some characterization aspect and slip on pacing. That's slightly different than enjoying the show--probably a thing that will happen more often as Naru truly comes into her own. It's a little bit like how Hana and team see the other middle schoolers get together at the festival, as you and I watching this show.

Meanwhile, I will feast my eyes on Hanayamata's seiyuu unit and the skit they did for the music video. It's not the first time that a late-night anime marketed to the otaku in this way, but this production is one of the best that I've seen.

[Watch Hanayamata on Crunchyroll!]

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Jeff Chuang
Jeff ChuangAssociate Editor   gamer profile

Yet to be the oldest kid on the block, this East Coast implant writes cryptic things about JP folklore, the industry or dirty moe. Attend cons and lives the "I can buy Aniplex releases" life. ... more + disclosures



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