Monday, November 10, 2014

Anime Review: HaNaYaMaTa

During my Summer 2014 Anime Round-UP I mentioned that this was a show I hadn't tried out yet but was on my short-list to try if I found myself with some free time and that's exactly what ended up happening. I don't remember why but I found myself with a lack of colorful, cute shows in my viewing schedule and this seemed like a natural addition and a good way to fill those lunches at work where nothing else was airing that day.


Naru has never been sure of what she wants to do with her middle school life and too shy to be like her friends and go out and join a club. But when she stumbles a fairy in the night, really a new exchange student named Hana, it seems as if she's found something so interesting that even Naru can't say no to.

I was expecting a "cute girls do cute things" show, which this show was, but it also got closer in tone to an idol show by the end and started reminding me a lot of Love Live. I liked the premise and the characters a lot more than Love Live but it was still and odd feeling, really it was the fact that the girls started singing along to their yosakoi song that put it over the top for me and gave me this odd, almost disgruntled feeling. I had never heard of yosakoi before this show but I've now seen a few real-world clips of the competitions and I would love to see one in person in Japan. Like the show says there's a lot of freedom to the choreography and the costumes and the dancing scenes in the show were easily my favorite parts since they were so well animated and even if the girls only had one dance it was engrossing to watch each time. I do wonder how well this all worked in the manga, I can't imagine watching this story as something other than an animated or live action work and that's my main reason for why even though I liked the show I doubt I'll try to track down the manga and read more of it.

I saw a few people worried about the color design for the show before it started since the director (Atsuko Ishizuka, a woman!) had just wrapped up No Game No Life which had an, enthusiastic approach to color and the trailers did not  look very coordinated visually. But in the show everything meshes together very well, the colors work and the show also makes really strong use of reoccurring flower motifs in each episode which were neat to pick up on. My only quibbles about the art concerns the girls, some of the character designs looked a bit too similar in the faces and I kept thinking that the girls were wearing make-up due to how the coloring was done and I never see girls in middle school, at private schools wearing make-up in real life and if that's the case in the US I suspect that's the same in Japan.

While the events leading up to the ending were overly dramatic (again, it reminded me of Love Live but I still preferred how this story handled that particular cliche) and I thought the story did a good job at both creating closure and leaving it open for future events. I liked the story enough that I would watch a second season but again I don't see myself hunting down the manga or asking any publishers for it. Not sure if I would buy a DVD either, probably not but if say NISA came out with a set with really nice extras I might be tempted enough (as it stands the series is streaming on crunchyroll but has no home video licenser). It's a fluffy story, one I don't think I would get much out of if I went back and rewatched it, but it was perfectly fine fluff and the characters were interesting and engaging despite having some very cliched aspects to them, that's all I wanted and the show delivered!