This was a different show for me. Yes, it is a dancing show, and, on a nuts-and-bolts level, not much different than “AKB0048” or “Long Live!”, in that a group of girls wish to perform, but it is done in a different manner and it is earnest without being overweening. “Hanayamata” tells the story of Naru Sekiya (front and center), an ordinary 14-year old girl who likes fairy tales. She sometimes wishes her life could be like one, but, that’s the harsh realities of real life. You have to play the cards you are dealt. She is worried about her lack of other interests and dearth of friends. She has a nighttime chance encounter with a “fairy”, a foreign girl practicing dance at a temple. On the spur of the moment, Naru asks to join her and she is introduced to the world of yosakoi dancing. And the rest of the team include, left to right:
Hana N. Fountainstand, that foreign girl ‘fairy’
Yaya Sasame, one of Naru’s friends
Machi Tokiwa, student council president
Tami Nishimikado, student council vice-president
Not pictured is Sari Tokiwa, Machi’s sister, a teacher at the school as well as the club advisor and Masaru Ōfuna, the owner of a yosakoi shop. The series is how these girls interact together and push forward in trying to get to a competitive level to be in the Hanairo Festival, where you showcase your skills. Yes, this is a standard show about (a) overcoming adversity, (b) bettering yourself, both physically and emotionally, (c) understanding the power and strength of friendship, (d) taking responsibility for all that you do and don’t do and (e) enjoying life as it is set before you.
I felt that some of the ‘controversies’ and ‘potholes’ set before them were contrived to give a level of plot depth to the show. It’s the usually things: how can we get enough members for the club to be recognized by the staff, why does the council hate us so, where can we practice, can we afford all these costumes, what if I can’t learn all these steps, all that usual school concerns. I know that nothing runs smoothly, but if you took five minutes out to sit people down and explain things to them, the problems would clear up and things could run smoother, but then you do not grow through adversity and shared experiences. The show does have a bit of a predictable conclusion, but this is a nice, gentle anime, something you would show a young lady if you wanted her to get interested in anime and follow it.
For an old fuddy-duddy like me? I like a good story line, even if they got a bit too gaspy for me on occasion.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (Almost too cute)
Plot 7 (Typical plot handled well)
Pacing 8 (Good use of pacing)
Effectiveness 7 (Slightly telegraphed)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Overall 7 (Still a feel-good approach)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Is this muscle or fat?