Hanayamata is a twelve-episode slice of life anime based on the manga by Sou Hamayumiba. The anime was adapted by Madhouse.
The plot of Hanayamata centres on Naru Sekiya, a 14-year old girl who loves fairy tales. Due to a chance encounter, Naru is introduced to the world of yosakoi dancing.
As ever, characters are an important element in any slice of life anime, and the main cast are all charming. Five girls eventually make up the yosakoi club, though their recruitment is spread out through the series.
Naru is the protagonist, and she desires to shine. She doesn’t possess much in the way of confidence, however.
The person who starts the yosakoi club is Hana N. Fountainstand. She is a transfer student from America. She absolutely adores Japanese culture, especially yosakoi.
Yaya Sasame is Naru’s best friend, and starts the series in a band. However, her circumstances change and she becomes a full-fledged member of the yosakoi club. She is particularly clingy when it comes to Naru.
Tami Nishimikado is the student council vice-president. Naru considers her a big sister, as they grew up together. At first, Tami is somewhat obsessed with pleasing her father, but the yosakoi club helps her to overcome that.
The last member is the student council president, Machi Tokiwa. She is close friends with Tami. She comes off as very strict, but has a weakness for sweet things.
Each of the five members of the yosakoi club has their own flower motif; cherry blossom for Naru, bluestar for Hana, rose for Yaya, lily for Tami and sunflower for Machi.
Four of the five characters seem to have something to overcome when they join the yosakoi club. This allows the spotlight to focus on one character at a time, as the yosakoi club slowly expands. This allows for plenty of character development, as well as focusing on the theme of friendship.
When it comes down to it, Hanayamata is very much a ‘cute girls doing cute things’ anime. It does with with such charm and flair that almost every episode is guaranteed to leave you feeling warm inside.
There is one minor flaw. For an anime that has a focus on yosakoi dancing, the girls’ full routine is never shown. All that the viewer gets to see is bits and pieces of the routines. However, as mentioned, this is a minor flaw and it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of this anime. It just would have been nice to see the whole completed routine performed is all.
A charming anime that invokes the themes of friendship to make you feel warm inside. Well worth watching.