HaNaYaMaTa, a combination of the five girls’ names, is a show about Naru Sekiya who struggles with her self-confidence and gives up on things easily because of it but when energetic American transfer student Hana N. Fountainstand introduces her to the Japanese dance called Yosakai, they form a group to participate in an upcoming festival.
The Yosakai club consists of Hana, Naru, Yaya Sasame, Machi Tokiwa and Tami Nishimikado who become close friends and find a new love in something that they weren’t familiar with before. Upon looking at the show, I wasn’t sure that it would be for me as it seemed stereotypically ‘moe’ and, well, I’m not a big fan of simply watching cute girls doing cute things. However, this had plenty of depth and touches on serious issues such as divorce, family issues and failure, but it also focuses on teamwork, determination and hope. It’s a feel-good series that I quickly became invested in and it only took me a few days to watch all 12 episodes. I hadn’t heard of this show until Animatsu licensed it but I’m incredibly happy that they decided to bring this fantastic show to the UK!
The show can come across as a little melodramatic at times and there are plenty of tears shed, but the girls are young and it’s easy to be very emotional when you’re still a student. Overall I think the issues were handled maturely and not heavy-handed, and it’s nice to see how the girl’s become closer due to the various issues they face. I’d be eager to check out the source material if it ever headed West but it’s unlikely to happen although a second season could still be on the cards. However, if it’s never continued in anime form or translated, then I’m satisfied with how the anime ends. This show got better with each episode until it reached a powerful ending I won’t be forgetting – HaNaYaMaTa is a show that took me by surprise with how much I grew to love it.
I didn’t realise this until I was nearing the end of the series but the wonderful Madhouse animated HaNaYaMaTa! It’s a downright beautiful show and it’s quite shocking at how many genres Madhouse have had their hands on, but it’s not quite as shocking to see that they always tend to excel! Brimming with colours, lovely character design and dance routines fully animated in 2D, HaNaYaMaTa makes for a pleasant watch. Sparkling and warm, HaNaYaMaTa makes terrific use of colour and it’s been a perfect anime to round out Summer with. It’s been an utter joy to watch in all aspects, and it left me yearning for bright fireworks shows and soothing sunsets.
HaNaYaMaTa boasts a solid English Dub that did justice to the writing and characterisation. A few familiar names crop up including Caitlynn French, Monica Rial and Luci Christian, whilst Carli Mosier and Cynthia Martinez are voice-actresses I don’t know by name but realise I know them via other roles. Overall they’ve all given life to these characters wonderfully, and I had a great time watching the show in English. You can watch it in Japanese too, if you would prefer! The soundtrack has a good few memorable tracks and they make for easy listening, and the opening theme has quickly become a favourite of mine and the ED isn’t particularly far off! I know I’ll smile everytime I watch or listen to the opening – it’s amazing!
HaNaYaMaTa is a lovely show that I loved watching, and I’d happily revisit it someday. It’s an easy recommendation and one of my favourite anime licenses this year, and it’s a strong addition to the ever-growing Animatsu catalogue. Now that the show has made it to both the UK and US on Blu-Ray and DVD, I hope people decide to pick it up and give it a chance as it’s truly an engrossing and heartwarming experience. HaNaYaMaTa deserves to be watched, and I miss it now that it’s over. I’ll hold out hope for a second season!
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