I admit that I have a soft spot when it comes to slice of life shows with cute girls. When I found out that Hanayamata has an American girl from New Jersey who wants to do Yosakoi (よさこい) a type of traditional Japanese traditional dance, I decided to take a look.
The story focuses on an ordinary girl named Sekiya Naru. She feels too ordinary compared to her best and only friend Sasame Yaya. When she entered middle school, she thought things were going to change, but sadly they didn’t. One day, she meets a mysterious blonde hair girl dressed in a kimono named Hana Fontanstand that looks like a fairy. She wants to take her to a colorful place. The same girl appears again the following day when she transfers into the same school and is in the same class as Naru. After Hana sees her, she pushes her to do Yosakoi. After some thinking, Naru eventually decides to do Yosakoi after learning about Hana’s dreams on the rooftop of the school. Will they achieve the dream of building a Yosakoi team/club and perform at a festival?
Compared to other slice of life shows, while Hanayamata has a lot of light-hearted moments mostly because of Hana’s cheerful personality, I liked how the drama was played out since it showed some of the struggles the girls face in order to change themselves and achieve their dreams and desires. Even if some of the drama could be easily avoid if the girls communicated with their parents (or in Machi’s case, with her older sister), I understand why they would have a hard time telling their parents with the fear of them rejecting it. Thankfully, the drama is not dragged out and gets resolved rather quickly with a heartwarming feeling.
As for the characters, I do find all the girls rather enjoyable. While I find Tami pretty and Hana rather enjoyable, I appreciated how Naru develops throughout the whole show to find a new outlook in life. By the end of the show, she becomes a completely different person with a more cheerful and energetic personality even if she finds it somewhat embarrassing. Of course, her character development also allows her to help Tami, Yaya and Machi resolve their problems.
Although Hanayamata is an underrated show, I still find it very enjoyable because of the characters and the animation. Madhouse Studios pretty much outdid themselves like they did with No Game No Life by making the art production of this show look breathtakingly beautiful. I can happily admit that enjoyed every minute of it. If you can look past the drama, I think most people who enjoy schoolgirl slice of life shows will enjoy it. I won’t mind another season if they decide to do so in the future.
Overall Rating: 9.0/10, A-, Very Good