HaNaYaMaTa: Episode 3 – “Girls’ Style”

HaNaYaMaTa is an anime series that features a 14-year-old girl named Naru Sekiya as the main character. She likes fairy tales and is worried about her lack of other interests. Her worries are compounded by the fact that her friend, Yaya, is so talented. One day, Naru encounters a blond-haired girl named Hana, who is dancing yosakoi. Hana transfers into Naru and Yaya’s class, and she keeps pestering Naru to dance yosakoi.

At the beginning of Episode Three, Hana and Naru go back to the yosakoi shop, and Hana is determined to get inside. It turns out the guy who looks like he’s from the yakuza is the manager, and he was just afraid that they were coming to vandalize the place after hearing stories about young people today. The manager is caught off-guard, but is happy, when he learns that a young girl and a foreigner have taken an interest in yosakoi.

The next several minutes of the episode take place in the shop, with the manager explaining various things about yosakoi. While this was an “info dumping” scene, it was done in such a way that it kept the audience interested and tried to make it feel a little bit less of an info dump than it really was. This scene was very light-hearted and even a little humorous at times. At the end of this scene, the girls learn a yosakoi festival will be coming, but that they’ll need more members in order to participate.

Hana and Naru try recruiting at school by handing out flyers, but they are stopped by the student council president. She informs them they can’t do that because they’re not an officially recognized club. They’re told they have to have at least four members, an advisor, and submit a registration form to the student council. Hana tries to get their homeroom teacher to be their advisor, but she says she won’t sign the form until they have four members.

Hana and Naru spend time during their long weekend practicing yosakoi at a shrine, and Hana meets Naru’s friend, Tami Nishimikado.

The next afternoon, Naru has plans to see a movie with Yaya. That morning, Yaya finds Hana collapsed outside her family’s store. Yaya brings her inside and feeds her some soba, and makes the mistake of telling Hana about her plans with Naru. Hana begs to go, and Yaya gives in. Unfortunately, they spend so much time together that day that they’re late meeting up with Naru.

By the end of Episode Three, Hana and Naru have the manager of the yosakoi store offering to give them help if they need it after they get a big enough group together so they can participate in the upcoming yosakoi festival. However, they have a major roadblock ahead of them, due to not being allowed to recruit for their club at school until they become a recognized club. So it looks to me as if trying to start a recognized yosakoi club at their school is going to be a major plot point going forward for the series. And why do I have a suspicion that Yaya will somehow end up being recruited to join them due to her being friends with Naru?

This episode also had some more significant interactions between Yaya and Hana. It’s obvious she’s still a bit jealous over the fact that Hana and Naru are friends and hang out together. Yaya keeps saying that she doesn’t like Hana, but there was something about their interactions where it seemed like Yaya was trying to be friendly with Hana but she didn’t seem to be aware that she was acting that way.

So far, I have to give HaNaYaMaTa some credit for the fact that while it has a “moe” look and feel to it, the girls come across as actual characters and not as girls that fit various character types. There’s also been an overarching story that helps to keep a viewer interested, unlike many of the more recent “moe” type shows that seemed to focus more on vignettes and simply being cute rather than having much in the way of substance to its story. I’m hoping that HaNaYaMaTa can continue in the vein that it’s been going, because it’s able to be cute without sacrificing story.

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