HaNaYaMaTa: Episode 11 – “Smile is Flower”

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 until she finally relents. After some effort, Hana is finally able to establish a Yosakoi Club at school that includes Hana, Naru, and two friends of Naru’s (Tami and Yaya, though Yaya says she’s a member in name only). Yaya eventually becomes a full-fledged member after her band breaks up.

This episode sees Hana being down and not talking to the others in the Yosakoi Club about what’s bothering her. But the audience quickly learns what’s going on: Hana’s parents are reconciling, and Hana will be moving back to the United States. But the move is so sudden, and is ultimately timed in a way that she’ll have to leave before the Hanairo Yosakoi Festival.

Hana does make an attempt to tell the others, but chickens out. Then she goes to see Naru personally and spills everything. She’s torn: she wants to dance with everyone, but she just can’t tell her parents. She’s wanted her parents to reconcile and it’s her mother’s dream for them to be a family again. Since Hana’s leaving the next day, there’s no way to get word to the others because of how late it is.

Personally, I thought it was a little on the rude side how Hana left a letter for Naru to read to the others. While I understand there was no time, I wish Hana had been a little stronger and had said something earlier to the other girls about her situation and what was going on.

At the airport, we learn it’s just Hana and her mother heading back for now; Hana’s father has to stay until summer classes are over and he can find someone to fill his position. Wait a minute, hold up… if Hana’s dad is staying, why couldn’t Hana have stayed to participate in the festival and then headed to the States with her father? I know that Hana really couldn’t talk to her parents about the dancing, but if she knew her dad would be staying, couldn’t this have potentially given her some courage to say something? I understand that it wouldn’t have been as dramatic if it had been done that way, but logically that would have made sense.

The other girls manage to catch up to Hana at the airport and say their goodbyes, which includes Hana handing over one of her naruko to Naru. The girls promise to dance well enough at the festival to make up for Hana’s absence.

I had basically predicted this would happen in my writeup for Episode 10, but to see it actually happen is another matter entirely. To see Hana, who was the driving force and foundation for bringing these girls together to dance yosakoi in the first place, suddenly up and leave like this is a little disconcerting. I have a hard time believing that Hana won’t be in the finale; but to make that work, something rather ridiculous or cheesy would have to take place in order for that to happen, since Hana is on the airplane heading to the United States at the end of Episode 11. About the only way her leaving would work would be if the writers wanted to convey a message about friends always being close, no matter how far apart they are.

With this development, I’m very intrigued to see how Episode 12 will bring HaNaYaMaTa to an end.

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