HaNaYaMaTa: Episode 12 – “Hanayamata”

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.

Episode 12 sees Naru and the other three going to see Hana’s father and giving him a copy of the CD with the song the five of them recorded for the Hanairo Yosakoi Festival. In the process of giving him the CD, they explain about them dancing yosakoi together and inviting him to come see them at the festival that’s taking place the day after tomorrow. After they leave, Hana’s father looks rather thoughtful. The way this scene ended, it was a red flag for me that the story was more than likely going to go in the direction that I didn’t want to see it go.

This episode also sees Naru finally telling her father about dancing yosakoi. This scene was rather amusing, since he’d been thinking that Naru had a boyfriend. His relief at finding this out was great, but this was made even better when he tells Naru he supports her in what she’s doing and asks when their performance is so he can go see it.

When there’s only about a half hour left until they go on stage, Naru gets a call from Hana saying she’s back in Japan. After her dad got the CD, he called Hana’s mom about it. After Hana talks to her mother, she gets a plane ticket to return to Japan so she can dance with the others.

But getting there isn’t so easy. Hana’s father is stuck in traffic, so she gets out of the car and has to run as fast as she can in order to make it to the festival. But she still encounters obstacles on her way, and it looks like the other girls have to go on stage and perform without her…

I will end up providing the “spoiler” and say that, yes, Hana makes it. Unfortunately, she doesn’t make it until after the others have already made it up onto the stage and have started their performance. But since she has her costume with her and she throws it on as she’s running, and Naru happens to have Hana’s other naruko and makes a perfect throw to Hana out in the audience, Hana is able to perform.

Unfortunately, Hana’s returning to the group ended up being just as bad, if not a little worse, than I had anticipated. Having Hana cutting it so close simply to create more drama really didn’t work for me, because I just couldn’t use my “willing suspension of disbelief.” It’s good that Hana came back, but it could have been done in a way where Hana didn’t leave quite as close to the festival as she did, and didn’t have to rush back in order to be involved. I would have much rather seen Hana returning and having a really nice reunion scene that’s not rushed. With the way Hana arrives, it basically hurts the flow of the episode when the other girls are doing their dance.

At the end of the episode, Hana says she’s going to talk to her parents to convince them to let her stay. This is then followed by Machi saying they need to get ready for the upcoming culture festival. Hana starts jumping in and getting excited about this, but we never see at the end of the episode whether or not she actually gets to stay! To me, this was a rather important loose end that wasn’t resolved at the end of the series.

Overall, I did enjoy HaNaYaMaTa, even if I was a little disappointed in how the expected resolution with Hana ultimately transpired. Unfortunately, the ending does make me more hesitant to add the series to my anime home video collection at such a time it ever receives a home video release in North America.

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