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Manga: Hanayamata
Naru Sekiya, on the cover of volume 1.

"How about you dance along with me?"

Naru Sekiya is feeling listless. She's always felt too ordinary and boring, especially when compared to her best friend Yaya Sasame, but due to her innate meekness she's never been able to reach out to other people. She hoped that things would change once she entered middle school, but now she's already in her second year, and her situation remains unchanged. Will she be able to shine brightly like the heroines of the fairy tales she still loves reading about? She's not really sure anymore.

Then, one night as she's walking home from yet another mundane day at school, she encounters a beautiful fairy, dancing amidst a cloud of cherry blossoms and under the light of the evening moon. The fairy, surprised by Naru's attention, bolts, but Naru chases after her, a part of her desperate to join the fairy in going to whichever realm it was going, which was likely much more colorful than the world Naru was currently living in. On impulse she asks the fairy to take her as well.

This piques the interest of the fairy, but as soon as Naru is to find out, the "more colorful world" that she was promised wasn't exactly what she was expecting.

Penned and drawn by Sou Hamayumiba, Hanayamata (ハナヤマタ) has been serialized in Manga Time Kirara Forward since June 2011, and currently has four volumes compiled. An anime adaptation for it by Madhouse is scheduled to air during the Summer 2014 Anime season, while a Playstation Vita game by Bandai-Namco entitled Hanayamata: Yosakoi Live has also been announced.

Hanayamata provides examples of the following:

  • The Ace: Naru's friend Yaya is great at academics, incredibly popular, and is also musically talented. Her only failing seems to be the fact that her handwriting seems to be indecipherable.
  • Blithe Spirit: Hannah, with a dash of Manic Pixie Dream Girl thrown in.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: It's hard to believe that Hannah is "merely" incredibly athletic, given what she's been shown to accomplish during the first episode/introductory chapter alone: vertically jump more than four times her height (on platform geta sandals at that!), balance perfectly on precarious surfaces, or quietly appear in unexpected places. It's for these reasons (and the fact that she's apparently very pretty) that Naru mistook her for a fairy when they first met.
  • Cherry Blossoms: Naru's first encounter with Hannah occured amidst a cloud of cherry blossoms. Not surprising though, as it's the start of springtime when this happens, and all the cherry trees in the area are in full bloom.
  • Childhood Friend: Naru and Yaya have known each other since grade school, while Tami and Naru's families have had close ties since at least her grandfather's time.
  • Conveniently Seated: Naru sits at the window corner seat as per anime tradition. Yaya and Hannah sit in front of her and at the right hand of her, respectively.
  • Cute Little Fangs: Hannah has an obvious pair of canines.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Naru in a nutshell. The main plot definitely centers around Naru taking her first steps out of her comfort zone.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The OP is done by the voice actresses of the five main characters. Also doubles as a Dancing Theme, which given the context of the show, makes complete sense.
  • Eye Catch: Used to present personal information on the main characters that aren't readily apparent in the series itself, like Naru apparently loving to draw, or Yaya's utterly unreadable handwriting.
  • Face of a Thug: The owner of the local Yosakoi shop looks like a stereotypical gangster, and Hannah says as much when she and Naru first meet him.
  • Flower Motifs: The main characters each have a flower associated to them, though this was made much more obvious by the anime's promotional material. Naru for example is a cherry blossom (see the image used for this page), while Yaya's is a red rose.
  • Friendless Background: Implied by Hannah, particularly during her revelation of her love for American superhero comics.
  • The Generic Girl: How Naru feels. She doesn't like it. Due to the art style used by the series though this comes off as a bit of an Informed Attribute.
  • Genki Girl: Hannah. In fact she's so cheerful and enthusiastic that it actually alienates her from many of her schoolmates.
  • Kimono Is Traditional: While yosakoi is as recent as 1955, it was based on traditional dances, and so is still performed with kimono. The series follows the tradition.
  • Luminescent Blush: Naru is the prime offender, but each of the leads experience this through the course of the series.
  • New Transfer Student: Hannah, who transfer into Naru's school at the end of the second chapter.
  • Hair Decorations: The main cast is invariably wearing something on their hair, most of them hairclips — see Naru's flower hairclip in the series image above.
  • Occidental Otaku: It turns out that Hannah is a yosakoi dance nut, and one of the main reasons she came to Japan was to learn more about it.
  • Odd Friendship: Hannah and Naru look like this to outsiders, what with the former being ridiculously cheerful and outgoing, while the latter is initially possessed of an almost paralyzing case of shyness. Turns out that they have more in common than either first realized, as revealed in their conversation during the second episode.
  • Older than They Look: Hannah happens to be around the same age as Naru, yet she's much shorter than her.
  • Parkour: Hannah practiced it (referred as "free running") previously.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Hannah N. Fountainstand, the so-called fairy that Naru meets, is from America, so obviously she gets to be blonde and blue-eyed. In a bit of a subversion though, Hannah is actually much shorter than Naru, and not stacked at all.
  • Proper Tights with a Skirt: Of the ensemble of girls, Hana is the only one who wears tights with her school uniform. She's also the shorty.
  • Real Place Background: The series takes place in Kamakura, which is even more pronounced in the anime.
  • School Club Stories: Arguably its supporting plot is how Hannah gets enough people to form a Yosakoi club.
  • Schoolgirl Series: It's a Kirara series, so this is to be expected.
  • Second Year Protagonist: Naru, Yaya, and Hannah are all in their second year of middle school.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The start of the third episode is an obvious reference to the earlier James Bond films.
  • Shrinking Violet: Naru.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Is it Hana, or Hannah? While the former spelling makes sense, given the flower theme the series has, the latter seems much more correct for a Westerner to have. Crunchyroll went with the former, while translators of the manga have so far been undecided, and have actually used both for different chapters.
  • Spit Take: Done by Yaya, when Hannah turns up outside the window she and Naru were standing beside. Said window happens to be on the second floor, so the reaction is merited.
  • Spoiler Opening: We have a series about an incredibly shy girl who doesn't even know how to dance, and yet the opening shows her dancing in sync with four other girls.
  • Something We Forgot: Yaya got so caught up in babysitting Hannah that she completely forgot about her promise to Naru to watch a movie together.
  • Token Mini-Moe: Hannah.
  • Tsundere: Yaya. Not only does she start spouting the stock tsundere phrases once her jealousy goes on overdrive, she actually gets called this by Hannah.
  • We Will Meet Again: Said word for word, by Hannah to Naru, when the latter runs off after their first meeting.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Tami fits this to a tee, being a well-mannered girl brought up in a traditional and affluent family. Hannah even calls her as such.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Courtesy of the thigh-highs worn by Yaya.

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