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 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, and serialized in Manga Time Kirara Forward since June 2011, Hanayamata (ハナヤマタ) received a 12-episode adaptation by Madhouse that aired during the Summer 2014 Anime season. A Playstation Vita game Hanayamata: Yosakoi Live was developed by Bandai-Namco and released in November 2014.

Hanayamata provides examples of the following:

  • A-Cup Angst: Hannah is apparently a little insecure about how she's comparatively undeveloped compared to her schoolmates, never mind the fact that she's an American, and everyone else expects her to be tall and stacked. Yaya uses this fact to poke fun at her, when the former makes Hannah wear her brother's clothes.
    Hannah (over an image of an older and G-cupped version of herself in a bikini): I'm going to look like this when I grow up!
  • Adaptation Distillation:
    • Naru's monologue as she and the remaining Yosakoi Club members prepare to perform for the Hanairo Festival are framed differently in the manga and anime, despite using the same lines. In the former, the focus is more on just how much Hannah meant to everyone, and how it was because of her the club was even possible, but in the latter the focus is just how much Naru had changed since the series started.
    • Hannah being able to make it for the Hanairo Festival. In the manga, she manages to make it just as Naru and the others were climbing up to the stage, and as a result participates in the whole routine, while in the anime, she only arrives in the middle of the yosakoi routine.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: The musical accompanyment during the Hanairo Festival is supposed to be just a midi arrangement (mixed by Yaya and composed by Tami), just loud enough for them to time their steps. This is upgraded into a full-blown Theme Tune Cameo of the anime's opening theme in the final episode, something that was acknowledged in-universe to be beyond the capabilities of either Yaya or Tami to create.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: At least Hannah thinks her dad is this, especially when he tries to advertise the English language school he's teaching at to the girls.
  • Art Shift:
    • The characters often morph to a goofy semi-chibi style during more comedic parts of the story.
    • Sally-sensei during the seventh episode, where she imagines herself and the rest of the Yosakoi Club in an 80's shoujo manga style.
  • Blank White Eyes: Used extensively to picture surprise reactions, first brought on by Naru's bewilderness over "Fairy"'s offer to dance together.
  • Call Back: Hannah's dash to the venue of the Hanairo Festival to how she was first introduced when the series started.
  • Cherry Blossoms:
    • Can be seen everywhere in the Anime's opening.
    • Naru's first encounter with Hannah occurs amidst a cloud of cherry blossoms. 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.
  • Color Failure: Happens all the time with Naru, as a sign of her nervousness. See episode 8 for example.
  • 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.
  • Cool Big Sis: How Sally used to be for Machi when she was younger. A facet of this still remains, as the reason she started teaching at the school in the first place was so she could watch over her sister again.
  • Crash-Into Hello:
  • Daydream Surprise: Yaya's first encounter with Hannah is this, a result of Hannah running away from a police officer after her meeting with Naru.
  • "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.
  • Embarrassed by a Child: In the third episode, some woman hushes a kid who appears to ask what is going on, while pointing at Naru and Hana at their Yosakoi dance practice at a local shrine. Naru is a clumsy beginner, apparently conscious of such things, and Hana gets to lightly encourage her to keep going.
  • Eye Catch: Presenting 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. Or Machi having hardcore idol fan moments.
  • Faceless Masses: Just as we hear Naru's dreadful thoughts that running away from Hana across the school grounds is bound to start rumours, the anime scene of the chase gets accompanied by brief flashes of manga-like panels with a row of simplistic silhouettes, decorated with abundant "whispering" onomatopoeia.
  • 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: All over the place.
    • 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), Hannah's is a bluestar, Yaya's is a red rose, Tami's is a lily, and Machi's is a sunflower. In-universe it sprouts from Naru's father explaining his impression when Naru asks if she has changed in his eyes recently.
    • Official artistic stylization of "Hanayamata" title, has a flower in place of final stroke of "Ta" kana.
    • Google spoof "Zooglu" (ep. 1 in the anime) has a flower after its lettered logo.
    • Hana's recruitment posters for Yosakoi Club are adorned with simplistic flowers here and there.
    • School surroundings are lush with various flowers at their fullest bloom and sakura blooms at the shrine.
    • Just coerced by Naru's cuteness to join the Yosakoi Club ("In name only!"), Yaya writes her name on the club application like an autograph, with a flower scribble at the end of final stroke.
  • Foreshadowing: The policeman yells at some plot-irrelevant kids recklessly climbing bridge railing in the background. Later he's chasing Hana for similar reasons.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The list of official clubs of Naru's school apparently includes a school idol club, a tank club, and a love research club (thus referring to Love Live School Idol Project, Girls und Panzer and another title about girls taking a shot at idol's craft Koi-Ken!, respectively).
  • Gratuitous English: Discussed Trope. Having listened to something in a popular record store with Yaya, Hana wonders why Japanese songs have parts in English, when Japanese is so beautiful. Yaya can't provide an immediate answer.
  • Hidden Eyes: At the start of episode 2, done by Yaya. Revealed to be sparked by mixed feelings over Hana's getting too quickly too friendly with her Naru.
  • Hot Springs Episode: Girls take a dip at the inn they travel for a training camp to, in episode 10.
  • Iaijitsu Practitioner: Naru, remembering Yaya's elated speech on doing what one wants, stands in the dojo back home dressed in training kimono, in confident posture, a sheathed sword by her side. She quickly draws it in a training strike,.. but can't hold the blade still at the end of the arc, loses her balance, and is apparently neither surprised nor pleased.
  • Imagine Spot: Used a number of times as shortcut in monologues.
    • Served with whimpers, when girls contemplate the disaster their first event performance would be without music. The spot itself is rather static.
    • Having just learnt that Machi is the little sister to Sally-sensei, the trio of second-years agree on having had expectations of such sister being "more like this... [a picture of sloppy-faced something under a blanket]".
  • In Medias Res: The first chapter, as well as the chapter where Hannah and Naru visit the Yosakoi shop for the first time, use this.
  • Instant Expert: Notably averted. The series goes to great lengths to show how none of the girls master Yosakoi dancing easily (see Machi's constant frustration during the entirety of episode 10), even Hannah herself. By the end of the show, they're still not even close to being experts, but are competent enough to perform without making noticeable mistakes, but only due to investing hours and hours of practice to their routine.
  • Invisible Parents: Averted this time around — we actually meet both Naru's mother and father (though her mother's face is always hidden), Yaya's father (who was making her help out in their restaurant), and Tami's father (who looks and suspiciously sounds like Tokiomi from Fate/Zero). Finally, there are also Hannah's parents in episode 10.
  • Japanese School Club: The Yosakoi Club itself, of course.
  • 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.
  • Limited Animation: For the Yosakoi dances, surprisingly, where the show resorts to stills (very stylized, but stills nonetheless), panning shots, or cycled animation.
  • Luminescent Blush: Naru is the prime offender, but each of the leads experience this through the course of the series.
  • Male Gaze: Invoked wholeheartedly in episode 10, and there's a lot of focus in the girls' thighs in particular, especially when Sally starts to film the club's Yosakoi routine for Machi.
  • Newspaper-Thin Disguise: The "peeking through a hole" variation, done by Naru's father in episode 6.
  • 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.
  • Painting the Medium
    • Yaya refusing to help getting Hana off Naru's back is followed by a visualization of Naru getting abducted by aliens.
    • The very first scene of the anime is windowboxed, the "box" showing a blurred close-up of an actual picture, which in turn frames Naru's Inner Monologue.
    • At the beginning of episode 2, a strong gloomy aura that has to clear before the actual scene becomes visible accompanies Yaya's Hidden Eyes moment.
  • Panty Shot: Averted. Audience notwithstanding, Naru gets a good look at Tami's lacy unmentionables when the latter shows that she's still quite flexible despite not practicing ballet for a while.
    Naru: White lace with ribbons!
  • Le Parkour: Hannah practiced it (referred as "free running") previously.
  • People Fall Off Chairs: Sitting in the library, lost in thought about the situation with Hana's assault on her peaceful life, Naru suddenly realizes that Hana is watching her from right under the table, and falls backwards along with the chair.
  • 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. Both her parents play things absolutely straight later on, when we finally meet them.
  • Rack Focus: Used in episode 1, where one wouldn't notice Yaya spying on Naru until the camera shifts focus to her, showing that she was in the background the entire time.
  • Real Place Background: The series takes place in Kamakura, which is even more pronounced in the anime.
  • Schoolgirl Series: It's a Kirara series, so this is to be expected.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!:
    • After Student Council demands to desist from misusing the school building roof (by Naru and Hana, for yosakoi practice), Tami comes forward to give advice on best course of action. She mentions doing this for childhood friend Naru's sake, and she's on the Council too.
    • Discussed for laughs when after getting over the surprise, Hana contemplates how Machi the student council president joining the club can get them a big budget and other leniency.
    • Sally-chan-sensei subverts the crisis regarding the sign-up for the Hanairo Festival, through the Yosakoi Shop owner.
  • Skinship Grope: In the hot springs bathing, Hana compliments Tami's sizeable chest and tries to grope Yaya after Yaya blurts a defensive comment about importance of balance.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Zooglu, the Google-like website used by Naru to research Yosakoi, has a button "I'm feeling happy" (it's "I'm feeling lucky" button in case of Google).
    • The start of the third episode is an obvious reference to the earlier James Bond films.
  • 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.
    • The news that Naru did practice with Hana in public place such as local shrine catches Yaya at a bad time as well, in a fast-food restaurant.
  • 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.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Tami is fond of pulling this on Naru and her friends, as shown in episode 4. To be fair though during the times she did this, Naru and her friends were deep in conversation, so they wouldn't have noticed her anyway.
  • Stood Up: Poor Naru's "date" at the movies with Yaya gets forgotten, when the latter gets stuck showing Hannah around town. She even reacts like a stood-up date when Yaya tries to explain things to her the next day.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Initially thought to be a case of Only Six Faces, but some watchers noticed early on just how similar Machi looked to Sally-sensei. Turns out they were sisters, and indeed Tami points out the obvious surname the two of them share.
  • Student Council President: Machi, with a dash of Obstructive Bureaucrat thrown into the mix, given the extreme measures she drops on Naru and Hannah.
  • Twelve-Episode Anime: And no more than that for now.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Barring their school uniforms, the girls change their casual wear regularly, and are never seen wearing the same set through the series.
  • Unmoving Plaid: In episode 7, the flower patterns remain the same despite the folds and creases the clothes experience while the girls practice.
  • Visit by Divorced Dad: Reversed in this case, as it's Hannah's dad who's has custody of her, and it's her mom who suddenly shows up for a visit at the end of episode 10.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Discussed between Machi and Tami, at how everything that Tami's done until that point was apparently so that her father would be proud of her.
  • We Will Meet Again: Said word for word, by Hannah to Naru, when the latter runs off after their first meeting.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episode 8. Naru experienced an extremely badly-timed (and trauma-filled) flashback during the Yosakoi' club's turn to perform, throws everyone off-rhythm, and more or less ruins their presentation in front of an audience of dozens of people.
    • Episode 11. Hannah goes back with her mom back to the US without warning, meaning that not only is the Yosakoi Club bereft of its founder and president, their participation at the Hanairo Festival is put into doubt.
  • Wham Line: The end of Episode 6: Auditions:Did not qualify.