is the perfect anime to relive the summer, combining youthful nostalgia and warm weather – unless you live in the UK, where buildings are made to keep in the heat rather than let it out, and you spend the entire season sweating and eating countless amounts of ice lollies!
HaNaYaMaTa, an amalgamation of the first couple of letters of each of the main characters’ names, is a heartwarming series about a group of five girls who come together to form a Yosakoi group. Yosakoi is a form of dance that originates from Japan and makes use of the ‘Naruko’ instrument - wooden clappers you flick about with your hands (it's all in the wrist, you might say!). Naru, who has always considered herself average and has a severe lack of confidence, is blown away by American transfer student Hana who is energetic, excitable and determined to form a Yosakoi group in her new school. As the episodes pass, the five girls - especially Naru - become stronger people who value their time with each other whilst learning an entirely new way of having fun.
All things considered, you could class this as a sports anime, albeit using the term quite loosely! Teamwork, fun, practice and the determination to become better and show that to the world all feature. We're complete suckers for things like this, and HaNaYaMaTa certainly doesn't disappoint. What's so unique to this series is the use of colour and the character design – the eyes are drawn in a style rarely seen in anime as they're quite angular, but still look unmistakeably human. In terms of scenery, we’re treated to bright days with the sea stretching out as far as the eye can see, sparkling in the reflection of the sun, and festival nights where the sky is a multitude of colours – a mixture of black, blue, purple and orange that creates a perfect sunset as fireworks explode into further colour. It's a truly beautiful show, and one that makes us yearn for nights like these.
It's certainly a cute show - we're aware that it could be considered 'moe' and as such might not appeal to all of you, but it does deal with more serious issues. One of the girl's relationships with their father is touched upon, and struggling with self-confidence and finding the passion to pursue your dreams are central themes. There is plenty of depth here and we even get to learn about a traditional Japanese form of dancing that all of us (well, at least some of us) weren't aware of before. We might not be taking up Yosakoi anytime soon, but we would take up a second season. Eh, Madhouse? Maybe fit HaNaYaMaTa Season 2 into your schedule in the near future, we'd be very grateful for it!
HaNaYaMaTa is the perfect way to relive the summer with its sunny, bright visuals and physical activity, and maybe we'll return next Summer to watch the series again.
Grab your copy on DVD and Blu-ray today!
Written by: Mitchell Lineham