Hanayamata – 12 (Fin)

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In a word, Hanayamata’s finale rocked. The Hanairo Festival was strongly built up throughout the show, and when it came time to finally deliver, it didn’t disappoint. We finally see the end product of Naru meeting Hana, deciding to expand her world, and ends up shining just like the fairy tale heroines she adored as a kid.

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It’s not Naru who realizes she’s shining, but her friends, when Machi messes up in their pre-festival practice and Naru has a series of embarrassing but heartfelt monologues. It’s okay if they’re not the best Yosakoi there, as long as everyone gives it their all and has fun. After all, Hana will be dancing with them within their hearts.

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…And, as it turns out, in person, as well! That’s right, Hana isn’t out of Japan long; when the others stop by to give their completed CD to her Dad, the opportunity finally arises for Hana to tell her parents what she really wants. I can understand why she didn’t say anything—she didn’t want to inconvenience her folks whom she loves so dearly.

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It’s great then than Naru, by delivering that CD, unwittingly sets things into motion that eventually leads to Hana’s return, right in the middle of the rest of the club’s performance. I could nitpick about the likelihood of Hana being able to run that much and then dance in perfect harmony with the others right after a transpacific flight—but I don’t really care how that happened, I’m just glad it did.

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I loved the tension that built as the time to take the stage grew nearer, and my heart sunk when I saw how much traffic Hana and her dad were sitting in. But when it became clear Hana’s intention was to suit up and join them on the stage, that heightened the tension even more. And kudos to Hana’s valiant police escort!

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Their performance, which includes and expands upon both the OP theme and dancing animation therein. With the fireworks “blooming” behind them, the initially skeptical (and somewhat pitying) crowd gradually buys in as they realize these girls are giving it their all and kicking ass up there. Hana’s inclusion couldn’t have been better timed, and the elation and pride felt by the club members as the dance marks an emotional high point for the show.

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What’s also great is that the crowd watching them consists of everyone’s loved ones, most of whom had little to no knowledge of their daughters’ “activities.” That includes Naru’s parents (her dad cries with joy at the sight of her), Tami’s dad (who cracks a grin), Hana’s Dad (shooting Mom pictures with his phone of Hana as happy as they’ve ever seen her), and, surprisingly, Yaya’s former band mates, there to support her. The day goes so well, even Sari and Sea Monk end up hiting it off.

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With their first major performance a great success and Hana deciding to be selfish and stay in Japan with her friends, Machi immediately starts planning for their next gig: their school’s cultural festival. The club and the friendships that have been forged in these twelve episodes seems destined not only to endure for some time, but inspire more to join them. I took a chance on a show about five girls dancing, and I don’t regret it!

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