Hanayamata – 07

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Hana and Naru’s hold on Yaya in the yosakoi club was always tenuous, due to her insistence on “member in name only” status and her obligations to her band. When Need Cool Quality bombs at their audition and then disbands just as Hana and Naru are trying to involve Yaya more, it’s the perfect recipe for Yaya to blow up. And blow up she does.

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It’s not out of the blue, either: in her wounded state, all the giddy enthusiasm of the yosakoi girls throw at her is akin to mocking or laughing at her misfortune, at least from her perspective. When Tami purports to know exactly what’s going on with Yaya, based on her experience with Machi, Hana and Naru’s super-confident first reconciliation attempt backfires spectacularly—as it should, IMO—leaving them far worse off than if they’d said nothing.

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Yaya and Naru’s dynamic used to be that of the superior perfect idol and the fawning acolyte, respectively. Now Yaya’s band is in a ditch—a decision made by the others without her input, no less—yet Naru and Hana’s yosakoi club is chugging along full speed ahead. She’s jealous of their success, and bitter for having taken her own past success for granted. She’s humbled, embarrassed, gloomy, and generally pissed off.

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Naru and Hana’s first attempt didn’t fail because they were being too lovey-dovey, but because they approached Yaya as if they knew exactly what she was feeling and how to “fix everything”, thus projecting a patronizing, almost haughty tone. They correct that the next time, first luring Yaya to the roof by hurling harsh insults upon her, then acting more contrite, with some desperation and genuine waterworks for good measure.

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Getting someone as stubborn as Yaya to back down from comments like “I hate you all!” and “Don’t talk to me ever again!” is no cakewalk, but they pull it off, accepting all the blame for the recent spat and beg her forgiveness, and cry a lot, giving her tacit permission to do the same. Most importantly, they acknowledge they don’t have all the answers. Hana doesn’t make the strongest case in the climactic exchange, but Naru says more than enough to stick the dramatic landing, leading to tearful catharsis.

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Fox Girl Tami Hugs for Everyone!

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Hanayamata – 06

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Naru has been following through on her efforts to change herself for the better, and those efforts haven’t gone unnoticed by her father. He’s concerned by the change, suspecting everything from delinquency to illicit sexual relations, and even more confused when she asked him if he’s noticed her changing, but he has nothing to fear.

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Naru’s simply found something to be passionate about, and work hard with others on. He unwittingly gives her the idea to make the favorite flowers of its members the theme of their yosakoi club. But with only two months to prepare for the Hanairo Festival, they decide that a smaller event would be better in order to test how they’ll perform for a crowd.

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Hana finds such an event at a department store, but numerous hurdles stand in their way. Sari is working hard not to be a pushover, and denies permission to participate unless they all score an average of 80 in their exams and show her their complete performance beforehand. Yaya also has to prepare for her band’s audition, which is a big deal to her and her bandmates. (Interestingly, we don’t get to watch their audition.)

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In the end, Hana doesn’t score high enough, but turns in supplementary work to Sari, not to change her mind, but to show her she’s working hard. When she accidentally gives Sari a notebook with their choreography, Sari starts to have a change of heart, and changes her mind after seeing them perform in front of the class.

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That first impromptu public performance comes when a classmate spots the naruko in Yaya’s hand, and Hana gets the idea to show rather than tell the class exactly what they’re up to. It’s certainly not a perfect or even complete performance, but you have to start somewhere. Also, the music Tami wrote is a really nice piano arrangement of the opening theme.

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But while the yosakoi club enjoys a victory this week, Yaya’s band did not qualify, and they look pretty forlorn about it. At this point I’m sure Yaya is wondering whether her drumming suffered due to diverting some of her passion and energy to yosakoi. The time may come when she’ll have to choose one or the other, and it won’t be an easy choice.

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