YZQ: Hana no Uta is More Slice of Life Than Action Shounen

[Cthuko] Yozakura Quartet Hana no Uta - 02 [720p Hi10P H264][1794C3BE].mkv_snapshot_17.29_[2014.01.03_00.52.25]Yozakura Quartet should be a supernatural shounen series with lots of action when you read the premise.

It is, but also not.

(But that’s only because people get too caught up in attaching patterns based on genres and demographic and conventions instead of taking in everything case to case)

Yozakura Quartet has your shounen male lead and the normal love triangle where one girl is clearly losing. All the characters have their pasts which are used as stories for the story arcs that develops them. You have a main villain that is slowly built upon through the charcacter arcs. Some may get irritated by little things being illogical for their arbitrary logic because of the quirkiness, but in general the battles are very enjoyable.

Hana no Uta has a unique energetic but light feel to it thanks to its characters and the lively direction that really fits the material. The characters are quirky and full of energy. They may be based on stereotypes (everyone on earth is if you simplify enough), but they are well characterized and complex enough for the series. They all feel alive and their interactions really give an attitude to the whole series. I’m not really one to talk about script quality, but the script (series comppsition by Manabu Ishikawa) feels good. Dialogue flows naturally and is always full of character. That may be from the manga. If that’s the case, then job well-done to the writers for adapting it skillfully. A copy-paste job usually does not turn out great. It also helps a lot that voice acting was good. Speaking of sound, the OST won’t grab your attention like what presently in demand composers put out, but it really fits well and a lot of the pieces are actually really fun to listen to separately. Try listening to some.

[Cthuko] Yozakura Quartet Hana no Uta - 09 [720p Hi10P H264][97973159].mkv_snapshot_08.46_[2014.10.07_17.27.28]Visually, this series is excellent, especially for a seemingly low budget TV series. Storyboards are always exceptional, utilizing creative camera work, simple and complicated alike, along with really good composition to establish and maintain the quirky and lively atmosphere of the series. Episode direction was always good with Shingo Yamashita‘s episode 10 being the standout episode for me. Kiyotaka Suzuki‘s episode 02 was also a memorable one direction-wise. Both episodes were also storyboarded by them which shows just how much involvement they had in these episodes. A lot of episodes feature excellent lively animation from legends like Norio Matsumoto to young up and coming talent. Less important scenes looked decent at worst despite having that rushed feel, probably due to the animation directors plus Ryo-timo himself being chief animation director for most episodes. The character designs were simplified versions of the OVA designs. The subtle bumps that made the bodies really realistic were less pronounced or removed. This was a good decision though as many less-skilled animators would have trouble with that design in tight schedules. The overall construction of their bodies are still close to real people and that’s what I really liked with the art style; the look is anime but it feels realistic. There is flesh. The colors were really vibrant and goes well with the show’s energy, but what’s really noteworthy was how they used colors for lighting in many scenes. It’s not really unique to this series, but the way they often exaggerate the lighting — always pushing for extremes in lighting such as almost monotone coloring, or strong contrast and complementary colors in the lighting — looks amazing to me. It adds a lot of life to the backgrounds and characters.

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After being cool, it’s time she ate the sakura mochi she’s been carrying on her head the whole day.

Story arcs are your typical characters arcs that develop the character in focus while some of the bigger things happen in the background. In the more serious scenes, the quirkiness is not lost for the most part which I liked because it makes the whole show feel consistent. It doesn’t have “original” story concepts or “epic” storylines or (trying to be) ocean-deep characters that “good” shows have. You won’t get some details you wanna know and you may get impatient with how the series tells its stories, which is the most polarizing thing about this series.

Ryo-timo‘s version of Yozakura Quartet is a bit unconventional in its storytelling. There are many series like that but don’t cause problems for most viewers. Kyousogiga, which aired in the same season as Hana no Uta, wasn’t conventional. It was however pretty clear about it. From the start, it was obvious that it’ll do everything in its own way. It also had a not-so-typical story which further prevents viewers from subconsciously (or consciously) expecting conventional things from it. In Hana no Uta, there aren’t too many obvious things which prevents a viewer from expecting something conventional. It can be discomforting for people who expected something more akin to your traditional shounen structure.  For someone who expected it to be your normal supernatural battle shounen, it may seem like the story is all over the place and that things aren’t built up and executed well. It can’t be helped if someone doesn’t enjoy it, but I don’t believe it’s due to bad execution. I’d say it’s more about taste and/or effects of expectations. So far I’ve only been praising the show, but I did find it to be a little too stretched out for its own good around the halfway episodes. Another thing to note is that the Hoshi no Umi OVAs happen in between the two main arcs of Hana no Uta. I’d say one should watch Hoshi no Umi first for convenience instead of trying to insert Hoshi no Umi in the middle.

The biggest reason why Hana no Uta is somewhat unconventional and polarizing is that its heavily slice of life in its presentation. Rather than structuring the scenes for the story underneath as priority, we just follow the characters in their daily lives. It is slice of life in that sense. We see how the characters spend their days. We see them interact with each other about daily things. We see them do lots of things unrelated to the story, maybe even more than story-related things. It’s all about enjoying watching them live their lives. It’s about enjoying the quirkiness of their version of mundane, and enjoying it all the more because of the character depth the stories provide. There are story-heavy parts, but we are still watching them live out their daily lives. It just so happens that these characters’ are involved in big events.

That’s how Hana no Uta and the whole Ryo-timo adaptation of the Yozakura Quartet rolls. And that’s why it’s so fun.

having fun

Jump shots are fun.

P.S. I haven’t read the manga so I don’t know how the manga compares to the anime, but that doesn’t matter in assessing the anime itself.

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About cladinblue

Clad in blue and surrounded by fields of gold.

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