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Yozakura Quartet – Hana no Uta – 13 (END)

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「ハナノウタ 3」 (Hana no Uta 3)
“Song of Flowers 3″

As finales go, there’s little else safer for Yozakura Quartet than having another throw down between Enjin and Akina. However you slice it, any moment where fox ears has had a major starring role is typically where the story is at its most engaging, so why break away from the winning formula? Almost 2/3s of the episode devotes itself to reiterating this point, and it irks me is that this notion holds true without fail. I don’t want to come off dismissive of the ending first of all, because this was probably one of the best out of Hana no Uta’s crop. That said, I’m not particularly appreciative of the way the focus was basically stole much of the thunder from the dramatic storyline about the Juri/Lila siblings, even if it had already been all-around weak before Enjin stepped into the picture, and it doesn’t quite sit as right with me to see the story falling back on its infallible crutch.

Still, it’s hard to actually throw up any complains when we actually get around to these segments of Enjin brushing up against the Sakura town brigade. Enjin is always erratic in behavior, always unpredictable in action, and it’s extremely fun to watch him pull the good guys, specifically Akina, by the nose. And I’d say again that there’s little else safer for Hana no Uta to end on other than the Enjin/Akina Hiizumi angle. Archetypical shounen matchuppering aside, I suppose they are symbolic of pretty much every major plotline within the ongoing narrative after all, and the crux of a significant amount of drama –the legacy of the Hiizumis, the mystery of the alternate dimension, the fate of Ao’s brother. All of that lies here, and the connections in the plot only grows stronger with the final few twists that Hana no Uta offers up. The Hiizumi’s abilities are revealed to be two-pronged: to tune and to summon, with Enjin’s striking ability being the dark equivalent to Akina’s tuning. Classic duality plays strongly here as we’re carried through another one of Ryochimo’s incredible action sequence of the climactic battle between the users of these two powers.

The narrative grows even more hectic with the entrance of the surprisingly badass vice-principal (the Elders just seem to effortlessly dominate any moment they are given). The estorism power of the elders are similar based on the Hiizumis, and Enjin’s possession of minor tuning abilities leads to the logical conclusion of Akina being able to perform the same feat with striking.

The huge amount of exposition in the episode was to be expected; we’re only partway into the story after all, and it’s obvious this finale was more a pit stop for the story than a fitting climax. I think I’ve made it plenty clear before that I’m not particular fond of these “story goes on” conclusions, but in this case, I’m more inclined to forgive it given that there is going to be more story- the Tsuki no Naku ONAs that pick up almost immediately after the conclusion of Hana no Uta. I’m eager to see the continuation narrative, especially if there’s going to be more development of Akina’s experiences following the glimpse of the alternate dimension forced onto him by Enjin; Akina’s world has been shaken-up quite thoroughly by the end of Hana no Uta, and there’s bound to be interesting results in his adamant perspective on the Hiizumi powers.

The rest of the episode is pretty much your standard midpoint closing fare. The sisters relationship has be salvaged with Lila now helping out as Juri’s assistant, and Hime –ever the attention seeker- gets the last bits of spotlight with a sweet reciprocal moment of Akina holding her hand; yea, I agree we’ve been around this Hime-shtick way too many times this season already, but its also the utter expressiveness of these moments that I’m reminded why this series have been so charming to watch. And it sort of comes full circle with the start of the series, even though there’s nothing particularly resolute about the ending: it closed off with the characters going out to partake in another one of Sakura Town’s festivities, But there is that single funny shot of Enjin indulging in festival goodies on his lonesome. Still, I can’t say I didn’t expect for Yozakura Quartet to go out in any other way; not with a bang or a whimper, but with the book still wide open.

Epilogue:

Yozakura Quartet   Hana no Uta   13   37 Yozakura Quartet   Hana no Uta   13   38 Yozakura Quartet   Hana no Uta   13   39
Yozakura Quartet   Hana no Uta   13   40 Yozakura Quartet   Hana no Uta   13   41 Yozakura Quartet   Hana no Uta   13   42

Final Impressions

It ain’t poetry, but in the end Yozakura Quartet still delights with its indelible charm. Objective criticism seem to fly in the face of this series when that irresistible something-or-other kept me coming back week after week. Yasuda-sensei’s manga is quite simply one of the oddest pieces of work I’ve come across; as we’ve seen from the key plot arcs of the season, the story splutters somewhat as it tries for the dramatic, and it doesn’t always succeed in building an engaging narrative. Yet I’m continuously charmed by this bizarre narrative that is equal parts silly slice-of-life as well as fantasy action, built upon a curiously laid-back atmosphere and the almost retro-esque irreverence in the narrative’s tone. The quirky characters interactions and dynamics were almost a natural result from these, and was definitely one of the most enjoyable parts of the story; even if the balance in Hana no Uta seems skewed towards the Hime-love, for the most part the chemistry between the major members is well-established, and regardless of the character mix they’re always playing off each other in really fun ways.

And having seen his work twice now, I can scarcely imagine anyone other than Director Ryochimo to bring to life this oddball of a manga. I don’t think its hyperbole to say that he was practically the reason why Hana no UtaHoshi no Umi OVAs before that- are as compellingly executed as they are. Ryochimo brings to the table a kinectic style of cinematography that you’d be hard-pressed to find among his directorial peers. The animation here is quite simply some of the most unique you’d find in the business, with its incredible focus on fluidity and natural movements, while using a lot of peculiar sequences of animation and camerawork to bring these qualities out as much as possible. With the material he’s handed in Yozakura Quartet, the frenetic Ryochimo seems to perfectly capture the very quirky energy in the series with his exaggerated maneuverers and constant expressiveness. The result is always a delight to watch, and I’d especially like to recall the incredible “FUCK YEA” segments of pure action that he consistently delivered throughout the season. It almost seemed like there was never dull moment passing by without Ryochimo adding some bit of flair to it; his signature on this series is unmistakeable, as it was when he worked on Noein and Birdy Decode. I only wish there were more directors of his ilk, as unafraid to let loose as he has.

Sure, Yozakura Quartet might be a bit light in the head from time to time, and sure, there are times the bare-bones narrative is covered with little more than theatrics and presentation, but there’s charm to this series in its the inspiring cinematography, its kooky atmospherics and the extremely likable cast of characters. Hana no Uta is nowhere near greatness (you’d still need a consistently strong narrative for that) it’s a damn good bit of fun, and a great example of how strong execution is able to make up for where a series falls short,

Author’s Notes

Well, this looks to be my last post in awhile as I go on my indefinite hiatus. Between post grad work and job hunting, real life has gotten so onerous that I can no longer devote the time or energy to blogging reliably, and it looks to stay that way for the next few months. I’ll be taking more of a backstage role here on, but I do intend to cover the Tsuki no Naku ovas at some point. For the readers who’ve stuck with the post, I can’t thank you enough for the support you’ve shown, and I hope you can continue supporting the site with the same enthusiasm you’ve all shown.

January 6, 2014 at 5:35 pm
19 comments »
  • January 6, 2014 at 5:45 pmCroos

    ∠(`・ω・´)
    ご苦労様です!

  • January 6, 2014 at 5:48 pmSDFGS

    I hope for the best with your real life commitments asobi, I’m glad someone picked up this series~
    How casually lila told her mother she was alive was priceless ^_^
    Does anyone know when the second Tsuki no Naku OVA will be released?

  • January 6, 2014 at 5:51 pmVsAllGaming

    Overall I liked the anime a lot. For the last episode I love the fighting and the animation was definitely good but as an overall ending I did feel like it was a little weak to me :/

  • January 6, 2014 at 6:23 pmzztop

    So what exactly is happening in the parallel universe that Enjin came from? What happened to everyone/everything that got sent there?
    Has the source manga elaborated on this?

    • January 7, 2014 at 3:33 amlorenzo

      Translations are a bit behind with the chapters, but those questions are gradually being addressed. What is interesting with YQ is that every chapter gives us a precious bit of interesting information about the world the series is set in.

  • January 6, 2014 at 8:22 pmpetitorenji

    the babies look older than their adult counterparts.

  • January 7, 2014 at 12:02 amOasis

    kick butt out there! =D and thanks for always sharing your input on these animated shows

  • January 7, 2014 at 2:52 amlolicon

    i smell an ova is coming up

  • January 7, 2014 at 3:23 amCybersteel

    TUNING!

  • January 7, 2014 at 3:30 amlorenzo

    If you liked the premises, people, go read the manga. Hana no Uta was a good adaption, but it couldn’t give off the same feel as the original work. Yasuda Suzuhito’s drawing lack some things (backgrounds are nearly nonexistent), but the story and characters give me shivers. Some really great arcs come later one. Go read the manga.

  • January 7, 2014 at 5:20 amRockmanshii

    Was a really great episode. Too bad they skipped the few pages explaining how Lila was “dead” back then. She can stop her heart and that’s what she did back then. The fact that she does the most amazing things even though she’s a human is pretty nice. In the next arc too…
    In conclusion I really liked the show, as a fan of YZQ. I don’t think it’s one of the best I watched this year though, because the of the Ibara Michi arc in the middle, which is the weakest arc imo, and seeing it agaaain made me sick. That’s too bad but they had to go through this for newcomers to the story.
    Byebye Asobi it was fun.

  • January 7, 2014 at 8:15 amc2710

    The absence of full lengths is most disturbing

    Nonetheless. thanks Asobi for picking it up

  • January 7, 2014 at 8:37 amXRick

    I quite enjoyed this series, despite having avoided it for a long time, especially because of what I read about the first series…
    I’d seen the Hoshi no Umi OVAs way before and at first I didn’t even know it’d be used for connection with the series (The Ep08 to 09 Disparity) nor did I know left from right of this story.
    After rechecking the OVAs, watching the series and OVAs in proper order and reading the Manga up-to-date, I can now say this is a kind of story I wanna keep following…
    Despite the Anime character designs being different from the Manga’s, I quite like them and the animation gives some more depth to the “world” of YZQ.
    But the Manga have a particularity of showing the same day through a few chapters, showing us what each character/group is doing at the same time, and that’s something I don’t see quite often.

    Also, I took the liberty of making a list of how the adaptation fared:
    [Hana no Uta] 01-02 – Alternate v01 c01-05 (Prologue)
    [Hana no Uta] xx-03 – v02 c06 – v02 c08 (Prologue) (c09 not adapted)
    [Hana no Uta] 04-08 – v02 c10 – v04 c22 (Thorny Path) (c21 not adapted)
    [Hoshi no Umi] 01-03 – v05 c23 – v07 c34 (Sea of Stars) (c29 not adapted)
    [Not Adapted] __-__ – v07 c35 – v07 c39 (Walking Pilgrimage)
    [Hana no Uta] 09-10 – v08 c41 – v08 c43 (One of Six) (c40 not adapted)
    [Hana no Uta] 11-13 – v09 c44 – v09 c50 (Song of Flowers)
    [Not Adapted] xx-__ – v10 c51 – v10 c53 (Separately)
    [Not Adapted] xx-__ – v10 c54 – v10 c56 (Coming Summer)
    [Tsuki ni Naku] 01-03 – v11 c57 – v11 c62 (Crying to the Moon)
    [Not Adapted] __-__ – v12 c63 – v12 c68 (Story)
    [Not Adapted] __-__ – v13 c69 – v13 c73 (Oni Tale)
    [Not Adapted] __-__ – v14 c74 – v__ c__ (???)

  • January 7, 2014 at 8:46 amewok40k

    I was right about Lila getting better and her defeat meaning friendship (hey it is YZQ!).
    I wonder what is source of her magic since she was not struck after all…
    “No tricks, no gimmicks!”

  • January 7, 2014 at 11:58 amchad28

    gonna miss reading you.
    good luck on your new endeavours.

  • January 8, 2014 at 5:37 pmkyurenjo

    Hana no Uta is simple, steady but strong.

    Good series, good read. Thanks for pick this up! =)