OP: 「桜のあと(all quartets lead to the?)」 (Sakura no Ato (all quartets lead to the?)) by UNISON SQUARE GARDEN
「サクラサク」 (Sakura Saku)
“Blooming Cherry Blossoms”
To be honest, I never expected a new Yozakura Quartet series to ever be made. I don’t think the franchise was ever that popular as to warrant yet another anime production, nor do I remember the previous entries selling all that well. And I get it; if you were to ask me, I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell you what I liked about Yozakura Quartet if you didn’t first give me a couple of hours to ponder, such as with this blog post. Whether it was the original TV anime, the manga, the OVAs, or even this new reboot TV series…it definitely wasn’t the kind of show that was immediately appealing to people.
But watching this episode reminded me of what made the OVA so incredibly captivating. Yozakura Quartet’s setting of a town where humans and youkais live alongside each other is one that is fantastical, quirky, and oftentimes cartoony, but it remains so confidently nonchalant and natural about it throughout. I’m strongly reminded of Kyousogiga in the same way, and there’s a lot of overlapping feelings between the two. But instead of the frenetic energy that assails Kyousogiga, the phrase that keep popping back in my mind while I was watching the episode is “playfully laid-back”. There’s almost no discernable switching of gears from low to high. During the craziness of the supersizing goldfishes, every person in the town (except the panicky Touka) seems to treat the chaos as though it was an everyday occurrence, and what’s incredible is how the show progresses to this episode climax before winding down again in one smooth act. The storytelling in Hana no Uta feels incredible natural, and never seems to break from its playful and simple tone.
The other thing was the great chemistry between its characters; this is one of the few shows where the cast of characters achieves a great balance, and everyone is capable of playing off each other in really fun ways. Through the eyes of the lost child Lily (later revealed to be a bodacious magical witch antagonist) we are reintroduced to the world of Yozakura Quartet and its characters: Lily first stumbles onto Isone Kotoha (Sawashiro Miyuki), a Kotadama-powered half-youkai, and Kishi Touka (Tomatsu Haruka), an ogre with super strength. The feisty mayor of Sakura Town with an appetite, Yarizakura Hime (Fukuen Misato), soon barges into the picture with her aide, Touka’s brother Kishi Kyousuke (Ono Daisuke). Lily is then brought to the lost child area which Hiizumi Akina (Kaji Yuuki) and Nanami Aoi (Saki Fujita) are running, rounding off the introductions to the major characters of the show. Name dropping everywhere, and we haven’t even gotten to the supporting characters, like V. Juri F. (Ookubo Aiko)! But to the credit of Yozakura Quartet, it never goes overboard with the introductory exposition (it fact, it’s rather skimpy with it, if you’d believe me) instead taking its time to reintroduce the show without losing its head. As far as reintroductions for reboots go, this was definitely one of the best ones I’ve seen; keeping it as simple and as natural as possible.
Of course, the major selling point of this new reboot is that it’s being helmed by Ryochimo, director and chief animator of the series’s very excellent OVA, while bringing over much of the same core production team at Tatsunoko. If you haven’t seen those, I’d highly recommend watching them if you have an hour or two to spare; not only are they a nicely self-contained storyline within the Yozakura Quartet chronology, it’s also a great way to see if this show really is your cup of tea. Most of all, it really gives you a succinct taste of Ryochimo’s capabilities as a director and an animator. We’re deep into a visually spectacular season that makes the cinephile in me squeal like a little girl; shows like Kill la Kill, Kyousogiga, and Kyoukai no Kanata all wowing with their own distinctive cinematographic flair. Ryochimo’s Yozakura Quartet stands as another one to add to this list; just like his work on Birdy Decode and Noein, what we see of Hana no Uta feels kinetic, fluid and extremely expressive, with an emphasis on loose art and unorthodox cinematography. The short fight sequences with the goldfish was a great showcase of this, but what really stuck in my mind was the various little movements, expressions and artistic touches throughout; thing like the characters bobbing shoulders together, or Aoi rolling the mochi she’s been keeping on her head into her mouth.
You can’t dance round the elephant in the room when discussing the “new” animes of Yozakura Quartet: the character designs and general artistic direction marks a distinct departure from creator Yasuda Suzuhito’s sharp art style, undoubtedly provoking the manga purist just like the OVA did. What I do feel is that the character design really fit well with the playful energy in Ryochimo’s directing; The show revels this with a host of exaggerated expressions and playful movements of the characters, and gives the show much of its vibrant tone.
It’s been a veritable eon since I’ve last touched the manga, and I don’t think I’ve even reached the point covered in the OVA, so I’m about as new to this TV series as any other first time watcher. That said, I’ve heard the positivity over the narrative arc that the anime will supposedly cover, and if it’s anything like the OVA, I’m expecting the show will ramp up to another strong storyline. As it strictly stands right now though, this episode worked as a great reintroduction to the series; the chemistry between the characters is there, the brief action was incredibly fun (I’d actually put it around Kyoukai’s level) and the quirky, playful humor was in check. I don’t want to jump the shark and say we have a winner on our hands just yet, but we’ve evidently got a great setup working here. If Hana no Uta can just push the storyline into more enticing waters, there’s reason to be hopeful yet.
Full-length images: 09.
ED: 「ツキヨミ」 (Tsukiyomi) by phatmans after school
I never watched the first series, though I meant to get to it many times before. I’m glad this reboot was released so that I can watch it with a “new” feeling. I’m loving the art and animation, as opposed to the screen shots of the first series that I saw. While it definitely wasn’t the worst art, I didn’t really like it.
As for the first episode itself, I loved it,(period). The fall season always bring the best anime! Damn!
Totally agree! I’ve never seen the first series as well, but Hana no Uta’s 1st episode and the Hoshi no Umi OVAs were really easy to get into, and they do a great job of easing first-timer viewers into the world they’ve built.
Gotta agree about the art. This style is better for action scenes but its weird seeing the characters so . . . round.
Keep in mind the original TV series did not follow the manga very faithfully.
I wonder how much of a reboot Hana no Uta gonna be because in the manga this arc is set after the OVAs. But Zakuro Show Spoiler ▼
Lily’s transformation sequence is delicious (Hope someone make a gif of that) something you can’t get in the manga *drool*.
Ono Daisuke voicing a dude with incredible strength throwing vending machine, AGAIN. Not to mention the manga author is the illustrator for Durarara!!.
yeah also looking for a gif of the transformation scene..lol
yeah, I was wondering that too since I thought Zakuro’s storyline was closed during the OVAs. Unless she has some form of comeback or they decide to actually redo the scenes they already did for her and incorporate the OVA into the actual series (But I never read the manga…or read the LN? so I wouldn’t know)
Lets hope this turns out better then the last tv series.
This is so “best-of-season” as far as first-ep goes. Lovin’ the break from the fantasy-bewbs trend this season. I couldn’t get into season 1 but the OVAs were such fun. “Shōto-katto!” pumps doses of excitement up my spine every time; Kotoha is brilliant.
I watched the the first one, and I liked it. Of course, the new ones are way, way better
i still find it mindboggling that they chose to reboot the series instead of continuing where the first season left off. But whatever, at least those OVAs released afterwards were awesome.
Back to the show. While i personally dilike the new character designs (the ones from first season by Yasuda were much better), it didn’t hinder my enjoyment. The actions were done beautifully, and the spectacular teamworks of Akina’s comrades against oversized goldfish was funny and left a smile on my face. My praise mainly goes to Kotoha for her amazing “Kotodama Tsukai” (wonder why the fansub simply translated it without leaving the original term intact), which i still remembered her using it to freeze half of the town on the first season.
Oh, and please more Tsundere song in the future!
The first Yozakura Quartet anime went with original ending. This series does need a reboot like FMA:Brotherhood.
I’m curious whether they will take everything that happen in Hoshi no Umi into this TV series. If not… guessing I wouldn’t be seeing Zakuro’s Chinese robe.
I’m also curious with the content since it is clearly not a 100% manga adaptation.
This is noty MY Kotoha! Sorry but summoning aquariums is much less cool than summoning guns. Lots of guns! or a very large one…
Though she is the same as this one.
Absolutely love Kotoha and YEAY!
RETURN OF THE HOT NURSE!
Does anyone here know if this is gonna follow the Manga and from the beginning?
And if it’s a need to check the OVAs first? (This one is for a friend of mine)
From the looks of it they might reintroduce everything by combine the earlier part (which the first Yozakura Quartet anime covered long time ago) with Hoshi no Umi arc (this one i’m not so sure because OVAs already done this) and Hana no Uta arc of the manga.
For those with 1-2 hours of free time and would actually want to seethe previous installments before catching this series I would suggest just watching the 3 OVAs (around 28 min each). It wouldn’t take up that much time as would watching an entire first season and it shows how badass the characters are when they fight. That aside, I’m so glad this series got a reboot because I did enjoy the “happy-go-lucky” nature the characters have with each other andthe city,while still having a serious plot at the same time.
I haven´t watched the first series, manga or OVAs, but I frickin love this show already. By the way, would watching the OVAs be too spoilerific for someone who has only watched this first episode, or would you recommend them anyways? I´m asking because I can´t wait for more of this, but I´d rather stay fresh while watching this series.
I’d tell you to go for it, just like I did. I highly doubt the OVA material’s going to get covered again (although I wouldn’t mind seeing an updated version of it) and like I mentioned in the post, it’s very nicely self-contained as a storyline. I guess my only warning is that it does spoil a few character surprises you don’t see in this first episode, though nothing so important that I feel warrants holding back. Still, fair warning if you’re spoiler-averse.
How well it fits into the manga’s purported chronology, I can’t say, but if the anime continues on its own path, I doubt you’ll need to worry too much.
Soooo… This first episode was anime original, and I guess it was a good treat for those who already follow the manga, like me.
Based on the opening, I’m going to make some speculations. “Hana no Uta” is an arc in the manga, which takes place after the “Hoshi no Umi” OADs and before the “Tsuki ni naku” OAD that’s coming out with manga volumes. The opening, however, shows many characters from previous arcs. My guess is that somehow they’re going to retell all the elements necessary to understand the whole plot; so, fear not non-readers, as it looks like they’re going to recap everything for you. At least that’s what I think.
It’s refreshing to hear Ms Sawashiro without her onee-san/sama mode =3
Still it’s funny that only the main characters have a different look from their original design in the manga while everyone pretty much remain unaffected.