Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Anime Review - Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta

Anime Name - Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta
Aired - Oct 6, 2013 to Dec 29, 2013
Episodes - 13

Produced By - Tatsunoko Productions  
Staff - ryo-timo (Director, Character Design, Chief Animation Director), Suzuhito Yasuda (Original Creator), Jin Aketagawa (Sound Director), Rie Oda (Art Director)
What do you get when you mix a weird and refreshing supernatural setting with cliched shounen character backgrounds and battle elements? When you mix a solid plot-line having interesting aspects with unnecessary and distracting fan service? And add pleasing art style & character designs with diverse yet quite unoriginal cast of characters? Apparently you get this show, which, as these mixtures suggests is a flawed yet quite an enjoyable experience at the end of the day.

This is not the first adaptation of the manga, there is a previous series as well as OVA's; but quite thankfully for someone new wanting to join the excitement you don't need to watch those to understand the show as it starts the story anew. The plot setting is a town where humans and youkai leave together and the focus is on a group of teenagers with their "Hizumi Life Counseling" agency which tries to keep the peace in town. That sounds a somewhat weak plot, right? But the story actually gets way too deep reaching various dimensions with the detailed background of the characters as well as the city while we go through their struggles each and everyday for a peaceful environment for the inhabitants.
In a very entertaining and unique way, we slowly learn about the town's past; how it is very different from the ones surrounding it; how it actually came to be; and what motivates not only the agency but even the general populace of this unique town to strive to keep their town safe. Another aspect is the general flow of the story as it moves forward in a wacky fashion, we get supernatural battles suddenly turning into some characters goofing off which then again suddenly turns into an emotional back-story revealing sequence. There are episodes in which you will get a bit bored with unnecessary fan-service galore to quite suddenly finding out some key back ground information's and character development. While this general bizarre and unorthodox approach is quite fun mostly, at times it is quite frustrating to get distracted by a sudden focus on undergarments in between an intense fight sequence or storyline revealing; and through some of this forced ecchi elements we really feel a bit sorry for the directors trying unnecessarily to give the show that appeal of commercialization which quite frankly it doesn't actually need.
Despite many flaws and general lack of explanation of some of the confusing plot points one feels that this is a show that might have really done well with a few more episodes at the least; so there grows a general want of more after watching the show and quite surprisingly this adds to the overall enjoyment as the writers never really gave a cliff-hanger ending at all (although not really settled ending at all).
The story gets a 8 out of 10.

While not totally original at all, the diverse and somewhat big cast of characters with a general lack of actually focusing on anyone is one of the strongest points of the show. Despite the synopsis stating only four main characters, this show is not limited to that at all. In fact there are quite a few number of characters which gets focused up on, to the point of the show not really having any main characters, and that is very interesting indeed. There are episodes focusing on a specific character and even total lack of otherwise important ones, but these just add to the diversity of the characters even more.
Hime is the town mayor and might be called the main female character who is somewhat like our typical shounen heroes with her trying to save all attitude. But there is also the funny aspects with her huge appetite and the song she sings, later on during the show although her character gets a little more depth but never really is able to transcend the trope of shounen cliches. Akina can be attributed as the main male character and is overall one of the interesting ones with his somewhat tragic duties and his interesting lineage & back-story, but then again he also falls into the typical category's as despite sparks of development his character never really leaves the trope. Other characters including Ao, Kotoha. Kyousuke, Touka, Juli and even the antagonists also really suffer from general lack of originality.
But despite the flaws credits is due to the writers for giving each characters almost the same amount of care and trying to give viewers the overall experience of enjoying a total story from various viewpoints as well as having various sub-plots rather than being focused on only one person.
The characters gets 7 out of 10.

Despite being visually pleasing the artwork never really draws attention to detail, it is not particularly lacking in anything but actually can't command appreciation while we are being focused on the interesting story. And the art style never really adds that much to the experience as a whole, but rather distracts and annoys with its overly endowed females and unnecessary shots of undergarments.
While it could have been better if the art somehow added to the supernatural elments of the show, the battle scenes were done nicely with fluid animation but then again never really adds anything to the intensity either (the dialogues does that job better).
So this gets 6 out of 10.

The music/soundtrack is also an overall mixed bag, as the battle themes or music during these intense sequences were quite nice yet the overall in-show music again fails to really catch attention or even provide any factors for the enjoyment of the show. The show screams the need of having nice music but somehow the compositions never really gets there, despite a few glimpses of nice melodious piano pieces and guitar works.
The OP is quite catchy and memorable which tries to focus on the wacky aspect of the show and somewhat succeeds, The ED on the other hand really lacks in aspect of its enjoyment and is rather boring with its apparent approach at the emotional aspect of the show which never really shines as a matter of fact.
The voice acting was quite appropriate but special mention should be given to the seiyuu of Hime as she does a splendid job of representing the character.
Overall it gets 6.5 out of 10.

At the end of the day, while not being that original in its character department and never really shining with its animation and music the show really has an enjoyable story-line which can be said to have the characteristic of always keeping the enjoyment going. The general overuse of unnecessary fan-service is one of the main factors holding the show back from being something beyond good but despite it all the viewers are left with a wonder for what to come next (despite the writers never really trying too much with any cliff-hangers or something like that) and might really do well with a second season after the manga is completed.  

Overall Score -
                         7 out of 10.

"Believe ~Eien no Link~ (Believe ~永遠のLink~)" by JAM Project

If you want more info and other reviews of this show check out it's MAL page -

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