Yozakura Quartet ~Hana no Uta – 13 (End) and Series Review

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Well, what do you know – that almost felt like an actual ending.

I won’t pretend for a moment that Yozakura Quartet is anything profound or brilliant, but there’s a certain charm to this series that usually manages to put a smile on my face.  It drifts and sputters sometimes, but when it focuses on something it can deliver surprisingly compelling plot, and the atmospherics are pretty reliable even when the plot is AWOL.  And after a couple of so-so episodes, it’s nice to see Hana no Uta finish with one of its best.

Yozakura Quartet is really the story of two men, mangaka Yasuda Suzuhito and Director/Animation Director Ryo-timo.  Yozakura already had one TV series, with a good director (Kou Matsuo) but it wasn’t until Ryo-timo applied his unique vision to it that it really blossomed as an anime.  It’s ironic that so many fans of the manga love to complain about Ryo-timo’s changes to the designs, because Yasuda-sensei loves them – he’s a full collaborator with this series, working on scripts and animation.  His story is all quirks and characters under-reacting to the ridiculous and episodes that seem to start and stop in the middle of other episodes.  It’s a state of mind as much as a traditional narrative, and Ryo-timo’s adolescent, restless creative genius is a perfect match for it.

Nothing every really happens traditionally with Yozakura Quartet, and this “ending” is no exception.  Of course it stops in the middle of a conflict with no resolution, but the next part of the story is already underway in the OVA series Tsuki ni Naku (the franchise’s second OVA series), and that will stop in the middle too.  This series is selling much better than the Nomad one, though hardly a blockbuster – about 3000 units for the first volume – so it seems at least possible that Tatsunoko (who’ve become a reliable source for throwback, 1990’s Gainax-style animation) might produce more anime after Tsuki ni Naku ends.  I hope so.

While the Juri/Lila subplot was a snoozer, the TV at least has the good fortune to close with an episode focused on Enjin.  He always seems to be involved in Yozakura’s best dramatic moments, and his special connection with Akina means that the latter never feels more relevant and connected than when he’s battling Enjin.  Enjin basically represents Akina’s darkness incarnate, and he’s inhabiting the purloined body of Akina’s best friend – it’s easy to imagine why it’s so agonizing for Akina to have these skirmishes with him.

We’re finally teased with another glimpse of the other side, but as usual it’s just a tease – we never get to see what Enjin shows Akina, though it’s clearly not pleasant (and probably involves his grandfather).  This is always the elephant in the room with Yozakura Quartet and I suppose if the series ever gets around to actually having an ending, the other dimension is going to be at the heart of it (I’ve always thought that it was a metaphor for the afterlife).  Enjin’s power to summon – the legacy of his being part of the “branch” side of the Hizumi clan that split off after the birth of twins, centuries earlier – is a game changer in this story.  As is the fact which he reveals to the Vice-principal, namely that in both himself and Akina lies the power to do what the other side of the family can do – though in Akina’s case that power is dormant.

When Enjin and this storyline aren’t in-focus, Yozakura tends to be a lark.  It relies on the fanservice, the cheerfully bizarre character dynamics and Ryo-timo’s always interesting visuals to get by.  That’s certainly enough for the most part, though it gets a little thin from time to time.  That’s what the series is, really – a fantastical and absurd slice-of-life with short bursts of intense action and a near-record number of panty shots (which Ryo-timo proves endlessly creative in finding ways to deliver).  Anime certainly needs series like that, even if they’ll never be the standouts on the schedule – and it needs more creators like Ryo-timo, who seem incapable of a shot or a scene that isn’t interesting to look at.  If there’s more Yozakura Quartet and he’s the guy behind the camera, I’ll definitely be watching.

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ED Sequence:

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  1. t

    great final review, Enzo!
    as usual – thanks for blogging and sharing your thoughts (:

    EP #13 was very good. maybe the best in the whole series. providing us all sides that we loved in YQ so much – the lovely characters, pushing a little plot, the way it affected the characters and their interaction. it was really great. integrated everything of what we love in YQ.
    true, Juri and Lila case wasn't presented well enough in my opinion. Lila was great, but the passive Juri made the climax being executed not so well.
    yet, as I said, I like Lila and I was happy seeing her being expressed somewhat independent of Juri's status, like when she talked about Hime and interacted with her.
    and really… the ending scenes were nice.

    YQ definitely has its own charm, making it unique in a lot of aspects.
    as you said, there are 2 sides for YQ: one, we are seeing it when YQ is being serious and pushing some plot or story; Two, when it doesn't being serious so we return to its entertaining side.
    and Hana no Uta managed to combine those two sides well enough. not perfect, but I think the result is very good especially since this is hard enough due to the little mess in adapting it (I still don't know which parts of the manga they adapted lol).

    I love all of YQ characters. each one of them is so lovely in his own way. and it's definitely one of the important points in YQ that makes it so charming. AO, Kotoha, Akina, Hime, Kyousuke, Touka and everyone. speaking of characters, we can't igonre the naive and glimpses of fanserivce. I really think it's one of the best fanserivce in this year. it's simple, childish, naive, funny, full of Kotoha's panties 😛 I loved it. it just..works.

    as for characters, even Enjin is important. he is like a bad guy but not completely one. we are seeing him a lot more and more and although mostly he seems bad, there is some of good core within him, so I'd like to think and so it seems, he didn't chase after Akina and all… I can't say for sure but maybe this is all a conspiracy to make Akina stronger or something. and while we are still in the dark about what's really hiding there with the way of the world works, it's mostly interesting one in terms of story. more and more is revealed.
    true, I wish YQ was 2 cour and maybe..not necessary getting to full resoultion about it, but advancing some huge steps in that matter.

    that aside, this season was a bit weird too. rolling from events. even the eps themselves were like split to 2 parts, related but…in YQ style. when I think about it..it's hard to imagine an anime do it. it just worked for YQ. they handled it.

    p.s (I couldn't give up on that one HaHa!)
    random thoughts:
    1. that moment when Enjin enjoyed the festival and stuff himself with food..so LOL. it reminded me Judar from magi XD
    2. I have said it before and I am saying it again – Zakuro should join the team permanently. she is so lovely character damn. not to mention I really like her when she fights.
    3. not a word about shipping Hime X Akina? seriously guys….well of course I am totally on-board with that!

  2. I always pretty much assumed Hime x Akina was a given.

  3. s

    haha yeah i was always under the impression that the series has always presented Hime X Akina as canon. There is no second guessing that notion as far as im concerned and i dont think the series has ever made an attempt to make the viewer second-guess themselves either. It's arguably more obvious in this series especially since Yasuda Suzuhito wasnpretty much involved with how this series panned out.

  4. E

    The current OVAs are titled Tsuki ni Naku, by the way.

  5. F

    Hah! I knew you had to blog this one back at the vote poll for which series you were gonna continue to watch. It doesn't do a whole lot for me, but it tickles some funny bone of enjoyment in you somewhere for some reason – and after all, it's easier to talk and write about things you are enjoying, right? 😀

    That being said, I owe you a guinness. Don't forget.

  6. Eh? That poll was non-binding, and I dropped the top two series in it. I've actually blogged every YQ release that's happened since the blog started…

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