[TW: weight loss is talked about in one episode of this series; otherwise there are no notable trigger warnings.]
Hanayamata is the story of five middle school girls and how they all grew closer through yosakoi, a form of Japanese dance that is described in the series as a sort of "free-style" form of traditional Japanese dance. The show follows their escapades in forming a yosakoi club at school, practicing and performing their dance, and how they change over the course of the series thanks to the friends they have made in the club.
It's a sweet, typical slice-of-life story, it progresses how you would expect and there are no real plot twists of any sort. Each of the five main characters are typical anime archetypes and they don't really do much to deviate from this. As a result their interactions with one another come off as contrive and predictable. I feel like I had watched each scene ten times before in different animes. The fact this is a slice-of-life show and therefore relies so heavily on character interaction results in a show that I found to be extremely boring. Seven episodes in and I was ready for it all to be over. The only thing that made this series particularly memorable for me was the fact it featured yosakoi, though if you're hoping to learn about it then I don't recommend watching the show. They rarely focus on it at all and it's used more so as a backdrop for the characters' relationships than as any sort of major plot point. Also there was literally no reason for this show to have as much fanservice as it did, it really detracted from the plot overall and it was fairly creepy since the protagonists are all in middle school.
Story [6/10] Character [4/10]
The animation and art in Hanayamata is a step above most shows. The scene in the first episode where they introduce Hana is beautifully animated and extremely gorgeous, and I think it is the pinnacle of the series' animation. However I feel as if they took a lot of shortcuts to remain in budget that ultimately detracted from the series overall. Most notably would be the lack of any sort of fully animated dance. There is only one dance that is actually animated, and even then it is a very short clip that they use in the opening, so it's just recycled animation. Even then they have still frames of the characters striking a pose, or they cut to the audience and pan across the screen. The fact that a show that is suppose to be about dancing didn't even have a fully animated dance sequence is kinda inexcusable in my opinion.
Additionally, there were two instances of using 3D in the show which did not translate very well. One is when a character is holding an umbrella, and another is when a naruko (a prop used in yosakoi) falls to the ground. The use of 3D made the scenes awkward and distracting and it didn't translate well at all with the rest of the 2D animation.
I don't really have much to say about the soundtrack in this series. The opening is fairly catchy and pretty cute, but it loses its magic when they use it so often throughout the show. Nothing else was really notable.
Overall, I didn't really enjoy the series and I wouldn't recommend it to a friend. I originally watched it because I like stories centered around friendships, and I found the yosakoi aspect to be unique and interesting. I was extremely disappointed to find that the characters were bland, the plot was predictable, I didn't really learn anything about yosakoi. I also had the added bonus of watching middle school characters being written into situations for fanservice once per episode it seemed. Halfway through I kept watching, hoping that we would finally receive a fully animated dance sequence and received......... nothing.
Overall I was really disappointed and I am taking all recommendations from the person who recommended this show to me with a grain of salt.