Hanayamata – Seeking Happiness Alone or with a Group
One of the running themes of current airing anime, Hanayamata; deals with the idea of seeking “happiness” alone or with a group. Yosakoi – the unique Japanese dance, is something I just somehow immediately likened it to our hobbies of anime and games.
“I want to do something together with other people. The sense of unity I saw in their dance when I was a kid was amazing. Dozens of people, all staying in sync and trusting one another. Comic book heroes look awesome so I like them a lot, too, but they’re all fighting loneliness. I want to have a connection with someone. I want someone to understand me, you know? I’m not a very strong person. I suppose that’s why I like superheroes, though.”
“Happiness” is quite a subjective thing, and there are dozens of way to achieve it. One of them, is certainly immersing yourself into your favorite past time. When you draw that idea to some of the characters, you can see that most of them are struggling between the two too. Naru found “happiness” in her fairy tales, and idolized the princesses she read in the story. This is however, a subjective hobby that she only immersed herself with. Likewise, and particularly the case with Hana, she likes reading superhero comics, but again, it is a hobby she spent alone and there are no interactions at all – which is one of her driving motivations in Yosakoi. Tami found “happiness” in getting on her father’s good terms by being a top model student while disregarding anything that she herself might had wanted.
I think the theme is telling us this – the importance of a connection within a group. There is nothing wrong with seeking happiness on your own, but seeking happiness with a group is just as important. Yosakoi, in this case, is the source of connection, between all of them. Connecting to one another through a hobby is an especially gratifying experience, and is certainly a more entertaining experience than just immersing into it on your own.
Aforementioned, it seems to remind me of our fandom and our respective interactions in the visual culture. Anime, on one hand, is a medium you watched, and aside from perhaps some discussions, there are minimal interactions with the fandom. Sure enough, there might be those rare anime like Evangelion and I dare say, Mahouka, which propels heated debate whether for the good or bad, but in general, I feel interactions, unlike things like games, are still somehow limited. This had gotten a lot better ever since the emergence of internet however, and discussions can take place anywhere as long as you have a stable internet connection.
Though, games on the other hand, they don’t just inspire discussions but also interactivity-mostly in the form of multiplayer. Instead of fighting against hordes of AIs, fighting against human opponents is a much more entertaining in a way that you are fighting against someone not moving in a predetermined way, and strategy can changed at any time depending on the situation. Furthermore, for a better sense of camaraderie, there are also games where you team up to fight a common foe, or perhaps with games where you form a team and fight against other human teams, some obvious examples being DoTA and the likes.
Ironically, I’m not really a multiplayer person. Although, most of the multiplayer functions I came across in my 3DS looks pretty cool.
This need for interaction is perhaps why the fandom is so particular with conventions. I had never join one myself, but I assume that you would definitely be able to root yourself more strongly into the fandom; developing a more stronger sense of unity with fellow people share the same hobbies and accept you for who you are. And indeed, despite what I said, there are so many conventions amassing worldwide, it’s actually difficult to describe anime as a non-interactive hobby by now.
What do you think about this theme of Hanayamata?