Hasbro debuted its first ever animated digital series last month, produced along with Titmouse Studios. Hanazuki: Full of Treasures released its first season on YouTube, and we decided to check out the first nine episodes of this brand-new series.
The story of Hanazuki, takes place in a galaxy filled with colorful moons, where “Moonflowers” are tasked with protecting each from a mysterious dark force that threatens to destroy them. One such Moonflower, is Hanazuki. Newly born, Hanazuki finds herself on an unknown world filled with strange creatures, with no idea who she is, or what she is supposed to do.
Her only hint, comes from Little Dreamer, a constantly sleeping, floating boy, who periodically stops by to drop off strange items, she calls “Treasures.” Each of these items is shaped differently, and they really don’t seem to do anything, until Hanazuki’s emotions cause them to react, and once placed in the ground, a new tree sprouts more Treasures, each related to the emotion that spawned it.
Additionally, these trees seem to create a barrier, that keeps the dark force at bay.
As she explores her new world, Hanazuki meets many of her moon’s residents: including Sleepy Unicorn, a unicorn with magical powers and a dark past that he doesn’t discuss, instead choosing to sleep constantly; Dazzlessence Jones, a diamond that acts as a sort-of police officer for the moon, and several other strange residents. Her main friends though, are the Hemka, little rabbit-eared creatures that do not speak in an understandable language, who are all different colors and each have their own unique personalities based on specific emotions.
Emotions play a major part in the series, and as a longtime fan of Green Lantern comics, that does please me. Each emotion is represented by a different color and depending on her mood, Hanazuki will glow that color, when her feelings reach a certain point. The show itself, seems to have a main theme of dealing with those emotions and facing them head-on. Which is a lesson that girls and boys could both learn.
Because Hanazuki herself doesn’t know much about what she is doing, what her role is, or what the encroaching threat is, neither does the viewer for the most part. Early on, there are only hints at what is going on, so that can hurt the storytelling a bit, but not much, since each episode is only ten to twelve minutes long. The viewer does get glimpses at the deeper story though, like a moon already lost to the darkness.
This lack of information, on Hanazuki’s part, manages to help her as a character, she is relatable, not knowing what her role is or how to deal with the new emotions she experiences. At the same time, it allows her to take a different approach to what is happening and show viewers that it is okay to be scared, or how important friends are. She proves to be a strong character, and as she learns each new lesson, she develops well as a character, while the show also stays entertaining, without feeling too “preachy” about its themes.
Visually, the show is probably middle ground for me. The animation is clean, and it does well in capturing the emotions and expressions of each of the characters, but it isn’t one of the better visual series. It isn’t one of the worst either.
The voice cast is small, with only Hanazuki and a few other characters talking, while the others just make noises. The cast that does speak however, do well in their roles, and it is enjoyable to watch. The surprise for me, was that while early on I didn’t really like the Hemka never speaking (or very rarely with the help of Mirror Plant), but as each episode went on, I noticed myself being more and more okay with them, and how their emotions come through, even without being able to understand them.
Currently the first nine episodes of the series are available to watch via YouTube, with plans to release twenty-seven episodes in total, nine episodes at a time, released on Full Moons. It is early in the series, so right now there isn’t much to go on, as to how the story will develop, or how Hanazuki will face this coming darkness. It is off to a good start though and despite not being the target audience (it is intended to be a girls’ franchise brand), I would say that I enjoyed watching. I’m especially interested in seeing more of Hanazuki and her brooding Moonflower sister’s interactions.
The show does have some flaws, it can feel scattered, and so early into it, it is hard to tell just how much they will get into by the end. Yet, it is a fun, enjoyable series that can be watched bits at a time with a likable cast and a fair bit of character development, while also showing kids to embrace their emotions, both good and bad.
Figures and other items for the series are planned for later this year, but for now, I think Hasbro has done well with its first animated digital series. To learn more about Hanazuki: Full of Treasures, you can visit the series’ official site. The first nine episodes are also available now, via YouTube.