Hanasaku Iroha is great when it sticks with the drama.
The fact that the creators can consistently make excellent drama when they try makes me wonder: what were they thinking with the other episodes? I can’t help but feel that this show would have fared better as one-cour rather than two.
I mean, what was the point of half of the episodes? Take the Nako episode as an example. Nothing much happened. That isn’t damning in and of itself, if you’re going to further develop the characters. But that didn’t happen here. We learned that Nako is shy and takes care of her family, which we already knew. She has some inner struggles with trying to change, but decides to stay the same. So we end up exactly where we started.
This might have been a good way to reinforce Nako’s character, but it took up too much time for this. In general, I think that the non-dramatic episodes could have either been much tighter or eliminated entirely without much of a detrimental effect to the show as a whole. This episode’s Nako, who interrupted the argument with a yell, could just have easily been the Nako from twelve episodes ago with no one the wiser.
The creators have demonstrated that they can tell a great story when they try, and this made the meandering around seem all the more wasteful.
Siding with the Boss
On to this episode. Ohana agrees with her grandmother that the inn should continue in the same vein as before, and is consequently shunned by everyone else in the inn (except Beanman).
Color me impressed. I didn’t expect things to go in this direction, but it’s a great way to wrap up many of the loose threads:
- Ohana’s decision to stay at Kissuiso or return to Tokyo with her mother / Ko
- The closing / continuation of the Kissuiso
- Change at the Kissuiso
- Ohana’s love life, with the Bonbori festival
- The relationships between the three generations of Ohana’s family, by having them all work as waitresses
We also get a conflict with some very interesting sides: Ohana and her grandmother vs. everyone else. And wow, they are harsh on her. As in, everyone is acting like Minko. They won’t even participate in the festival. Even Tohru joins in on bullying Ohana.
Ohana is at her finest when she’s being bullied though.
Of course, the entire staff overstretches itself, and they aren’t able to keep up. They have to resort to a buffet, and overexert themselves and make themselves miserable to deliver worse service than usual. Then they get in to a huge fight, but fortunately Ohana’s grandmother and mother step in to make the save.
We have all three generations working as waitresses. A nice way to wrap things up on this side of the story. Ohana, her grandmother, and her mother’s relationships have all improved dramatically over the course of the series.
Hanasaku Iroha has always been at its finest when its main cast is in conflict, and this episode was no exception.
How many doujinshis will this episode spawn?
- That was some great narration by the novelist in the middle of the fight.
- Takako is keeping Enishi under control. Not someone you want to mess with.
- We learned what Beanman and the novelist do all day: help people park.
- What was up with that music at the end? Choral music with an organ accompaniment is not exactly what I would associate with the Bonbori festival…