Ohana’s mother falls deep into debt and runs away from home with her boyfriend. Ohana is sent to the Kissuisso, an inn run by her grandmother, who she has never met. Her presence meets with harsh resistance from the other inn residents. Will Ohana be able to fit in to her new lifestyle?
Hanasaku Iroha can be great when it wants to. It’s had some of the best drama of the year. There are a few excellent dramatic arcs, in particular: the first few episodes, the middle episodes, the one Yuina episode, and the ending.
But the problem is that for the rest of the time, the creators of Hanasaku Iroha don’t try to make it great. The other episodes are episodic and meandering, focusing on a character or two. They’re enjoyable, but don’t pack nearly the same impact the more dramatic episodes do. It becomes yet another show about cute girls doing cute things, when it could have been so much more.
As for the characters, I loved how the show explored Ohana’s family and their relationships across three generations. Her grandmother was a particularly memorable character. Ohana herself, though, was not terribly interesting, although her cheerfulness kept things fresh. Her boyfriend was even less memorable. Minko, one of Ohana’s friends, was particularly annoying: she kept throwing these giant fits over nothing, the show would make a big deal of how she changed and grew up, and then she’d do the exact same thing a few episodes later.
Overall, Hanasaku Iroha is excellent when it focuses on the drama, but merely average for the rest of the time, when it’s all about cute girls doing cute things. Those episodes hold neither the charm nor the humor of, say, K-On.
- Plot / Script – B – Mixed thoughts. Fabulous for the dramatic episodes, but quite weak in the rest.
- Characters – B – Excellent characterization with Ohana’s family, but weaker with Ohana herself and some of the side characters.
- Production – B – Consistent, detailed animation. Nice landscapes in particular.
- Overall – B
Recommendations – AnoHana, Sora no Woto, K-On