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Hanasaku Iroha 22 — Crushes, Fights and Weddings

A decent episode: finally things seem to be heading somewhere with Ohana, Ko and her family. That said, progress is still slow.

Love is War

The resolution of Ohana and Minko’s fight left me dying of laughter. I don’t think that this is exactly what the creators were aiming for, but we should find enjoyment wherever we can.

After Minko throws the wedding dress on the ground, Ohana tells Minko that she can’t go out with Tohru because she has a “one-sided” crush on Ko. Ohana, do you even know what “one-sided” means? If the guy has already confessed to you and told you he will be waiting, your crush is not one-sided.

Minko proceeds to tell Ohana to die, that she can’t have a one-sided crush, to go out with Tohru, and to die some more. Ohana, in a fit of lucidity, notes that Minko’s demands are inconsistent. They engage in a fight to the death, while Tohru shouts at Ohana how perfect Tohru is, the best of all men.

Nako’s intervention and Tohru’s eavesdropping interrupt their fight, but not until after Ohana gets a trickle of a nosebleed. Tohru lays Minko’s fears that he is in love with Ohana to rest. Minko fails to realize that Tohru doesn’t love Ohana because he sees both her and Minko as children. Then, Tohru pats Minko’s head and tells her that unlike Ohana, she keeps him “in great suspense” (what does this even mean?). Minko breaks down in tears.

At the end, Ohana and Minko reconcile. Ohana realizes she has a “one-sided” crush on Ko. Minko begins fitting for her wedding dress and prepares to become a baby factory. Tohru is still oblivious to Minko’s feelings. Well, at least Ohana did something this episode.

The Wedding

The second half of the episode focused on the wedding. The main ceremony was rather uneventful, but it did make me think a bit about weddings in Japan. It’s interesting how they take all the trappings of Christian weddings and make something rather different. The wedding this week, for example, didn’t even have a minister. My (limited) understanding is that this style of wedding is not at all uncommon, although Shinto weddings are also available.

The wedding’s after party is wild. Ohana’s mother sends a lewd letter, Tohru copies Minko and writes “LOVE” on top of the food, and the writer guy kisses beanman. The music is decent, but that woman has a terrible voice— my ears are still grating just imagining it.

The creators were perhaps a bit too forceful in trying to fit the wedding into the grander purpose of the story. The grandmother’s speech was particularly awkward. Her son just got married, but she says nothing about him and instead talks about how great Ohana and friends are and about the history of the inn? Sheesh, grandma, this is prime roasting time you’re wasting.


At least Ohana seems to be back in the picture now. With the grandmother’s decision that she wants to sell the Kissuiso by the Bonbori festival, we have a clear direction this is heading for in the finale. Ohana and friends will bonboru it up and band together to protect the inn in time for the Bonbori festival, where Ohana will confess to Ko. Hopefully they’ll surprise us and not exactly follow this outline, but it should be a solid ending regardless, even if it could have been stronger if they’d had more of a focus throughout the series.

Hanasaku Iroha 21 — The Bitch is Back

The old Minko returns.

There was a lot going on in this episode: Enishi and Takashi decide to get married, the inn prepares to host their wedding, and Minko throws a fit.  The part about the wedding was good, except for the couple acting all love-dovey. I didn’t think these two could possibly get more annoying, but I’ve been proven wrong. I especially liked that we got to see a bit more of the grandmother’s past.

Minko’s trip to the beach with Tohru was entertaining, where he reveals he wants five kids. Minko isn’t so sure about that plan. She wants to have his children, of course, but five seems a bit too many. Tohru realizes that Minko is upset about something, and thinks it is about the difficulties of becoming a chef. Man this guy is dense. Minko gives a near-confession, and then Tohru starts talking about how great Ohana is. Minko gets jealous and returns to her old ways of calling Ohana names and attacking her in the bath.

So… I guess this is a step towards more drama? Another fight with Minko is not exactly what I had in mind though. In the earlier episodes, it added a lot because we didn’t actually know Minko yet, and Ohana was having all these other difficulties moving to the inn. But now, it just really doesn’t raise the tension for me. How are we supposed to take this fight seriously? We all know that Ohana has no interest in Tohru, that Minko likely has no chance with Tohru, and that Minko throws fits like this all the time. They’ll reconcile in a day or two. The funny thing is, Ohana seems to just be rolling her eyes at Minko’s routine as well. She doesn’t even bother chasing after Minko after being assaulted in the bath. When Minko shuns her at lunch time, Ohana just goes to eat with Yuina and Nako. Now that Ohana actually has some friends, Minko’s fits are less effective. In fact it’s probably backfiring, as Minko is the one without any friends now.

The ending of the episode, where it’s revealed that Enishi won’t be inheriting the inn, seems to be the lead in to the show’s conclusion. I’m guessing that either Ohana or her mother will become the heir, or the grandmother is planning to shut the inn down. The latter option seems more likely, since then there will be some final battle: Ohana and friends must save the inn from closure. I do hope they resolve Ohana’s love life though. Or realistically, just have Ohana do anything other than smile and look cute. It’s been how many episodes now since anything happened involving her?

Hanasaku Iroha 20 — Into the Magical World

Of cooking.

This week’s developments are fairly predictable: Ohana, Yuina and Nako help Minchi reconcile with her classmates, and they end up cooking omelette rice. Nako makes a friend. Minchi writes “LOVE” and draws a heart on Tohru’s omelette rice. Everyone is impressed with Minchi’s courage. Tohru thinks they write that for everyone.

It was a decent episode, but at this rate, the creators need to get moving if they want everything to come to a conclusion. We’ve spent a while in this rut of episodes focusing on the side characters, and Ohana and her family have been more or less neglected. Ohana’s relationship with Ko has no resolution in sight, we haven’t seen the mother for a while, and Ohana’s relationship with her grandmother hasn’t changed much, if at all, for the past ten episodes. Hanasaku Iroha has the potential to be something more than another cute girls doing cute things series, and the creators seem reluctant to latch onto that possibility.

In other news, little kid Minko is cute. She dreamed of entering the magical world of cooking ever since she was little. And Nako’s titling of her new friend’s painting as “Sloppy” appears to have been part of a dream. The “it was all a dream” ending is the first entry in the book of terrible cliches, and even if it wasn’t the application here was not amusing at all. I found myself laughing surprisingly little in this episode, actually. The only parts that were mildly amusing were Ohana and Minchi crying over the onions, and Ohana working at her job to stuff down failed culinary creations.

So I have to say: this episode wasn’t that funny, it didn’t advance the plot much, and it didn’t tell us much we didn’t know about the characters. Well, we did learn that Minko wanted to be a cook since she was little, but I think this was already fairly obvious. So what were the creators aiming for with this episode? I can’t tell. Perhaps a relaxing atmosphere? It did succeed at that, since it almost put me to sleep. Of course, it may be the other way around: I didn’t get much out of the episode because I almost fell asleep.

Hanasaku Iroha 19 — Sloppy

My hotel does have an internet connection, albeit a slow one, so I managed to watch Iroha. I have to run in fifteen minutes so let’s see how I do at speed writing. No guarantees on whether I’ll have time for Stein’s; Gate, but expect a big post tonight (about what? it’s a surprise!).

Things are starting to head back in the right direction with this episode. The biggest improvement, from my perspective, is that this episode didn’t focus on a single character but instead consisted of a bunch of intermingling subplots woven together. We had Minchi attempting to lead a group of students in cooking (who are not nearly as gung-ho as she is), Nako becoming a connoisseur of abstract art, and Ohana and Yuina leading a group of waitresses. There were also many smaller developments of interest: we discover that Beanman has a son, Enishi begins bragging about his love life, and the novelist’s fantasies continue unabated.

The drama seems like it is making a comeback as well. Minchi is in quite a pickle, and I’m guessing it will require some intervention by Ohana and Yuina to salvage the cultural festival. The love triangle with Tohru is also reigniting, with Tohru going to the culture festival to see Minchi Ohana. I wonder if Ko will show up? There seems to be some not-so-subtle hinting to that effect.

My favorite part of the episode had to be Ohana’s dream sequence. Cross-dressing in anime is often overused, but I felt that as part of the dream sequence it fit in quite nicely. This is the kind of ridiculous and nonsensical thing with just the right amount of connections to and confusions with reality that it felt like an actual dream. Ko is quite cute as a girl too.

I also like how they showed Nako making a friend in class- she actually does seem to have grown a bit from the previous episode. It’s not a big change, since the rest of the class still ditched the two of them, but this makes it a more believable amount of progress. I wonder if Nako’s new friend will be insulted by the painting title. Also Nako’s compliment for Ren’s eyebrows: what the hell? Is this the beginning of a new pairing?

Hanasaku Iroha 18 — The Shy Mermaid

A Nako-centric episode. The highlight is everyone becoming mermaids in Nako’s dreams.

I felt that this episode was one of the weakest of the show so far. It wasn’t bad, but at this point I just want to get all these side stories over with and get back to Ohana and the drama. It’s been four or five episodes now since much of anything has happened regarding Ohana. The Yuina and  arcs were excellent (and the Nako arc somewhat less so), but as standalone arcs, not as part of the overall story. Hanasaku Iroha lately has lacked a central thrust and overarching focus binding everything together.

My main complaint is that unlike the last couple arcs, where Yuina and Enishi were developed, we simply didn’t learn much about Nako that we didn’t already know. We knew she was shy, we knew she took care of her family, and we knew she wished she could be less shy like Ohana. It felt like the entire purpose of giving her more money was to get her to cosplay (and have Ohana complain about being poor). I don’t feel that this episode added much to her character, or the overall story.

Yuina getting passed over in favor of Nako was fairly amusing though. As were all the mermaid scenes. The grandmother as the queen…

In the end, Nako learns that shy waiters are popular too. So we’re back at square one, except now Nako has learned to accept herself. I guess. Next week is a school festival, so hopefully Ohana will get back into the picture.