R’s Thoughts: Hanasaku Iroha

Lately, I’ve been into this recent anime called Hanasaku Iroha ( 花咲くいろは) since I felt needed to watch something new and a bit light for a change. And a “slice-of-life” anime was definitely the way to go for this kind of thing. Sure enough, Hanasaku Iroha didn’t dissapoint me and I definitely enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Plus points for lifting up my spirits for the past two days!

I just literally felt like I could do this after finished watching it.

Hanasaku Iroha is a coming-of-age story of Ohana Matsumae, a 16-year-old Tokyo native who suddenly ends up working at a provincial hot spring inn owned by her estranged grandmother after her mother flees town with her  lover. Although the story is primarily centered on Ohana’s self-discovery, it also deals with the story of the three generations of women: Ohana; Satsuki, Ohana’s spirited mother and Ohana’s grandmother, Sui who owns the Kissuiso Inn. And one of the best things about the series is the relationship between the three women. In the beginning of the story we are introduced to both Satsuki and Sui (or “Okami”/Madam Manager) in the different phase of Ohana’s life.

In Ohana’s present life as well as in her childhood, Satsuki is shown to play the role of an unconventional mother. Satsuki, although she seems to be a capable and witty woman, never managed to fulfill her role as a mother and this causes Ohana to identify Satsuki not as a mother figure but simply an irresponsible woman she needs to take care of and put up with. When Satsuki decided to run away without her and leave her in the care of Sui, Ohana is initially surprised but thinks later she’ll be better off without Satsuki. Due to this relationship, Ohana’s shown to develop a complex of being independent where she doesn’t rely on others and accept anyone’s help believing she would be hurt in the end.

Upon arriving at the Kissuiso Inn, Sui doesn’t welcome Ohana as a granddaughter and instead recognizes her as a “staff”, saying after all she “disowned” Satsuki as her daughter a long time ago. Sui or “Okami-san” to the Kissuiso staff, is presented as as a stern and often harsh woman and this causes Ohana’s spirited to clash with her (which later Sui remarks Ohana got from Satsuki).

As Ohana learns more about herself and what it means to become a part of the Kissuiso family, it also provided an oppurtunity for her to learn more about the two women who influences her way of life. It was interesting to watch that the estranged mother and daughter relationship between Sui and Satsuki is difficult yet it also shows an immense amount of respect, love and dedication towards each other which I never expected. Ohana develops  In the end, I have to say I’ve become irrationally attached to Okami-san and I thought she was a great character.

Other than the solid plot as the strongest point, I also have to commend the the series’ art direction. I thought it was nicely done and the colors and how the beautiful  provincial sceneries of Yunosagi to the traditional yet sophisticated interiors of the Kissuiso Inn had great detail. It definitely contributed to the overall relaxed, breezy and close-to-home atmosphere the anime was aiming for I think.

The only thing that irked me a little was that Tohru and Ohana didn’t end up together. They’re definitely my OTP and  just love their cute chemistry together! For Ko, I have nothing against him but I just thought Ohana and Tohru would look and work together in a very interesting unexpected way.

HOW CUTE CAN THEY GET? afghkwetyga! My favorite scene!

And every time they have that cute moment together, Tohru being really sweet (in his own way–teasing her a lot but looks out for her a little more than he does others) on Ohana without her noticing I just literally look like this in front of the computer:

Yes, this face because I love my OTPs.

Never mind the age difference (Tohru’s 23, Ohana’s like 16? though I really don’t mind age differences) but Ohana’s optimistic and spirited personality compliments Tohru’s abrupt and cold exterior. Tohru finds Ohana’s presence makes things livelier for him and unexpected yet interesting in a good kind of way and Ohana seems challenged by his personality yet sees him as reliable and trustworthy, why not? I just found myself responding more to Tohru x Ohana versus Tohru x Minko / Ohana x Ko.

(Also, I have to admit I developed a crush on Tohru Miyagishi). I don’t think the romance is over between them for some reason. What Tohru said in the last episode was a little vague although it seems like he’s not going to give up on her yet. After all… there’s still season 2 we have to look forward to next year.

Yes, Hanasaku Iroha Season 2 already received a go signal! Although I’m not sure what story would they be tackling in the next season since the first season’s ending was pretty open and I thought it was “concluded. I’m thinking it may not even be a full season but a series of OVAs perhaps.

Overall, Hanasaku Iroha is definitely highly recommended by yours truly, if you want to watch a solid slice-of-life anime with the occassional bursts of drama here and there. It’s not a perfect series and some might find certain plot points to stray in the middle but I don’t regret watching it and it didn’t fail me to give me good vibes whenever I feel like sulking.

(And a small part of me is still hoping for that little chance of a Tohru x Ohana romance, even if the chances are little).


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