Saturday, October 15, 2011

FINAL THOUGHTS: Hana-saku Iroha

An anime that started with so much promise only to fall flat on its face. I'm sorry but this show disappointed me.

Hana-saku Iroha is the story of Ohana, a somewhat emotionally neglected and, hence, extremely self-reliant teen who moves from Tokyo to her estranged grandmother's countryside hot springs resort. The move wasn't some spur-of-the-moment thing, mind you. It's an obvious plot device so, of course, Ohana's Mom has to be this crazy woman whose insensitive nature easily crosses the border of parental neglect as she runs off with her debt-ridden boyfriend, leaving Ohana basically orphaned. Oh, but not entirely. See, the anime is about growing up and since Ohana can't do much growing up in the big city where everything is fast-paced and gray, she has to do it in a picturesque small town in the middle of nowhere. Enter Ohana's grandmother who conveniently owns a somewhat large but struggling hot springs resort, populated by mostly invisible guests and waitresses who are, surprise, about Ohana's age. Ohana head butts at first sight with Minchi, the resort's apprentice chef, but soon melts the cool reserve of the shy Nako. And then there is the grandmother who prefers to be called 'Manager' and acts the part the entire time. Apparently, Ohana's Mom and the Grandmother are barely on speaking terms but the latter takes Ohana in anyway after demanding that Ohana work for her board and lodging. XD Also, there's a boy that Ohana likes but he's back in Tokyo and they're not really in a relationship but think like they are anyway, and complications, and Minchi provides the requisite tsundere while Nako provides the fanservice. The plot -- what plot? There is no plot -- gets convoluted with each episode and really this is nothing more than slice-of-life at its worst. That makes me sad, because the art of Hana-saku Iroha is really very good. Overall, the show's production values are topnotch. I wish I could say the same thing with the story. I feel like the whole thing packed a strong wallop but entirely missed its point, so that by the middle half I was only watching the show just to get over it and have it done with.