While work can be tough, stressful and tiring, work also gives insight in who we really are. What do we like to do? What chores do we hate to do? We cannot always have it our way, but in some aspects we discover ourselves. Ohana learns who she wants to be in her Kissui Inn adventure.
Having a strict boss doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have a bad time. Your workload will probably be more and tougher than with a lenient boss, but it all helps you build character. At first you’ll hate it, later on will you’ll discover that you’ve learned so much along the way
After the mother of Ohana decides to elope with her new boyfriend, Ohana is send to her grandmother to work at her inn. At arrival Ohana discovers that her grandmother isn’t the nice old lady she had expected her to be. Instead she is hard working and a rather stoic elderly woman who puts everything into motion to satisfy the customer.
Ohana takes on the duty as a waitress and along the way she learns to work with the different employees. Not everything goes as planned, but she learns how to be a proper waitress and learns the true meaning of running an inn.
As Ohana trades Tokyo for the Kissui Inn, she leaves her boyfriend-to-be, Kiouchi alone in gigantic Tokyo. A melodramatic love story is born in which the symbolic mixture between work and personal relationships takes the stage.
The boyfriend element is a crucial story element where P.A. Works tries to refer back to the past life Ohana had in Tokyo. The contrast between her former and present life is made clear through flashbacks, occasional visits and texts between Kouichi.
The relationship between Ohana and Kouichi breathes young adolescent love. The two discover what they like, who they like and subtle romances with others. The viewpoint in this relationship is Ohana who is confused with her inner self, whether to not let Kouichi be for what he is. But in a world of a teenager, choosing your relationships isn’t easy amidst all the life shaping events along the way.
What made Hanasaku Iroha a very strong show, was the character development of Ohana. She is not a perfect character, which is a good thing. Ohana is a human being who faces tough choices in a stressful new environment. But where Ohana was a well shaped character, as annoying are some of the other characters in the series.
I’m talking about Minko, the always pissed off and confused antagonist of Ohana. Minko is perhaps one of the most dreadful elements of the show. Her pissed off attitude destroys the setting of Hanasaku Iroha. Any attempt of Ohana to make a new companion, results in a verbal fight from Minko’s side. She has no other emotion than being agitated or confused, making her a plot device rather than a natural occurrence.
Next to Minko is Kouichi. Kouichi is a vital element in the story telling and personal development of Ohana. But on the other hand, he is a character that pulls me out of the Kissui Inn setting. The setting that made the show such a beautiful and relaxing slice of life series.
The Kissui Inn is the main focus of the show and also the best. I briefly mentioned that I find the Kissui Inn setting beautiful and relaxing. As Ohana interacts with the other employees, different back stories are explored, deepening the understanding for the different characters.
Through different events, Hanasaku Iroha explores the history of the Kissui Inn. The historical references of the inn are created by subtle, yet impactful events. This creates a credible environment that stimulates empathy from the audience, pulling them deeper into the world of Hanasaku Iroha.
P.A. Works is one of the best animators in the business and they prove it with Hanasaku Iroha. The attention to detail is phenomenal. The stones in the baths, the architecture of the Kissui Inn and the overall character designs are all top notch.
The opening and ending song emphasize the youthfulness setting of the show. The series itself is accompanied by a pretty relaxing soundtrack that creates the atmosphere for the different events around Ohana and her companions. The soundtrack fits within the overall setting of the Kissui Inn.
Hanasaku Iroha is a great show for those who appreciate the slice of life genre. The character development of Ohana is great as she discovers how it is to work at an inn. She learns proper work ethics and interacts on a natural level with her environment.
Not all side characters were as convincing as Ohana was. They pulled me out of the relaxing setting created by the outstanding presentation by P.A. Works.
The characters were the main issue that prevented the series from being rated a 9. I therefore rate this show an 8 out of 10 because of its great performance, but there were flaws that didn’t do Hanasaku Iroha justice.