Thar be shiki in them thar hills.
No, really, that was my first thought on seeing the scene out the train window. What can I say? I’m obsessed.
Hmm. Hanasaku Iroha. I want to like it; I really do. But I’m finding myself just slightly discontent with it. Artistically, it’s gorgeous. Vocally, it’s terrific. But there’s just something a little bit off.
I think that it honestly is how on the one hand it’s trying to portray itself as a “realistic” story, but the springboard for it all is something as unbelievable as a girl’s mother running off with her in-debt boyfriend and sending her daughter to live with the mother who disowned her. I just find that whole bit hard to swallow, and it in turn colors the rest of the proceedings. If HanaIro didn’t seem as if it were trying to pass itself off as a story that really could happen, this wouldn’t really bother me. In a Durarara!!, I would certainly take it at face value. But here…
And maybe that is indicative of further problems, actually – the whole circumstance that Ohana finds herself in just seems too out-there. There are people like her grandmother. There are people like Tohru. There are people like Minko. There are people like Nako. Yes, I can agree to all that. But all of them existing together in one spot stretches my willingness to believe. It all just seems too extreme.
Speaking of the characters, here I find more fault. Minko is so thoroughly unpleasant, I can’t stand her. Nako I likewise cannot stand, although for entirely different reasons – she’s so wishy-washy and nonconfrontational, it makes me want to punch someone.
Then there’s Ohana herself. I don’t have anything against her. However, I don’t feel any particular affection for her, either. The whole “I can’t rely on anyone but myself” thing is so tired and dull at this point, even if she does decide to embark on an attitude change by the end of episode two. The bad mother thing is also fairly shopworn; and is it just me, or are all inattentive mothers writers? I suppose at least she’s not a hostess, although her traits seem more in line with that than with the inattentive writer moms.
Walking away from these two episodes, all I really feel I can comment positively on are the artwork and Mamiko Noto’s role in Tomoe. I really love Noto’s vocal work; she has a lovely voice. My favorite roles of hers are definitely Ai in Jigoku Shoujo and Shimako in MariMite, roles that seem to have set the tone for the types of characters she voices. However, here she’s voicing Tomoe, who exists at quite the opposite end of the spectrum from Ai and Shimako. Its really fun to watch/hear it.
I probably sound like I really hated the first two episodes of HanaIro. I didn’t. I just didn’t see a whole lot that made me excited for the next episode – yes, even with the cliffhanger. If anything, the cliffhanger made me less interested; it was too over-the-top, and the resolution is too astoundingly obvious from a distance.
All of which to say… its fine so far, but HanaIro is going to really have to up its game to keep me engaged. As it is, I see this as lazy afternoon diversion at best.