Hanasaku Iroha at a Glance

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.

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20 Responses to Hanasaku Iroha at a Glance

  1. I’m enjoying this quite a lot, though I guess I’m also not thinking of it too much as a “this can really happen” story. More of a j-drama in anime form than anything else in my view.

    That said, I wouldn’t mind if the Shiki came down from the hills…

    • adaywithoutme says:

      And I suppose that’s my problem with it – I don’t like J-Dramas. I think they’re stupid, quite frankly.

      It isn’t that I automatically dislike things that can’t happen; I just… like I said, there’s this sense like its telling a story that could happen in our world. And I find that a little hard to swallow.

      • jpmeyer says:

        That’s exactly my problem with the show, too. I love the animation and everything, but after watching enough doramas, I’ve learned that I don’t like stories about people that get slapped in the face for being MEIWAKU and then profusely apologize for being MEIWAKU.

      • adaywithoutme says:

        The J-drama comparison actually hadn’t occurred to me before others started mentioning it, but it is extremely apt. My issue is that in J-dramas people basically get rewarded for being shitty human beings; yeah, it seems Ohana could stand to mature a bit, but the others around her haven’t had any personal negative outcomes from their spiteful behavior and attitudes. Minko needs to be smacked around good – and not for her errors in the kitchen. That whole “Die.” habit of hers is so loathsome.

  2. Aorii says:

    Hey, at least her mother is still in the country, unlike so many other parents we see in anime…

    Minko’s attitude is pretty darn Xtreme. Frankly, I can take everything else realistically (definitely read stories of rl people with this bad circumstances >.<), but her one-liners are pushing it for me xD

    But then, hey, it's a growing-up drama, taking some time to sympathize with the main characters is part of the experience =)

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I find Minko especially egregious in light of last season’s Hourou Musuko’s Saori. Saori was an extremely unpleasant person. She was selfish and blunt. But, somehow, it wasn’t hard to see past that to the fact that she herself was a miserable person who was merely turning her inner feelings outward. She was very relatable. I felt a lot of sympathy for her.

      Given that, Minko seems twice as unlikable. But maybe that’ll change and she’ll get some more development. Well, I’m sure they’ll at least try. We shall see.

      • Aorii says:

        The bluntness is what made Saori easy to sympathize. I really liked Saori, even close to the start of the manga, simply cause she made her thoughts very obvious. Minko is still a black box, all things considered. Well, still only the start~

      • adaywithoutme says:

        It’ll take quite a bit for me to like Minko. They’ve really given themselves an uphill task of trying to humanize her, and if P.A. Works is capable of it, I’ll be impressed since I’ve seen little evidence of their being so thus far.

  3. glothelegend says:

    I’m going to probably check this out just for the art. Sometimes spectacular art can fool me into thinking an anime is good when it really is just average, and frankly, ignorance is bliss.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Well, artistically, it is quite the sight to behold. And, at the very least, I’m sure it’ll be better than Angel Beats.

  4. Nazarielle says:

    If Hanasaku really did have shiki, I’d be onboard in a heartbeat. As it is, I’m probably gonna pass unless the reaction to episode 3 makes me interested again.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Well… maybe it’ll take a dramatic turn about five episodes in and everyone’ll start gnawing on each other.

  5. Kim says:

    I’ve only seen the first episode so far but I honestly thought it was great. Admittedly I agree the situation the main character finds herself in is not entirely realistic but I like that it seems like it comes out of a modern fairy tale.

    More importantly I feel we have a bunch of interesting female characters who are a bit flawed and most likely will have to grow over the course of the series. At least that is what I am hoping from the first episode.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I’m not convinced that we have a terribly interesting cast of female characters yet. We’ve got the shy girl who can barely function around strangers, a mean older woman, a gossipy woman, and a bitchy girl. Ohana is at least a tad atypical, but not by a huge amount. Can there be something more made of these women? Perhaps. It’d be nice if so, and I’d be thrilled if so, since large female casts generally do a poor job at having actual variation or deviation from the tropes. But P.A. Works has its work cut out for them, that’s for sure, and I hate to compare it unfavorably to Hourou Musuko before it, but HM does complicate the job given how solid of a cast of female characters it possessed.

  6. Jack says:

    This has easily been my show of the season so far, and if it weren’t for Wandering Son it might be my show of the (start) of the year.

    I understand the arguments about stories and characters being ‘realistic’ vs ‘unrealistic’ but in general it’s a hard argument to substantiate. I don’t wish to throw open the floodgates, as it were, and say that characters can do whatever they feel at whatever time, or that any story is as likely to happen as any other, but it’s very difficult to put down a line and say “anything that crosses this line is unrealistic”.

    This largely comes from listening and reading far too much information about peoples real lives that, if it were written down would seem like an ‘unrealistic story’ but which, in reality, actually happened. Extremely ‘strange’ events can occur in real life, perhaps not with the same frequency as the ‘mundane’ but they are far from impossible.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Quite frankly, I don’t understand at all what you’re trying to say in the second paragraph. If I read too much about real people, and their stories are/seem extreme, wouldn’t that just result in me being more willing to accept extremities because I have become inured to their excessiveness?

  7. N says:

    Agreeing with most of your points here. I have a feeling this is going to turn out like Kuragehime – one of those shows that the aniblogosphere showers with praise after the first episode, but that just doesn’t click with me for some reason. (Apologies if you liked Kuragehime)

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I actually did like Kuragehime initially, but then it went the whole virgin/whore route and I was completely over it. Its bad enough to have to put up with that crap in anime NOT aimed at me, but in a josei? Really? I know it isn’t unheard of, but its still downright maddening and I dropped it faster than I could blink when that happened.

  8. inushinde says:

    So far, I’m liking it, aside from subconsciously drawing comparisons to Spirited Away, of which there are a surprising many beyond the simple “fish out of water and learning how to work” story.

    While it does shoot itself in the foot when it comes to realism, it’s nonetheless pretty entertaining. I guess the improbability of such a scenario happening is part of what gives Ohana an especially tough time adjusting to working at the inn.

    Ohana’s a bit idealistic, which is apparently quashed to a degree by the end of the first episode, definitely a greenhorn, and just a little bit disagreeable. If anything, she’s the most realistic element of the show, a regular person thrown into such turmoil so quickly.

    While not an everyday kind of thing, the scenario could definitely happen.

  9. Pingback: Hanasaku Iroha Ep. 2: Die | Moe Sucks

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