Hanasaku Iroha – 04: Mk5 Ohana and Sankaku relationships
For someone with an inbuilt loudhailer in her voice, Ohana really needs to think before she shoots her mouth off. More often than not, her inability to read situations and act accordingly becomes the source of most of the comic relief in this episode.
After the antics of last episode, we start off with a new arc, where Ohana finally gets suited up for school. Ohana, Nako and Minko make their way past many picturesque locations, with one of it being Fukuya, a rivaling hot spring inn. It’s clear that Minko is still determined to refer to Ohana as Balut. Well apparently Balut is a delicacy in Southeast Asia and China, but it’s really a fertilized egg, where you can clearly see a nearly-formed duckling inside. Despite it being a common snack in the countries neighbouring mine, I’m quite sure I wouldn’t want to have a taste of it. Coming back though, whilst enjoying the scenery accentuated by falling Sakura petals, Ohana reminisces about a similar moment spent with Kou. Obviously Kou’s last-second confession has struck a chord in Ohana’s heart, as she periodically gets lost in thought, trying to figure out how she actually feels towards him.
Her wistful stare aimlessly into the distance is all the evidence you need to tell that she does have feelings for him.
Back in school, she’s instantly mobbed by her new classmates, eager to find out more about her. A large portion of that eagerness stems from her living in Tokyo, and practically anything she does or wears or says is regarded as being cool. Another new discovery on Ohana’s part would be that Minko is actually hugely popular amongst the guys in the school, due to her striking good looks. Based on the past few episodes, we’d be hard pressed to see where her beauty comes from, as she’s almost permanently wearing a scowl on her face. In school though, her nonchalant demeanour just gives her the ‘ice princess’ vibes. Many guys have confessed to her, and none of them are spared from her sharp tongue. She invariably retorts that she wants someone who is strict, but kind and serious in his work. But y’know, the fun is all about the chase, and the guys just can’t get enough of Minko.
While all the students are clamouring all over Ohana, Yuina Wakura (voiced by Tomatsu Haruka) makes her appearance, in an attempt to drag Ohana out and save her from the torrent of attention. Her hairstyle lends her a very refined outwards appearance, and she’s also one of the ‘princesses’ in the eyes of the male students. However, gleaning from the way she talks and carries herself, she’s a carefree individual, unburdened by the fact that she’s the future heiress of the rival hot spring inn, Fukuya. There may be implications regarding their friendship, but Ohana can’t help but admire and relate to Yuina. Both of them are thrust into a set path that they do not necessarily want, but they are adamant to make something fun out of it.
Meanwhile, Ohana is still fussing forlornly over her reply to Kou’s message. Hanasaku Iroha is gonna be a two-cour series, if I remember correctly, so I think Ohana will have plenty of time to think about how to deal with it. But now, we’re fast moving into another revelation, that Minko actually has the hots for Tohru the apprentice chef! I’m not quite sure what Minko can see behind his constant berating, but she certainly likes older guys.
It’s good to see that, because of the event of the past episode, Nako has opened up to Ohana, and is willing to accept her friendship. It seems that Nako draws confidence from the presence of Ohana, as suggested by her bringing Ohana to Fukuya to submit periodic neighbourhood association reports. She’s afraid of conversing with strangers, but she manages to pull through with Ohana by her side. Nako implicitly trusts Ohana enough to bring her to one of her favourite places, a shrine atop a hill. She confides to Ohana that she really appreciates getting called by a nickname, and that she previously tried to demonstrate her friendship with Minko by attempting to give her a nickname as well…
…which didn’t go quite as planned. At least Minko was appreciative of her effort.
Back at the inn, Ohana was reprimanded by Tohru regarding the placement of the dishes. Minko quickly intervened to relieve Ohana. That’s just her way of getting closer to Tohru. But poor old Ohana, she’s not exactly a master of reading the atmosphere, and she mistakenly assumes that Minko is actively trying to forge a friendship with her, keeping her safe from Tohru.
Which spurred me to give Ohana a nickname, Majide Kuukiyomenai Ohana (referenced to Mk5 in Beelzebub). She tries to strike up a conversation with Minko in the bath, and manages to pick the least appropriate one to talk about: complaining about Tohru. Obviously that didn’t go well, and it led Minko into correcting Ohana that Tohru was strict, but kind and serious in his work. Now where did we hear that from? Ohana, who has a habit of thinking out loud, finally put two and two together, and deduced that Minko actually liked Tohru! You go, girl.
Her stroke of genius led to a confrontation outside of neck-strangling proportions. And there comes the twist. The duo spotted Tohru picking up Yuina, and it’s quite obviously from the sparkly heart-shaped decoration encrusted with decorative beads adorned on the helmet that Tohru and Yuina are probably dating in secret. DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN.
Now, the next episode is titled “A Tearful Chef Romance”, so I’ll be mentally prepared for some angst and heartbreak. This episode, while not as funny as the previous one, had excellent pacing. Normally, I’d fall asleep watching a slice-of-life show, but it takes a blockhead like Ohana to get me interested in it. Also, we’ll note the slight dip in animation quality. The scenery is still great, straight out of a painting, but some intermediate frames look a bit questionable. But, since this is a potentially two-cour series, we’ll have to forgive P.A. Works for doing a bit of selective budgeting. It’s still terribly pretty to look at. Just don’t give us NICE CABBAGE quality.