Hanasaku Iroha – 08: Some are more equal than others
We’re a third into the season, and after establishing the setting and fleshing out the characters, this series moves into a decidedly more serious mood. This is an anime revolving around a hotspring inn setting, so naturally, customer relations and management of the inn would tend to come into focus every now and then. And from that, we can clearly see the distinction between actually running the inn daily and being an armchair consultant.
Our Yuina-hime is nothing short of lovely, and she has graced this episode appearing in a quirky but cute one-shouldered jumper. There’s a different charm to her compared to Ohana (they’re both lovely), and I never tire of her accents that she randomly uses. Lest I continue prattling about her loveliness, let’s get back to what their conversation was about. According to the magazine Yuina was reading, magazine editors employ “mystery guests” to visit inns incognito, and rate their services without the actual staff knowing.
It’s just the way to break the doom and gloom at Kissuisho, as Enishi is cracking his head over new strategies to pull in customers. It’s a period when there’s typically few customers, but Enishi and Tomoe are greeted by an onslaught of ringing telephones. Surprisingly enough, so many reservations were made that Kissuisho were facing the rare prospect of having not enough staff.
It wasn’t long before Ohana caught wind of the situation. Having so many customers at one go was a breath of fresh air, which got Ohana undoubtedly thinking that it would pick up Okami-san’s mood considerably. Her optimistic thoughts drifted and shapeshifted into something of a delusion; we’d sooner see Minko smile than Okami-san, so vividly pictured in Ohana’s mind.
Okami-san is a character that deserves respect. Staying true to being morally upright, she’d turn down customers if overcrowding resulted in a diminished quality of service. I believe it’s the hallmark of places that are small but immensely popular, that insist on providing the highest quality of service, rather than to be money-minded.
Okami-san’s dedication to her craft is bordering on fanatic. Her advanced age takes its toll on the body, and though infrequent, is often debilitating. However, she is adamant that Ohana does not call an ambulance, as it would not reflect well if the customers were to see the staff being taken away by one.
In the hospital, Okami-san urges Ohana to return back to the inn, feeling that it was there that Ohana’s presence was of greater importance. Before she left though, Okami-san intended to tell Ohana about something to do with the account book, but decided not to. On the way back, Kou made a surprise call to Ohana. You can tell from her expression that she is genuinely happy to hear his voice, yet she’s unsure how to respond to him given his recent confession. Their relationship will definitely be explored in later episodes, and I really don’t know what’s going to happen when there’s potentially a new challenger in the form of Tohru.
Back at the inn, Jiromaru plays the muddled customer who stumbles into another room by mistake, in order to use his superior observation skills to determine which guests were the mystery reviewers. He got an eyeful of a pair of hot chicks, of which one is quite a looker. Feeling weirdly satisfied, he hops off…
…to get an eyeful of this. Takako, or as Kurogane would put it, the reverse weeaboo, has been employed by Enishi to curb the crisis of being understaffed, of all people. If there was ever a way to punch this trash-talking, shameless, vapid personification of a rotting pustule, I’d jump at that opportunity. I have no idea why Enishi is hankering after her. Is he that desperate? Look slightly to the left and you’ll see a much better candidate, Tomoe. Though I’m quite sure she’d rather not have a pussy as a boyfriend. Takako made the ridiculous suggestion that in times of being understaffed, priority should be placed towards the mystery reviewers. Just by saying that, she should go back to America to study consultation, and attempt to insert random japanese words in english sentences.
She also made the mistake of putting extra pressure on the remaining staff. Renji, unfortunately, was reduced to a shuddering wimp as he couldn’t work properly under pressure. Nya-t to mention developing a weird way of talking as well.
Ohana was depressed as she was unsatisfied with the way Takako was managing the inn, and hence she decided to look for Okami-san’s book of accounts once more. Upon finding it, she realised that it was meticulously written, taking note of every detail about the guests and how to serve them well. It gave Ohana the impetus to set things straight once and for all.
I think it showed that the very people working at the inn would be the most qualified to make decisions, and Ohana took up that responsibility when nobody else dared to intervene otherwise. Okami-san was right after all in thinking that Ohana would be better off helping at the inn, as her strong sense of doing what’s right would serve to be a guidance for the rest of the staff. It’s also rather surprising that Takako still hasn’t got the hint that her ideas more often than not have the opposite effect desired. Ohana quickly summoned Nako as emergency cover, to which Nako was glad to accede to without question.
Ohana then speeds off to the city to find Tohru as cover for Renji. Slowly but surely, she’s gathering all the help she can find, and I’m sure that in the next episode, she’ll be able to earn her credentials when Okami-san has secretly put in so much trust in her.
Ohana seems to take after her grandmother more than her actual mother. Their characters are built upon having integrity, instinctively knowing what is the right thing to do, and doing it even if nobody else is noticing. Her youth fuels her irrepressible energy to assert herself, and though sometimes her childish naivete causes her to mess up, her presence within Kissuisho is gradually increasing, and it’s having a positive effect on the people around her.
She’s a born leader, and her infectious and boundless energy is what makes this series so watchable. I’m glad that this is being stretched into a two-episode arc, as it allows the time to pace the story evenly. It’s going to be “The Longest Day at Kissuisho”, and hoping with bated breath that they’ll pull through.