Hanasaku Iroha – 09: Minko x Tohru x Ohana x Kou x Mystery Girl
This continuation from last week was predictable to the last detail, but it wasn’t unpleasant to watch in the least. I really felt that the producers were going for the ‘feel-good’ vibe, and it clearly showed; unlike other series where emotions can run really deep, this series doesn’t deviate far from being decidedly normal. Some events are a bit forced, like Ohana’s search for Tohru, but you get the feeling that sans the bits of wild humour, this could really happen in real life. And oddly enough, it’s also why it’s better animated than performed in a live-action drama. There’s nobody really who can portray the energy of Ohana, and so in this anime, Itou Kanae is doing a fine job voicing her.
Expectedly, the cliffhanger last episode wasn’t really one intrinsically. It’s just their way of saying “We’ve run out of time for this episode, so instead of panning towards the sky, we’ll show godly rays of light bursting out from a room!” Which fell flat, literally in Ohana’s case, but at least they did a good job creating an introductory summary of last episode. It was sharp, to the point, and sufficient. Unlike some shounen series ahemnarutocoughbleachcoughhitmanreborncoughcough, putting in a third of the previous episode, adding on to the recap of the past twenty or so episodes in that particular arc.
Ohana fumbles around the building searching for Tohru, and somehow gets herself roughed up and in a rut. But she receives a call from Kou, who as mentioned in the last episode was on his way to meet her. Kou manages to make a timely call to Ohana despite paying a visit at the most untimely moment. Nevertheless, as they meekly exchanged words, Kou’s words inspired Ohana for a second wind. I think Kou’s probably thinking what the hell is going on, one moment Ohana’s at Kissuisho, the next she’s in the city, and in between, he’s treated to a barrage of fangirling from Ohana, exclaiming that his words did help her so much. And in his dogged determination to meet Ohana, he unwittingly travels to and fro in the train. Perhaps it hadn’t occurred to him that he should have waited for Ohana to answer him properly before going anywhere. And isn’t he supposed to at least book a place to stay before embarking on the trip? Dear dear Kou-san, you’ve got yourself entrapped in a whirlwind of love.
Well, she should have called Tohru, instead of running around like a headless chicken, but then there wouldn’t be any story to tell, would there? She found him at last, and promptly collapsed into his arms from exhaustion. Tohru brings Ohana back on his bike. They’re hell-bent on creating the Ohana x Tohru angle it seems.
It’s a case of so near, yet so far for Kou. Their paths actually crossed, but Kou was too engrossed in commuting back and forth to meet Ohana, that it didn’t occur to him that he looked like an idiot. I cringe when I think how Ohana is so neutral towards men, but her infinite charm has them chasing after her till the ends of the world.
Tohru’s return firmed up the faltering Renji’s resolve, and so credit to Ohana for bringing him back. Meals would have been a mess if Tohru didn’t come back.
With all the staff regrouped at Kissuisho, they set about providing the best service they could offer to the patrons. Jiromaru and Takako persisted in their strong belief that the two hawt girls were the mystery reviewers, but the rest made sure that rest of the guests were not short-changed as well. All this was done with tips from the handy-dandy notebook of Okami-san. Hence, what I didn’t like was that Takako was getting into the act, trying to claim credit. It’s not like she came up with all the good ideas, so even though her and Jiromaru’s characters were for comic relief, her lack of integrity really kills it for me. I do hope though that my blatant distaste for her will be judging too early, and that she’ll reform towards the later portions, but if she doesn’t, I hope they spend at least one episode laying the smackdown on her.
The night passed without any commotion, and the guests were ready to check out the next morning. The two hawt chicks received lavish service from Takako, so naturally they’d be satisfied, but it seems that they weren’t the mystery reviewers after all. It turns out that the the reviewer actually brought her mother along, possibly in a clever move to remove any suspicions. It’s probably not being picked up by Ohana, but I think it’s a good move that the identity of the reviewer was implied. In fact, a lot of information was conveyed through subtle changes in expressions. To put it short, the producers chose to overtly show the subtle changes, rather than to actually say it out loud.
P.A. Works’ previous work, True Tears also relied heavily on that, and it’s probably why those who watched the series were overflowing with things to discuss about the anime, how things might turn out eventually.
In which case, the appearance of another female character will mark the advent of more topics of discussion to come. Who is she, and how will she possibly be woven into the tangled relationships between so many characters currently? It’s good that they’re not rushing things; the only thing worse than having a convoluted love triangle (or a square, or a pentagon) is not dealing with it properly.
And so, the staff of Kissuisho gathered to welcome Okami-san back from the hospital. She’d probably be in full knowing that Ohana would’ve handled the situation just the way she wanted, with the exception of one or two people who tried to do otherwise. Judging from her expression, she just knows that Ohana rose to the occasion and managed Kissuisho in her own way. It was quite sly of her to mention about the book to Ohana, then retracting, possibly to see if Ohana caught the hint.
All in all, there was nothing really much to talk about this episode, but it was resolved in a pretty satisfying manner. Sometimes, what a viewer wants is just a fitting ending that doesn’t leave anything hanging, and this episode fit that to a T.
Check back next week for more of Ohana being oblivious to any love interest from guys!