Hanasaku Iroha – 10: Fevers, Hallucinations and Perverts.
After the frenetic pace of last episode, this week’s iteration of Hanasaku Iroha slows down to a meandering but mesmerizing amble. Same thing goes for Ohana. Being the boss of Kissuisho for two busy days surely took its toll on her small frame, and she’s fallen ill. It’s so weird seeing her lack of energy, which is a main source of propelling this series forward. Similarly, be it time lapses or hallucinations, this was a weird episode, probably caused by the fever that’s messing around with Ohana’s mind.
Ohana brought this upon herself, really. Waking up extremely early to clean the inn, she had worn herself out. Oh, the irony of taking yourself out when you’re determined to start the day energized. All the staff in Kissuisho are concerned about her health, and none more so than Tohru, it seems. He is oddly showing a great deal of concern for Ohana, and you can sort of guess that his standpoint isn’t merely as a friend. That too is being picked up by Minko, who is finally quite aware that there’s something going on with Tohru’s ‘advances’.
In other news, the bitch is still here. But she’s shuts up as soon as Okami-san walks into the office. We all know who the real boss is around these quarters.
Ohana is a far cry from her usual sprightly self, and it’s clear that when illness strikes, the more energetic a person is normally, the harder it hits them. So much so, that Ohana begins to enter a vivid dream-like state. Dazed and tired in one moment, snapping awake in the next to find that it’s already dusk, Ohana sets about cleaning the inn again, chancing upon the regal and beautiful portrait of a young Okami-san. She’s obviously dreaming, as you can’t see any signs of fever, but what it’s trying to convey would be Ohana’s strong desire to get up and return to work.
In his own way of showing concern, Jiromaru traipses in with a manuscript in hand, prepared to recite one of his recent works to cheer Ohana up. Afflicted with fever, I’m quite certain Ohana is listening to her own fever-muddled version of Jiromaru’s story, despite his physically being there. And somehow young Okami-san keeps popping up in Ohana’s mind. While Ohana bears little semblance to Okami-san in terms of outwards appearance, they are both dedicated to their craft, which is something I’d rather Ohana have than to take after her mother.
Next up, Tohru comes in on his own volition, bringing food for Ohana. There is a certain charm to Ohana, especially when she’s unusually weak and her face is fever-flushed. Undoubtedly, we can have confirmation that Tohru is mildly besotted by Ohana’s good looks, enhanced by some natural blush. And being the ultimate opportunist that he is, he closes in on Ohana to gaze upon her countenance, under the pretence of taking her temperature with the cheeky forehead thermometer, usually reserved for couples. That sneaky bastard.
Ohana’s like an automatic car, the moment she pops open her eyes, she gotta start moving. Her multiple attempts to get off her bed were met with obstacles in the form of Nako and Okami-san, who have took turns to check on her, and subsequently push her back into bed. I’d guess that the only way to keep her rooted to the spot would be to tell her that everything in the inn is going fine, even without Ohana’s involvement. But little did they know that the fever-addled Ohana would take what they say in a slightly different light.
This scene was haunting and beautiful at the same time, accompanied by an excellent backing track that matched the mystical yet warm mood. It’s another one of Ohana’s dreams, but what I like about it is that it talks about the Bonbori Festival, which was mentioned a few episodes back. The people in the province would light lanterns along a road to illuminate a pathway for the goddess. Similarly in this aspect, Ohana is probably brought to this scene in her dreams as she is desperately searching for some guidance regarding her relationship with Kou. It’s a nice touch that the surreal nature of the festival is used to great effect to portray Ohana’s conflict in a dreamlike state.
I like how this scene depicts Minko simultaneously loving and resenting Ohana. She is acutely aware that Tohru might have the hots for Ohana, and she wants to vent her frustration and resentment on Ohana. Both Tohru and Minko are caught in a one-sided love, and it revolves around Ohana, a relatively new person to join the fold. But it is testament to Ohana’s ability to change the people around her, that in such a short time, Minko does look upon Ohana favourably as a friend, and she only imagines the pranks that she would have done to Ohana, had it happened earlier towards their first meeting.
In her weakened state, Ohana was left confused by the words of her fellow staff. The staff of Kissuisho might have thought that telling Ohana that the inn was doing fine without her would appease her, but it had the opposite effect. Ohana felt that she wasn’t needed anymore, and was wrought with tears, facing an inner battle as to whether she should stay or return to her home in Tokyo. Nako and Minko quickly set about correcting Ohana to clear up the misunderstanding, but she was already fast asleep by then.
She may have been wracked with fever, but her subconscious remained clear. Returning to the Bonbori scene, Ohana was staunch in her decision to stay at Kissuisho. She loved the inn and the people around her, and she was not easily going to give up what she had built over the months she had been in Kissuisho. Kou’s disappearance in Ohana’s dream was symbolic of her determination to put relationship troubles aside and to focus on doing the best she can at Kissuisho. It’s a tough decision to make, but in the end, Ohana was able to give herself the guidance she needed to follow the light.
How Kou’s and Ohana’s relationship will turn out remains to be seen, but what this episode tried to show was how much Ohana is valued at Kissuisho. Granted, her initial entrance was met with several stumbling blocks, but the people at Kissuisho have finally been able to see the strength of Ohana’s character, and are taking to her like insects to the light. If there was one thing that I was unsatisfied about , it would be the Tohru x Ohana angle that is slowly beginning to develop. It’s quite unfair to Minko, as she’s had her fair share of rough times, but here’s hoping that it’ll be handled well.