Hanasaku Iroha – 11: Everything comes crashing down
Ohana was wracked with fever last week, and now it’s my turn. My nose is running like an open tap as I type, and I barely have any strength to stay awake. But I guess this pales in comparison to the emotional roller-coaster Ohana is being subjected to this episode. If you have been a teenager before, you can probably understand and empathize with Ohana’s emotional state.
The feeling of waving goodbye to the last patron of the weekend stood in stark contrast to the moment Ohana took a second look upon the number of stars upon the magazine. A 5 out of 10 rating was a clear injustice to the Kissuisho staff, judging by the satisfied looks on their customers’ faces.
Matters were made worse when during a general meeting among all the inn managers in the county, it was revealed that there would be large modern hotel to be built nearby. Inevitably, business for the surrounding inns would suffer from it. Early in the series, I gleaned that Okami-san and Fukuya’s manager were good friends from the way they referred to each other, and it does seem that way now at the meeting. At least they don’t seem like they are on bad terms.
I’m sure many of us missed her presence, so here’s Yuina-hime gracing this episode! Ever her bubbly self in spite of the quite ominous future of the inns of the town, she jokes with Ohana about wanting to have a stay at the hotel in future. That drew out one of Ohana’s epic faces, and also gave her the opportunity to drop the B-bomb. I meant balut. Yuina really needs more screentime, and I’m quite sure her voice actress, Tomatsu Haruka, has so many other roles to voice that her appearances in HanaIro are so limited.
By now, I think we have become all-too-familiar with the way Ohana’s mind is wired, so unless she’s bedridden with illness, she’s going to do something about this gross injustice. Her charge was led with resistance from Okami-san, who preferred to do it the adult way: accepting the criticism and knuckling down to work even harder. With her mind made up over a bath, and reinforced by the fact that customers were cancelling reservations because of the ratings, Ohana decided to sneak off by herself to confront the writer of the review.
Her epic face #2 was enough to scare the person who attended to her to reveal the culprit. And in the most contrived way possible, it turns out to be Ohana’s mom, Satsuki. I knew that we all should’ve seen it coming, but how else would you make a story and stringing in an encounter with the mother as well? Against a stranger, Ohana will really let it rip, but against her mother, it’s a totally different ball game. Not only does she feel completely betrayed, she’s also shocked that the failed elopement was just done on a whim by her mother. Where Kissuisho has given Ohana a sense of belonging, all the resentment that Ohana had for her mother flowed out over the fateful meal the mother and daughter had together.
Satsuki wrote the review without actually staying at Kissuisho personally, which angered Ohana all the more, but she had her reasons behind it. Her higher-ups were pressuring her to write it that way. If we put two and two together, it’s most probably an offensive measure by the owners of the hotel-to-be-built, giving the surrounding inns bad ratings to boost their own. This mother and daughter are so similar and different at the same time. Both do what they have to do, but in Satsuki’s case, she does it because she is bound to it, and as for Ohana, she does it because she wills herself to. Both are fiercely independent and probably are hardened towards life, but Ohana is still the innocent girl yet to blend into society. All I can say is that this finally marks the continuation of the tone of the first two episodes. It’s not just something mundane, it’s about the trials and tribulations of growing up.
Ohana’s protest isn’t funny in the comedy kind of way, instead when viewed from the eyes of an adult, it’s an outrageous and mildly humourous attempt to rebel within her means. It’s rather characteristic to see her do things that are out of the ordinary, and similarly, Satsuki’s refusal to budge from her stance reflects the very odd relationship that this mother and daughter have.
Amid her protests, she remembered that she was actually quite close to where Kou worked, and decided to pay him a visit to draw strength from his support. But yet another bombshell is dropped upon her. She notices from the subtle actions of the girl who isn’t yet named that Kou might actually have another person that he likes.
When you take a step back and look past the antics characteristic of anime, what’s left behind at its core is a portrayal of a girl who is strong-willed, but is actually quite lonely and vulnerable without the support of friends. She may have left Tokyo for a few months, but she returns to find out that everything has changed. Kou suddenly seems distant to her. Over the months of not actually having any physical contact with each other, even Kou, who had confessed to Ohana, was moving on with life, and taking interest in other girls. He did not deny that he dislike the unnamed girl in front of Ohana, and that was the point where Ohana felt that Kou was lost to her. I find it quite sad that these two have come infuriatingly close to striking a good relationship a number of times, but it just wasn’t to be. Whether this marks the end of the Ohana x Kou pairing remains to be seen, but for Ohana, it seems like she has lost yet another companion in lonely Tokyo, where months before she called it home.
Ohana is dealt wave after wave of emotional blows in just a single day. First, the inn’s rating was poor even after a tremendous amount of effort put in by Ohana and the Kissuisho staff. Second, her own mother sent her to the inn and brought it down with a scathing review. Third, the realization that Kou has grown distant to her. It’s all too much for a young teenager to take, and it comes down so fast upon her that she doesn’t know what hit her. She’s reduced to tears, wondering how her life has gone so wrong, even when it looked like it was taking a turn for the better.
So there you have it, a wonderfully emotional episode that was executed perfectly, with the exception of one or two contrivances. It shifts from comedy to drama so seamlessly, and we’re finally starting to see why we’ve been drawn to this anime from the start. At times, it seems like there have been too many one-off episodes, but in actuality, it serves to show the amount of time Ohana has spent at Kissuisho, till the point that Tokyo, her home, seems almost foreign to her.
I really do hope things start to pick up for Ohana next week. This time, at least she’s going to be accompanied by Minko and Tohru.