Hanasaku Iroha – 13: Bad mom / Good mom
It’s halfway through the season, and in a mini-ending sort of way, things have culminated to the eventual return of the rebel daughter Satsuki back to Kissuisho. It’s a showdown of wits between Okami-san and Satsuki, the former staunch in persisting in her ways of service, and the latter terrorizing the staff in her sweet menacing ways. And Ohana hasn’t got a clue how things ended up this way.
It’s evident that Okami-san in her younger days endured through the wiles of Satsuki as a child. Enishi is terrified stiff as well, the name of his older sister just sends chills running up his spine. Hence, Satsuki’s sudden arrival causes major panic in Kissuisho. Okami-san prefers to wear her game face and treat her daughter like any other patron, and to delegate all tasks attending to her to other staff, as she doesn’t know what she’ll do to Satsuki.
I get the feeling that Satsuki didn’t come to Kissuisho at a whim, rather she had been waiting for the right moment to go back to where she once lived. Once she settles down in her room, she immediately gives Nako tips and pointers over how to improve the inn’s aesthetics. Naturally, I’d expect her to return with a vengeance, wrecking havoc and making outrageous orders just to get back at Okami-san, but instead of making all hell break loose, she quietly pinpoints persistent flaws. Even after such a long period of not visiting Kissuisho, Satsuki has lots of things to say about it, an obvious dig at Okami-san that the inn needs to change with the times.
Her constant picking on her younger brother Enishi is probably the root cause of his wimpy demeanour. Enishi has already become an uncle, but he doesn’t display any signs of manliness, or being able to handle situations well. His dependence on his older sister has also kept him hankering over Takako, who shares pretty much the same assertiveness as Satsuki. Satsuki may be bad at raising a child, but she has got the presence that influences and affects others. Arguably it runs within the women of the Shijima family. From Okami-san to Satsuki to Ohana, they are fiercely independent people who aren’t really affected by other peoples’ opinion.
Satsuki calls out Ohana to take a walk with her to the shrine. Being her mother, she could tell at a glance that Ohana was troubled over Kou, and tried to give her some words of encouragement. Perhaps she’s trying to begin the slow process of patching up the relationship between mother and daughter, and it does come across to Ohana as slightly irritating. Not being around at Ohana’s times of dire need, and appearing afterwards to try to pass it off as a kind gesture. I don’t know whether Satsuki is trying to be a good mother by playing the bad mother, but maybe doing as such will give Ohana the idea of trying to be the complete opposite of her mom (which in effect is the desired result).
Okami-san might have also realized that her overbearing approach and dedication to work could have been the cause of Satsuki’s attitude, and it’s encapsulated succinctly in these four scenes. When Okami-san stops Enishi from bringing Takako, claiming that it’s a Shijima issue, she realized that in too many instances, she had mixed work and personal issues together. Preventing Beanman from ceasing to clean the toilet in spite of young Satsuki demanding to bathe, she had neglected the mother role towards Satsuki. But through her work, she has developed a keen eye for detail, and it helps her determine Satsuki’s interests, like her favourite food and sleeping habits. Satsuki’s arrival may have been timely for Okami-san, as she realizes that she may have to strike a balance between work and family. Prior to that, Ohana’s arrival at Kissuisho was also the catalyst to that realization.
With the family of three generations gathered together, it was the rare opportunity to establish an understanding between each other, and Satsuki probably had that in mind when she made the decision to go back to Kissuisho. Dropping the pretense and formalities, Satsuki invited Okami-san and Ohana to her room to just sit down and talk over some drinks. The drinks were necessary to break the ice, and in Ohana’s case, it was a bit comical to see her get ‘drunk’ over soft drinks. Maybe it’s the placebo effect? She may have drunk the soft drink thinking it was alcoholic and her brain reacted accordingly? I don’t know, but it does give her the opportunity to pour her heart out in front of her mother and grandmother. It was a time to bond, seeing that it might have been the first time the three of them had been together, and without anybody else around for once, they could finally speak freely.
They didn’t have to say overtly that they actually cared for each other, but it was apparent that Okami-san and Satsuki are indeed concerned for each other. It may have been time for Satsuki to put the past behind to come back as a caring daughter, not as a rebellious teenager. And to that, she did quite a good job. She might not have reversed the damage done on Ohana through her ways of mothering, but if anything, I’d see this as an attempt to redeem herself. She still isn’t a good mother, but she must have thought long and hard over Ohana’s outburst at the restaurant, before realizing that it’s time to care for her family. Also, seeing that Okami-san is physically weaker in her advanced age, it’s time to make her happy for a change.
As Satsuki left the inn after her overnight stay, she penned down her real thoughts and gave it to Ohana. In essence, Kissuisho is always changing and adapting to bring unchanging service to its patrons to visit it for its retro feel. It was the same as the review in the magazine, but it was put in a better light. And that was probably what Ohana had wanted all along, acknowledgement from her mother. And with that sending off, it seems that Okami-san has acknowledged Satsuki as her daughter once again.
Ohana embarked on her journey to Tokyo to find justice, but she came back with something more worth treasuring. Apart from having a better impression of her mother, she has finally found a place that she can really call home. The hustle and bustle of Tokyo was never the place that she felt she belonged, and when thrust into Kissuisho and meeting all the new faces, she realized she can put her past behind and start anew. In effect, she’s also putting Kou behind and was sorry to keep him barely afloat by not answering his confession.
With Satsuki looking like she’s turned a new leaf, and Ohana ready to look forward to life at Kissuisho, this was indeed a mini-ending to mark the halfway point of the series. In a way, it’s good for both of them to banish the demons of their past. This undoubtedly will herald the return of the energetic and sprightly Ohana, and there’s no better way of expressing her exuberance than a beach episode! With the much missed Yuina! Just the way I’d like the second half of HanaIro to start off.