|Excellent character development; Good plot; Awesome animation||Some characters got annoying after awhile|
Hanasaku Iroha felt like it would be a general slice-of-life show as we went into it. What we weren’t expecting was the amazing story that went in-depth into things most shows overlook and the amount of drama that was included. In short, this was nothing to the level of what we were expecting and we loved every second of it.
Hanasaku Iroha is the story of Ohana, a 16 year old high school student, who is uprooted from her fairly comfortable life in Tokyo to live with her grandmother in the rural areas of Yunosagi. While she initially believes that she’ll be living a fairy tale life, her dreams are dashed when she learns that she’ll be working as a waitress for her keep. However, through the trials and tribulations of working at the inn under the seemingly-iron fist of her grandmother, Ohana learns who she really is and what she wants out of life.
First off, the animation. It’s gorgeous to look at, especially the scenery. You can tell that the animation studio really put the effort into creating the backgrounds so that you felt as if you really were in the rural areas of Tokyo. Kissuiso Inn (where Ohana lives and works at) is gorgeous on it’s own, but then you get to see the characters. Each character had their own set of facial expressions and personality – as expected from any show – but the animation really brought them to life. Every emotion, from happiness to sorrow to anger and everything in between, was perfectly done and it really brought a sense of realism to the series as a whole.
After dazzled by the animation quality, we were amazed by the amount of detail that was put into the characters themselves. Each and every character had a backstory and a past that was slowly brought to light over the course of the series. The fact that Ren, the head chef and a rather surly looking man, was actually the shiest of the group and was prone to becoming a nervous wreck if too much pressure was placed on him was adorable. While some characters didn’t get quite as much of a special treatment as others in terms of gaining a history, they were always an intricate part of the story telling as a whole. Everyone – including the minor characters – has a part in how events unfold through the series, which is almost unheard of in a lot of shows. Basically, the characters are outstanding and I loved the amount of effort they put into each and every one of them.
Then, we finally get to the plot itself. While it started off in the typical fashion (mother sends teenage daughter off to live with relatives they’ve never met before, daughter is excited but soon learns that they’ll have to work for their keep, etc.) it was quickly noted that was not your typical slice-of-life show. Yes, there’s the unrequited love that’s a part of almost everyone’s teen years, the one girl who always seems to hate you no matter what you do and the older man who eventually seems to take interest in the female lead. But if you look past all of that, you’ll see that the story is complex and extremely involved on an emotional level. Ohana wants desperately to fit in, but her efforts to befriend Minko (her classmate, roommate and fellow co-worker) are constantly thwarted by Minko’s abrasive attitude. Not to mention that Tohru (Minko’s mentor and the guy she has a huge crush on) takes interest in Ohana. Well, let’s just say that it’s definitely a bumpy ride for Ohana. Taking into consideration the fact that Ohana is also trying to get along with her uncle and grandmother – both of whom she’s never met before – and help keep the inn from closing in the process, the plot is extremely well done. Everyone finds out information in their own time and several of the episodes actually made us choked up because of how emotional it was.
As luck would have it, the music only helped to benefit the plot and the characters’ development. Each track was custom-made for each specific emotion or situation, unlike some shows who use the same song for everything. None of the tracks were annoying or put us off either, which is a plus. Definitely an OST that we would want to download in the future.
Our only complaints for the entire series are about a few of the characters becoming annoying. Jiro’s constant sexual harassment of Ohana, Nako and Minko got annoying and I’m glad that he become less and less featured as the series went on. Enishi’s constant whining was grating, but thankfully he does man up towards the last third of the show and isn’t such a momma’s boy. Minko’s abrasive nature did make us want to slap her a few times, especially when she blamed Ohana for Tohru taking an interest in her. (Uh, hello? It’s not exactly Ohana’s fault!) Other than a few small things here and there, we don’t have much to complain about. The only thing that we wish they had done was include an OVA or something, just so that we could see what happens when Enishi re-opens the Kissuiso and everyone returns.
Overall, this was a wonderful show with a wonderful cast, music and animation to back it up. Although we had a few complaints about a lack of closure in the sense of everyone returning to the Kissuiso and minor character flaws, this was one of our favorite shows of the Spring – Summer 2011 seasons. Because of this, it deserves a nice, big, shiny A grade.
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