Studio: P.A. Works
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Seinen, Slice of Life
Release: S1 (2011), Movie (2013)
A warm and heartfelt slice-of-life anime that embraces real-life situations of tough love, family, work, friendship and finding one’s ultimate dream in life, and one that you definitely should never ever miss, is Hanasaku Iroha! (Literally meaning ‘Blooming Flowers’).
I’ve been keeping my eye on the studio that made this anime, P.A. Works, for some time now since there isn’t anything they’ve made that I didn’t love to a great extent – animation and story wise. Of course, that includes Another, Angel Beats!, Canaan and more!
Plot: The story starts with the episode entitled “It’s spring, I’m 16, and I’m still a bud.” Matsumae Ohana – living with her work and boyfriend-focused single mother hasn’t been exactly the most dramatic life she’d been wishing for. Taught not to rely on anyone even family (her mom’s excuse for being irresponsible), she’s able to become a mature person in her young years even though there’s a lot in life she has yet to go through.
One day, her mom decided to do a moonlight flit with her boyfriend, leaving Ohana at the hands of her grandmother who runs an inn called “Kissui Inn” in the faraway province of Yunosagi. Problem is, Ohana has never met her grandma since her mom and grandma has been on bad terms since.
Taking the sudden change of home like an adult, Ohana decided that it could be her chance to reinvent herself – to have that drama she’d been looking for. And just when she was about to bid farewell to her best friend Koichi Tanemura, he confesses to her thinking that this would be his last chance. Still, he decides to let her go for her sake, then runs away in tears lol. Ko-chan confessing to her made her think twice about leaving, but it’s not as if she had a choice in the matter.
Astounded by the change of scenery from boring cityscape to the beautiful countryside, Ohana sets her expectations high as everything looks and feels just right. Upon arriving at Kissui Inn, she was amazed at how wonderful the place looked and decided to take a picture. There were weeds on the ground she plucked since it would affect the photo composition, but little did she know that those were edible plants that the apprentice chef Minko Tsurugi was growing. Their introduction led to a slap in the hand with the latter saying “Shine. (Die)” They’ll be on odd terms from then on.
As surprising as that first meeting with Minko was, Ohana finds herself lectured by her grandmother Sui Shijima, saying that she is nothing to her (because she is the child of the daughter she disowned), and that she would start working there immediately to earn her keep and lodging. Ohana still kept her hopes up by thinking she’d be trained as the next inn manager, but gets shot down by strict grandma telling her she’ll just do random housekeeping tasks.
Things turn for the worse when Ohana tried to do ‘helpful‘ things on her own as an employee which led to her relationship with most of the staff deteriorate. One among these is when Ohana tried to hang Minko’s futon outside the window (at the front of the inn!), thinking she deserved a freshened up bed for working really hard on her tasks – though the futon ends up falling down in front of the inn customers. This led to a confrontation with the Okami (Inn Manager).
Grandma called them to her office, and gave a sounding backhand slap to Minko saying that she’s too old for other people taking care of her. Ohana tried to retaliate, yet Sui explains that “Life here revolves around our customer – this is a basic principle. If you can’t accept that, you shouldn’t be here.”
Feeling guilty that everything was her fault, Ohana asked to be slapped as well. The Okami gave her three times more slaps than Minko until her kid nose bled. She ends the conversation with a teary face and brave “Thank you very much!” Gah, my heart clinched at this point already >.
The pilot episode pretty much gave away what the rest of the series will be like: Ohana trying her best to adjust to her new life, to prove to the Kissui Inn staff wrong about their first impressions on her, and to get her life together for the best. The feel for the plot is sort of like a telenovela drama series, but that is exactly what makes slice-of-life what it is.
Matsumae Ohana is one of my favorite characters now. Despite her life having turned for the worse, she works hard and never stops looking on the bright side of life, keeps smiling and still makes amends to whatever wrongs she has done to the people around her – even if those people hated her to the depths of hell. She always fights for what she believes in, even if such actions would lead to her humiliation. Really, more people should have her character qualities.
More heart-clinching moments and life enlightening realizations in episodes to come! I hope you enjoy this week’s anime review :3