Hanasaku Iroha – 3

Honestly compels me to opine that this third episode of Hansaku Iroha was not nearly as good as the first two episodes. Admittedly, they set a pretty high bar, and this certainly wasn’t terrible. But while I don’t dislike a change of pace, especially in a two-cour series like this one, the slapstick of this ep felt as forced as the events of the first two felt natural. I felt like it was all there to set up the last three minutes of the episode, which was so far superior to the first 20 that it almost managed to redeem the entire venture.

Things picked up right where they left off, with Ohana in the “Waves Room” of failed novelist Jiromarou-san. The whole notion that he was tying her up and gagging her was played for laughs, and totally forgiven both by Ohana and the rest of the crew later – which would have been fine if this was a sex farce like To Love Ru. But it completely whiffed in its inconsistency with the tone the series set in the first two episodes. It was awfully hard to take Jiromarou seriously as a character anyway – which is a major problem, as his redemption is the central pillar of the pre-coda part of the episode – given just what a ludicrous popinjay he is. He’s not good at writing, obviously, but he pretty much showed he wasn’t good at anything else either. Including, I may add, simple human decency. From his lying to his sexual harassment to his self-pity there just wasn’t anything sympathetic to the guy.

That of course makes the tempered reactions of everyone else in the cast – starting and finishing with Grandma – to his antics very hard to take. Never mind that he was writing a hard-core porno about three underage staff members at the Iroha – he also happened to have one of them tied up in his room and apparently never paid his bill. Just why, exactly, had anyone believed that he was a successful novelist? So that understandably sucks something of the life out of Ohana’s heartwarming speech at the close. Like almost everything else about the episode, it felt wrong and out of place.

Thankfully, in the end, things took an almost miraculous turn for the better. It was only a couple of minutes, but the scene where Ohana finds Minko’s notebook with her heartfelt efforts to find an insult to replace “Die!” – and Ohana’s reaction to it – were spot-on. Then, an equally lovely moment when Ohana receives a simple and heartfelt text from Ko-chan, and again, the moment and her reaction to it are perfect and in character. That gives me hope that the rest of the ep was a forgivable blip, not the start of a downward spiral. We have a long way to go here, and it’s easier to recover from a slip-up like that with two cours to do so. And while I know it isn’t the heart of the story, I’m very anxious to see some further development with the Ohana/Ko storyline. There’s a lot of genuine emotion packed into it, based on only the premiere episode and a few scattered moments since.

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