After six episodes, I’m finding that my feelings towards HanaIro tend to run directly contrary to the bulk of opinion (other than with the almost universally-disliked episode #3). I loved the 5th episode, which was met with a yawn by most – and while the buzz I’m seeing on this one is mostly positive, I found it to be easily the second-weakest of the series.
This is a good show, and it’s occasionally been great – so a down week doesn’t mean a bad ep, exactly. Just mediocre, and a little boring – at least for me. I found the whole sequence with the management consultant struck a false note – it felt forced and was generally unfunny. The Engrish, the slutty dresses, all of it – why?
Things got a little better from there, mostly thanks to a charming scene (even the off episodes of this show seem to have at least one) between Ohana and her Uncle. His reaction when he saw her mother (his Onee-chan) in Ohana – and her reaction to his reaction – were spot-on. The Uncle has been an underdeveloped character so far and it was nice to see him get a chance to shine. His desire to help the struggling in, and his frustration with Takako’s unwillingness to modernize felt pretty genuine. He has to make a living off the place after she’s retired or dead, after all.
But really – how big a deal is it for the female staff at a traditional ryokan to wear kimono? Is it really something to build an episode around? It’s a reveal about Grandma’s character, I suppose – that she designed all those kimono years are when she was trying to modernize the hotel against her late husband’s wishes. But it’s not compelling enough to stand on its own at the center of the plot.
Probably the most significant moment of the episode was Tohru’s moon-eyed reverie in the kitchen. It seems as if the speculation here and elsewhere that he was developing feelings for Ohana was on the money – once a man has dropped his pickle, a declaration of love can’t be far behind. That’s certainly going to complicate things immensely in this series, which at this point doesn’t seem bound and determined to be a romance but probably can’t avoid being one in the long run – at least to some extent. After the cliffhanger last week I was really hoping Ko-chan would be stopping by this week, but there was nary a mention. I certainly don’t expect things between he and Ohana to be resolved until the finale (still a cour-and-a-half in the distant future) but I hope they don’t tease his arrival all the way till then. He’s been a significant enough off-screen presence that he needs to actually appear soon to drive the plot along.