Hanasaku Iroha – 7

I think I can make it official – HanaIro is the most maddening show of the Spring for me. One rule it clearly needs to learn – if you’re going to piss away entire episodes to slapstick comedy, you might want to hire a writer who knows how to make it funny.

It’s clear now that this series has an identity crisis of sorts – a notion I resisted until this week. But now that we’ve had two of the seven episodes be almost total washouts chasing the slapstick idea, it lends that notion some validity. I’d tried to argue that there really wasn’t that much inconsistency in tone amongst the other eps, as some had contended – that the series hadn’t changed from a drama to a slice-of-life. Now, I wonder if I wasn’t just being too forgiving. The thing is, though, that I liked those episodes – I thought they each had a mix of effective comedy and character drama, though the proportions varied. I didn’t like the third episode in the least, and this one was very nearly as bad. If you want to take an entire episode and dedicate it to a minor character, well – we can debate the merits of that. But at least make it count if you’re going to do it.

Tomoe isn’t the annoying character that Jirou is, I’ll admit. But she’s neither interesting enough nor important enough to the story to carry an entire ep – at least not based on this week. The premise was pretty weak, in her defense – a team of paramilitary survival gamers show up at the inn and make life Hell for the girls. Tomoe, meanwhile, conveniently has decided that she wants to try and get herself fired so she can go home and deal with the marriage meetings her mother is setting up for her. Nothing whatsoever is funny about the scenes with the survivalists, except perhaps Tomoe’s “Drop your cocks and grab your socks!” line. It was broad in the worst way – clumsy, artificial and perhaps worst of all, totally out of character for this series. It wouldn’t have worked in any context – as episode 7 of HanaIro it was more sad than anything.

All I can do as a fan who really, truly loves this show when it’s good is accept that this is simply what we’re going to get. It’s obvious now that this series is going to fluctuate wildly in terms of quality and fritter away a lot of time on the way. But the good episodes will still be good episodes, and the overall story and major characters remain interesting. The lone bright spot was the PV, which appears to show Ko-chan on a train heading towards the inn – though that could be a troll and he’s on his way to school, or something. It’s definitely time for the off-screen teasing of Ko’s impact on Ohana to be supported with some actually face-to-face interaction, so I hope that shot was legit. At the very least it looks as if the ep will focus on Grandma’s illness so it’s not going to be another farce, anyway.

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4 comments

  1. 0

    Not going to actually debate this one here – I think my posts on Animesuki give a pretty good idea of how I disagree… but I just wanted to note that this makes me curious as to whether you've seen any other Okada-written works that tended towards the comical. I felt that Otome Youkai Zakuro, for example, had a fairly different style of comedy from what was used here (including some shoujo manga touches played intentionally played for laughs). It's not an Okada original like HSI, True Tears, or AnoHana, but I do feel the anime actually had an extra layer of polish not present in what I've read of the original manga.

  2. 0

    And it figures I'd think of something to add right after posting… for reference, the "written by someone with a better sense of slapstick" version of this episode would be episode 9 of Full Metal Panic: Fumoffu. The final duel in the bath is almost certainly a homage to that legendary episode, and I wouldn't be surprised if there's a few other FMP inspired bits in there too.

  3. Yeah, I definitely got the sense that there was a lot of FMP in this episode. I just didn't happen to find it funny. Humor is, well – funny that way.

    I haven't seen Otomo Youkai Zakuro, as it happens – and it's hard to recall another Okada-penned series that I would call "comedy first". I'm not sure it would matter – I mean, I do try to judge any given ep of any given series on its own merits. But I'm curious about OYZ now – if I can find time I'll check it out.

  4. 0

    Well, to be honest, Zakuro isn't entirely comedy first, although the first episode certainly is. When comedic, I'd classify it as character driven comedy – for example, Zakuro herself is a stunning example of the tsundere done right, all fiery yet at the same time a hopeless, adorable romantic. And while I feel this characterization was present in the manga, but I feel the anime tweaked some scenes and dialogue just enough to give it that little bit of something the manga was missing.

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