So HanaIro follows last week’s magnum opus with another rock-solid, character-driven episode. If it lacked the raw emotional firepower of it’s predecessor, it hummed along at a steady clip, tense and involving. Seems like Okada has a good grip on where things stand with the show for now – that’s en encouraging sign.
Obviously the key line of dialogue from the episode was Ohana’s “If I’d made the right decision, he would be.” That’s the first time she’s flat-out admitted she loves Kou as more than just a friend. Even so, I was about ready to strangle her when she came out with “As a human being”. Bookstore Girl was absolutely right – Ohana was being incredibly selfish. She was treating Kou terribly, and her indecision was reaching the point of ridiculousness.
To Ohana’s credit, though, she at least walked away from that important conversation admitting that to herself. That’s a long way from being able to commit to Kou, but it’s a start – B.G. summed it up by saying Ohana had “made a nest of Kou’s feelings and was resting in it.” and I think that’s right on the money. Kou is almost too nice to be realistic at this point – he’s behaving like a Saint. But I’ve known guys like him – it’s the combination of two factors. He’s a really nice guy to begin with, and he’s hopelessly in love with Ohana. I feel for him, but hopefully Ohana wises up before the series is over. If not, he really would be better off if she would just cut the cord.
As for Satsuki, she made quite a strong impression this week – not least on Tohru. Tohru continues to show some feeling for Ohana, which makes his demand of Kou’s involvement in Ohana’s kidnapping plan interesting to say the least. He and Minchi went off on a Tokyo binge and purge session (that’s not in the guide books, I don’t think) for research while Ohana was scurrying after Kou. Minchi continues to pine hopelessly, but Tohru shows no inclination that he’s even noticed – never mind reciprocates. Still, it was interesting to see the two of them paired off while the Ohana/Kou drama was developing alongside, even if those two never met physically this week.
But back to Satsuki. Though Ohana finally gives up on her kidnap plan after B.G.’s words shame her, Torhu demands they go see her anyway – and she announces that she has a few days off and wants to visit Kissuiso. It appears that Tohru is a bit taken with this very grown-up, lived-in but sexy version of Ohana (poor Minchi – left to wonder if he doesn’t just have a thing for the whole family). Satsuki and Tohru chat over a smoke (just her – he’s a responsible chef) and while the girls are supposedly “asleep” in the back seat. It’s an interesting dynamic – Tohru is 7 years older than Ohana and, what, 13 younger than Satsuki maybe? He is, as she says, much more mature than Ohana – more than their age difference would indicate – and in some ways seems very much in-between the worlds of the daughter and the mother. Satsuki is certainly in the MILF category, and it seems obvious Tohru is smitten, at the very least.
But the real upshot of that car conversation is when Ohana overhears Satsuki’s supposedly throwaway invitation to Ohana to return home – which means she probably overheard her mother’s admission that she’s coming to Kissuiso because Ohana showed the same fire that she’d shown in confronting her own mother as a teenager. Ohana silently puzzles over why she doesn’t want to return to Tokyo – thinking that she can’t can’t go back to “the way I was with Kou anymore”. That’s a very interesting line, if you ask me, because it sums up a good chunk of the dilemma she (and the series) face in the second cour. Can she commit to Kou – obviously a great barrier to her, though she’s admitted she loves him? How can she reconcile wanting to move forward in her life with the fact that Kou is a part of her old one, and lives in Tokyo?
There’s certainly plenty to keep us busy now, that’s for sure – and I really hope the show stays on the same character-driven track it’s taken the last two weeks. Obviously the red strings of Ohana and Kou’s fate are hopelessly tangled. Tohru has feelings for Ohana and maybe her Mom, and Minchi clearly loves him. B.G. is probably doing everyone a favor by forcing the issue with Kou and Ohana. And then there’s the second-most important relationship in the show, that of Ohana and Satsuki – where does that go from here? I don’t think Satsuki is going to disappear as a character – she’s too intricately woven into the existential drama of Ohana’s life. If the series shows some discipline and stays the course, it could be a fascinating and fast-paced second cour.