What an odd series this is. It just can’t seem to settle on what it wants to be about, and there’s no telling from week to week whether you’re going to get something serious, quirky or downright slapstick. That unpredictability could be a good thing, but unfortunately the quality fluctuates just as much as the tone, and the last few episodes have been rather mediocre.
Sometimes I think this is really a series about Kissuiso rather than about Ohana, and this is one of those weeks. The plot contrived for this arc is that Yunosagi is struggling with a loss of visitors, Kissuiso especially, and Enishi and Takao have somehow lured a studio into shooting a movie there. Somehow, Enishi gets his mother to agree and the producer visits and starts pre-production. The director naturally wants all the staff to be in the movie because, well… because. And Enishi swings it so Jiromaru gets to write a scene for the mpvie about Yunosagi and the Bonbori Festival.
The good news is that Enishi at last gets a chance to be involved in the plot other than as comic relief or a punching bag for his mother and sister. He does show up as fairly competent and resourceful here by his standards, even standing up to the other ryokan owners as they try and horn in on the deal. The bad news is, this also means a return to prominence for Takako and Jiromaru, and both of them are only very slightly less annoying than before. Takako, especially, grates during every scene she’s in.
There’s certainly an odd family dynamic going on here. Enishi seems to have both a quasi-siscon fixation on and a gut-level fear of Satsuki. He’s also got a huge inferiority complex about his own abilities, which is no doubt exacerbated by the way his mother and sister treat him. It’s a chicken and egg scenario – I don’t really know whether they treat him like an idiot because he is one, or he acts like one because they’ve treated him that way since he was tiny. Either way, it’s unhealthy – and seems to be the reason he seeks validation from Takako, whom it’s revealed he went to college with. It’s also revealed that he was a filmmaker in college, though (not surprisingly) a very poor one.
None of this is really all that compelling, nor are the scenes of Ohana, Nako and Tomoe fangirling over the sound technicians and cleaning the pool. Sometimes I feel HanaIro, rather than doing the heavy lifting of building something up, just flat-out tells the audience “this is what you’re supposed to feel now”. The scenes of the movie crew at the inn are supposed to be funny because of their incongruity; we’re supposed to be quietly wistful about the girls being young and carefree and beautiful playing in the sun as water sprays over them. But it all just sort of falls flat.
Next week, I suppose, we’re going to get another slapstick episode where all kinds of wacky things happen during the film production and the staff ham it up as actors. Danger here – slapstick is not HanaIro’s best mode. The wildcard, though, it the WTF phone call that comes in as Enishi is telling Takakao how super keen his sister is, cutting to Ohana laughing as Minko sprays water over her in slow-motion. Those kinds of phone calls never mean good news, and my initial thought was that it was bad news about Satsuki. Sure doesn’t look like that from the preview though, so who knows what Okada-san is up to here. I’m certainly far too vested in this series and in love with the ghost of just how great it can be at its best to give up now.