Hanasaku Iroha – 17

Well, at least they got Yuina back into the massage chair…

I’m feeling myself in a bad place with HanaIro right now. I really, really don’t want to be the guy who carps every week on how disappointing this series is. But I’ve blogged it for four months, and seen just how good it can be (and how bad). So I’m not going to stop now, and I’ll certainly hope for the best. But in a way, it was better in the beginning when it zagged between great and bloody awful than what the last few episodes have been – a sort of creeping mediocrity.

I would have if she hadn’t

For starters, the whole movie thing – silly from the beginning anyway – was absolutely telegraphed. It was obviously going to be a scam, and the fact that any viewer paying attention knew that doesn’t exactly paint Enishi and Takako in a good light. Which leads to point number two – just what were these eps supposed to make us feel about them? If they were supposed to be more sympathetic now, mission failed I’d say. Enishi is just pathetic altogether, and Takako might at best be said to be incrementally less annoying than she was before (putting her about on a par with shingles and Carrot Top).

That pretty much says it all, Kid…

As it turned out, Satsuki was involved in that cliffhanger call – but she wasn’t the subject, she was the caller. After trying and failing to warn her mother about the movie being a scam, she eventually calls Enishi (from the airport – hmmm) after the fact and gives him the details. Satsuki would do wonders for this show about now, since her relationship with the generations of her family sandwiching her is far more interesting than the subject matter of these last few eps. Plus, her acid personality would do wonders to cut through the aftertaste of the long, slow-mo shots of the girls frolicking that are supposed to make me feel warm and nostalgic.

My sincere hope is that Mari Okada isn’t directly involved in the production of the episodes where she’s not credited as the writer (none since 11-13) because I’d like to think she’s better than that. The last few have really featured lazy writing – weak slapstick, predictable plots, and “push-button” emotional manipulation to try and make the audience react rather than doing the heavy lifting to get there with character development.

It’s the show’s own fault, really. It had the temerity to start of well and periodically hit some wonderful dramatic highs, giving me a taste of just what it was capable of. If HanaIro had just been affably mediocre from the beginning a mediocre run of episodes wouldn’t faze me. And the truly maddening thing is, the show could just as easily whip out a fantastic and utterly riveting final arc if it finally gets back to the story elements that really matter – Ohana, and her relationship with her mother and Kou. I don’t dare stop watching now, just in case.



  1. A

    Agree completely. The past episodes were mediocre. I'm holding out to see Kou and a plausible meeting between the two. I'll ship it till the end

  2. A

    Yeah I've been finding myself less excited for the show the past few weeks. I don't really like the use of character arcs in shows either since a lot of the time it just feels like side material before we get to the main story again. Usually I don't bother watching previews but I have done so the past few weeks to see when the hell Kou is coming back.

    Yeah it would make more sense the Okada Mari wasn't writing these, I think she can do much better too.

  3. What a shame. Next week looks like a side story, too.

    Classic case of a two-cour that should have been one…

  4. i

    I'm surprised that you didn't see Enishi's character exposition with his actions caused by his devotion to someone he wanted to care about (the latter example in the end relates as well).

    …although you might be right on how "pathetic" he still is…

    who knows, maybe the right fire under him might do some good; just maybe.

    ps. please excuse my unusual train of thought

  5. I get what you're saying, but it just doesn't work if the character himself isn't compelling. I don't see growth there – he's still under Takako's thumb, still champions her lousy ideas, and still refuses to stand up to his mother or sister.

    I think it's too late for some of these characters – they're a lost cause. What time remains should be spent on salvaging the series by focusing on Ohana, Kou and Satsuki.

  6. A

    Sigh. Feel that way too about the series – but I've watched a fair part of it to just drop it but I have a feeling it'd be like this till the last two episodes where they have the Bonbori? festival (they are having this festival they talked about since ep1 you'd think? – eventually?) where the Kou x Ohana issue is solved, but I'm hoping it's not a sudden "just accept it" type ending and that it's gradual whoever she picks – but it's hard to imagine when they plan to get back onto the plot, your not alone in how you feel about the last few episodes.

  7. L

    I agree with you I dont care about enshi and takako and i never will so these episodes to me were very boring. It would have been interesting if there was growth but there wasnt. i personally want the episodes to focus on ohana, her mom, grandma, Kou ( i guess not my favorite character either), and tohru. Its only when the story focues on them that I feel that the plot is moving but here at mid way its not and its too bad i liked the way this series started.

  8. t

    In a bit of a rush so my thoughts on the episode and show will come later but I do want to make one thing clear:Mari Okada is the series editor/composer,therefore she's involved in every episode.

    Can't remember if I already posted this or not but its from an interview with the scriptwriter of shows like Rozen Maiden and Shiki:

    1. Series Editor gets request to produce the script for an anime.

    (2. Series editor aquaints himself with the story material via reading the books/manga or playing the game.)
    my note:of course Hanasaku iroha is original so this doesn't apply

    3. Series editor meets director to chart the direction, feel and arcs they would like the anime to take.

    4. Series editor drafts an overview plot of the series, broken down into episodes.

    5. More cycles of discussions with director

    6. Series editor finalises the plot outline and tasks writers (not so uncommonly himself too) to come up with the script for each episode.

    7. Several more cycles of script refinement with Director

    8. Completed script is handed over to director and story editor/script writer's involvement with the production ends.

    Hanada san confesses that he'd only know how the script has evolved upon watching the completed work on TV. Of course I suspect the degree of involvement for the editors and openness to deviate from the script varies from studio to studio.

    Okada laid the outline for all the show so there's some of her work in all of them,and I'd bet that she looked over and validated the scripts that were given to her by the episode screenwriters,in this case the director of true tears

  9. K

    When it first started I watched it as soon as it aired. I compared it to the one-cour series about the 6 kids and 1 of them died and came back as a spirit (I forget the name of it right now, Monday morning and no coffee yet so I'm 1/2 a zombie). But as the series has moved into the 2nd-cour it slipped back to me watching it once I watched all the other good ones I like (like Nura, Natsume, Ikoku, and Usagi).

  10. t

    First of a little correction,in my last post I mentioned Hanada san did the composition for Shiki,I got my shows mixed up,I was thinking Steins:gate
    I'd also like to add that as you can see,the director has his say on the script,and since he's the director,ultimatly it's him that has the final word on the script validation,so there can sometimes be conflicts.
    For exemple Gen Urobuchi has completely distanced himself from the blassreiter anime saying the director never listened to his input so he gave up and wrote whatever the director wanted.
    Not saying that anything like that is happening here,it's more of a general statement.

    Now about Hanasaku Iroha,I'd like to start by quoting another of your reviews that I read recently:
    "There were certainly some identity issues with the series as whole. Some of that schizophrenic tone was intentional, I think, but still – a lot of time was wasted with mediocre episodes in the first half.(…) the elements were there, but something just wasn't quite right. But fortunately, that turned around in the second half as the story focused where it needed to "

    This is the review of the second season of kuroshitsuji,a complete anime original story written by Okada and I feel that inn the end you might end up saying the same thing about the second half of Hanasaku Iroha.

    That look on Minchi's face,as well as well as some long shots of Tomoe looking as if she couldn't care less about what was going on make a world of difference to me,it's as if the staff knows that some people watching this will have the kind of reaction you're having.
    I still was quite entertained,it was just "another weird day" at the kissuisso like we've seen before and I never get tired of it.

  11. l

    LOL on minchi reaction. Probably best describe this enishi arc. This episode really doesn't make me feel good at all. Enishi still a wuss and Takako still a dumb _____ . I have to say: I totally agree with Enzo view here. Man I hope they don't just sprout Kou-chan out of nowhere and then go for happy ending/ bad ending (or worse 5 centimeter ending)

    P.S. As I was saying with all these side story Iroha keep doing, I really hope that I'm wrong about the janitor having it own side story.

  12. You know things are bad when there hasn't been a new post in the Tohru thread on AF for three weeks! That's one of the more fervent fanboy communities out there.

  13. @Ikaze – "Beanman – the Untold Story!"

    @Totoum – I know how it usually works, but it just makes me sad to think Okada is putting her OK on this. No question, most of the eps she actually wrote have been among the better overall.

    I certainly would have guessed a month ago this show would end up ranking higher for me than Kuroshitsuji II. I tend to agree that it's likely the show will end up on a better note than it is now, as Okada will probably write some of those eps and the story will, by necessity, move back on point. But it'll have lost lost some viewers. If you're really going to make such groan-worthy material you have to give your audience a proxy by having one of the characters disgusted, it that a wise dramatic choice?

  14. t

    I spent the past few minutes looking for an Okada interview thjat was translated on 4chan before the show aired,couldn't find it sadly (if only every fandom was the size of the madoka fandom…)so you'll have to bear with me paraphrasing an already aproximative translation.

    Now the translation didn't use the term "groan worthy",but rather "cliché/silly".
    She said that in hanasaku iroha she wanted to experiment on putting a ton of cliché/silly situations and characters and see if she could somehow make it work out,this includes the fanservice,even if it's light.

    So I kind of expected groan worthy stuff going in.

    Of course,you could wonder if,when you have the chance to have P.A works quality animation do you really want to use it on an "experiment"?

  15. Interesting tidbits, thanks. That's some experiment, all right.

    Anyone remember "Animaniacs"? Good Idea, Bad Idea?

    Bad idea.

  16. S

    Okay, I finally caught up with the latest episode. Wasn't going to but I just couldn't say no when Yuina's back on the massage chair.
    I'm not too sure what these two episodes are trying to achieve. Minchi's jaded facial expression says it all too well ~_~

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