For me, this episode of HanaIro is a kind of “look on the bright side” situation. Yes, it was yet another complete waste of time that did nothing to advance the overall story (if that even still exists). But much to own own surprise, I rather enjoyed it. Unlike the last few waste of time eps, this one was entertaining and didn’t make me want to strangle everyone associated with the production.
I’m not a huge fan of Nakochi as a character, though I don’t actively dislike her as with Takako and Jiromaru. It’s more indifference, but if this ep accomplished anything of slight important it was making her character a little more interesting. I enjoyed her interactions with her family – I was instantly reminded of watching Kuroneko from Ore no Imouto interact with her sibs, behaving so totally differently than she did with her friends and fellow students (though this change was somewhat in the opposite direction personality-wise). The banter with her younger brother, the reading to her sister, the bickering between her parents over child-rearing – it was amusing and had a nice, mellow vibe.
I like that more forceful Nakochi – and I liked the way she kept unintentionally ripping on Ohana (by speaking the truth, frankly) and then trying to recover by adding “In a good way!” as if that mattered a whit. I also liked seeing her trying to forge a path of self-discovery, because I used to think that’s what this series was about and if we’re not going to see that with Ohana, at least let’s see it with Nako. But as so often lately, I’m finding myself uncomfortable about what message HanaIro is trying to send. While I appreciate the frankness of Madame Manager’s conversation about giving Nako the raise, it almost felt as if we were being told that it was just fine for Nako to be shy, timid and lacking self-confidence. For me, I think she was absolutely right in wanting to change – perhaps not through sexy dresses and bangles, but change nonetheless. She’s tired of being afraid – is there anything wrong with that?
Also a plus: Yuina was the Yuina I love again. It was hilarious watching her cringe at the massive uncoolness of all her friends as they had their girls day out in the city. Each of them revealed their true selves in their choices – 3 for 10,000 yen shirts, tilefish, lame popular songs. And Yuina sat back and judged them all. Love it. That sequence felt as honest and relevant as anything the series has done in the last month, because it actually revealed something about each of the four girls.
I don’t take much long-term optimism from this – it was another stand-alone storyline that just happened to be executed better than the last few have. There’s still no indication that this show has any real idea of where it want to go and what it wants to be long-term, and that’s what’s going to tell the tale of whether it can recapture some of the weight and brilliance it occasionally flashed in its first cour.