Hanasaku Iroha – 24

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Considering how intense last week’s episode was, this one was surprisingly low-key considering that it dealt directly with pretty much all of the outlying plot points.  But it was effective for the most part, with the spotlight shining squarely on the wrinkled face (and…more) of Shijima Sui, final boss.

The Kohana part of the story was actually handled early, and pretty definitively.  I was just about ready to strangle Ohana for actually starting to run away when Kou approached her on the bridge.  Seriously – after all this, you clueless girl, you’d run away?  But she didn’t, and they talked, and if they don’t end up together now it will be one of the all-time great trolls in the career of the trollmaster Okada Mari.  Ohana said Tokyo was beautiful again if Kou was in it, Kou said Tokyo was boring without Ohana but Kissuiso looked beautiful with her, and she invited him to fest it up and Bonbori.  We even got a victory cheer from Kou at the bus stop.  What a massive waste of time their relationship has been if they don’t end up together.

I confess I take a lot of joy at watching the Kou-hating crowd stew at the prospect of a Kohana end, just as I know they’ll cackle wildly at the suffering of supporters like me if it doesn’t happen.  Kou takes massive amounts of abuse for having the temerity to be a nice, normal kid – but I think his devotion to Ohana has been beautifully portrayed and I think he’s a true romantic.  For those who decry the Kohana relationship on the grounds that they haven’t spent much time together on-screen and they’re under-developed, well – I disagree but even so, we’re not talking about a fracking marriage here.  It’s two 16 year-old kids deciding to make a try at going out.  Deal with it.

While there was a brief not to Minko and Tohru, most of the focus was on Sui once the scene shifted back to Kissuiso.  Tohru and Ren have already accepted a gig at another inn, and Minko is dismayed at the idea of being left behind – though they do bond over a manga that insirped both of them to become chefs.  Regrettably, it was written by Jiromaru in one of those preposterous and unnecessary anime coincidences that torpedo the realism of the entire episode.  Meanwhile Satsuki has written a glowing review of Kissuiso, which appears on the front page of her magazine and causes a flood of reservations to pour into the hotel.  The only problem?  Sui flat-out refuses to budge about closing the inn.

Here’s where the ep will win you or lose you, I suppose.  When Ohana returns (I knew that heron was going to be there on that staircase, never a doubt) she’s thrust directly into the middle of the growing war.  Enishi shows uncharacteristic backbone in standing up to his mother over the closure, and there’s an extraordinarily surreal and awkward scene with Sui sharing a bath with the three horrified teenage girls that just had me alternating between laughter, gasps and head-scratching.  But it’s the trip to the cemetery to visit Grandpa’s grave (animated and drawn with astonishing beauty by PA Works) that serves as the key scene of the episode, for it’s here where Sui lays out her reasoning for wanting to close the inn.

Some will cynically argue she wants to close it because she knows Enishi will screw it up.  Some will say she’s just wrong altogether.  But I had a lot of sympathy for Sui’s reasoning here.  Kissuiso was the dream of her late husband and herself – “An inn to please Sui”.  And she doesn’t want to saddle her family and the staff with the responsibility to uphold her dream.  Yes, even with the review there are huge long-term money concerns and Sui sincerely feels Enishi is not well-suited for the work.  But she also knows Satsuki never wanted the inn, and that Enishi gave up his own dreams to act as successor.  Even more, she wants her children and grandchildren to have the experience she had – to build their own dream starting from nothing.  She might be wrong, and they may all love Kissuiso so much that the right thing to do is keep it open.  But I believe this is a noble sentiment, and I think it comes from the heart. 

So the obvious questions with two episodes left are two – do Ohana and Kou end up together and does Kissuiso close?  As I said, if Kohana doesn’t happen the entire series effectively amounts to a massive troll, as far as I’m concerned – which with Okada at the helm means it could very well turn out to be just that.  If they do, would it be in Tokyo, presumably (though not necessarily) with the inn closed, or would Kou move to Kanazawa?  I’m still not confident in any specific scenario – if I were a betting man, I think Kissuiso may stay open although from a dramatic standpoint I think it makes more sense for it to close.  It’s very possible that Kou and Ohana may decide they will be a couple, but a long-distance one for now – the kind of compromise that would likely please none of the fans in either camp.  If Kissuiso does live on, the vital question is under whose stewardship.  Enishi steps up?  Satsuki throws it all away to move back?  Kou moves in and Sui decides to hang on long enough to hand it over to Ohana directly?  I think all of these scenarios are still realistically possible.

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18 comments

  1. A

    When Hanasaku Iroha first aired I thought it was going to be best of the year. 23 episodes later my view has changed. I still think its a ok show but even a perfect ending couldnt save all the wasted episodes that made my view change back to the way I felt at episode 1.

  2. L

    Gosh, there are so many points to comment on.

    1. I would NEVER do a Japanese victory cheer in public. Look like a madman much?

    2. Kou and Ohana are childhood friends, and with most dramas/comedies featuring childhood friends, they get less development because the audience is expected to assume a close relationship. The readers won't actually see anything, so of course most would hate Kou. I'm not going to elaborate, but I will link an excellent post about the childhood relationship trope in anime.
    http://apforums.net/showthread.php?t=33815&p=2371107&viewfull=1#post2371107

    3. Food manga… Toriko isn't going to inspire me to cook. Neither will this one. I guess Minchi and Tohru were influenced too easily by manga.

    4. KouxOhana looks like it'll happen.

    5. I really doubt Kissuiso will close, but that's just because I've watched this series expecting a spirit-raising ending, not one where everything they've worked for shuts down.

  3. S

    Luxorcism, you should watch Chuka Ichiban or Yakitate Japan. I'll be surprised if you're not inspired ;D

  4. 0

    Mood wise, I'm fairly certain that the ending will leave the inn running and support the Kou/Ohana pairing. However, I wouldn't be surprised if the ending leaves some future uncertainty – ie. Sui decides to delay the closure a year and Kou and Ohana decide to give the long distance route a shot.

    Although… on the other hand, I wonder if Okada is enough of a romantic to actually have Kou move to Yunosagi. The inn does need someone to take over from Beanman (sorry Ohana, he's not becoming a waitress).

  5. j

    ok… first my rage at Ohana didn't confess to Kou out there… :( How could you not to when you finally made your mind up, Ohana?!

    now that has been said, I do see where Sui/final boss is coming from with the idea to close down the inn. it is quite cruel but as you said, necessary and probably good for the family member. but it would be very unfortunate if the inn gets closed in the end though… hopefully a peaceful solution will be found here.

    and totally agree with you on the trolling if Kou end up not with Ohana… although it would be amusing to see that get pulled off, it would be the biggest troll of the season, if not the whole year :3

  6. C

    Okami cleaning express pawns all.

    I just love this episode

  7. d

    @jrj: Ohana needs no confession. They know each other well enough to know each others's thoughts and feelings.
    Enishi should take a bank loan and build his own inn.

  8. That Okami bathing scene may be weirder than anything in Penguindrum.

    I don't see Kou becoming a maintenance man, but I could see him moving to Yunosagi to finish HS and maybe work at Kissuiso part-time, if it stays open.

    I love to cook – I didn't need a manga to inspire me!

  9. A

    Okami is the God of Taking Baths. She took a bath and cleaned the place at the same time in un dos tres. It's unfortunate that her employees turned on her at the end even though she deserves it for being thickheaded. So…Nice boat ending for the Okami? Anyone?

  10. o

    Hanasaku Iroha inspire me to open a hot inn. Oh shit, the author of the series is Okada Trollmaster-sensei :/

  11. L

    The best possible "nice" ending I can think of would be for Kissuiso to close, then Enishi or whoever else wants to run the inn RE-open it and name it… Kis-ohana-so (can I even do that? rofl).

    They all stay together, happy ending for all, and everyone's dreams are filled. Okami can close down Kissuiso, and everyone else can show her that their dream is to run an inn, and it loops back to Okami's wish for everyone to pursue their own goals.

    Am I just too optimistic, or am I right? ^_^

  12. i

    @ Enzo: I can see Jiromaru going assist (as Beanman might have been Jiromaru 40-41 years ago – just not a former writer…maybe)

    I can see Ohana and Ko-chan confessing @ the same time during the festival…and the inn going away (in name) with Sui…do note her condition this episode…

  13. Yes, Sui is hiding something health-wise.

    Luxor, that's very optimistic indeed!

  14. A

    Ko hater brigades arguments make my eyes roll. What did the poor kid ever do receive much hate. Apparently being kind, patient and understanding is a sign of romantic ineptness.

  15. s

    I'm really like Minchi x Tohru in this episode, they seem having fun 😀

    But, the manga written by perveted ecchi freak!!!

    OMG

    Overall, epic episode!

  16. Haven't been following the manga, Shizuo. Heavy on the service, is it?

  17. d

    @Anon: i am not 1 of them but i can guess what it is. he is too nice a guy that he does nothing. guys should chase after the girls they like, not give them space and let them do whatever they want. If you want something don't lay back and wait for Ohana to confess to you! Grab the girl. If you don't make a move and just wait… that feels kinda weak and wimpy. You can be kind but you don't have to back away too much.
    Personally, I actually like that personality because it makes him the perfect gentleman. However, gentlemen are outdated in this age.

  18. A

    Being a gentlemen isn't outdated. Don't let anyone fool you. The only reason Ko may seem passive is because Ohana is really tough wall to break. I bet if KO put as much effor to another girl as he has done to Ohana, he would have plenty of girlfriends.

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