Hansaku Iroha – Home Sweet Home

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The more things change, the more they stay the same.

If you watched the Hanasaku Iroha TV series you know pretty much what to expect from “Home Sweet Home”.  In fact, the transition from the series is so seamless that it sort of has the effect of making it seem like the TV ending never happened – which is kind of a shame, because the ending was one of the better things about it.  The Kissuiso is running as if nothing ever happened, Ohana’s relationship with Kouichi is a total no-show, it’s gorgeous, and the well-crafted emotional conflicts are sometimes overplayed to the point of unintentional self-satire.  In other words, HanaIro.

The upshot of all this is that I suspect your view of the movie is going to very closely mirror your view of the series – and in my case, that means a story that does some things wonderfully and drives me crazy just as often.  Mind you, there are subtle thematic changes from the TV here.  If I were to sum it up, I’d say the TV series was basically about showing about how Ohana was like her Grandmother, and the movie is about showing how she’s like her mother.  In fact if it had spent more time exploring that topic specifically, I think it would have been much better off.

In that vein, I would have preferred it if the bulk of the film had been taken up with the back-story of Satsuki and of Ohana’s father Ayato (Takeuchi Ryouta) who we finally get to meet.  He’s a photographer staying at the inn who takes an interest (some might say a bit too much) in Satsuki as a model.  She falls in love with him, he manages to capture her radiance even if she can’t believe it herself, and eventually she follows him to Tokyo and you-know-what happens, leading to you-know-who.  The whole parallel with the “I want to shine” thing is pretty heavy-handed, but these are good scenes – sadly, there are very few of them in the movie.  Satsuki isn’t a very good mother but she’s certainly an interesting character, and Itou Kanae is fantastic in the role.

Most of the stuff in the present is pretty routine, and could have been from any episode in the second cour of the TV series.  The subplot with Nako’s family is downright saccharine, Okada at her most excessive, and if anything annoys me it’s when people who should know better fall all over themselves rewarding a young child for being a miserable brat and causing trouble, as Nako’s sister does here.  Minko has a very standard subplot involving her insecurity in the kitchen, and Kissuiso has a very standard crisis involving a power outage that goes on longer than it should.  The best part about the scenes in the present is their bridge to the past – which happens when Ohana finds a box of Mame-jii’s journals after Yuina (on a special training assignment at the Inn) knocks them over.  And I certainly won’t complain about Yuina, who can’t be on-screen without being a blast.

For my money the best things about HanaIro in terms of narrative are Ohana’s relationship with Kouichi, the way it connects the three generations of her family, and the overall atmosphere it manages to create.  The first is a whiff here, but the second is a major theme when Okada doesn’t drown it out with her usual noise.  The constant is the world-building – Yunosagi and Kissuiso feel like real and well-defined places.  Okada’s writing is part of that, but so is Ando Masahiro’s direction and especially the art and animation.  That’s the real best part of HanaIro for me – even by P.A. Works’ lofty standards, HanaIro is beautiful.  It’s not always easy to describe what it is that makes P.A. Works so exceptional in terms of visuals, but for me it’s the difference between animation as art and animation as craft, and that’s on full display in Home Sweet Home just as it always is in HanaIro.  When it comes to visuals there are studios that turn out technically superior anime, but none for my money that exceed P.A. Works in terms of expression, vision and emotional resonance.  If this series has a legacy, for me it’s that it ranks as possibly the studio’s finest achievement in art and animation.

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  1. p

    This movie was pretty much exactly as I expected, which was to be say on the whole very good. Unlike the TV series, which I initially thought was going to transcend the genre before the disastrous episode 3 aired, with the movie I kept my expectations modest and it met them exactly. Such a difference expectations can make sometimes.

    If I had to applaud the series on an aspect other than visuals which I will get to shortly is that it felt like a lot of the "stupid shit" that was present in the TV series was kept to a minimum. I'm tatlking about characters like Jiromaru and Takako acting like total hooligans and idiots and although there was some Jiromaru stupidity in the episode (mainly at the beginning) it wasn't that prominent, thank god. Though on the other side of the coin Yuina was bloody annoying, more so than the TV series and is one of Tomatsu Haruka's most irritating roles in a while.

    For most of the cast, there wasn't anything new. Ohana was being Ohana, Minko was being Minko and Sui was being Sui. But the big difference and imo the best part of the film were the backstory of Satsuki and Ayato and Satsuki's "teenage runaway" story which I thought was handled pretty decently though I couldn't but laugh at the fact how Ayato looked like Spike from Cowboy Bebop. Spike Matsumae, lolol.

    The film felt like an extended OVA which isn't bad necessarily. It shows a slice of life of the three different generations of the Matsumae household, thier daily lives and how they have grown.

    But like Enzo, it is the visuals that were the best part of HanaIro. If Hyouka was Kyoani's opus magnum on the visual front, then HanaIro and this movie is PA Work's equivalent, though unfortunately, the content, substance and consistency were not as solid as Hyouka. But whilst Hyouka was a one-off miracle project for Kyoani, their only great series in the last 5 years, PA Works continues to consistently makes at least good or satisfactory shows, consistently takes risks amongst thier safe works and occasionally pulls out a absolute winners like last season's Uchouten Kazoku. For that, despite being a relative new studio (only started being independent since 2008) the studio has my respect and a spot in one of my favourite studios of all time, even as they continue to grow and evolve.

  2. t

    it was so lovely to see HanaIru once again.
    but I must say, it's not like the "TV ending never happened". I believe it come exactly before the final "arc" (not quite the right term but whatever).
    in fact this movie feels like 3 episodes which take place exactly in the middle of the series. and after seeing this, it does seems like Kissuiso closing is inevitable.
    I actually like the TV ending. yes it was surprising a bit. but it was the right thing to do. and I am glad HanaIro didn't continue the ending further, although one would expect that before watching the movie, it would ruin the essence of the ending.

    it seems like nothing really changed in HanaIro. the characters are still lovely, the art is wonderful, the area of Kissuiso is fascinating. HanaIro at its best.
    this movie came to fill in some missing stuff of the series. and it did that gracefully as P.A and HanaIro knows to do.
    I like the development of Nakochi. it something that we didn't get to see completely in the series (too bad) but at least the movie reconnect us to her character a bit more with the family issues and fill in the slight gap.
    Minko was in the spotlight too for some time too. well we can't without "balut" girl (:

    but moreover, this time we gotten deeper into Ohana family and by that I mean those flashbacks which demonstrating the grandmother-mother relationship, the mother's character and the challenges in her life (though I'd wish to see more in that matter).
    the move between the past and present was perfect and smooth. HanaIro at its best (I said it..didn;t I?)

    bottom line – I enjoyed much of HanaIro. it's exactly as I remembered it. and I am happy they didn't change/continue the ending.

    Tohru came up with the best sentence ever – "do all girls get excited this late at night?" LOOOOOOOL 😛

  3. t

    oh and I forgot to mention:
    as a friend of mine told me.
    the future doesn't seem bright: both mother and grandmother husbands' are dead untimely. Ko-chan (or whoever will be Ohana's husband) – becarful (?)

  4. Hey – it's Okada, he'll be emasculated but not killed.

    I can honestly say it didn't occur to me that this might have taken place before the TV series end – if so, it's odd that they didn't do anything to make note of that. It would also seem strange to me if Enishi and Takako were so openly a couple that early in the timeline.

  5. p

    May I dare say, it might be better idea to be killed than to be emasculated by her :p

  6. D

    After seeing this at AX and looking at the episode list I had the movie placed between episodes 21 and 22 of the TV series. Enishi and Takako had just announced their engagement but there were events that occurred after that in the TV series which hadn't yet occurred when the movie took place. I may be mis-remembering a bit since I saw it once late at night and don't have the ability to go back and check. I do specifically remember viewing it as taking place before the TV series ended when I watched it the first time.

  7. d

    I was not aware of the TV series, and watched this movie coming in blind. Reading your other articles enlightened me to the idea of PA Works as a studio, and the visuals shined. I was confused at first by the time jumps, thinking it was all one timepiece in the beginning. Since they're siblings of similar hair color and style, it didn't help distinguish character and timepieces. I was oblivious for a good 1/3 to 1/2 of the movie I think.

    I enjoyed this movie thoroughly. It had some slow spots, as slice of life stories do, but I particularly enjoyed the, as pocari put it, Spike Spiegel husband bits admiring our lady Satsuki. Ayato ended up being a successful hentai after all. Bit of a stepping stone as a character, he's a throwaway, and I see why now as he's an offscreen character in the TV series. Disappointing, I too want to see more of him — but that wouldn't fit the inn stories would it?

    The Inn closing is a minor spoiler to me, but I thought it was a likelihood given the economic situation presented for the movie — just wasn't going to happen in the movie itself due to the theme of togetherness.

    If that's not the ending, fine by me. I have another series to watch either way. Thanks for the post.

  8. m

    "…if anything annoys me it's when people who should know better fall all over themselves rewarding a young child for being a miserable brat and causing trouble…"

    On an unrelated note, this sentence pretty much captures why I hate the TV show Will & Grace.

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