Learning the ABCs: Hanasaku Iroha

I’ll always remember Hanasaku Iroha as an anime captured my attention through its beautiful scenery and style. One cannot disagree that the series has one of the most gorgeous settings, with attention to the detail. But that’s not what makes an anime worth watching.

I won’t deny that it is the stunning artwork that I picked up Hanasaku Iroha. But it is the curiosity to know what happens to Ohana that got me sticking around. Sure, I didn’t follow the series on weekly basis but it’s never far from my mind. I kept count the number of episodes aired, and catch up whenever I could. And finally, I caught up.

For those who don’t know, Hanasaku Iroha follows the journey of a city girl sent to live with her grandmother at the rural area after her mother decided it was much more exciting escaping the debtors with her then-boyfriend. Ohana’s dream of happily living with an imaginary sweet grandmother near hot springs was soon crushed when her actual stern grandmother demanded her work at the inn in exchange for accommodation and food. Normally, people would be sour and cursed their bad luck for being thrown into such a dire situation. Ohana, on the other hand, accepted the position she’s at and maintain her contagious bubbly positive attitude throughout the show.

I once wrote about Ohana’s lack of character development. That’s cuz I’ve always viewed this series as one that will document Ohana’s discovery of herself. After watching that last episode and I thought, hey it wasn’t so bad. Ohana did finally know what she wants. In life. In relationship. I reckon the voice actress did a great job in creating such a lively character. She made it easy for anyone to like the cheerful, energetic personality of Ohana.

As an anime with high school girls, it has to have some who-likes-who situation no? Hanasaku Iroha has its shares of those. Speaking of which, I have a feeling I’m the only KoXOhana, TohruXMinko shipper. As it turns out, I got exactly what I wanted. Well, maybe not exactly but they’re heading towards that direction. On the other hand, I must say I was a bit surprised at a Einichi and Takako pairing. I mean I kinda know Einichi feels something for her but I didn’t know the feelings are reciprocated. It’s hard to tell through her tough demeanor, workaholic attitude and whatnot. I didn’t like Takako at first but after seeing she worked so hard to keep Kissuisō, I kinda changed my mind >.< Come to think of it, we don’t have a lot of weddings in anime huh? So this is good.

One thing I’d love to highlight for this series is the portrayal of strong women. With some of their ugly characters/behaviors/attitudes aside, both Sui and Satsuki and even Minko can be perceived as examples of strong women. The pair of mother-daughter has a career of their own, know what they want and go after it, and constantly persevere. I love it when Sui said that women of Shijima never give up easily, and that she successfully courted Ohana’s grandfather after several attempts. Haha. I’m sure Ohana inherit these qualities too. Some, if not all. As for Minko, she has realized she wanted to be a chef at a tender age and actually goes for it despite protests from her parents. She had dedicated her teenage life perfecting her skills. She might be a lot of people’s least favorite character, but she’s one of my favorites from this series.

You know, I was constantly worried that Hanasaku Iroha would be predictable and end in some of the different endings I’ve imagined. In the end, the series ended in a way I least expected. I can’t say I like the ending very much but it did say what is required. What do you think?

27 thoughts on “Learning the ABCs: Hanasaku Iroha

  1. I never really considered the characters from a feminist perspective. I think it highlights how well it succeeds at that when it can have positive female characters and the audience doesn’t dwell on it.

    Personally, I liked Ko and Ohana together, though I didn’t care all that much about how Minchi’s romance arc ended. With the characters the way they were, it could’ve ended badly for them and still feel satisfying to the viewer.

  2. Worked out for the first couple of epsiodes, but as Feal said, for me, it sort of went out flat during the latter half. Although, despite the far cry from what it was, still enjoyable.

  3. I’ve heard a lot about this series but I never got the chance to pick it up. Perhaps I’ll check a couple of episode and see if I like it.

  4. I really liked Ohana’s story, but I was disappointed that they spent so much time on some of the side characters. It was still worth watching those parts for the visuals, but I think it would’ve been much better if everyone had some kind of conclusion at the end of the series, not just Ohana.

    • I kinda enjoyed the time spend on side characters, although that also means less time to focus Ohana’s character.

      Ahh..I don’t really like the ending. It’s hard to like when there isn’t a solid conclusion, and I don’t think I want another season. However, it at least showed how everyone loves Kissuisō Inn and how everybody feels.

  5. I never thought I’d pick up Hanasaku Iroha at first, but after the first episode, I started expecting a lot from it. Then came episode 3 and well, you know. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it for being what it is, a slice-of-life mixed with some comedy and romance. I too support Ko and Ohana, along with Tohru and Minchi. As for all the other characters, I liked Yuina the most (dunno why, lol) and I hated Takako. Her random engrish just doesn’t work with me sometimes.

    • Neither did I, but I was so blown away by the artwork when I saw the first episode and I was curious about what will happen to Ohana that I continued watching. That infamous episode 3 did shock me quite a bit there though. ;P

      Yay, good to know there is another person out there that support a KoXOhana and a TohruXMinchi. Well, Yuina is likeable. She’s cute, carefree and a really fun person to watch.

  6. At first I didn’t plan to watch this, but after some people were saying I should take a peek.
    I did it and liked what I saw, even though the setting at the inn wasn’t really my thing.

    Thanks to the characters it grew on me, the variety of characters was a really good part of Hanasaku Iroha. I liked the cheerful and slightly weird Ohana very much, but if there was a character I could relate to the most it would be Nako.

    The “filler” episodes didn’t bother me I liked and appreciated this show for what it was, there was nearly nothing I could complain about.

    The two opening themes from nano.RIPE were perfectly chosen, the voice of the singer is like
    Ohana, who is far way from being perfect, but she giving everything she has.

    It was a really great show with a stunning animation style, I will miss it.

    • I actually picked up this series because I kept reading good things about the first episode and I thought I really should check this out for myself, which I did. And I’m glad I did.

      I like the first opening theme very much – Hana no Iro. The song is really suitable for the anime, and I like the rhythm and nano.RIPE’s voice. I think her voice is unique.

  7. I think it manage to pull out a very decent ending. Of all the 2011 anime that I completed watching this year, Hanasaku Iroha has the best ending for me. The ending wasn’t extravagant and super memorable, but it’s very decent and fulfilling. Overall, I really like it. There’s not that much anime that can pull-out drama, comedy, and fanservice without exhausting the viewer.

    • I guess I was hoping for an ending in which everyone gets to stay and continues to work at Kissuisō Inn. That would be lovely. But I’m happy to know that Ohana found out what she wants.

    • Oh definitely, the animation was great through out and that’s one of the things I enjoyed most in Hanasaku Iroha. Every single time when Kissuisō Inn came in view, I’m awed.

  8. Slice of life will always be the best anime genre that I will always love.
    The anime is awesome in the art as well as the storyline. Everything is awesome about Hanasaku Iroha. The only sad part about about this anime is the part when Kissuiso closes. I was expecting that they will decide not to close it but damn they still close it..

  9. In the end I really enjoyed Hanasaku Iroha. I didn’t care for the ending all that much either, and the last few episodes were pretty saddening considering the high energy that it had for the most part of the show. I guess it ended up being a bit too realistic in the end. I’d like to see a reunion OVA or something eventually :3

    • I read there’s new work on Hanasaku Iroha. Just not too sure if it’s a second season, OVA or movie. So, that’s something to look forward to. I’d like to see them back together. >.<

  10. Nako and Yuina have rocked my world in this one. Minko’s a pain but a pain you can’t stop watching I guess. There was a MILF, two obligatory male love interests with only one anyone is actually rooting for in Ko chan (I guess) and a cast where almost nobody sucks…I suppose even Tohru had his moments.

    • Hmmm…I remember not liking Takako a lot…although she turned out OK at the end…other casts were fine.

      (In response to your comment below) Yes, Ohana has one of the best styles. I don’t think just in 2011. Not a lot of characters has that kind of hairstyle so that makes her a memorable one. Actually, all three females in her family have great style!

  11. Oops, I forgot about the star herself, Ohana. Awesome when she isn’t moping about Ko chan or personal issues. Oh and she has one of the funkiest, if not THE best and most recognizable hairstyle in 2011. There you go.

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