There comes a time when things may not go your way. Life hands you problems that can’t be avoided, so what do you do? Try to change what’s already said and done or do you make the best out of what you do have? That is the main idea i believe Hanasaku Iroha conveyed. Our main character, Ohana, deals with problems outside of her control (mostly with regards to her mother), but she manages to make the best out of unfavorable situations. Ending up at an old-fashioned inn run by her stern grandmother, Ohana eventually realizes that once bonds between friends are made, no matter what situation may happen, they will always stick together. Hanasaku Iroha conveyed a sense of hard work and values to a degree by showing how Ohana evolved from being completely independent to being able to depend on others and still retain her personality while working at the Kissui Inn. But the real message is much deeper than that: Dreams. Everyone has something that they desire and it is through the eyes of not Ohana but rather Sui Shijima, the “Madam Manager” that we see her own dreams and what she feels the rest of the Kissu Inn staff desires.
On paper, this sounds like something that is sure to be an easy 10/10 in the story category, but in practice Hanasaku Iroha hit a few bumps. The pacing was dodgy at best, the middle half of the series wasn’t very interesting and the biggest blunder (in my opinion) was the romances between Ohana and Kou. There are times when you really start to think, “is this a teenage romance series or a coming of age story?” and i ought to think the staff had no clue which way (if any) they were going to go and as a result the OhanaxKo moments felt awkward and out of place. Alot of subplots involving other Kissu Inn workers were a bit odd, in good ways (i enjoyed Takako and her..english) and bad (Jiroumaru in particular). But needless to say, the finale of Hanasaku Iroha was a great way to end the series with everything coming together very nicely and leaving an open-ended conclusion. Of course, now we have word that HanaIro is getting a new anime series in 2012 so there’s a possibility than some of the issues of this series may be resolved but regardless of all of that: Hanasaku Iroha was a good show, albeit too long for a slice of life series.
Animation: 9/10 – It’s P.A. Works once again dazzling us with very beautiful animation and background art. How can you not love the animation here? It felt like almost every single detail was carefully put together.
Story: 7/10 – Yeah this is one of those rare occasions where a show should actually be shorter than it is. 26 episodes was far too much for HanaIro and the show started to get very lazy towards the end, luckily the finale was great. The romance between Ohana and Kou wasn’t really well explored and it felt like the staff was divided between keeping the romance or getting rid of it and it really shows as Kou barely makes any appearances for most of the series until the end.
Sound: 7/10 – Man, the voice acting in this series can get really annoying. Take Minko, for example. Sometimes she’s fine (think Hobiron moments) and all but other times it’s very grating. Itou Kanae did a great job with Ohana, and i can’t believe Haruka Tomatsu voiced Yuina, after voicing the emotionally powerful Anaru from AnoHana. The OP/EDs were okay and the background music wasn’t anything special.
Characters: 8/10 – For me, it’s not Ohana who steals the show and who makes it such a great watch. It’s Sui (Okami). Having first seen her as a cruel, heartless person totally evolve into the grandmother you always want was just stunning. News of the Kissui Inn closing was a total shock for me, but having Sui explain why and opening up to Ohana really made me view her as one of the best characters this year. The rest of the cast is a mixed bag: Ohana brings alot of energy and headstrong personality but at times she can be so painfully oblivious when it comes to Kou’s feelings for her.
Enjoyment: 8/10 – Two things drew me into this series: One, it’s an original series and i really enjoy those types of series as you don’t know what’ll happen and the animation staff is going to give it their all. Two, it’s a slice of life series and i’ve really become a huge fan of these types of series. Now was it a great series? Not really, it had promise but instead of fizzling out it just was a bit underwhelming. Still, if you love great animation and intriguing characters give Hanasaku Iroha a chance.
Hanasaku Iroha Score Tally:
Animation – 9/10
Story – 10.5/15
Characters – 16/20
Sound – 7/10
Enjoyment – 36/45
Total – 78.5/100