I give this anime...an 86/100!
After two anime called True Tears and Angel Beats appeared, both produced by the company P.A. Works, said company has built a steady reputation. Now they've made an anime commemorating their 10th anniversary called Hana Saku Iroha. Nobody knew what to make of it, especially when it first aired. It looked interesting so I decided to watch it. I thought it was great...but when the show finished, I came out a bit unsatisfied. No, it's ending didn't stink or anything like that. It's just...there's stuff in this show that SHOULD be resolved but aren't. Now's the time to analyze this worthy piece of work!
So basically the anime's about a girl named Ohana who lived with her mom in Tokyo until her mom's boyfriend got them in debt and sends her to her grandmother's hot spring inn, Kissuiso, in Yunosagi. Ohana's never met her grandmother, and she's just gotten a confession from her boyfriend! Though she has to endure this drastic change in her life, she thinks working at a hot spring might be fun!...until she runs into some VERY unpleasant staff and gets into some trouble. Despite all the changes going on in Ohana's life, she decides to endure it and, as she puts it, fest it up.
Lemme get the best thing about this show out of the way: THE ANIMATION!!! My God, this show is just Godly when it comes to animation! Especially the backgrounds and the movement! Jeez! This show is sooooo wonderfully animated I'd even be so bold as to say in my honest opinion they're BETTER than Kyoto Animation! Yes, I'll probably be flamed for this but I don't care! Backgrounds are wonderfully detailed, characters move realistically and fluently, there's lots of facial expressions and lots of movement, even in the smallest parts of the background, it is just THAT amazing! Well, to be fair this is the only anime I've seen by P. A. Works (No, I didn't see Angel Beats or True Tears). But if I remember correctly Angel Beats sold really well in terms of DVD sales, and wow! P. A. Works really put the earnings of Angel Beats' DVD sales to good use because this has to be one of the best animated anime I've seen in a long time!
Unfortunately, the awesomeness of the animation is kinda cut in half for the soundtrack. I'm not saying the soundtrack is bad. It definitely has its awesome points (like in the final episodes), but the OST doesn't seem like it can decide whether it wants to be awesome or boring and bland. It kinda does both. Most pieces fit the show while some...I kinda forgot about them. HOWEVER! Musically, the only thing I absolutely HATED about it is the singers of the OP theme, Nano.Ripe. Seriously, the singer for that group sounds like Aki Toyosaki after she smoked meth! Jeez, the singer's voice is so grating I had to mute the OP theme a few times! I seriously don't get it! Why pick this group out of nowhere of all things?! I don't see why they're so good! I have to admit the second OP theme is less grating (and better animated) than the first one, but it's still kinda there.
Same goes for the characters. This is the third series (first being Gravitation, second being Uta no Prince-sama) I found in which there are both really good characters and really BAD characters who should NOT be in the show! The characters are both a good point in the show and an appallingly horrid point, which I will explain in another paragraph. Anyway, let's get the good out of the way: Ohana. She's a GREAT lead character! I'm sure a lot of you are thinking otherwise, but let me explain. She's not a damsel in distress, nor is she some overly shy female lead or a big boobed chick! She's simply a normal girl learning how to deal the interesting cards of life that have been given to her. When she has an idea in her head, she'll see it to fruition no matter what anyone else thinks. She's always being put down, but this doesn't stop her. I like that in a character. Most of the Kissuiso staff are great too, like Tohru, Tomoe, Nako, Beanman, etc. But for me the second best character is Ohana's grandmother, Sui, the madam manager of Kissuiso. At first she looks and acts like one of those mean, selfish grandmothers who care more about reputation than anything else, but after five or so episodes, she really changes when she sees what Ohana is really like! I love that! She really turned into an awesome character, along with Ohana's mom, Satsuki, who has influence on both Ohana and Sui.
Now onto the biggest flaws. The smallest one is that some characters are a bit weird, like the porn-novelist Jiromaru and Enishi, Ohana's uncle. Seriously, I wish Ohana and Enishi spent time together since they're family and all! HOWEVER!!! They are ABSOLUTELY NOTHING compared to the one character who totally killed the entire show for me. I honestly wish that this character die in a fire. Want to know who that character is?
That's right! Tsurugi Minko, one of the other main female characters. OH MY GOD, I HATE THIS LITTLE BRAT SOOOOO MUCH!!! She is the single most horrible thing about this show EVER, and I'm gonna go on a tirade as to why!!! For one thing, right when she even MEETS Ohana, it's automatically hate at first sight and she tells Ohana to die! I mean, WHAT?! If that wasn't enough, she tells Ohana to die even when Ohana does nice things for her, like cover for her transgression and take three slaps in the face from Madam Manager!! All her lines consist of nothing but "Die! Die! Balut! Balut! Die! Die!" You'd think that Minko would respect Ohana and finally become her friend after a couple of episodes, but NOPE!!! Minko remains like that THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE GOD DURNED SERIES!!!!! At one point in the anime she TRIES TO STRANGLE Ohana just for unknowingly mentioning the fact that Minko has a crush on one of the employees!! WHAT THE FREAK?!?!? Minko is seriously the most annoying, ungrateful, and downright heartless and brattiest little brat I've EVER seen in an anime!!! She REFUSES to acknowledge Ohana's good deeds, let alone thank her for any of them! I mean, sure Ohana DID do some minor bad things to her, like pull out her plants and cook better than her and talk bad about her crush. But SHE DID NOT KNOW ANY OF THOSE THINGS!!! NOBODY TOLD HER!!! How was she supposed to know those things annoyed Minko?! She can't read minds!!! Did everyone expect her to already know about the employees of Kissuiso or something?! Plus, Ohana just had really bad timing, that's all!! Minko is so ungodly stubborn that she holds on to her beliefs throughout the entire series and does NOT BUDGE. AT ALL. NOT EVEN ONCE. My God, even Madam Manager turned into a better character within five episodes once she saw what Ohana is really like! SHE actually set a great example of character development! But Minko? NO!!! Their hate-hate relationship reminds me of that of Nina and Patricia from House of Anubis! What do I mean? Well, in House of Anubis, Patricia's friend Joy disappears and suddenly Nina moves into her room and she thinks Nina has something to do with Joy's disappearance, but Nina doesn't know a thing and just wants to start at her new school and make friends, but Patricia makes everything bad for her until she finally realizes that Nina's innocent and has nothing to do with what happened to joy, so after a while they FINALLY reconcile and become friends! THEY actually put aside their differences and became friends! But Ohana and Minko?! NOPE!!! Ohana tries sooooo gosh-durned hard to make Minko happy, but Minko REFUSES TO ACKNOWLEDGE OR ACCEPT ANY OF IT!!!! Minko, get it in your cranium, will you?! Ohana's not some freak trying to conspire against you!!! Worst of all, THE ANIME REFUSES TO EXPLAIN WHY MINKO'S THE WAY SHE IS!!!!!! That's what annoyed me the most!! Was Minko some childhood classmate who Ohana unknowingly humiliated or something? Or does Minko just love holding grudges against certain people? By God, she's worse than my sister!!!
Also, another thing: most of the time, this anime has nice and realistic dialogue, emphasis on most of the time. Sometimes...they REALLY jump the shark. I mean, WHO in this day and age says "I'm still going to have my crush on so-and-so"?! What kind of cheesy-butt pick-up line is that?! NOBODY SAYS STUFF LIKE THAT IN REAL LIFE!!! Ohana says this when she confronts Minko near the end of the series! MY GOD!! This has to be the one major flaw in all of modern anime nowadays: NOBODY CLARIFIES THEMSELVES OR USES THE RIGHT WORDS TO EXPLAIN STUFF!!! Why couldn't Ohana just tell Minko, "I don't like Tohru! Why would I be interested in him?! What gave you that idea?! I already have a boyfriend!" instead of something cheesy like "I'll still keep my crush!"?! Come on, people! Even the Percy Jackson books handled dialogue better than this!! Seriously, I actually HOPE that FUNimation licenses it and changes the dialogue a bit, especially that crush part! They actually have a knack at adapting scripts and making them work and feel natural!!!
*sigh* Okay. I'm done with my rant. But before I close off this review, if there's one thing Hana Saku Iroha does right, it's that it tries to give each of its characters a presence when times are tough (in the show), and it shows how well a series can be done if the drama is done right, and HanaIro certainly got its drama right. Plus, it shows that working doesn't always have to be bad. Of course you'll encounter some unpleasant staff and some back-breaking duties, but they're all worth it once you get your reward, right? I've just recently gotten into the working stage in my life, so this show was a great advanced look into the working world.
While HanaIro may not be the best (it's probably annoying for some), it's certainly a refreshing piece of work amongst all the stale excrement (Eiken, Kiss x Sis and Maken-Ki), so I can welcome it for what it is. But I still won't forgive Minko for killing the show for me.