Hanasaku Iroha 6

Kissuiso has been a bathhouse in decline long before Ohana arrived. Her uncle seems to believe modernization is the key, and that requires a consultant. The consultant has a needlessly dramatic entrance, nearly killing Ohana and Nako and covering them in a cloud of dust, then scolds them for not welcoming her properly. But she’s of little use, suggesting silly gimmicks like tarting up the staff. To be fair though, the manager wants no part of her “consultations”.

This episode makes me wonder what the Japanese definition of “Old-fashioned” entails. Is it so bad that Kissuiso errs on the side of tradition? I’ve been to a TOTO bathroom fixture showroom in Shinjuku, and many of the displays featured Japanese baths, which are pretty much stools with a hose and bucket. This traditional form of bathing actually saves water, because a whole bathtub needn’t be drawn; only a few buckets worth for rinsing. A bath is primarily scrubbing while the water’s off. Thus, it makes sense that a very old-fashioned form of bathing – just like the kind one would do by the river centuries ago – survives in resource-scarce Japan.

So many establishments have decided to go outside their element in an attempt to wrangle customers, but this can easily backfire, as exhibited when Ohana and Nako, dressed in skimpy Chinese dresses, greet a family and end up embarassing the dad (through no fault of his own). Skimpy dresses and other cosplay simply don’t fit with Kissuiso’s image. Ohana’s grandmother isn’t being stubborn simply for stubbornness’ sake; she wants to preserve as traditional a bathhouse as she can; even profits seem secondary to that vision. Rating: 3

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Ao no Exorcist 4

When Rin accompanies Yukio to the city’s premiere magical supply store (and is told to wait outside), he happens upon a very loved and well-tended garden. The tender is a new character, Shiemi, (voiced by Hana Kanazawa). She’s a pretty young thing, but Rin’s sudden appearence startles her. She also can’t walk due to a debilitating malady in her legs that resembles roots. Still, she spends her days (and nights) tending the garden on her knees.

Yukio, charged with discovering the cause and attempting to cure Shiemi, deduces that a demon from one of the plants in the garden is crippling Shiemi, keeping her confined there. Shiemi doesn’t mind, because she feels guilty for leaving her grandmother there one day, then returning to find a trellis has fallen on her, killing her. She vows to never let the garden wither; this benefits the demon.

The obvious solution is to burn it all to the ground, thus revealing the demon, but that’s out of the question, so instead Yukio helps Shiemi recall it was a pansy that spoke to her. When the demon fully possesses Shiemi and becomes a giant Pansy monster (not unlike a plant-based FF boss), Yukio demonstrates the advantage of bullets filled with “nutrients”, while Rin proves his usefullness by slicing the flower demon to bits. Fully recovered, Shiemi predictably shows up in Yukio and Rin’s exorcism class; now one of the gang. Rating: 3.5