Hanasaku Iroha 10

After running around overexerting herself and working so hard the past few episodes, Ohana finally pays for it with what everyone refers to as a “light fever.” Always so chipper and energetic, Ohana finally has to lay in bed and do nothing, and it makes her mind wander. This is is an episode with many strange an dreamy moments, and perfectly depicts the combined feelings of weakness, helplessness, boredom, lonliness, and uselessness being sick can cause.

Ohana dreams of a Ko surrounded by light in a shrine who calls her home. Indeed, laying in bed hearing everyone say how well they’re getting along without her, combined with her delirium, lead her to question her usefulness at Kissuiso. She starts to doubt whether she even belongs there at all. After all, working hard has led to her being in this state; how can she go on?

One by one, the staff visits her. Tohru appears to be more outwardly smitten with her than ever, probably due to Ohana having temporarily losing her sharp edge. Minko notices how he acts towards and talks about Ohana, further complicating that triangle in the future. But in the end, everyone convinces her that she is a vital piece of the puzzle at Kissuiso, and once she’s better, the whole place will be better with her back on duty. Rating: 4

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Hanasaku Iroha 9

The longest day at Kissuiso continues with Ohana in a labyrinthene exhibition hall, looking for Tohru. Her search initially proves both fruitless and disruptive, and she retreats to a lonely staircase. Just then, Ko calls her, and tells her exactly what she needs to hear. She and Ko are never quite on the same wavelength, which is a factor of Ko not making it clear what he’s doing and why. If he likes her, and wants to see her, he should just tell her and meet up with her. Instead, he’s intent on keeping crucial information from Ohana, and as a result, he is never able to see her.

I prefer this, his decision to withhold his intentions, to dumb luck and coincidence keeping them apart. Ohana is extremely busy and extremely ditzy; Ko should know this, and spell everything out as clearly as possible. It’s disappointing that he isn’t able to get the words out in the precious few moments on the phone with her, but the fact he’s able to cheer her up at just the right time doesn’t quite seem like enough for either of them. These two are stuck in a long-distance holding pattern, which is a shame, but there’s plenty of episodes to resolve (or not resolve) this.

Meanwhile, the highly-charged energy and kinesis of Kissuiso continues. Ohana’s instincts prove correct, as when she brings Tohru back, the situation matures from barely-contained fiasco it was to a more controlled scenario where everything that needs to be done will get done. She also proves correct in insisting every guest be treated with equal care, as the mystery guests turn out to be different from the ones the consultant lady assumed. The manager returns to a reinvigorated Kissuiso, that can run smoothly in her absense and gained new pride in their teamwork and the service they provide. That should prove a great comfort and great worry to the aging manager. Rating: 4

Hanasaku Iroha 5

It’s all that damn erotica authors fault…

Ah, a misunderstanding episode. While this series has definitely slowed down since the first two eps, it remains one of my favorites this spring. For some reason, this episode reminded me of an episode of Frasier, one in which a little misunderstanding is blown way out of proportion and everyone emotionally commits to an assumption that turns out to be false. Yeah, a lot of Fraiser episodes (and those of many many other shows) are like that, but for some reason Frasier came to mind first. Dunno why.

At any rate, Ohana is, as always, trying to get into Minko’s good graces, this time by going after Tohru, who the author deduces has defected to rival Fukuya. Combined with Minko and Ohana seeing the Fukuya heiress on a motorbike with him, Minko is devastated. She isn’t kidding anyone with her tough, dealing-with-it face, including Ohana. Of couse, as it turns out, Tohru only filled in for one night at Fukuya, and far from dating Fukuya, she just wanted a ride.

It’s a well-written and acted episode to me, because all of the factual omissions that lead to the understanding are very organic and fit nicely with the individual characters involved: the author’s tendency to jump to conclusions, Minko’s infatuation with Tohru, and Ren’s tight-lippedness. All of the facts they have seem to point to him leaving, and they have no reason to question for how long he’ll be gone, or whether he’ll come back. Those who know what’s really going on stay quiet too, because they have better things to do. While I knew the twist was coming from a mile away, it was still well-played and an entertaining watch. Rating: 3.5