Hanasaku Iroha is very misleading from the prior impressions I had of it—it is much darker then I had anticipated. The series is a slice-of-life/drama series that at the moment is heavy on the drama. There is some humor, but most of is funny in the schadefreunden sense.
Our first scene is that of a girl telling her mother that she is not her daughter. The mother blows her off, and we start to understand the relationship between the two. That also starts our introduction to the main character 16 year old Ohana, who is living the typical 16 year old sophomore who has no idea what to do her life yet. Really, when you’re a sophomore, who does?
It turns out to be a good thing she has no solid plans as Ohana suddenly finds herself uprooted. Her mom decides to abandon her to run off with her boyfriend, and ships Ohana off to live with her grandmother, who happens to run a hot springs. Her grandmother is only happy to have more help. From there we see Ohana as optimistic clumsy but well-meaning character use techniques that have worked in other animes with these character types to improve her life and make friends only for it each time to blow up in her face and make things worse. At the end of the episode, all I could think is that this girl’s life really sucks.
I really loved the first half of this. The conversation Ohana had with Kon about her not wanting to do anything with her life felt so real, and much like the type of conversation one has 16. On top of that, the scene where Ohana’s mom announces she’s leaving, where Kon confesses, and I could list scene after scene. Everything just fit together so well.
Things were going well when she arrived at the hot spring, but it seemed to go downhill after she got settled in. The formula of the same thing—Ohana try to do a good thing, Ohana pissed someone off, just became stale really fast, and why oh why did her uncle have to grab her ass. However I can forgive it this time as the series was trying to introduce everything that needed to be in all this, and trying to make the introduction a little more interesting. Gah. The introduction phase of any anime just sucks.
P.A. Works being P.A. Works, the visuals are in this are absolutely gorgeous.
All in all, this has the potential to be a great anime. At the same time, this has the potential to be an okay anime, or an awful anime, and there are signs for all three in the first episode. Well. It’s time to gamble and take the plunge.