hanasaku iroha 1

“Sixteen Years of Age, Spring, Still Buds”

(“What are you doing here with that six pack of wine coolers and that joint? Who are you planning to see? Do you know how old she is?” “Uh…”)

I think for the 15,532nd time, I am watching a coming-of-age, slice-of-life (CoA-SoL) series. All of these CoA-SoL types eventually mesh together for me: unhappy (because they are unsure of where they belong) youth learns to love life and conquer challenges by developing new friendships and bonds and maybe even a love. In the end, they find where they belong. This. Shit. Writes. Itself. And Hanasaku Iroha is no different.

Not all CoA-SoL shows are created equal. Some are just plain better than others. I can’t even remember the name of the recent utterly forgettable trumpet anime (nor do I care) or countless others amongst the 15,532 that I have long forgotten. The better ones tend to have at least an unique hook that’s done well, whether it’s Kamichu‘s whimsicalness, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou‘s deliberateness, K-On!‘s moeness, or Clannad‘s emotionalness. They have all that special something brought to the table. Also some CoA-SoL series cross into other genres, like Simon in Gurren Lagann, Hitomi in Escaflowne, and Shu in Now and Then, Here and There.

Still, over time, this genre hasn’t evolved. It’s basically the same. Endless Eight with a replaced with b replaced with c replaced GTO replaced with Aa! Megami-sama replaced with Haibane Renmei replaced with Mahoromatic replaced with Gundam Seed replaced with Ramune replaced with I Can’t Believe My Little Sister Made a Contract with Kyubey replaced with Hanasaku Iroha. Just how many times I have written “low calorie slice-of-life”? Between “OH GEASS NO” and “Mugilicious”? One thing about this genre’s Endless Eight: they’re all idealized versions of youth finding an identity. All carefully scripted. They find friends. They find allies. The band together. The overcome. They survive. It’s not just the generally happy tone– it’s the idealistic tone, and characters rarely have more than a simple dimension or two. Oh look, Kirino’s an asshat.

What makes this CoA-SoL seem really ridiculously outdated in 2011 as record stores and film photography is that there’s just so much better CoA-SoL stuff out there. I watched the recent season of Skins (UK), which I’ve been raving about for the past month, and it’s just a smart, well-written CoA-SoL series. It’s not just about the topics they cover like jealousy, abuse, drugs, sexual orientation, and sex (all covered in anime, just in a less than realistic/serious manner… unless you consider the sexual tension in Ore Imo or the bullying in Clannad realistic), but the characters are complex. They aren’t one sided. Nick isn’t just the jock. Rich isn’t just the metalhead. They have actual depths to them that just don’t exist in CoA-SoL anime… more importantly, they ebb and wane on their own traits. Not all the characters overcome their problems. Some are consumed. Some are saved. Most are in the middle, still unsure of what lies ahead despite their trauma. Even with the fantastic final episode, there’s no resolution except that the friends have each other.

Willing to show more complex characters and break free of the Endless Eight formula. Well, let’s just say Hanasaku Iroha will not do that. It is as generic of a CoA-SoL show there is. Enjoy your misplaced, unfound high school girl trying to find friends and herself at a rural Japanese inn.

(I wonder how this genre will change after the triple disaster that befell Japan.)


Is Ohana getting her cheeks smushed an ongoing plot point?

(Terrible mom is still terrible mom. Her mom and mom’s boyfriend are just behind Hayate’s parents for worst anime parents ever. What kind of parents run off to avoid debt while the kid is sent to a rural place? And then taunts her with pictures of crabbing at Hokkaido? More importantly, it’s Japan! They will track you down eventually. If you’re going to flee, at least flee to Mexico.)

(Crabs are delicious.)


Kanae Itou as Ohana? Going to be weird hearing her on this show and on The World God Only Knows at the same time… let’s see… both Ohana and Elsie aren’t good for much besides cleaning, both get into misunderstandings, and both work for the devil.

(Who cleans wood floors with a hand rag? Haven’t these people heard of Swifter? Or at least a mop?)


PA Works does do a great job with animation and BGM, but their storytelling has been average at best. True Tears just had no impact with chicken girl not ending up with the guy (lolwut), and the colossal rush job that was Angel Beats (not to mention the nonsensical revelation that Tenshi had Otonashi’s heart). Can they actually do an original series? I dunno. Can they tell a compelling story? Don’t know either. Not a lot of studios can, which makes me wonder… WHERE IS MY ENDING TO MADOKA?!


Minko has such a crush on that prep chef. More importantly, Mini doesn’t even greet Frankie on Skins with “Die, bitch.” Oh anime and it’s manufactured drama. No wonder you fit the manufactured drama anime blogoverse so well.

(Are there child labor laws in Japan? So many underaged girls living here… almost as much as a typical Tokyo phone club.)


Ridiculous over-the-top grandmother is over-the-top ridiculous. Let me guess: by the end, she’ll actually be revealed to have received a donor heart from a young doctor who died in a train accident… oh wait, nevermind. Who do you think Ohana will win over first? Which girl do you think would make a contract with Kyubey first?

(Seeing Minko get slapped makes me wonder why hasn’t anyone at TEPCO been slapped yet.)


Why is Minko wearing a hat to peel veggies? Wouldn’t a hair net be better?


Is there anything better than long train rides to unknown relatives after your mom abandons you and the boy who loves you runs away like a little kid? Strange grandma with candy will make everything better! If there’s anything anime teaches kids, it’s that it is okay to take candy from strangers.


“I’ll say it now: I love you!”

I like how Ohana completely is confused rather than flustered by the confession. She seems like she doesn’t understand rather than doesn’t know what to do. In other words, TEPCO!

(Hoping– hoping– to catch the name of where Ohana ends up. Would have fallen out of my chair if it were Fukushima. Needless to say, it is weird living in a world where Japan has three horrific nuclear sites instead of just two.)

14 Responses to “hanasaku iroha 1”

  1. (Hoping– hoping– to catch the name of where Ohana ends up. Would have fallen out of my chair if it were Fukushima. Needless to say, it is weird living in a world where Japan has three horrific nuclear sites instead of just two.)

    It’s in Ishikawa Prefecture near Toyama, it’s on the west side of Japan facing Korea

    With regards to the series, I’d rather wait for at least 3 episodes before saying it’s bland or otherwise,not enough information I guess

  2. look, I know how it feel when you find no anime is for you in certain seasons.

    but if you don’t keep writing, this blog will die out.

    just keep that in mind, ok?

  3. Wasn’t planning on watching this but I’m a sucker for this type of thing…..
    I hope it continues well, I actually LIKED the ending of True Tears (and the entire show at that)

  4. Agh, I hated the ending of True Tears. And hated the pairing too.

    I going to see Iroha, all in the web the people is praising it, so I want to check by myself.

    Anyways… really, WHERE IS OUR ENDING OF MADOKA!!?? SHAAAAAAFT!!!!!

  5. Yeah… ARIA or Honey and Clover are better examples of the genre.

    Also, I’m surprised you didn’t mention Working S2… and you WILL blog Maria+Holic Alive. If only for Kanako’s smart, manipulative younger sister who can meet Mariya head-on. And for more about her mom. Or Mariya fanservice.

  6. best show of the season with kaiji

  7. Is this anime supposed to be a counterpoint to “Moshidora”? If “Moshidora” is about good management, this looks to be about bad management. At the end, if the grandmother is still alive, I bet her kamikaze-ganbare spirit has been leavened with warmth and love — but she still doesn’t understand the use of training, goal-setting, regular evaluation and praise as management tools.

    My dreaming ending to this would be for the employees of the hotel to unionize, thereby putting an end to violently abusive management practices.

  8. That grandmother made me angry. It’s probably better for my health, if I don’t continue watching this. Still, Ohana is quite cute.

    Bonus: http://www.hellodamage.com/top.....ello-work/ – 16 – NIGHT ESCAPER (夜逃げ屋:YONIGEYA) – Really had to think of this, while watching.

  9. I wouldn’t mind trading up to a President OHana.

  10. jason, blog more about manga.
    Anime is so dire these days.


  11. True Tears… didn’t everyone die in a motorcycle accident and reincarnate as chickens in that one?

  12. Is this the one show of the season? I would have had money on Tiger & Bunny…

  13. for a different coa-sol, how about oyasumi punpun?

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