Ohana is a teenager in Tokyo with a woman who vaguely resembles a biological mother. I mean, she IS her biological mother but she doesn’t act like it. Left completely to her own devices, Ohana has learned to take care of the house while her mother did nothing but work and go off with her boyfriends. On one night, Ohana is shocked to learn that her mother is running off with her current boyfriend in order to duck some bad debts that he is piled with. Since Ohana can’t go on the run with them, she is being sent off to the traditional inn run by her grandmother in the country.
Once she arrives, Ohana receives a rude awakening as she meets a grandmother who wants a new worker, not a new boarder. Now faced with coworkers who don’t particularly like her right away and a much harder life, Ohana must grow up while learning about herself along the way.
Good and the Bad
The 10th anniversary project from PA Works didn’t have a lot of buzz surrounding it if I recall correctly. Once it premiered however, people started talking and it became hard to dig through the praise in order to find the few negative words scattered about.
In particular, this is a beautiful series. From the opening frames to the soft background scenery that fills each episode, there will never be a time when there isn’t a feeling of pleasant comfort as Ohana goes about her days at the inn. Matched with warm tones and colors, Hanasaku Iroha has a sweet style to its artwork that goes out of its way to help create a charming world with warmth at its center.
As the series progresses, things move forward with a gentle grace. Once you meet Ohana, you know a girl who has had a rough life growing up. Her mother is completely uninvolved with her life. She’s even been trained to believe people are completely untrustworthy and undependable. Despite this, Ohana is a strong lead character that is worthy of carrying an entire series on her back.
Not a person to let her new situation get her down, Ohana breaks the mold on dramatic female leads for constantly working hard to improve herself and her situation. Unlike others in her life who are out for the easy ride (such as an aspiring famous novelist staying in the hotel), Ohana is out every day getting things done and trying to do her best along with her young coworkers.
Every Sunday morning since this series premiered I have been able to enjoy her life and feel like I’m growing a little bit along with Ohana as she discovers who she really is. Unfortunately that’s one of the places where Hanasaku Iroha fails is that this is not a series that is meant to be marathoned. Every week, the adventures of Ohana play out but very slowly in order to create a fuller episode. Very rarely will this series tell a story that lasts more than one episode but generally this works in its favor when you’re taking it one episode at a time.
There is only so much teenage drama you can watch in one sitting and Ohana will stretch that limit to the extreme. While a strong character, Ohana is prone to her own crying fits and outbursts when she really feels the need. Between figuring out how she feels about the male best friend she left behind or her mother suddenly appearing in her life again, Ohana’s life is one of drama through and through.
A slow piece but a moving one filled with plenty of wonderful affection. A well written coming of age story, this is a soft drama that everyone who complains about moe can enjoy. Well produced and put together, this has been a wonderful weekend treat for the last few weeks and I can’t see me having any issues with continuing further. Please enjoy this one!