We left Hanasaku Iroha last week with Ohana lost and alone on the harsh streets of Tokyo, caught in a torrential downpour without a raincoat. Now, some to all of that is her fault, she had a raincoat but she threw it away to prove how much she didn’t want her mother’s help. Sent a powerful message, but one of the costs of making a costly signal is that you have to pay the cost that the signal costs. At the end of the episode her friends from the inn had come to her rescue, so she got to send that signal at a discount price. Congratulations, Ohana! I hope you have a chance to appreciate your good fortune, and do not catch pneumonia or anything, because we’ve already seen that episode. Episode 12 of Hanasaku Iroha ought to be something new and interesting, if we are going to watch it. Which we are.
…thirty minutes pass…
The dangers of bonboruing to excess.
This was a heavy episode. So much happened in it that I can’t believe it was only the standard thirty minutes that passed. They even managed to fit in some comedy relief time between Minchi and Tohru! (And then they layered some subtext on top of it because that is what they do.)
Where should I start. I was hoping for a love triangle, but we wound up with a love pentagon, if I’ve counted correctly. Let’s see, bookstore chick loves Kou-chan, who loves Ohana, who loves Tohru, who is loved by Minchi, and loves Ohana’s mom, who as I see in the image above is named Satsuki. So that’s a love hexagon! I guess I’ve gotta pick who to ship. I’ll go with Minchi/Tohru, because they were especially great together in this episode. Ohana/Satsuki would be an amusingly deviant pick, really checking off a lot of boxes there, but ultimately I think I have to veto that one. And I don’t really feel good about Ohana/Kou-chan given how soft-headed and generally useless she gets when thinking about him. Kou-chan/bookstore chick seems better, she’s explicitly his second choice, so that should substantially cut down on the romantic nonsense of phrases like “you’re the only one for me”. That’s really what I’m looking for in a romantic pairing, lack of romance. And then I guess the Matsumae mother and daughter are the odd women out. Well, they can devote themselves to their careers.
A lot more bonboruing in this episode, glad that this show is explicitly looking at what it means to strive passionately toward a goal. Even if Ohana applies it somewhat inconsistently – at the start of the episode she was ready to kidnap women off the street, but then she’s tasked with finding Kou-chan, and she calls his voicemail a few times and shows up at his job for a bit then says “eh, I tried”? It’s like she’s all of a sudden switched off. I guess it’s a safety measure: if you leave your bonboru running, you might accidentally achieve your goals, which can be dangerous when your explicit goals aren’t what you really want deep down. Her goal is to tell Kou-chan she cares about him, but she doesn’t want to achieve that goal, because deep down, she doesn’t care about him. She can’t admit it, after all he’s done for her and after he cared about her so much, so instead of changing her goal, she simply sabotages herself.
I guess that sort of leads into the third major theme of the episode, which is Ohana as villain, Ohana as the cruel girl who left Kou-chan hanging and said horrible things to her mother who after all was only doing her job and stating her opinion. There is a rule for creating believable drama that I have heard spread around that runs “nobody thinks of themselves as a villain”, and on the surface it seems like this episode violates it. However, I think it would be better formulated as “villains don’t think of themselves as villains”. Why are they villains? Because they don’t stop to consciously reflect on the villainous nature of their actions. The path away from villaindom begins when you look at your actions and say “Wait, what am I doing! I am being kind of a dick.” And then you resolve to change, and not be a villain anymore. (You might not actually follow through on this, in which case you will still be a villain, but you won’t think of yourself as one, so balance has been restored to the universe.)