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Hanasaku Iroha Review

October 03, 2011 By: Nopy Category: Anime

Going off to work as a waitress at a traditional Japanese inn in the countryside is every girl’s dream, right? Well, maybe if you were Japanese Cinderella. Hanasaku Iroha takes the basics of the Cinderella story (minus the prince and magic fairy) and tries to weave a story of understanding and friendship out of the dredges of despair and lonliness. I’m not going to describe the whole anime, so instead here’s the plot summary from MyAnimeList:

After her single mother decides to run off with a boyfriend to dodge debt collectors, the young and energetic Ohana is sent to live with her grandmother. However, her grandmother is the strict owner of a hot springs inn and requires her to work at the inn to pay for her living expenses. Although Ohana is unhappy about this situation at first, she decides to make the best of her situation and work hard. Ohana’s life is suddenly filled with fun, mischief, and drama!

Seeing as Hanasaku Iroha was P.A. Works’ 10th anniversary project, they certainly did their best to make it a hit. The first two episodes were a shock to say the least. Here was a little city girl (Ohana) living out an ordinary school life and one day her mother disappears and she’s shipped off to who knows where. The amount of drama that happened was enough to fill a whole season of a Japanese soap opera, and it was acted out very nicely.

The third episode and onwards was where I thought things started going downhill. At first, I thought this was going to be a drama starring a young girl facing the world by herself, but then it goes into a big merry-go-round of character backstories. The focus of the story quickly shifted away from Ohana and onto every single character at the inn where she works. It would not have been so bad if there was an overall story that these mini-arcs developed towards, but other than invoking a sense of “life goes on”, nothing ever materializes. The rough transition from a serious coming-of-age drama starring a teen girl to a comedy starring a washed-up perverted mangaka doesn’t help either.

While I was unhappy with the format of the anime, I have to admit that there were a few good arcs worth mentioning. Tomoe’s arc involving the military junkies staying at the hotel was amusing, and the couple of Ohana arcs after the first one were just as good. Light humour also played a big role in holding my attention until something noteworthy happened. As an example, there was one scene in episode 16 where Ohana and Nako are pretending to be flying around on brooms and they looked so silly that I couldn’t help but laugh.

Animation-wise, the quality in Hanasaku Iroha is nothing short of excellent. If you’re like me and simply aren’t interested in the daily lives of some side characters, then at least you’ll enjoy the stunning visuals. From the picturesque countryside sunsets to the gorgeous detailing of the furnishings, P.A. Works not only made sure every scene was perfectly drawn, but that it was appealing to the eyes.

In a way, Hanasaku Iroha was both a hit and miss for me. I thoroughly enjoyed Ohana’s story, but the rest of the series simply felt like filler material. The fact that there really was no resolution for the other characters by the end of the series also reflects on their importance or lack thereof in the series. Thinking back on why the writers would do this, I figured that they may have been going for the “it’s the journey that matters” ending, but it hardly felt like a journey for any of the characters other than Ohana. So is Hanasaku Iroha worth watching? I’d say yes, for Ohana’s story and the great animation, but just beware that there is a lot of filler.

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16 Comments to “Hanasaku Iroha Review”


  1. A good summary of a great show. I thoroughly enjoyed the first and last quarter of the 26 episodes and much like you felt that major parts were filler material where they instead could’ve branched out the other character stories.

    Ohana was one of few characters with a proper farewell while we were left wondering about many of the (great) supporting cast. For me, a big bunch of the female cast went from early on annoying to very likable. A recommended show for sure.

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  2. I have yet 2 more episodes to watch.

    I can understand that for non slice of life fans, this show must have been tireing sometimes, but for fans of that genre, like me Hanasaku Iroha was a great show. I always felt like in the middle of the Inn, I like it when anime creates such an right in the middle atmosphere.

    I nearly liked all of the characters, main character was quite interesting, Ohana is so crazy and upbeat.
    Only Minko was a bit annoying for me with her “Hai!” all the time, she had the charm of a drill instructor XD

    anyway nice show with stunning animations.
    Wieselhead recently posted..Ikoku Meiro no Croisée review – summerseason 2011 impression

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  3. My Hanasaku Iroha is a single episode OVA. Nothing else exists.

    Not saying it was bad, but it was very bland to say the least.

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  4. I was surprised when I started watching this show, I expected the drama after the first couple of episodes but it ended being more slice of life. I don’t mind the parts with the other characters which where nice to see but at the end of the day I enjoyed Hanasaku Iroha more when it revolved around Ohana.

    Still, how I wish all shows looked this pretty both in character design and scenery.
    Miette-chan recently posted..Eh?! Seriously? I been blogging for two years now?

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  5. @Nightmare:
    I know what you mean about the female cast. Some characters like Minko just seemed really mean, but I started to like her after a while, and I’m sure everyone agrees that Sui was just doing what was best for the inn by the end of the series.

    @Wieselhead:
    I found Minko’s voice a bit shrill, she would’ve seemed more tsundere if she had a different voice actress.

    @Marow:
    Which episode is that?

    @Miette-chan:
    Ohana was the best part of the series, it’s a shame that she got pushed to the side for a large portion of it. If all shows looked like this, then it wouldn’t be special anymore.

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  6. As I said a lot of other times, this series had solid chances to be a great series, but failed to deliver due to a slowing of pace during the latter half.
    I wonder where did they go wrong…:P
    feal87 recently posted..Tamayura – A worthy rival for Aria? Fu Sawatari is cute!

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  7. Hit and miss… I think I’d watch a couple of episodes and check. Visuals look appealing indeed. Thanks for sharing.
    Xine recently posted..Chibi Lelouch!?

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  8. @Nopy:
    The first one, of course!

    :p

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  9. @feal87:
    It did feel rather slow late in the series, cutting back on a few episodes may have been better.

    @Xine:
    If you don’t like it, at least you’ll get plenty of nice visuals to look at.

    @Marow:
    Ah, that makes sense :)

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  10. You practically summed what I think about this series.

    In my complete and honest opinion, it’s sad that the best episode of Hanasaku was in fact the first one.
    Will recently posted..Forums are here and something about Hatsune Miku

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  11. It was a really nice series for me. I believe it managed to show and explain the coming of age. Every episode for me offered something unique, although I agree that there are episodes that are really more striking than the others.
    Snippett recently posted..Fate/Zero An Operant Conditioning Quest

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  12. @Will:
    It’s a good way of grabbing an audience, but the series really deserved more episodes like that.

    @Snippett:
    I admit that there was plenty of variety, but as the saying goes, “Jack of all trades, master of none”. HanaIro was good overall but not a masterpiece.

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  13. I remember Aki Toyosaki and Yoko Hikasa whenever I see Hanasaku Iroha 2 main characters.. ^^

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  14. Hanasaku Iroha is one of the only slice of life animes I have managed to sit through without getting bored. Maybe not everyone will agree but the purpose of the ‘filler’ episodes is for Ohana’s relationship with the others (Minko, Sui, etc.) to develop. Sure, it may seem a little bland and slow but unlike other animes where two characters instantly become friends in 2 episodes, Hanasaku Iroha shows a more realistic approach. There are ups and downs and its realistic view point is what attracted me to the anime. I loved Ohana and Ko, they were a super cute couple and even though they didn’t get their fairy tale ending like every typical anime, Hanasaku Iroha concluded beautifully. My only dislike of the anime is the fact that they focused mainly on Ohana, I would’ve liked to know more about the others. But otherwise, a beautiful show. It’s slow pace and realistic setting felt very peaceful, it made me feel very calm and relaxed. :) I’m still waiting for the next season!

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    • It sounds like we have completely different views on the series, but that’s ok. I would have preferred a greater focus on Ohana instead of the others.

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