Hanasaku Iroha Anime Series Review
How do you change this planet into a peaceful world where people live in complete and utter harmony? Through brute force, of course, and I think this is the only philosophy I share in common with Archangel Duriel. No bad dreams this time. After a blinding flash of lightning struck me and my PC without miraculously destroying the roof, all twenty gigabytes of lewd Photoshopped pictures of Shaina Magdayao were gone without a trace. In its stead are 26 episodes of the anime series Hanasaku Iroha. After cursing that accursed anime-freak angel out loud in a blood-curdling scream that was sure to reach the heavens, I stared at my outdated computer monitor in despair, and for some reason just started watching and couldn’t stop. The result? My fifth anime series review. Yee-haw! Am I in a roll or what? What do you mean “what”?!
My verdict and score for this show? 5 out of 5 fun part-time jobs, if there are such things, because this show will remind you of all those fond memories of what it was like to be young and foolish. And because now we can only be foolish, just read on to find out why I rate it so high.
Hanasaku Iroha, which can be translated as The ABCs of Blooming or The Colors of Blooming, is an anime series by studio PA Works featuring the female lead, Ohana Matsumae, an otherwise normal 16-year-old high school girl living an otherwise normal life in Tokyo until her irrational and irresponsible mother Satsuki sends her off to live with her estranged grandmother, Sui. VERY far from what she had in mind, Ohana finds herself working as a part of the staff of her stern grandmother’s hot spring inn called Kissuisō in exchange for food and a roof over her head. As she starts a new life in rural Japan working at Kissuisō, she quickly finds herself at odds and in conflict with the many unique employees of the inn. With much doubt about the point of her being there but having nowhere else to go, she instead faces her uncertain future head-on, and in the process, all their lives will be changed forever.
Character development makes this show stand out of the rest of the anime made in recent history. We are given these flawed, broken, imperfect characters who strive to live their lives their own way, changing for the better along the way. In Hanasaku Iroha, we witness how the characters’ hearts change little by little, and we appreciate those small changes because deep down we wish that just like them, we can make such small but significant changes in our lives too. We witness how each other’s personalities come to a head, create conflict, but each one coming off with a better understanding of the other. I could not help but admire the dynamism in the interactions of the characters, and in effect, makes the characters realistic and memorable.
The plot itself is enjoyable and easy to digest. The story just flows well. What I do find highly commendable is that it has a PROPER ENDING. I just want to stress that because all the other anime I have reviewed so far are lacking in this respect. But then again, most anime have trouble finishing well, so imagine how glad I am for Hanasaku Iroha restoring my faith in contemporary Japanese storytelling.
As for quality of the artwork, I cannot help but admire the stupendous production values invested in this anime. The series is studio PA Works’ tenth anniversary presentation, and such extravagance shows in the character designs and in the background artwork. The show also boasts of fluid action scenes that enhance even the most mundane of movements. Great care has been taken to ensure that all the details of the original inn were captured, and this can be seen in the sheen or wear-and-tear of wooden floors, paper walls and lush greenery. This anime is truly a work of art and it can be felt in the care the people behind this show have painstakingly provided with almost every scene.
Voice acting is top-notch with veteran and highly-regarded talents like Kanae Ito and Chiaki Omagawa lending their voices to the colorful characters of Hanasaku Iroha. They add believability to each and every character.
The relaxed pace at which Hanasaku Iroha moves along can be a blessing or a curse. While the many aspects of the character’s lives and the intricacies of inn keeping are explored in the series, there may be folks that would find the pace a bit slow to their liking. At 26 episodes, the series would meander in some parts, but overall each episode serves a purpose: to feature the interesting lives and times of the colorful characters that make up the world of Hanasaku Iroha. Thankfully, there is no recap episode like many anime shows I know whose only purpose is to add an episode or two without much effort from the studio.
For some strange reason, I find the musical score and opening and ending songs quite average considering the effort in all the other departments of production. Well, maybe its just me.
Hanasaku Iroha is one of the best anime I have seen so far, in recent history at least. Lovable, believable characters who change and grow with the seasons and their eventual fate will always make a show endearing and memorable. With a simple yet well-thought out story that ends with a satisfying ending, I don’t think anyone can be disappointed watching this show from start to finish. I highly recommend this series to be watched by everyone as this series has all of what it takes to be a superb example of what an anime should be. So my score and verdict for this series: 5 out of 5 lovely hot spring inn maidens, because such a great show deserves lots of warm appreciation.
Thanks for dropping by, and do drop by again soon for another crazy anime review.
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