The Joys of Watching Minko Suffer: Hanasaku Iroha 19

[HorribleSubs] Hanasaku Iroha - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_07.23_[2011.08.08_07.51.58]

This is sadistic, therefore perverse, and I do feel guilt for it. No I don’t mean the cheap perversion of ogling the rich fanservice Hanasaku Iroha serves. I mean deriving utility and indulging fascination for the almost always thwarted and suffering meanie Minko. It is incredibly gratifying. And no, I don’t mean it in some lame schadenfreude way. Minko isn’t just some mean girl you want to fall and embarrass herself.

No, it’s far more interesting than that.

Minko is someone I root for, in some way. In what way? In the sense that you still root for that sibling or cousin who you like the least. He’s still family and you love your family. But would you mind seeing him run a gauntlet? Not really. It’s kind of the same for Minko, since I easily like Nako and Ohana better (and am rather apathetic towards Yuina). I want them all to have happy and fulfilling adolescent lives, but when they’re in conflict in any way, sorry Minko.

[HorribleSubs] Hanasaku Iroha - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.32_[2011.08.08_07.53.50]

But it doesn’t stop there.

It’s one thing to kind of enjoy Tohru fall for Ohana, but it’s something else to really, really relish how Ohana is oblivious to this, but Minko isn’t. She’s witness to everything, and she can’t do anything about it, and oh how she wants Tohru so bad, and Ohana can’t even stand him (or maybe she can!). Tohru and Minko are both mean to Ohana in the way my wife is mean to me. She really, really likes me.

Yeah it sounds dumb given that we’re married and in our 30s but some parts of you never grow up and that’s part of life, and part of moé. Minko won’t acknowledge it fully to herself, but she respects Ohana. She can’t help it. Ohana’s character is from the tradition of Mizunashi Akari and Hirasawa Yui. She will affect everyone positively, by intention or by accident, as a function of her character, and her characterization as a fictional device.

So Minko suffers. We know she really gets into the Princess of the Kitchen role because Tohru said he’ll visit the cultural festival. We know he’s going there to be ogle Ohana. Minko knows this, but willfully ignores it. The machinery of heartbreak switches gears.

[HorribleSubs] Hanasaku Iroha - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.48_[2011.08.08_07.52.21]

And gains speed: Minko  who isn’t blessed with social skills acts like a dictator and tramples on the motivations of the other students who joined her in the kitchen team. She can’t help herself. She can’t help but be herself. Her inauthenticity is that she screamed at that poor girl that she doesn’t work on an emotional level. We all know that she’s into this because of Tohru. She’s cooking for Tohru. And yet, she took out omurice because it doesn’t belong in any menu she thinks Tohru would approve of.

And oh it’ll be even more delicious next episode when Tohru goes all nostalgic for the school festival and look for all its database elements – all its clichés, and complain about the lack of omurice. Maybe this is too much suffering inflicted on Minko to ask from this show, but if they do it this way, go all the way: have Tohru spend most of the time teasing Ohana, making her angry, flushing her cheeks…

[HorribleSubs] Hanasaku Iroha - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_07.41_[2011.08.08_07.52.07]

It’s because Tohru, just like Jiro in the bathroom talking ero database elements with the high school girls mopping the floor, is modeling our reactions as the audience. Tohru enjoys seeing Ohana suffer, just as I (and I swear there’s a whole lot of you too ADMIT IT) get a rise out of seeing Minko writhe in Hanasaku Iroha’s subtle, situational emo suffering.

It’s Moé.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in Guilty Pleasures, Hanasaku Iroha and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The Joys of Watching Minko Suffer: Hanasaku Iroha 19

  1. bluemist says:

    Moé definition right here folks. Nail -> Head

    Similarly, for any character or pairing I root (I still ship Ohana X Kou-chan), I accept that there will always be obstacles right smack throughout the series. On the surface, it may be suffering to watch through something you don’t prefer, like bad stuff happening to characters or alternate pairings, but deep inside you still like it because what makes a destination so fruitful is because of the journey.

    If in case my shipping succeeds, I’d look back and think that this long haul of experiences was completely worth it. If in case it doesn’t succeed, I’d look back and think that this long haul of experiences would give justice to the ending I never wanted. Both of these are valid entertainment for me.

    In other news, I like Chihaya in that IDOLM@STER anime because she’s kinda the same blood as Minko over here, both socially awkward personalities in slightly different ways. I want to protect them… (classic moe definition but can’t apply, I can’t protect them, they’re fictional lol) or rather, I wanna see how they get through their stories.

    • I must say that I have no desire to “protect” Minko. Therein lies the cruelty that inflicts the guilt. Like I said, one of the biggest draws of this show for me is watching Minko writhe and contort her pretty face.

      I would distinguish this from when she gets berated by Youths in the kitchen. She actually enjoys this, the little pervert. There has to be authentic suffering. Things have to not go her way, especially when it comes to Tohru and especially if Ohana is the one that caused it.

  2. Snippett says:

    That’s a perfect description! My inner sadisticness always comes out whenever I see Minko suffer. And instead of hating her tsundere side, I ended up loving it. It’s because she has that tough persona that’s so hard to break down, which really brings so much enjoyment to me—especially whenever she snaps and wrinkles her eyebrows. I commend her inauthenticity though because it seemed like it’s an extra shield to her impenetrable toughness, but at the same time, too bad for her because it prolongs her agony.

    Also, the Minko show whenever Tohru is being playful with Ohana is at its best, especially when it’s followed by Ohana festing it up. Seeing Minko drowning herself in jealousy and annoyance is really super funny.

    • I think this kind of moé goes hand in hand with the tsundere database character. You wouldn’t enjoy watching Nako suffer externally. You wouldn’t want any further dumping on Ohana.

      Minko’s steely, unapproachable, single-minded, mean, kind of wacko just begs to be put in a blender. And.boy does she look great in it.

  3. I find myself pretty unsympathetic towards Minko as, other than her trademark insecurity-masking insults toward Ohana; the vast majority of her character is defined by Tohru, who is completely oblivious to her as anything but a work colleague. Take those two away and she becomes something of a non-entity; just cold and moody.

    The satisfaction I have in watching her suffer mostly derives from the hope that eventuality she will completely blow up in the face of life’s harsh realities. It’s only then she can pick up the pieces and try to sculpt an individual identity of her own. That or just sulk for the rest of the series.

    • Wow, the difference between our cruelty is that yours is fueled by actual disapproval, if not spite! I think it’s a more authentic kind of cruelty, to be straight with you.

      However I do think that in the end everyone will get their epiphanies that set them up for adulthood. It’s the moments in the thick of adolescence that are really worth relishing in any coming of age story, that this, despite its trappings, very much is.

      • fathomlessblue says:

        Hmmm, not sure I can agree with that, perhaps I’m not being as clear as I’d like. My first post did come across far more negative than was intended.

        Truth be told I don’t really enjoy watching Minko squirm and glower through the episodes as her crush drifts further away, honestly I don’t really feel anything which is where the problem lies. So much of her personality seems based around her crush that I forget to see Minko as a person and more as a mechanism to create melodrama. I suppose that is disapproval on my part, but it’s aimed more towards the portrayal of her character, rather than the character herself. There are definitely no negative feeling like spite. There is disappointment that I haven’t come to enjoy her screen time in the the same way as Ohana, Nako etc. Maybe I’m being arrogant and conceited to demand more from her, but I can’t help it. There’s so much untapped potential.

        I won’t deny the likelihood that I’ll somewhat relish the confrontation that finally makes Minko stop ignoring what she has known for some time. Perhaps that is cruel of me to think so; chiefly though the satisfaction will come from seeing her face reality and start to rebuild a sense of self from the ashes of her dreams. Maybe then, once she starts to be defined by herself before others, I can actually claim to like her as a person. I hope so; if she ends up sulking and feeling sorry for herself before turning around at the very end of the shoe, I will be a little miffed.

        • Huh?

          Minko is being exploited by the show in the best possible way. Exploited I say!

          HanaIro trades with characters who are never self-aware. Nako unlocked a level of self-awareness achievement recently. The question now is how does this make a difference in others and her assistance to the artist in her shitty class is where this will play out.

          Minko’s self-awareness is next to nothing and she’s hitting a wall because of it, and the show set up this huge set-piece: the school festival, for it to play out.

          What’s interesting is that Ohana is a character where everyone gets to play off from, because she can’t dominate every storyline. Her trip to Tokyo and getting dumped was her trigger. She gains some, which is enough to get her mom into the picture. This is a huge deal. That’s her story so far.

          Now it’s Minko’s turn. Are you saying you’d rather have had Minko’s story play out sooner than Yuina’s or Nako’s? I’d rather not, since so much of the fun during Ohana’s mad trip involved Minko falling apart internally with conniptions as Tohru ran after Ohana to Tokyo.

        • ffft says:

          “Her personality seems based around her crush that I forget to see Minko as a person and more as a mechanism to create melodrama.” This is exactly how I feel about Minko. But I also hate her because I have this “friend” who’s just like her and it’s really tiring to with a person like this, you know. Ohana is amazing because she can stand her and she doesn’t hate her. If someone told me to die all the time I would snap right away. Her character is so unpleasant it’s hard to see the good side. I guess like her the best when she’s calm.

  4. Martin says:

    The ‘sadistic’ nature of the show in general is the one thing that made me want to drop it for the first five or so episodes…fortunately some friends talked me into continuing (your good self included, I believe) and I’m slowly working my way through the episodes, and I’m appreciating it a bit more.

    There was this gap in the…principles is the best term I can come up with. I simply don’t find innocent people suffering to be entertaining. I wanted to blog about it but didn’t think anyone would see my point of view if I tried, so never bothered; I questioned my own moral compass in case I was judging these people unfairly.

    There were numerous moments when I was thinking “I’m supposed to be laughing at this…” but I just felt sorry for them. I didn’t find it funny at all. Yes, I can understand the unrequited love thing, but that’s not ‘fun’ or ‘entertaining’ for me. IT BLOODY HURTS to watch it happen, even to a fictional character. Don’t get me wrong: it’s artistically pleasant, the nuances of the characters’ mannerisms are well realised…I get that much. I just found some moments – the premise in particular – left a bad taste in my mouth.

    I still think there’s something wrong with me.

    • That my friend is a very superficial level of cruelty that you’re getting stuck with. Okami-san’s cruelty to Ohana has nothing on how Satsuki is, though in general it’s Okami’s actions that generate a physical reaction (e.g. cringe) from us. Also, that’s nothing to Ohana, who is tougher than any robot anime pilot at that age. I’m serious. Ohana is frickin’ mighty and full of fight. She’s awesome.

      Minko on the other hand, is mean and weak, and she hates herself for it. The cruelty sure comes from the love triangle stuff — it is situational instead of coming from a character dishing out punishment, but it’s really us viewers who happen to like this kind of shit that I’m talking about in this post.

      For what it’s worth I think I’ll thrive working under Okami-san. I’ll run Enishi out of a job.

  5. Yi says:

    Haha, don’t we all love to tease the ones we enjoy? I feel the same way about Minko, really. I think a part of this also feels like the whole “defrosting the ice queen” thing. Minko puts up this tough exterior, and it’s just so satisfying to see her vulnerabilities, even if I do love her.

    • I favor the cruelty to Minko aspect by the 4th wall than any reference to the defrosting the ice queen trope.

      I’m glad you validated my hunch that I can’t be possibly alone in enjoying the show this particular way! Thank you.

  6. Pingback: Minko’s Bind: Hanasaku Iroha 21 | We Remember Love

  7. Pingback: 12 Moments of Anime 2011: Saorin Says the Darnedest Things (Houru Musuko/Wandering Son) | We Remember Love

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