This will be a short post as I am writing it under strict time constraints. I do feel strongly about this so I need to get this out.
While Ano Hana turned into a melodramatic mess with its heavy-handed seriousness about the core conflict of the characters, HanaIro plugged on with its ‘can’t take this seriously’ hijinks and melodrama carried by its train of incredible production values and its fanservice. That is, until episode 13 wherein it brought on a rare poignancy that exists in choice episodes of melodramatic slices of life episodes in anime featuring young female leads.
It brought together a continuity of purpose in the lead character (characters) that’s given perspective by layering generations. In Iroha, Ohana, her mother, and her grandmother have a showdown regarding the hospitality business in the very bowels of their botique provincial inn. It was awesome.
It reminded me of a similarly endearing episode of K-On!! wherein the previous members of the Light Music club conspired with the current members to get Sawako who is now trying to cultivate a refined image so far away from her metal & make-up days with the club join the Death Devil band on stage again. This was a great episode filled with little touches that jam the show with more nostalgia than it ever had any business having.
It reminded me of a particularly meaningful episode of Aria the Origination wherein Akari is invited to spend the day with Alicia, and ex-Prima Anna, and then Grandma over a great meal. She is given two big things: the founding story of Aria Company itself (as Grandma started it), and perspective of not only the life of a Prima in this small undine company, but also the very idea that she will have her own reign and that it is to happen soon.
In some ways, HanaIro surpasses both in terms of dramatic tension, the stakes, and the overall power involved in the scenes. The three representatives of their respective generations are all strong, willful, and capable of really going at each other. There’s a palpable antagonistic vibe running across the whole thing and this makes the accord reached in the end intensely satisfying. And it happened over drinks, and Ohana’s mom was and is insanely hot. And yes, fanservice – trust this show to make sure she’s naked in the hot springs (in various stages in her life)!
Any other shows that serve this kind of awesomeness? Let me know.
In the final episode of Cardcaptor Sakura, Sakura went to Eriol (sort-of reincarnation of Clow Reed) and had a tea party. This was the baton-catch point of the series, all the Clow Card capture-and-conversion plot stuff were revealed, and it had that same feeling as you mentioned. The way that Sakura promised to take care of the magic that was handed over to her created a full-circle closure to the story.
For me your Aria example is more powerful, because it is absolutely clear that Akari will be inheriting Aria Company and there is no other way around it. There is no clear succession of that sort in Kissuiso, so it kinda lessens the impact on the inn, and the focus seems more on the 3 strong-girl characters themselves. I also felt that with the way the characters described Aria Company throughout the series, it became a character all by itself. You so want this little company to continue having seen its wonderful history. I have yet to see Kissuiso evolve into that level, but for now Ohana herself leveled it up a bit by calling it her “home”. We’re still halfway through of course.
Thanks for the CCS example.
I do sympathize with your valuation of the Aria example, but HanaIro’s power comes from somewhere else. Ohana doesn’t have the same kind of drive as the undine — the stewardship of the inn wasn’t this glamorous career or vocation with legendary primas, etc. Ohana stumbled upon her love for the Inn, and found her own character and perhaps destiny. Also, this moment is pretty much tied into the threat the Inn and perhaps the tourism industry in Japan is facing. The least of the Undine companies suffered no threat of economic ruin… Ohana’s mom seriously threatened everything with her journalism.
What you really feel about Aria is the weight of 3 anime series as history building up to that moment. It is inevitable, and valid, but not necessarily correct.
While the central concepts and scenario are indeed excellent, they’re also a bit forced and rushed compared to Aria. Aria had plenty of time (too much, I’d argue) to let things sink in by showing rather than telling. That lead to some palpable tension if you paid attention: you knew what was coming for Akari and why it was a problem for her.
Here, it’s awesome in concept, but they don’t invest as much time as needed to make it come out without forcing things a bit too much (too much aimless screwing around before the big payoff). There’s a distinct lack of focus and tendency to tell us exactly why it’s dramatic, while piling on more and more potential for future drama.
If Iroha wasn’t such a classic and down-to-earth scenario that anyone should identify with, it would feel a lot closer to AnoHana (which was at least consistent and honest about it’s motivations as a tearjerker ghost story). That’s not to say it’s bad, I’m loving it, but it has some way to go before I’ll rank it’s best moments alongside Aria’s.
I don’t think that there was aimless screwing around. I think the screwing around is every bit as meaningful (or lacking of meaning) as the entirety of Aria: the Natural. You can even read the ‘meaningful’ giant bird as analogous to the Martian cat stuff that ‘Natural’ had so much of. Of course as you said, HanaIro is way more down to earth regarding these things, and quite worldly about these as well.
I rank the moment as occupying the same stratosphere as Aria’s (and K-On!!’s), but I wouldn’t say they’re equal. Aria perhaps has too much history leading up to its moment, perhaps…
Oh, the symbols they’re using in Iroha are lovely, including the Heron, the bat, the use of the playground, Ohana always taking out the trash, etc. That’s one of the reasons I’m enjoying it almost as much as Aria and why I pick so many nits 🙂
Oddly, Aria and Iroha make different perspectives “down to earth”. Aria made it’s character’s situations “down to earth”, while AnoHana made it’s setting down to earth. Ohana’s situation is.. pretty out there compared to Akari’s, despite living in Space Venice.
We’ll see whether the future drama arcs of this series manage to carry the same gravity as Aria’s other finest moments. I’ve got my fingers crossed.
This is actually ghostlightning using mechafetish’s iPad.
I didn’t even catch on to the symbols you’re talking about but they sure sound awesome. So please indulge me and break them down. I would really appreciate it. Thanks.
Having never watched either ARIA or K-On!! (I really should get on those at some point), I can’t comment too much about where HanaIro stands in comparison to them. However, I do feel that episode 13 was an extremely strong episode for the series, and the character developments and pacing in this episode made me think that this was the finale for the series, though I found out later that this is actually a 2-cour series :P. Even still, HanaIro certainly has its highs and lows, though I have to say that the tensions between Ohana’s mother and grandmother are brilliantly constructed and brilliantly played upon.
Yes, it did feel like a finale… but it’s a cour ender, so it should feel like a finale anyway. The realization that there’s another cour of this show filled me with a surprising amount of joy!
HanaIro has come on strong recently, bringing the drama between Ohana and Ko and Ohana and her mother up to where I believe a lot of people saw the possibilities from the first episode. Out of all the anime I watched from the season, HanaIro is the only one to hit all its marks in consecutive episodes.
Yes! Don’t forget the burgeoning love triangle. Minko in pain… so good! LOL
I really enjoyed the episode too, with or without momservice.
What comes to mind when I think of what you’re talking about might be vastly different from what you mean, and it’s certainly not in the “girls hanging out” genre, but there are some moments (not sure of exact episode) in Dennou Coil involving the grandmother (“megabaa”) that do have this same kind of magic. She’s a more standard anime type, the old reliable grandma who’s kind of a slave driver, but of course whom you find out was quite the troublemaker back in her day. And the kids are, of course, following in her footsteps just by being themselves. Really endearing.
Jesus fuck this reminded me that I’ve yet to watch Dennou Coil. Ungh.
Also, you mean the naked momservice. But how about the teenage version (yet to be mom)service?
Never mind. Ohana’s mom is monstrously fascinating this episode. I feel that whenever I do talk about the show I sound like this prick who watches it for the sleaze. This is not always the case, you know.
Hana Iro keeps on surprising me episode after episode and this show only gets better as it gets deeper. I think what really separates this show from other drama this season is how it puts up all sorts of elements and present it in a nice way. You’ll get a fair share of drama, comedy, romance, coming of age and fanservice. The love triangle isn’t too tangled and over emphasized (and kind of like seeing Minko miserable). Just like K-On!!, I find this show relaxing but with memorable spark-up moments.
This is like the BEST thing ever in this show. Oh god it is ridiculously gratifying… not because I dislike Minchi, quite the opposite. It’s like a twisted kind of moe.
Great post. Enjoyed the comparison to the Aria and K-ON episodes. I feel like HanaIro is just starting to really blossom. I’d be sorry if it’s going to end before summer season.
Thanks. Maybe I went a little overboard with the comparison in terms of ‘greatness’ but I really did watch both K-On!! and Aria episodes in question immediately after seeing HanaIro 13.
K-On!!’s was tons of fun, lighthearted, but a lot less impactful given what little there was at stake relevant to the two other examples. I contend however, that in terms of production values and attention to so much interesting details, K-On!! stands head and shoulders above the two others. It was this show/ep that I ended up pausing over and over just to admire a moment, a frame, or scene. Aria’s was slower, plodding, and relies more on the momentum of feelings rushing toward the end of the story for its power. Taking the episode by itself, there’s a lot less to admire especially in terms of production values, details, etc. In terms of content however, it carries with it an origin story of such importance that it makes the comparison of the two others seem inappropriate.
But yeah, I like making the comparison anyway. Thanks for the kind words.
I am so late to this party…
Actually, I feel the three episode together (11-13) provide the most density up to this point in the series. We have a culmination (maybe highlighting) of almost everything that was outlined in the previous episodes; resurfacing of whimsical Satsuki, focus and extension of the love triangle, the pride of Kissoui, and the family chemistry. But Jesus this family. It’s not only the titillating aspects (bathroom choreography), but definitely that fiery attitude in each of the Shijima women. They have magic, prowess, and can be subtly cut-throat in a flash. And I think their ability to cause pain is one of the most tempting aspects. But hey, Hanasaku: some of us go for the roses especially because there’s a chance of being cut. ^ ^ ドM
Oh yes, this is a great stretch of episodes.
I too, am in love with this family and its generations of women. This show is causing a tear in my favorites list. A reckoning will be forthcoming!