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.