Hanasaku Iroha 18 and It’s Okay to Be Who You Really Aren’t

[HorribleSubs] Hanasaku Iroha - 18 [720p].mkv_snapshot_10.42_[2011.08.01_07.18.26]

Nako wanted to work for no other reason that to manifest the personality that she has at home into the public sphere. She’s been swimming since three years old and has found much solace in water and thus makes a metaphor of it: her home is the ocean and everywhere outside is the surface. The Kissui Inn acts as some kind of shore region where she can still swim and be on the surface as well. It is her training ground to become the mermaid princess who learns to walk among the surface.

Sure enough, Hanasaku Iroha runs with the allusion to Hans Christian Andersen’s story by making Nako speak very quietly and meekly – much like the Little Mermaid who cannot speak at all on land as part of the condition for her to be there. But this is where the allusion breaks down. Hans’ mermaid went to shore to pursue a prince. Nako let that prince drown to death. She was on the shore because her voice was the manifestation of her true self, and that it felt so weak and suppressed while on the surface. Thus she must work, because this is a kind of change she wants: an ability to access her authentic self.

[HorribleSubs] Hanasaku Iroha - 18 [720p].mkv_snapshot_02.15_[2011.08.01_07.16.24]

Nako’s parents (of 4 children) argue parenting theory at home, within earshot of the kids. Mom believes in withholding praise because praise will make kids lazy. Dad believes that praise will motivate children to work harder to earn it. Nako finds both these approaches manipulative. In Po Bronson’s Nurtureshock, he brings forth research that show how destructive superfluous praise is to developing children. It would seem that his findings support Mom’s reticence. However, there is a place for praise. It is the object of praise that makes all the difference:

If the child is praised for innate things: intelligence, ability, talent, looks… then the child runs the risk of expecting results for just ‘being.’ There becomes an entitlement that results are due the child for being so special. This I think is a dangerous way of thinking to carry into adulthood. What’s recommended is to praise effort. This develops an appreciation for work, and when adversity comes which innate talent or ability cannot easily overcome, the child is not averse to putting in the effort to solve problems. There is less propensity to complain, or suffer a crisis of self-image.

I don’t really know why Nako is unable to speak freely outside her home, but the resolution – or just the very dynamic that Madame Manager and the Kissui Inn brings is very interesting. Nako thinks of it as a development resource, and interprets the acts of Madame Manager as developmental tactics. Nako equated compensation as developmental messages – the kind her parents argued about. She cast herself as being praised in order to live up to a goal, and that the praise is a pay raise. She considers Ohana’s pay being docked not in the context of her breaking valuable assets, but because she interprets it as Ohana being the kind of child who will be spoiled if praised.

[HorribleSubs] Hanasaku Iroha - 18 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.59_[2011.08.01_07.17.47]

Since Nako could not evoke her ‘authentic self’ and be an effective waitress at the same time, she tells Madame Manager that she shouldn’t get the raise. The Manager admonishes her that the Kissui Inn is not a school. Wages aren’t praise, wages are compensation for work rendered, and the value of the work is reflected in the amount. She also says that Nako’s self-conscious, nervous way is not a liability, or rather it is not as important as the thoughtfulness that she manifests in the service of the customer.

Interesting, in that I can read this as a callous tolerance for whatever authenticity issues of personality the employee faces as long as the work gets done. But the Madame Manager doesn’t value Nako as a machine or pack animal, in that she goes out of her way to increase her wages despite financial difficulty.

[HorribleSubs] Hanasaku Iroha - 18 [720p].mkv_snapshot_17.03_[2011.08.01_07.19.45]

I read it this way: work does teach us something. It teaches us who we are in the face of it. Our ‘authentic’ selves, especially at a young age, may perhaps be true, but it is an incomplete self in that it hasn’t known how it’ll be in the face of work and agreements between strangers. I mention the latter because it is the transaction that takes place: I give my time and my effort in return for money. This is an exchange founded on trust between strangers (relative to the intimacy of family inside the home). Who we are in the face of this may not necessarily be in conflict with our personality at home, but it can be an extension of our selves, the selves we don’t know yet.

Yuina, who hasn’t worked, doesn’t know the self she will become as an employee, as a tradesperson, as a creator who gets compensated for designing and/or making things. Nako knows a little more of herself now. Minko is learning. Ohana is discovering.

Hanasaku Iroha Nako Mermaid

Hanasaku Iroha presents a way out of the authentic/inauthentic binary. It’s not that we’re asked to be not true, to change who we are; rather, that we consider that we can grow, that change and transformation isn’t replacing the self, but adding to it. And yes, it doesn’t forget to present Nako in the least clothing possible since we’ve seen her in this show. The show knows we’ve been waiting, that we were teased by the beach outing episode. Instead of a swimsuit we get full the full shellfish swimwear mermaid treatment. This show… it gives everything.

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 analysis, Hanasaku Iroha and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Hanasaku Iroha 18 and It’s Okay to Be Who You Really Aren’t

  1. sadakups says:


    WHAT THE F-?

  2. tsurugiarashix says:

    I think that is a very interesting way of looking at yourself perspective. Although, I would it is about letting your best qualities shine and working on the unfavorable to become favorable. Its not like you have to do a total 360 at once, since that is not really change at all and really places you back to same spot you were originally. Think the smallest steps like all of the girls are taking is the best approach for change. Think Nako is starting to see that.

    Like I said in my post, the show truly does represent some admirable ideas for a coming-of-age story.

    • I think I see what you’re trying to say.

      How long has Nako been on this job? How would you rate her “growth” compared to Minko? To Ohana? What do you think Nako will do with what she got out of Madame Manager’s “coaching” or management if you will?

      • tsurugiarashix says:

        Its difficult to put into words without making a contradictory statement, but to keep it simple its the smallest steps that matter in favor of the more dynamic ones.

        Ohana is rather new to the job, but already seemingly to see where performance will get her and how life functions, however she is still like embryo. I think you put it best in what stages they are in, but it is simply just determined by experiences and adjustment. Not discredit or inflate anyone in the series, but Ohana had to make some rapid adjustments to fit her experience, otherwise things would be tough for her as Nako is just making these as see goes along and not really pressed. Minko is still somewhat of a black box to me. However, all the girls are still developing (including Yuina).

        As for how Nako will use the “coaching” from Madame Manager all boils down to how she applies it her over all experiences and coupling that with new experiences.

        Sorry for getting carried away or thinking way too much about it 😛

        • No, indulging in these speculations is a matter of enjoyment and appreciation related to the show. There’s no reason to apologize for it, especially since no one is dictating these as correct interpretations of the show over all others.

          It is perhaps true that Nako is under less pressure than Ohana who made leaps because of her extreme circumstances. However, it is also true that Ohana is an extreme circumstance, she and the writer of erotic literature at the very least presented Nako with high pressure situations. In the first episode, Nako was asked to act as mentor for Ohana, wherein she didn’t do a good job. Given that she’s a side character, the show could not portray growth or learning much faster, because by episode 3, we are still just learning about a fundamental truth about Nako: she is confident in the water.

          Narrative limitations aside, Yuina exemplifies the “Ohana effect” similar to the “Mizunashi Akari effect” in Aria, where the main character provides the catalyst for events that lead to epiphanies for the supporting or guest characters. Nako gets a dose of Ohana every day. Only Minko gets more. This I feel should be part of the accounting somehow.

          I am not concerned about criticizing the characters as people, but rather as products of fiction.

          Minko is not growing. She is making some steps by acknowledging Ohana, but her inward-directed angst is not helping her, but this is also a source of great entertainment from the show LOL.

  3. Snippett says:

    This series is really something. Each episode offers something new and it never fails to amaze.
    Perhaps Nako couldn’t speak and act freely outside home because of the contradicting views of her parents. Once outside her comfort zone, it’s confusing for her to decide which view she’s going to follow. Another character that really seized my interest was Okami-san. She has interesting perspectives but she’s not really `that’ successful manager and mom to her kids, which pretty much boils down again to authentic and inauthentic binary.

    • Interesting.

      I too don’t think much of Okami-san as a manager based on 2 things: The financial performance of the business (and its prospectus) and her succession planning. Maybe that’s not fair considering this is a family business, but still.

      That said, her allowing young master to make mistakes and then take care of him by wearing the mommy hat was very cool to watch.

      Do you think part of her is holding out for her prodigal daughter?

      • Snippett says:

        What I noticed from Okami-san is she’s separating herself as mom and manager. During the Young Master’s arc, it was showed that she has that switch button for her transformation. She specifically mentioned that it’s TIME for her to become a MOTHER. The problem is, she can’t entirely be that two different persons to her kids mainly because Kissuiso isn’t just their workplace, but also it’s their home. The logic is, one space is just always perfect for one entity. Just like Nako, she has her own space (home) to become loud, and another space (otherwise) to be the timid one. Hence, Okami-san isn’t that successful of a parent and a manager because she tries to fit-in her two roles in one space. Indeed, she’s able to do that but the failure arose when she couldn’t use her roles to its full potential–she has to reduce them in order to fit into that space.

        As for her daughter, of course she still wants her back. I believed that she’s still likes her to take-over the inn, that’s her dream right? Remember when Setsuko had her and Ohana drunk. She mentioned that’s she’s visioning Setsuko handling the inn together with Ohana. I think for Okami-san as a manager, Setsuko is fitter to succeed the inn than the young master because she’s smarter. And as mommy, she wants to be with her child. So it’s a win-win situation for her if she’ll have Setsuko inherit the inn.

        • Excellent analysis. Well done.

          I agree with your assessment of the Setsuko factor as well. Poor Young Master. His pathos actually makes Takako interesting to me now. I can actually tell how much she cares for him by the end of his character arc. It’s doubly interesting how her motives are tied into him being the Young Master of the Inn, and in conflict with the Okami-Setsuka agenda. Delicious stuff.

        • passerby says:

          just sharing a thought about okami-san’s separation between the role of a mother and a manager.
          To me when she asks the young master to address her as mother or manager, it is done so to remind him to treat her as the person she mentioned, not something done for herself. To put it crudely, “manager” means “don’t count on me to wipe your ass”, “mother” means “I will wipe your ass even if you don’t like it”.

  4. Pingback: Anti-Social Geniuses Reference Resource Mondays | Organization Anti Social Geniuses

  5. Pingback: Snippett on Hanasaku Iroha’s Okami-san | The Ghosts of Discussions

  6. vendredi says:

    I’m dreadfully behind on Hanasaku (around 15ish?), so I’ll probably comment again at a later date – although it’s good to know Nako is getting screen time in the future.

    Coincidentally I happen to be reading Nutureshock right now, so the reference just sort of popped out at me.

    • Go ahead and catch up. The show has hit its stride and impresses me episode after episode. This is the show from last season up to now, the one that I really get excited about every week.

  7. Pingback: Priority 7: Faith in Vocation « An American Point of View

  8. Pingback: Tradition and Modernity — Facets in Hanasaku Iroha | SnippetTee's Blog

  9. Pingback: Tradition and Modernity — Facets in Hanasaku Iroha | SnippetTee's Blog

  10. Pingback: Anti-Social Geniuses Reference Resource Mondays « Organization Anti-Social Geniuses

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s