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.
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.
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…
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.