I’ve detailed how the exploitation of Minko in Hanasaku Iroha can be exquisitely enjoyed in my previous post. The narrative however cockblocked me in the succeeding episode: all that buildup for a ridiculously painful ritual of adolescence was utterly dissipated by showing a completely feel-good episode. I mean, good for Minko (and Nako too!) As they came away groom the school festival with their victories.
However, I underestimated this show yet again. That whole feel-good milestone for Minko took her to such an emotional high, but only to push her down a precipice on this episode! This episode has more than I could ever have hoped for when I made my wish of cruelty list for the previous one. Of course this all revolves around the tortured heart of Mean old Miss Minko.
It starts with love and marriage, a declaration between embattled couple Takako and the Young Master. This results in the planning of a wedding to be held at the inn, thanks to Ohana being her usual catalyst self. This puts Tohru on the plum assignment of preparing the reception banquet, with Minko to assist her with her heart aflutter with a thousand tiny wings.
An aside: you may start to think that Minko moé of pain is the only or main reason I watch this show. No. It’s just I don’t see this level of appreciation in the other episodic blogs that cover this show so I take it upon myself to remedy this deplorable state. The show has an amazing range of things to appreciate. In this episode we see the levels of poverty and privation: educated professionals and business owners struggling to finance a wedding. It brings home economic realities that are seldom explored in similar shows. It’s a fantastic touch, all the way to the dramatic conversation between Okami-san and her would-be daughter-in-law, and her recounting of her own love story and the foundation of the Kissuiso.
Back to maiming Minko. Tohru takes her to market, her ideal kind of date, to test cook his menu for the reception. On the way he starts talking about getting married himself, and the kind of family he wants. Coming from how he appreciated the “love” omurice from the school featival, Minko let herself think that Tohru may acknowledge and perhaps *gasp* return her affection!
She starts getting alarmed at the 5 children he wants to have. Clearly Tohru wants to do his part in repopulating Japan’s youth. Tohru is talking real fast and suddenly wants to pull over. He asks her as if he needed her permission as her eyes get fixated on a nearby motel…
What happens next is truly, truly exquisite. She loves him, but wouldn’t want to sleep with him just like that. Clearly she doesn’t know him as a man, for she actually believed be would start a family with her right there and then. She screams “B-BUT TOHRU-SAN!” And of course, OF COURSE Tohru just meant to pull over by the beach. He could sense that something was eating Minko but was either oblivious to her attraction to him or just didn’t know what to do about it. He advised her to take in the coastal air.
He took note of her enthusiasm, but caustically retorted that it was very Ohana-like; Ohana who he credited for bringing in so much change in the environment of the inn. Minko could tell he wasn’t complaining about Ohana at all, but he wasn’t too hot about the idea that she behave anything like her. “One trouble-maker is enough.”
Minko had enough. Rightly or wrongly she thought Tohru wanted nothing more but to go out with Ohana, and she totally took it out on her. In true Hanasaku Iroha fashion we are treated to a naked catfight in the bathroom.
Nothing is resolved, but Ohana is forced to confront here inability to detect male attraction.
For Tohru’s sake (oh LOL) she begs Ohana to go out with him. Such naive adolescent martyrdom warms the cockles of my post-adolescent heart. Ohana sensibly confrontation here with how she’d really feel about her going out with poor, helpless Tohru. Minko can only give her the death curse.
Then, Minko starts fucking up her job so bad that Tohru takes her off his reception banquet service. It might take Ohana’s intervention her behalf to get her back into it. CRUSH, MAIM, FLANGE!
How can this show get any better? The wonderful thing about it is that it’s perfectly okay to expect a neat, feel-good resolution 5 episodes later when the show ends. But if it shoves its girls into an iron maiden and burns the Kissuiso into the ground and razed the whole resort town with the vengeance of Grave of the Fireflies, I’ll be fine with that too.