Hanasaku Iroha would be nothing without its excellent production values. The quality of its illustrations, and animation elevate its content to become something worth noting. It’s not one of those shows that has pleasing character designs that are largely wasted due to less-than committed production. Every episode of this anime brought the goods. It misdirected what would otherwise be annoyances and complaints and transformed them into appreciation:
“Look at this exploitative cra—
Oh my, look at this scene”
Don’t get me wrong. Hanasaku Iroha is exploitative and gratuitous with its fanservice. What I appreciate is that the fanservice isn’t something used to cover for weaknesses. It is a strength among strengths. But this post isn’t about onsen fights, wet t-shirts, and the many bathroom scenes. This post is of another kind of visual fanservice.
The images are all from the finale episode.
I am not articulate in visual arts appreciation, but I will say this: The feeling I get out of looking at frame after frame after frame of this episode, is how much the illustrators and animators loved light; how much they loved Yunosagi; how much they loved Sui; how much they loved the Kissuiso.
The illustrations of the now-empty inn move me. The detail on the reflections, the now-unused kitchen implements; the lived-in feel of the wash area; the stark absence of people who lived in the waitresses’ quarters. And yet, the inn feels still alive, somehow. It’s with these images that the hope of reopening is closer to certainty than ambiguity.
“Yeah, but ghostlightning, Hanasaku Iroha isn’t a great show.”
I’m okay with that. I’m okay if most viewers find ways to dismiss it and convince themselves of the absence of merit. What’s important to me now, that the show is over is that I know otherwise. The images above exhibit skill in composition, and the commitment of the production to not waste such skill.
Goodbye HanaIro, until the Blu Rays are complete and I can remember love once more.