Home > Episode Reviews, Hana-Saku Iroha > Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 3 – Belly Flop

Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 3 – Belly Flop

Ok, if last episode made me wonder about Hana-Saku Iroha’s quality, this one has me downright worried. There were a variety of reasons why I liked this show, and among them was how it remained basically respectful of its female cast—not just in terms of their personalities, but also in terms of their presentation.

That gets tossed out the window here. This episode is jam-packed with fanservice from beginning to end, all in the service of a storyline which feels very out of place. It’s yet another example of the show seeming to change gears every episode, and I have not appreciated the changes that have happened so far.

Despite her rough treatment, Ohana sticks around even after being untied. She only reveals herself when Jiroumaru starts insulting Nako

Last episode ended with Ohana in the sights of a mentally disturbed Jiroumaru, and it begins with her bound in classic Japanese bondage style, as the writer tries to generate ideas for his latest work. Jiroumaru checked in to the inn hoping to get the inspiration to produce an award winning work, but after a while he realized not only that he couldn’t, but that he couldn’t afford the bill for his stay.

Thus, he switches to writing erotica in the hopes of making enough money to get out of debt. Even there, he kept faltering, which is why he turned to Ohana for “inspiration.” When the rest of the staff find out what happened, he’s in even more serious trouble. As everyone discusses what to do, he drives off in the inn’s truck to toss himself into the sea.

The staff chases him to the shore, but only after stopping for a restbreak to buy some fresh ingredients for later meals. Most of the episode is similarly anti-climactic and borderline tongue-in-cheek

This he does, eventually, after the group’s attempts to talk him down fail; it remains to Nako (who is revealed to be a superb swimmer) to rescue him. After that Ohana finally manages to deliver some tough love to the guy, and he agrees to work in the inn to pay his way while continuing to work on a novel that would pay off his main bill.

It should be obvious from the above that the craziness factor for the show jumped up a couple notches, and this is made even more weird by the quasi-comic reaction of most of the cast to, at various points: kidnapping, bondage, grand theft, a car chase, and a suicide attempt. Several cast members lampshade this throughout the episode, as Jiroumaru stops at a red light even while being pursued by the inn staff, and Ohana offers helpful suggestions when Jiroumaru realizes he doesn’t know how to do Japanese bondage correctly.

After his ungraceful dive, Jiroumaru, like most suicide attemptees, realizes he doesn’t really want to die. It’s up to Nako to save the day

That last issue leads to my bigger complaint about the episode: how little Ohana seems to take all this personally. Jiroumaru has, in succession, repeatedly insulted her and jeopardized her employment, tied her up and gagged her, and written sexually explicit and degrading fiction with her as the star. Throughout this, Ohana, who has clearly been shown to have no trouble getting upset or frustrated at people, remains a beacon of calm and does her best to support Jiroumaru throughout his troubles.

She even, in the end, tries to show how he does have talent: Jiroumaru wrote his fictionalized Ohana as “wanting to sparkle,” and with the erotic subtext out of the way, the real Ohana agrees. Jiroumaru, she says, noticed an aspect of her personality (the desire to stand out and be recognized and honored) that she hadn’t realized she had herself, yet this desire had been her motivation for basically every action she’d taken since arriving.

Ohana might be correct in seeing Jiroumaru’s talent. But that hardly excuses everything else he’s done

Unlike the main revelation of last episode, this one happens to match Ohana’s characterization, so I can’t complain there. But there’s a difference between being appropriately forgiving and completely abandoning any healthy sense of personal grievance, and Ohana had shown herself to fall into the former category far more than the latter. I don’t like the fact that they felt a need to change things.

It doesn’t help that the entire episode seems devoted to including all the fanservice that the show had, until now, scrupulously avoided. In addition to Ohana in bondage, we are also “treated” to a soaking wet Nako, and to a few cut away scenes visualizing Jiroumaru’s story. You won’t be getting screenshots of that; let’s just say it involves Ohana, Minko, and Nako in the bath and leave it there.

Here Nako and Minko illustrate two different but equally normal responses to finding out that an annoying customer is writing porn about them. Ohana’s response is not normal

Precisely because of the work Hana-Saku Iroha is (or at least, gave the impression of being), I’m far less forgiving of this here than I would be in another series. This is a show that was supposed to respect its female cast. Constantly putting them in exploitative situations, and showing how nice Ohana is by not having her get mad at such situations, is to abandon that principle.

The best things I have to say about the episode come at the end. As the group has lunch at the beach, Ohana gets to serve her revenge meal to Minko, who, like Ohana’s mother did, eats it with gusto. She also calls Ohana a “balut,” having decided on that as her new insult of choice for Ohana (ugly, smelly, and disgusting) now that “die” is no longer an option.

Minko put quite a bit of though and consideration as to what slur to use on Ohana, which the latter finds almost touching when she discovers Minko’s notes

Meanwhile, it appears that Ohana’s grandmother might not be as mean as was previously demonstrated. In addition to her steadfast defense of Jiroumaru as a customer—which fits with her previously established work philosophy—she also seems to show some private affection for not just Ohana but also her mother Satsuki.

We also see a fleeting text message from Ohana’s hapless love interest Kouichi, who I’m hoping will get more screen time as the series progresses. Next episode looks like it will be shifting to the start of the new semester and Ohana adjusting to school life, so with luck the issues that plagued this particular episode will be shoved to the backburner. I’d like for this show to start living up to the full potential of what it showed from its premiere. And that certainly wasn’t the case this time.

Sui’s secret affection for Ohana I could predict, but her warmth for Satsuki came completely from left field. It seems she respects both far more than she lets on

You can watch the episode here.

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