Home > Episode Reviews, Hana-Saku Iroha > Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 4 – The Problems of Popular People

Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 4 – The Problems of Popular People

Well, after reducing Jiroumaru to a background character, Hana-Saku Iroha is finally ready to get back to the relational drama and character development that sold me on the show in the first place. Ohana starts off her new semester at the local school, only to find her fish-out-of-water status further hammered home.

Sure, she’s seen as a “big city girl” whom her entire class falls in love with and wants to learn more about, but Ohana quickly realizes that she won’t be able to live up to their expectations. And her newfound popularity just drives another wedge into her already rocky relationship with Minko, who seems to find new reasons to hate her with each episode.

The perception of Minko in class is that she is stern, pure, and elegant. Ohana would agree with the first part

Minko herself has long had her own niche among the school’s stereotypes, specifically the beautiful ice queen. When in her school uniform with her hair loose, her natural features come across much better, and her cool dismissal of every guy who approaches her only adds to her appeal. The reason she’s so standoffish, however—aside from her normal demeanor—is that she already has a guy in mind.

That guy is Tooru, Minko’s direct supervisor and perhaps the only person on staff who matches her in general surliness. Despite all the abuse she takes from him, Minko’s convinced he’s kind underneath (in the same way, as we’ve seen in her interactions with Nako, that Minko can be kind), and she has a passionate, seemingly one-sided crush on him.

It's possible to see in Minko's meek acceptance of Tooru's instruction the depths of her admiration. On his end, though, it's hard to see anything but mild contempt

Despite getting clear hints about it, Ohana completely misses the cues, and winds up bad-mouthing Tooru in an attempt to develop rapport with her roommate. Like everything else she’s done with Minko, it winds up being a big mistake. She spends the next half day trying to apologize, and only makes Minko angrier each time.

The episode does hammer home the point that Ohana is pretty clueless when it comes to love, something that was probably evident watching her first episode interactions with Kouichi. Just as she was oblivious to the hints of his affections then, she’s clueless to Minko’s now, and that insensitivity is still getting her into trouble.

Ohana learns that while accidentally insulting a girl will get her angry, accidentally insulting "her" man will take things to a whole new level

Given her father’s absence and her mother’s erratic parenting style (and love life), it makes sense Ohana wouldn’t have all that much experience to draw upon for such things. Even now she’s still trying to put her feelings about Kouichi in order—and not doing a particularly good job at it. Then again, her cluelessness is still more sympathetic than the relational issues of some of the other cast members, including Minko and Tooru.

For that matter, there’s the newly introduced heir to the town’s other (older, larger, more successful) inn, who shares Ohana’s class with Minko and Tooru. Yuina Wakura doesn’t seem particularly malicious (at least, yet) but she’s certainly odd. Outwardly she seems sympathetic to Ohana’s plight being the odd one out at school, perhaps because she’s also the subject of much attention thanks to her comparative affluence. But some of her behavior (from faking an accent to dragging Ohana away from a crowd of fellow students) points to a desire to keep attention on herself.

Outwardly Yuina seems carefree, but given what sort of show this is, she's almost certainly faking it

In any case, if Yuina wanted to infuriate her main competition for class beauty, she’s certainly well on her way. While their exact relation isn’t exactly clear yet, Yuina seems to be on really good terms with Tooru, to the point where he gives her rides on his motorcycle to school. When Minko finds out about that, suddenly her anger at Ohana gets pushed to the side.

This episode is really just setting up for the next major plot, which might take a few more episodes to work itself out, or which could establish the stage for entire remaining series run. For now, what’s important to note is that the silliness and fanservice are gone, and Ohana’s journey of self-discovery is back to the foreground. For this we can all be grateful.

Ok, not all the fanservice is gone. Expect an extended bath scene

You can watch the episode here.

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