Home > Episode Reviews, Hana-Saku Iroha > Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 5 – The Rumor Mill

Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 5 – The Rumor Mill

Well, it seems my hopes that Hana-Saku Iroha will pull out a reasonably good plot out from somewhere keep being disappointed. The most recent episode has one of the worst cliches yet: the making-much-ado-about-nothing-because-of-a-silly-misunderstanding plot. It’s a particularly egregious one too, involving people who really should know better.

Yet, in spite of the stupidity of it, there’s still solid development of the things that really matter, or at least the things the show cares about. If episode 3 (which I also disliked) served to cap off Ohana’s time as a trainee, the last two episodes have served to provide a deeper look at Minko, and finally provide some stability to her relationship with Ohana. Both of these are welcome events.

The episode ends with Minko finally being somewhat nice to Ohana. It doesn't last long

But first, the stupidity. Following up on Ohana and Minko spotting Minko’s crush Tooru, in seemingly friendly relationship with Yuina, Tooru doesn’t come in for work the next day. The entire junior staff is atwitter about this, and Jiroumaru speculates that Yuina used her feminine wiles to win Tooru over to Fukuya Inn. When some circumstantial evidence offered by the rest of the staff seems to confirm this, everyone jumps to the obvious conclusion.

Of course, it would take one single question to the head chef to clear things up, but of course no one is going to have the presence of mind to confirm anything. Reality has been determined by majority vote, and there’s no reason to doubt it.

Granted, the head chef is remarkably close-lipped when Minko attempts to ask him about Tooru, but the head chef seems to dismiss most everything Minko says that isn't cooking related

The situation is only resolved when Ohana makes a major scene at Fukuya only to discover that Tooru has already left; he was just subbing for an ill chef. (Kissuisou didn’t have many residents at the time, so his absence wasn’t missed.) His bike ride with Yuina was just a little whim on her part (she seems to have lots of whims) with no special meaning; it seems like the rivalry between inns might be a bit overblown.

So, on a surface level, the entire episode is about, literally, nothing. It’s a stupid misunderstanding that would have blown over in a day even if everyone had sat on their hands. But what the characters say and do during those few hours, regardless of the motivation, proves far more interesting than it has a right to be.

Yuina, in my first impression, came off as odd, but in a careful staged fashion obscuring the depth of her character. Now I'm thinking she might just be odd

First, we finally find out why Minko has such a worshipful attitude toward Tooru. He alone backed her joining the kitchen staff, against the wishes of her parents and the senior management. If he’s harsh toward her in her training, that’s at least in part because he feels something of an obligation to make sure she learns her trade well. (The other part is that he’s still a bit of a jerk.)

This not only provides a wealth of new questions about Minko (Why does she want to be a chef so much? Is she living at Kissuisou to be outside the restrictions of her family?) but also puts her feelings this episode in context. Her personal desire is to be with Tooru, but she figures going to Fukuya is an effective promotion and wants all the best for him.

Tooru was given responsibility for every part of Minko's training as a consequence of standing up for her. She thinks he's sacrificed so much for her that she can't possibly ask for anything more—however much she might want it

It’s up to Ohana to argue on her behalf, which she does to no effect, because Tooru was going to come back anyway. But it’s Ohana’s gesture of loyalty and support, which Minko both did and did not want, that earns from her a temporary measure of respect and mutual acknowledgement. The two aren’t going to be best buddies anytime soon, but at least Minko is willing to offer small gestures toward a truce.

Perhaps most important for the long-term narrative, Minko’s example gives Ohana an idea of what it is like to be in love, thus giving her a context for Kouichi’s affection. She finally gets the courage and inspiration to message Kouichi back. Not that she says anything particularly committal, but at least she’s beginning to take responsibility in her relationships.

Sending a simple "thank you" to a guy in love with her may not seem like much, but at least Ohana, unlike her mother, has stopped running away from the parts of her life that overwhelm her

Much like Gosick, I’m finding that I like this show far more for how the characters express themselves through the story than for the story itself. This is still a bit disappointing, as I felt the opening episode promised a great story and great character development, but I suppose I should be happy to be getting one of the two. But a part of me really hopes I won’t have to pick between them forever.

You can watch the episode here.

There's a heron that hangs around Fukuya Inn that seems to like terrorizing Ohana. I'm still wondering if there's a greater narrative purpose to that

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  1. July 17, 2011 at 11:34 pm

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