Home > Episode Reviews, Hana-Saku Iroha > Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 7 – Finding Joy in Your Work

Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 7 – Finding Joy in Your Work

Well, my hope that Hana-Saku Iroha would escape the predictable, sit-com plots it’s been giving us in favor of advancing the storyline has yet to be fulfilled. This episode, like the previous two before it, runs on a combination of cliche and enforced character stupidity, and ends with a perpetuation of the status quo.

Having said that, I enjoyed this episode far more than the previous ones. This is partially because we get some decent (if predictable) character development on the part of Tomoe Wajima, the head waitress of Kissuisou. It’s also because this episode manages to be genuinely funny, in a way the last two episodes haven’t been. If I’m going to have my time wasted by mediocre plots, I might as well get in some laughs along the way.

Tomoe's mailbox is flooded with wedding invitations from friends, relatives, and anyone else remotely her age. The social pressure to find a husband probably pales next to her own internal clock

Tomoe is your classic “spinster” anime character. Simply by being in her mid-twenties/early thirties and single (her exact age is unspecified), she’s considered “at risk” by her mother of staying single forever, and Tomoe herself seems partially convinced of this too. (Hence, her incredibly jealousy of Minko’s popularity among the boys at school.) She doesn’t have time to pursue a relationship and a job, and her plan of hooking up with a wealthy young customer to the inn hasn’t gone anywhere.

Around the start of this episode she’s finally convinced by her mother to come home and start looking at possible options for marriage interviews (a form of matchmaking/arranged marriage), even though she’s somewhat reluctant to leave the inn behind. Midway through the episode, she hits on what she thinks is a perfect way to kill two birds with one stone.

The behavior of the guests toward Nako and Ohana is really bad, starting at the stalker level and degrading from there

One consistent group of customers the inn gets is a group of survivalist nut-jobs who turn Kissuisou and the immediate environs into their own personal battleground. One of their favorite activities is to “target” the waitress staff—particularly the younger members—and they get more bold each year. This time they start prowling around the hot spring areas looking for someone to “ambush.”

Both Ohana and particularly Nako are completely overwhelmed by this harassment, so Tomoe hits on a way to help her juniors as a parting gift. She decides to treat the customers so badly that they leave in a rage, never to return. Driving away customers will get her fired, she figures, but she’s going to leave anyway, and going out in a blaze of glory seems like a fun way to end her time.

Given that Tomoe is no stranger to war movies, I can't figure out why she thought instilling military discipline into a bunch of survivalists would make them angry

The stupidity factors in when she doesn’t realize that everything she does to drive away her guests only makes them happier for the experience. Waking them up loudly early in the morning? Replicates reveille and installs discipline. Feeding them simple riceballs made by the most junior of the kitchen staff? Isn’t a snub but rather another way of giving them a “pure” experience. (It helps that the survivalists are all enthralled by the prospect of eating something made by Minko.)

When Tomoe ambushes their ambush as they try for another invasion of the hot springs, and drives them all out with a water hose, she figures she’s got her pink slip in the bag. Of course, the guests only take it as a wonderful countermove by the inn’s “general” and respect her all the more for it. They had their best time ever, and gratefully thank Sui for Tomoe’s wonderful OPFOR work.

The guests are thoroughly impressed with Tomoe's work. Good news: Tomoe keeps her job. Bad news: They will be back next year

So, Tomoe is not fired, and is overwhelmed by the gratitude and awe of Ohana and Nako for saving them from the survivalists. Ultimately she decides she’s happy at the inn and decides to turn down marriage interviews, at least for a little while.

Once again, this episode doesn’t do much of anything to change the status quo. Of course the show can’t let Tomoe leave, nor is it willing to rewrite the fundamental relationships of the cast. What it does do, however, is give a better view of why Tomoe values her job, how she relates to her young charges, and why, despite her occasional jealous rages against her more romantically successful junior, she really is a good person.

If Ohana and Nako respected Tomoe before, they practically worship her now. As much as Tomoe might be jealous of the charms of her younger colleagues, she's hardly immune herself

And that fact, that she is a basically admirable person, makes her obviously self-defeating attempts to get fired less annoying than Enishi’s foolish reliance on Kawajiri. Her motives are more pure, her attempts more honest, and the victims of her crazy attempts more deserving of their victimhood (and less traumatized by it). Seeing Nako reduced to tears by being turned into a sex object is uncomfortable; watching mildly perverted wannabe soldiers get flattened by a fire hose is just plain funny—particularly when they wind up liking it.

Being funny isn’t the highest complement I can give to show that spent its first episode promising to be one of the best character dramas I’d seen in years. Hana-Saku Iroha still hasn’t gotten back to that level yet, and I’m beginning to wonder if it ever will. But, being funny is something that makes a show worth watching. At this point, I’m grateful at least for that.

Tomoe's mom is surprisingly understanding when her daughter declines her matchmaking work. Perhaps she admires Tomoe's desire to find a path for herself

You can watch the episode here.

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