Home > Episode Reviews, Hana-Saku Iroha > Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 13 – Like Mother, Like Daughter

Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 13 – Like Mother, Like Daughter

I said last time that I hoped that in this episode Ohana would think hard about what she wanted and what she was willing to do to achieve that. And that’s exactly what happens—only it doesn’t go the way I expected. I thought that Ohana would come to acknowledge her feelings for Koichi, and finally give a positive answer to his advances. Instead, she chooses her work in Kissuisou and her life there, willingly letting go of Koichi and her dependence on him to claim it.

This seems to be the way of women in her family: strong-willed, career-oriented, and willing to take the consequences of living life their way. As Satsuki returns to the inn for the first time in close to two decades, we see that same dynamic at work in her, and in her mother. Despite having different priorities and goals, the two are very close in temperament, and the rest of the staff notices very quickly.

Satsuki continues to press Ohana for details on her love life, which happens to be the one topic of conversation that makes Ohana freak out like Nako

At first, Satsuki comes off as her normal, irrepressible self; rather than feel contrite or ashamed of her hit-piece review, she notes every flaw in the inn’s service and tosses in some personal jabs at the family where she can. Despite this, she quickly wins over the inn’s staff. Her comments (and suggestions for improvement) have enough truth to be genuinely helpful, and the staff, embodying the customer-first mindset of Satsuki’s mother along with the innovation and drive of Ohana herself.

That combination, of course, exists with difference degrees of emphasis in all three generations of Shijima women. Each has put work, in some way, above their other relationships. Satsuki despised feeling less important to her mother than the inn and its customers, but she turned around and prioritizes her work over raising her daughter. In both cases, however, the intent was not just to choose one or the other, but to encourage the daughter to develop the strength to pursue her goals and dreams herself.

On the subject of Nako freaking out, she is alternatively intimidated and charmed by Satsuki, in much the same way that she was by Ohana when the latter first arrived. Consider it another family trait

In general, this family narrative is also lacking for strong men: Ohana’s grandfather, the one possible exception, is long dead. Ko, as Ohana’s only open romantic interest, has much to recommend him, but neither he nor Ohana are willing to actively pursue the other. Why this is in Ko’s case, I’m not sure, but for Ohana, she knows life at the inn is what she wants, and ultimately that’s what she chooses.

It gets worse with Ohana’s uncle. Enishi, caught between his mother and his older sister, turned spineless in response, which might explain his dependence on Kawajiri. Despite his stated antipathy for his sister and all the crap she put him through in their younger years, he still takes after her lead immediately when she starts giving advice on how to improve the inn. He is personally bereft of any vision for how to run the inn, and depends on stronger women to take care of things for him.

Enishi gets slapped by his mother repeatedly throughout the episode, each time when he tries to rely on someone else rather than stand up for himself. It's the sort of treatment that made Satsuki self-reliant, but it doesn't seem to work in his case

There’s a mountain of issues waiting to be explored just there: Enishi bears considerable resentment for being the ignored one of the family, watching his mother and sibling fight while each still respected the other in a way neither extended to him. The show only touches on these here, but I’m hoping that it will get revisited later. I’d hate for the show to end with him as much a puppet of Kawajiri as it began.

In the end, Satsuki leaves the inn impressed with how the place has improved, writing an unofficial review which states her true opinions of the place. Meanwhile, Ohana accepts her future working at the inn, away from her mother, Tokyo, and Koichi. Just as she truly acknowledges her feelings for him, she also accepts that she can’t be with him and be true to herself and her dreams. So in true Shijima fashion, she chooses the latter.

In another example of family stubbornness, the manager notes she asked her husband to marry her four times. When a Shijima woman decides she wants something, she doesn't stop until she gets it

In many ways, that decision feels like a major turning point for the series. It’s not just that we’ve hit the halfway point of the show. Or that the modified ending credits is filled clips from the opening episode until now, providing a sense of summation. It’s because Ohana has finally identified what she wants, and by doing so has identified who she is and whom she wants to be.

All this is to say is that Hana-Saku Iroha has, after a very uneven start, finally spent its time being the character-driven coming of age story it announced itself to be. This doesn’t mean the show will continue to fire on all cylinders (next episode, by the preview, seems to be a beach episode, which never bodes well), but it does mean that the series, at its best, can fully live up to its promise. Now we have the summer season to learn how often it will follow through.

While the women have their bonding time, Enishi drinks alone. We don't get an impression he has much of a life outside of the inn, living among domineering women

You can watch the episode here.

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