Home > Episode Reviews, Hana-Saku Iroha > Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 15 – Strong Work Ethic

Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 15 – Strong Work Ethic

I spent a decent chunk of last episode’s review talking about the contrasts between Ohana and Yuina, and here’s another one: Yuina is content to observe from the sidelines, while Ohana just has to meddle. We’ve seen time and again Ohana stick her neck out in crisis situations, for both good and ill, as she just can’t sit idly by when things are going to pot.

So, when a large inn suddenly finds itself without any waitress staff and with a 100+ guests waiting around, she can’t help but put herself out there to help. At first, the management refuses; they have as strong a sense of putting the customer first as Ohana’s grandmother does, and this time Ohana is the customer. But when she’s inspired to return again a few hours later, they are so desperate for help that they can no longer say no.

Ohana is motivated by frustration and anger as much by a desire to help. Seeing the obnoxious ex-staff still whining about how horrible their job was sets her off

Ohana then sets out to take on the entire inn’s task list single-handedly, which points out her flaws as much as her strengths. But she inspires Nako and Minko to help out, and apparently some other girls come to aid with the staff too. Among them is Yuina, who seems as surprised as they are that she’s here.

At first, Yuina is just plain confused by Ohana’s actions. She can’t imagine working at something she doesn’t love, and thinks that working in an inn is just too hard a job to be lovable. Later on she points out how Ohana might have an advantage: Yuina grew up around the inn business, so she knows from observation how difficult it is. Observation, however, is not experience, so Yuina never got understood the sense of accomplishment from seeing a job well done.

Ohana, of course, goes a little too far, taking on tasks too big for her to work alone. It's interesting that her problem about not relying on others appears most strongly in episodes where no one mentions it

This confuses Yuina, just as Yousuke’s dedication to his job in the face of difficulty puzzles her. Both he and his parents take on some of the more labor-intensive tasks in the inn; isn’t the entire point of becoming a manager to avoid doing that work? But Yousuke, as much as it doesn’t quite occur to him to say it on a daily basis, does have high standards for himself and for his staff precisely because of his own passion and dedication to the family business.

Yousuke’s problem, it’s implied, wasn’t because he was too harsh with his waitresses (Ohana had far worse treatment from her grandmother) but because he didn’t provide an operating philosophy, a passion to inspire those workers to take their jobs seriously. Even without her grandmother’s training, Ohana’s the type of girl to take her work seriously, and that enthusiasm is both infectious and easy to admire.

It's implied that another reason that Yuina helps with the work is because she's jealous of how Yousuke seems to value Ohana more than her. She might have all but dumped him that morning, but she cares about him enough to be upset at the prospect of another girl stealing him away

By the end of the episode, the potential disaster the inn faced is averted, Yousuke has learned an important lesson in humility (and, after the robot dish machine breaks down, about depending on things rather than people), and Yuina in the value of hard work. The two leave on relatively good terms, even if Yuina is a bit coy about whether she’ll reconsider his proposal. It’s a happy-ish ending, one which points a way forward for both of them.

It also leaves most of the main characters in the lurch as far as character development is concerned. Ohana might show off her best features, but she doesn’t really grow as a result, while Minko and Nako remain in supporting roles. What little development they do have is just to provide a contrast with Yuina, who, along with the fanservice, was the real focus of the past two episodes.

I'm not going to bother with another shot demonstrating how gratuitous the fanservice is. Instead, here's some of Yuina's male classmates acting stalkerishly happy at using a bath that she cleaned

That’s what character-centric episodes are about, after all, so I suppose I don’t have much right to complain. But the main draw of the show is Ohana, and if we’re going to see a focus on girls other than her, Nako or Minko would be far better choices. This is hardly a bad episode of Hana-Saku Iroha. But it’s not a great one either, and that’s mostly because Yuina, even with the growth she gets here, isn’t a strong enough presence to carry the show.

You can watch the episode here.

One example of an alternate character to focus on: Minko has a few scenes dealing with her finding and presenting a souvenir for Touru. It's small, but it's one of those subplots that needs to be pushed early and often. Sort of like voting in Chicago

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  1. August 28, 2011 at 11:49 pm

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