Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 17 – All Wet
Oh, Hana-Saku Iroha, what I am to do with you? Technically you’ve given me everything I want out of this episode, and yet somehow I’m still disappointed.
For starters: Yes, the movie was a con, put on by the producer. It was a particularly believable one because he was a real movie producer and the staff he brought with him were likewise legit; but he had debts and took advantage of a clause in the contract to cancel production while still collecting Kissuisou’s share of the costs. Even the rest of the film staff wasn’t in on the deception; they get reprimanded by their professional guilds for being hoodwinked, but it’s Kissuisou left footing the bill.
I spoke last time about how it needed to be Enishi, and not Ohana, to solve the problem this time, but that doesn’t happen, because no one solves the problem. The shocker for the episode isn’t that the movie doesn’t happen, but how the inn continues its normal functions regardless. Kissuisou lost money it probably won’t ever be able to get back. Life goes on.
While the other local inns engage in some standard gossip and tut-tutting, pointing out all the signs of ill intent that they completely ignored when they wanted a piece of the action, Kissuisou’s staff is surprisingly relaxed about it. Given the low view the staff has taken of Kawajiri’s interference before, that’s a particular surprise. I think that’s primarily because Enishi’s growth during the project—as a manager and as an adult—was so obvious, and because that growth isn’t negated by the fact that plan fell through.
The ominous phone call that capped off last episode wasn’t the cancellation call, but Satsuki calling to tell her mother of her own suspicions of the project. The manager seems to share them, but allows Enishi to proceed anyway. Her son, she understands, will inherit the inn, and he needs learning experiences like these at some point. Apparently, she made the decision that this was a crisis the inn could survive, and judging by how que sera, sera the staff is, she’s probably right. (We’ve never given a clear understanding about how bad the financial hit is.)
In almost every respect Enishi comes out of it a better person, with healthier relations with his family and coworkers as a result. He admits and accepts his mistake with grace, while his mother takes a surprisingly even-handed approach in critiquing him, pleased that he’s learned to stand for something. The staff, as I’ve already said, is forgiving, with Ohana and the rest finishing up the work on the pool even after there’s no longer a film to use it.
But there’s a glaring exception to all this growth, and that comes with Kawajiri. It’s obvious that she feels some degree of guilt and responsibility for what happened, but she can’t publicly admit that. Instead, she dumps it all on Enishi, for being foolish enough to accept a contract she helped procure and being so weak as to depend on her to fix up a mess she coauthored.
Strangely, the more abusive Kawajiri gets, the more enthralled Enishi is, which in turn only fills Kawajiri with further disgust. She even threatens to end their business relationship entirely, citing several of Enishi’s character flaws which, ironically enough, all are most on display when he’s around her, and which she’s milked to her benefit for years on end.
This verbal sparring continues until the two of them accidentally fall into the newly opened pool. There, the two of them seem to reconcile, although where that reconcilation comes from still puzzles me to no end. I can see how Enishi, so accostomed to taking abuse from women, would put his aside grievances and move on; he’s doing it for the second half of the argument anyway.
Kawajiri, on the other hand, has finally admitted the contempt she has for Enishi, for perfectly legitimate reasons that this spat has done everything possible to reinforce. So why does she reconcile with him? It’s implied she does reconcile, because (among other things) next scene Enishi is defending her in a surprisingly mature fashion to his mother. But we don’t see it happen or hear her own reasons for changing her mind, or if she openly acknowledges any of her own responsibility. And given what we know about her, I can’t see why should would have reasons for doing any of that.
Regardless of the reasoning on both sides, their relationship remains terribly unhealthy and codependent. Last time I said the one thing this show had to do to succeed was not emasculate Enishi, and it doesn’t, save when Kawajiri is concerned. That means making their inevitable confrontation and inexplicable reconciliation as the dramatic climax of the episode a problem, as Kawajiri emasculates Enishi by her very presence.
There’s also some lingering questions about the long term financial repercussions of the con and how the inn will regain its reputation among its peers, both of which are brought up, but not explored in depth. Next episode won’t explore them either: Nako features heavily in the preview, so the character spotlight is going to shift once again. I somewhat regret that this will be the case. After growing Enishi so much over the last two episodes, it seems a shame to stop where one of the greatest blocks on his maturity and development has yet to be removed.
You can watch the episode here.