Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 22 – Love is in the Air
With the enthusiastic yet romantically clueless Ohana tipped off to the fact she’s accidentally fallen into yet another love triangle, Hana-Saku Iroha continues to focus more on the romance and less on the coming of age aspects of its story. Also ignored (at least until the epilogue) is the loaded question of who will inherit Kissuisou’s legacy and become the new manager of the inn. This episode is all about love.
That’s not an entirely bad thing, as the pressure building from Minko’s crush on her mentor and the tension she felt as his eyes were constantly on her roommate has been one of the underlying character dynamics for as long as I can remember. Sooner or later, the topic would have to get its due. That happens in this episode.
The short version is that Ohana tries to patch up things with Minko only to get continually blown off, with the situation only resolved when Touru overhears their argument and finally realizes what’s been troubling his protegee for the past several days. He then does the one thing that Ohana and Minko can’t do (for obvious reasons): Touru has to be an adult.
As an adult, he admits that he does some some basic attraction to Ohana, but also that he has no intention on acting on it. It wouldn’t be appropriate, and besides just because you like certain things about someone doesn’t mean you want to date them. Even though his reasoning would rule out Minko as a romantic prospect too, she doesn’t mind. At least she has the peace of mind knowing that her love interest isn’t pining for someone else.
The focus on unrequited youthful love pops up again and again. Ohana calls her mom for advice, and the latter reveals she had a “one sided crush” on Ohana’s father—which didn’t seem to keep them from getting married, but oh well—and that her short-lived romances since his death have been because no one else has measured up. Ohana’s grandmother admitted in a past episode that she had to doggedly pursuit her husband before he actually said yes so perhaps this is family trait.
The emphasis on women pursuing men will probably come across as odd to Westerners used to the man being the party responsible for pursuing the woman; I have no idea is Japanese society is actually different with regard to this dynamic, or the regular occurrence of women pursuing men in anime is another element of otaku wish fulfillment, although the latter is always the safer bet. What’s important is that Ohana realizes how this applies to herself as well.
Despite her decision to pursue her “career,” Ohana hasn’t managed to get Kouichi off her mind, and the events of this episode convince her that she really does love him. Further, she decides that it’s worth pursuing him even if he doesn’t love her back, and that she’s willing to chase after him just like Minko is chasing after Touru, at least in her own mind.
This is a bit silly, of course, as Kouichi does love her back, and has since the first episode. It’s only due to her own self-doubt and the pressure from a girl who did have an unrequited crush on Kouichi that the issue ever got confused; just as the Minko/Ohana/Touru love triangle required an adult to sort it out, a more mature outlook could have resolved the confusion between Kouichi and Ohana very quickly.
I suppose that goes to show, as we saw in the cultural festival blowup a couple episodes prior, how small these sort of high school age arguments are and how a little maturity and perspective can resolve them. For that reason, even though Minko and Ohana’s spat is resolved in under ten minutes of screen time, it doesn’t feel like a false resolution. Likewise, while the problem is technically a small one, it doesn’t feel that way to the teenagers going through it, so the drama and angst doesn’t come off as fake.
Regardless, the plot only lasts for about half the episode, so most of the rest is filled up by various aspects of the wedding itself. It’s mostly a joyous affair, with some bits of humor sprinkled in here and there, but it’s more for emotional effect than for any important plot advancement. That all waits for the end.
There, the manager calls a post-wedding meeting for a special announcement: Denroku, her aged coworker, is officially retiring … and she’s planning on closing down the inn in the near future. No one will inherit because there will be nothing to inherit.
It’s a move completely out of left field; just a few episodes again during the film debacle, she was willing to state that Enishi would inherit the inn. What precipitated her change of heart? Is she now interested in seeing her heirs make their own way in the world? Is this a final test to see who is willing to take charge in the absence of her leadership? We won’t find out until next episode (if that) what it all really means, but the show is entering its final stages. I’m happy to see that it plans to end in style.
You can watch the episode here.