Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 23 – Backtracking
One of Hana-Saku Iroha’s few consistent problems is its tendency to bring up a problem at the end of an episode only to not properly address it for another couple weeks. We saw that in a particular way with Enishi and Kawajiri’s fight, fight, kiss at the end of episode 17. Not only were we not given any indication of how badly hit Kissuisou was by the scam they suffered, but we also didn’t see how Enishi won back over Kawajiri and what, if any progress the latter made on getting their money back.
Enishi’s nuptuals resolved the second of those issues by glazing over it. The first and the third, however, are intricately connected, at least in Kawajiri’s mind, with her mother-in-law’s decision to close the inn, which means she doubles down her efforts to find the scam artist in Tokyo. Thanks to the insistence of her mother-in-law, she has to take Ohana along too.
Kawajiri manages to track down the cheating producer so fast one wonders what the problem was in the first place. It’s implied that she had a tip from Satsuki, but Satsuki herself seemed to think tracking him down was a fool’s errand as of a few episodes ago. It’s a little too convenient, even if it makes for a couple fun scenes.
Satsuki’s convient problem-solving ability continues when she hooks up with Kouichi in preparation for her daughter’s visit. She might not know that Kouichi didn’t dump Ohana, and that their failed relationship is more from assumptions and mixed messages rather than a deliberate act on either’s part. But she’s confident she can win Kouichi’s heart back for her daughter, and of course she does.
If there’s an interesting aspect to the episode, it’s how Kouichi and Enishi are contrasted as men in love. Kouichi, by the end of the episode, is empowered to go out and tell Ohana what he really feels about her; his reinspired love is enough to turn him into the pursuer, the wooer. Enishi, by contrast, comes off as increasingly helpless and feckless. He’s even advised by a coworker to do nothing and let Kawajiri do all the work.
This would make sense if Kawajiri’s actions are a form of repentance: her way of making amends for the movie disaster. We still haven’t the slightest indication that she believes that, or is willing to admit it, so instead, Enishi is left emasculated once again, kept at the sidelines while the women of his life make all the important moves.
Readers will have figured out by now that I consider this the most puzzling and disappointing aspect of the show, and I’m happy that at least with the relationship of the lead, it isn’t continued. Ohana and Kouichi might be emotionally confused and awkward teenagers (but I repeat myself). They are, however, both doers, and that makes their eventual reconciliation all the more expectable.
The episode ends with Kouichi and Ohana face to face for the first time in months. I’ve seen the next episode and thus know that this coincidental rendezvous won’t resolve all of their romantic tension. But it does set them on the right path, and that’s all that’s needed with three more episodes to go.
In short, the reintroduction of Kouichi into the plot does wonders for the show and points to the inevitable conclusion. The reintroduction of the movie scammer does little but provide some (admittedly effective) bits of comic relief—we don’t even find out if they get all or part of their money back. The first advances the plot while the second puts it on hold, even while reinforcing some of Enishi’s worst character traits.
I suppose the lesson from all this is that backtracking to previously buried plots can be effective, but only if a) it’s properly foreshadowed, b) the old plot itself advances, and/or c) the main plot is advanced by bringing in the old plot. With Kouichi, the show is three for three. As for the other … readers can figure out my opinion.
You can watch the episode here.