Home > Episode Reviews, Hana-Saku Iroha > Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 24 – Love’s Labour’s Lost

Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 24 – Love’s Labour’s Lost

Family legacies are tricky things. I suppose it’s a dream of every parent to pass on something of lasting value to their children, and to see those children follow in the same path. Family businesses may not be as strong in America as they once were, but they still exist; in Japan, with its shopping districts and its conglomerates alike filled with a sort of benign nepotistic spirit, the urge to have one’s progeny take over the family trade is given more freedom.

There are plenty of good things about such practices: a certain pride in one’s work as an extension of pride in one’s family, the possibility of vocational training from a very young age, and a sense of continuity that reassures as much as it maintains. The downsides are also myriad: the pressure placed on those who have no desire to follow in the family tradition, for example, or those who simply lack the aptitude despite however long a linage of forebearers. Yuina fell into the first category. The question at hand for the remainder of Hana-Saku Iroha’s plot is whether Enishi falls into the second.

The inn is given a spark of new life thanks to Satsuki's intervention, but it may not be "new" life that Sui wants for her inn

The manager, Sui, has already decided the answer is yes. Her first mistake, in her opinion, was being unwilling to see anyone but her daughter Satsuki as a viable heir to the inn, but her second was forcing Enishi into the role when it was obviously not suited for him. From her view, shutting down the inn is the only way to free her son from the burden of her inheritance.

Thus, when Satsuki writes a remarkably positive review in a major magazine, and Kissuisou is flooded with reservation requests, Sui doesn’t back down. It’s not for financial reasons that she’s shutting the inn down, but because her legacy, as she sees it, was hers, and not suited for her son. Even if Enishi could keep Kissuisou afloat, he wouldn’t, in her view, be happy with it. It’s not what he’s meant to be.

Sui has also been having several health scares, which is possibly making her more reflective on how she has treated her children

The conflict comes when not just Enishi but the entire staff rebels against her directives. Enishi starts booking new reservations past Sui’s declared closing date, and it’s clear that for once, he speaks for Kissuisou. Only Ohana is left stranded in between, aware of her grandmother’s motives but sympathetic to her coworkers who care so much for their community.

Who’s in the right? It’s hard to tell. My natural inclination is to side with Enishi, perhaps because I think he needs a break. Also, much of Sui’s thinking on the matter seems based on how much she, personally, has invested into a particular vision of the inn. The very name of it shows how it connects with a particular vision of hers, and how its successes over the years have been the singular blessing of her life. But by that same token, that means she is less than well disposed to see it handed over to those who won’t fit that vision.

The waitress staff, led by Nako of all people, try to voice their objections to Sui closing the inn when the latter joins them in the bath. What follows is one of the most hilarious scenes in the series, as Sui takes the shortest bathing ritual of all time and intimidates her young charges into silence without saying a word. It's probably the first bath scene this series has had so far that I've unequivocally liked

What’s clear, however, is that the inn workers too have a particular vision of the inn, and its community. Kissuisou might have been founded by Sui, but it’s not just hers anymore. When she and Denroku retire, none of the original workers will be left, but the legacy of her love, the character of her creation, will live on in some real way. After all, Ohana and all the rest came to love their jobs through the sense of dedication and customer-first mentality that has been Sui’s standing principle.

That, at least is my inclination. Sadly, it looks like the show might be taking the opposite tack. Enishi and the rest of the staff promptly come into conflict with the other inn managers, who are upset that Kissuisou hasn’t contributed anyone to help with planning for the Bonbori festival (which has been talked about since the first episode and will likely be the climax of the series). Rather than help, Enishi refuses on the grounds that the inn will be too busy with its own clients—as the favorable review has the inn to near bursting—and thus no one can be spared.

Another great moment of comedy is when Touru and Minko discover they both loved and were inspired by an old manga series about cooking—only to learn to their shock that Jiroumaru was responsible for writing it. The show does remarkably better at integrating the comic relief in this episode, and I'm not sure why

Of course, pissing off all your professional colleagues simply because you have a wave of good fortune is incredibly short-sighted, but Enishi’s decision is supported by the staff. Sui and Ohana leave to take on the collaborative work themselves, and no doubt that will prove to be the right decision. But having Enishi not only do something stupid, but having everyone who agrees with him on keeping the inn open also agree with his decision here, signals that he’s being set up for a fall yet again.

Should that fall be used as the sole, or even the primary, proof that his overall dream of taking over Kissuisou isn’t a dream he should have, I’m going to be rather annoyed. Giving your characters an idiot ball solely for the purposes of discrediting them when they otherwise should be right is a really poor way of getting your message across.

The rest of the staff views Sui (and to a lesser extent Ohana) as traitorous for having chosen to do the obviously right thing. That's the sort of manufactured conflict that does not leave me hopeful for a balanced conclusion

If Enishi and the rest are wrong, and the dreams of a place like Kissuisou can’t be properly inherited, then the narrative itself needs to be built to reflect that. Right now, it properly explains Sui’s reasoning, but it hasn’t done much to prove it. And the mere fact that Kissuisou’s staff, even those who could find work elsewhere, are so passionate about keeping the inn alive, is a sign that Sui’s labors have taken a life of their own.

Will the show let that passion be honored? I certainly hope so. Hana-Saku Iroha has shown a surprising deftness and subtlety when it wants to, particularly in how it has handled the love polygon surrounding Ohana. I’d like to see it come out here too.

And I didn't have any time at all to talk about Ohana and Ko's meeting that last episode climaxed on, did I? Suffice to say that Ohana doesn't let Ko officially confess his love, but she knows, and she leaves an opening for him to pursue in the future. More to come

You can watch the episode here.

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