May 30, 2011

Hana-Saku Iroha Ep9: The War Has Begun

Posted in Hana-Saku Iroha tagged , , at 9:29 pm by meotwister5

The above title actually has little to do with the episode itself, as it more has to do with the current state of the fandom in regards to Ohana and the two… uh… men in her life, taken to more (il?)logical extremes.  Ohana’s bravado and gung-ho style of management may have saved the day, but at the end of said day it also brought to the table a certain degree of teen angst and emotional conflict further magnified by the anime fandom’s usual penchant for supporting specific pairings we all know as shipping.  One guy apparently gained points while the other guy got shafted by fate in the ass.

Me?  Underdog all the way man!

Ohana crashes a wedding looking for Tohru in a desperate attempt to salvage the longest day in Kissuiso.  Running around doesn’t help much, and in a fit of depression it just so happened that Ko calls her up to ask her where she is.  The conversation becomes one of Ko cheering her on to do her best, which of course revitalizes her, with the price of finding out she’s actually not in the village being paid by Ko in full.  Ohana continues to try and find Tohru as Ko is destined to wait at the station for a girl who would not come.  She finds Tohru after a while of wedding crashing and rides tandem with him back to the inn as Ko rides back home on the train only a few meters away.  Poor bastard.

Ren comes back to his senses with Tohru’s return and the inn staff goes back to full gear taking care of the guests.  Pervert writer’s shenanigans aside, the staff do a great job well enough to get the praise of a guest who is apparently one of the article writers,  and with this pleases grandma manager upon her return.  Ohana thanks Ko greatly for his help, who can only be content to watch Ohana succeed with her endeavors from a distance.

Ko is a very understated character in this series, and given the setting, very undeveloped and perhaps even unappreciated.   What a lot of people don’t realize is that even in his absence, he is the major personal crutch of Ohana.  Ohana thinks about him a lot, about his belief and opinions, and perhaps even more telling is when she wonders how Ko would react or assist in her situations.  When Ko called her up to ask about her and where she is, it instead becomes an avenue for Ohana to again ask Ko for advice.  For someone who once strove so much to be independent and capable, she relies on him a lot more than she realizes.  What was supposed to be a chance for him to reconnect with her became a debriefing session, ending up with Ohana finding courage to continue on and thanking her best friend from the bottom of his heart.  By helping her he sacrifices his opportunity to be with her and speak his mind.  By giving her advice he somehow pushes her farther away.  By being a great friend, his chance at romance goes down the crapper.  Poor bastard.

Despite his obvious depression at his situation, he still did everything with a earnest and open heart befitting a true friend.  It’s again ironic that by being a true friend he’s perhaps messing up his chances at being more than that with Ohana.  But that’s who he is, he can’t leave Ohana alone and push his own terms at her, because he cares.  He cares enough to know that she’s in trouble and that he should help her first, and make his own concerns second.  He cares for her enough to swallow his pride, do what he can for her, even if it leaves him cold and dry.  He cares (and perhaps loves?) her enough to know not to be selfish, to accept her impositions on him, even if in the end he’s sacrificing for it.

He is depressed, yes, but perhaps sacrifice is all part and parcel of his endeavor.  It is the price he has to pay for his chance.  He knows enough that being selfish on his part would take him nowhere.  I’d say Ohana has learned to appreciate him even more than she already does.  Absence had somehow made the heart grow fonder given the number of times she thinks of him.  If anything, she’s probably starting to see him in a better light, a light that perhaps may shine on her and convince her that he’s serious, and maybe even cause a change within her owns self.

Ohana, when you think about it, shows a lot of the same qualities as her grandmother, and perhaps proving that the apple does not fall far from the (old) tree.   She took stern command of the situation, did what she had to to achieve success, kept her ideals in check, and in the end of the day succeeded despite the newfangled approach of the consultant.  Okay yes gung-ho, impulsive and downright wild, but leadership nonetheless although chaotic.  She has that raw capacity, so to speak, that could be refined to become something really great for not only leading but also inspiring morale.  This leadership sense makes her very similar to her grandmother, minus the stern matronly approach.  Even before arriving here she;s been very independent and rather self-assured, but it was here at the inn that her capacities were really tested.  Each and every new event at the inn has tried and tested smaller aspects of Ohana, and like before she passed this with flying colors.  This is a quality you can rarely ascribe to a lead character of her age in ANY show.  This, again, may be Ito Kanae’s best performance yet.

As for the rest of the inn’s staff, well, they did their best.  It’s almost shocking beyond belief how Ren cracks under pressure when he’s usually such a cool and collected perfectionist.  It took Tohru’s return to bring order back in the kitchen chaos.  Speaking of Tohru… well… it doesn’t take a genius to know just how big of a potential war his actions contrasted to Ko’s current situation will start one of the more annoying, but also hilarious, aspects of the fandom.

Who will win and who will lose?  I’m a very big supporter of underdog characters, and part of it is because I’ve been in Ko’s shoes barely 2 months ago, so I completely relate with his feelings and his situation.  Re-establishing that connection is unbelievably hard especially when a part of you wants to reconnect that friendship you once had, but the other part of you knows deep down inside in your heart that you desperately want things to be different this time around. And yet you know things will never be the same despite both your attempts to return to the status quo to some extent.

In any case, war has begun.  Which side are you on?

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1 Comment »

  1. Kovval said,

    I’m on Ko’s side, though imo they won’t become a couple. Ohana will just friend zone him for all eternity, there is also that suspicious girl at Ko’s work.
    And as for TooruxOhana – they throw it at us all the time, forcing us to believe there will be something between two of them, but nothing will happen, but that’s just my opinion.


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