August 25, 2011

Hana Saku Iroha Ep21: The Space Between

Posted in Hana-Saku Iroha tagged , , , at 10:01 am by meotwister5

This show is still one of my favorite shows of the year, even if the last few episodes have been sort of a major letdown.  The lack of blogging of this show is both a result of that and time constraints as an intern.  I still get to watch the show when it airs, and I still reerve some disappointment over the fact that it still focuses much on the side characters when the show is about to end, and good ol’ Ohana still has her own long ways to go.

Not to say of course that this episode follows the same fate, but in reality the episode manages to balance out the side characters with the lead, and for that I feel confident that the show is back on track.

Enishi and Takako are getting married.  Before you ask yourself if someone got high during production, I assure you this is happening.  They announce their plans to the staff and to madame manager, who doesn’t seem to show too much of either approval or disproval over their marriage plans.  The thing is, both don’t have much money to have a wedding ceremony, Takako going so far as to suggest using a rental bridal gown.  Practical but… well it simply loses the entire spirit of a wedding ceremony.  Ohana, again in either brilliance or lack thereof, suggests having the wedding in Kissuiso with everyone helping out to reduce costs.  At this point in time everyone knows it’s pointless to go against her boundless enthusiasm, and are also pumped up for it.  Everyone goes off to do their part in the ceremony, and while at it, everyone gets their own screen time.  Yes even Enishi and Takako, they’re getting married after all.


Minchi seriously some anger management issues, but this episode tries to illustrate both how much she has gotten closer to Ohana, and how far she has gotten from Tohru.  We all know she likes Tohru, that’s a fact, but we don’t see a lot of solo time between Minchi and Tohru to see just how they are with each other.  Now that we get to see them alone for a change… I think the above screenshot perfectly represents the divide that seems to span between them.  Does Tohru have a thing for Ohana?  Some would say yes, some would say no, but I think it’s given that Ohana’s ever present and ever intrusive character permeates into the lives of everyone at the inn, even to people as stoic as Tohru.  Minchi can see the influence, and perhaps the attraction, and finds herself being pushed (or pulled?) away from him.

Or, perhaps, she is running away?  She thinks his attraction to Ohana is there, and partly because of that she finds herself running away from him, and placing all the blame on Ohana.  For a person who is very vocal of her dislike for some people, she is unable to express the opposite for everyone else.  Maybe Ohana does have hand in that divide, even if she doesn’t know it, but Minchi clearly makes the gap wider rather than try to bridge it.  Even if Ohana were to stop creating the divide, if Minchi doesn’t start, then there is no point.

I don’t think anyone could have really predicted that Enishi and Takako would be getting hitched.  Some of that attraction had been evident for a while, but this is obviously one hell of a development.  At the same time it’s almost very true to their personalities.  Takako is a bit of a miser, yes, but she’s trying to spend within their means and Enishi agrees.  Corners do have to be cut, but perhaps cutting too many corners results in a very misshapen result.  Going so far as to use a rental bridal gown is almost shocking to me.  Part of this is her desire to gain madame manager’s approval to marry her son and to receive her trust (which she gives only to those deserving).  Seeing everyone trying their damn best to find a way, and seeing manager’s usual disinterested attitude finally disheartens her and she decides to ask madame manager’s permission to call the wedding off.

Madame manager may look like a strict, old school woman, but does something that we may never again see in this series.

In Asian countries that have adopted Western marriages, the passing of the ring is a deeply rooted tradition.  It signifies the passing of the torch and the giving of trust.  The mother passes her wedding ring to her daughter-in-law to be as sign of acceptance into the family.  In Asian nations it’s almost always the bride who gets introduced into the groom’s family as she leaves her own, and the wedding ring being passed down generations symbolizes every new entry of brides into the family.  This is perhaps the best (and maybe surprising) gesture Sui could have done for her.  By giving Takako her ring she finally gives her the acknowledgement she’s been seeking, and I think that part of it has to do with her concern for Enishi and the inn going so far as to call off the wedding for their sakes.  Now Sui knows and accepts the concern and love that Takako possesses, and at the same time tells her own story as a lesson to the next generation.

We finally get to see some backstory into the much hinted younger lives of Sui and her husband.  Here we see that indeed she shares many qualities with the staff members of the inn:  Ohana’s exuberance (only more, shall we say, controlled) and Minchi’s no nonsense seriousness come to late.  She speaks of a love ever after, beyond death, something I never expected from a very pragmatic woman, but perhaps her years of maintaining the inn has made her a balance of both idealism and realism.  Now we know that inside a strict and serious woman is a person who has seen life’s various angles, enough to give the best advice for people who need them.

Next episode is apparently more… uh… romance, and not necessarily about the two who are soon to be wed.  A lot of people didn’t like it but it’s fine with me.  I still think it’s a very vital aspect of the show.


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