Hanasaku Iroha 04: Tsun-Tsun Minko-chi

Ha! I called it! Dere-Minko-chi is just around the corner! All that’s left is to figure out how she’ll deal with the revelation she and Ohana witnessed outside of the rival hot spring inn. Otherwise, another great episode with more Nako and Minko development to mix in with Ohana’s first day as the highly anticipated transfer student from Tokyo.

Ohana’s first day at her new school seemed way off to me. Instead of going off without a hitch, she’s glorified by the rest of the female students just by being from Tokyo. She’s even bombarded by a flood of questions about everything from her residency, to her fashion sense, to her relationship status. I guess I can relate it to what it’s like living in a big city like LA or the busier sections of Orange County versus living somewhere in the valleys of Riverside County, where nothing really happens at all. Still, it’s interesting to see the portrayal of city dwellers adapting to the countryside life from a relative standpoint; comforting to know that this is pretty much a global thing.

Also, Ohana’s tongue almost slips quite a few times in trying to deal with how she feels about Kouichi back home and being unable to respond to his last text message. At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an episode dedicated just how she’ll run with the situation.

It was also great to see how Minko is perceived outside of the Kissuiso bubble that we’ve come to known her through up to this point. Delusions of grandeur is all one would have to say if they knew her like Ohana and Nako do.

“I wonder if people around here tend to write down their thoughts”

Nako received some rather diligent character development this time around, showing us just how ‘thoughtful’ people can be when it comes to salutations and common courtesy – something often taken for granted. Her inability to finish her ‘Minko-chan’ honorific was a delightful scene and highlighted just how casually close her and Nako are as good friends. Way to go, Nako; now you have Ohana to recruit!

We’re also introduced to Yuina Wakura, heir apparent to the rival hot springs inn whose carefree attitude shows just how much she isn’t settled on the idea of becoming manager in the future. Speaking of slipping tongues earlier, this scene made a lot more sense when I watched it the second time around to better understand just who the ‘interesting’ person at Kissuisou is to Yuina. Let’s just say that if it isn’t already super clear by now, I’m just not sure how Minko is going to react given how she already tries to deal with Ohana being in her life.

(I hope I’m also not the only one who thought they were watching an incarnation of Kurumi’s character from Kimi ni Todoke. See? All of these slice of life dramas are starting to get the best of me)

Speaking of Kimi ni Todoke, I’m still pleasantly surprised that Mamiko Noto was cast to play the instigator and love-unlucky gal in this show. Her gossipy and conniving nature is so amusing to watch because of how deeply it contrasts against her more quiet, withdrawn roles (like Sawako Kuronuma). I can’t wait to see some dialogue between Tooru and Tomoe regarding his mentor role to Minko.

So by now, the only people that haven’t really had some sort of accomplished back story are Manager-sama, Tooru, and Tomoe. Everyone else doesn’t count to me because their roles don’t seem all that important yet to consider. And between the three of them, I’m most intrigued about Sui’s background. I have a feeling there’s going to be some detailed flashbacks involving Satsuki’s earlier days spent working at the inn, which will add greater depth to why a hot spring inn like Kissuisou still stands in the midst of a larger and probably more successful rival inn not too far away.

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