Hanasaku Iroha 21: Say Anything

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Burden and struggle; sadness and conflict. HanaIro does it again this week by throwing two of its main characters into fires that neither understand how to put out. And like any good story, their plight presents a tedious dualism – Minko can’t convey her feelings effectively enough whereas Takako seems to be effective in all the wrong ways. Perhaps if we had a bit of a roll reversal and let Minko use butchered English instead and turn Takako’s tsundere switch on, we would have an even more radical (and possibly more entertaining) show.

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My choice of screen caps this week will make this show seem like it’s nothing but pure drama, when it really isn’t. We’re continuing to roll along with enough comedic points in the story to offset the heavy scenes like the one above. Minko discovers that her attempts at being more lively and supportive around Tohru to get him to notice her more is only turning her into an Ohana mime. It’s pretty sad too, considering how Minko was around at the inn for a good amount of time before Ohana even showed up. Now, Minko’s personality is being drowned out and is getting overlapped by Ohana’s silliness? While I definitely feel like she’s somewhat justified in her frustration with Ohana (which led to a rather intense bathhouse quarrel), I think Minko’s biggest fault is her lack of conveyance to Tohru of what makes herself stand out from everyone else. Does he even know that she makes a mean omurice dish?

Then again, the dualism between Minko and Takako’s situations might actually be mirror images of each other. I think Takako is playing too much of an aggressive card against Sui’s reluctance to accept her as a daughter-in-law. But whereas Minko has another person she’s up against, Takako has only herself and her time at the inn as a rather lousy adviser/management counselor to consider. The one thing that intrigues me is who’s to really judge whose plight is actually tougher to overcome: Minko or Takako?

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Of course, when all goes downhill and there’s too much to think about, one can always resort to being just like Yuina and her passive-observant self. In an environment where mostly everyone is tied together in life by their job at the inn(s), she has to be the perfect example of the laissez-faire that works so well in keeping personal and business affairs separate from each other. Minko demonstrated the negative consequences of that last week when half her school cooking committee nearly quit on her for taking the role way too seriously.

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Well, it turns out Takako didn’t really need to sway Okami’s opinion of her too much. After all, she willingly gave Takako her own wedding ring that her husband had given to her. It definitely made way for a much deserved flashback about the origins of key aspects in the story – Sui’s early life with her husband, the renovation and rebirth of Kissuiso, and Denroku’s commitment to the inn through the years. Perhaps the biggest concept revealed was the idea of dedication and eternal companionship in matrimony. The emphasis on a union of two people as being a promise to never let the other be alone again no matter how many years pass was put nicely by Sui and served as a perfect conversation piece to Takako’s decision to marry Enishi. It’s too bad Sui still won’t give us any clues as to who she really thinks should inherit the inn, yet it still seemed fitting for her not to let that subject follow after her talks about the past. In any case, it’s looking like Enishi will still inherit the inn, and Takako will be riding on his coattails until Sui makes it clear what she thinks of her from a business standpoint.

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Just to break up the tension of what I’ve written up to this point, here’s to pointing out how Nako seems to be on such a roll with people showing her ridiculous/awkward/flattering pieces of work. I don’t think anyone at the inn should be surprised at what Tarou has to offer in his ero writings anymore, but it’s still awesome to see how uncomfortable some people like Nako can react to it.

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And Tomoe just continues to be a fantastic watch-from-the-sidelines type of character. While I do miss her eavesdropping antics, her own bouts with finding love in marriage earlier in the series comes back into play and makes her screen time entertaining once again. Renji and Tomoe? Naaahhhh. Or maybe? Hmm.

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Next week: sparkle once again! Something’s definitely happening with Enishingu and Takako, but it’s still unclear if their planned wedding will even commence. If only Producer-san wasn’t so shady, they could have called him back to stage a script and turn the wedding (or at least the reception) into an epic movie production. Zombie wedding/reception, anyone?

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