Hanasaku Iroha Review

hanasakuhdr

In my many years of consuming media, it’s very rare when something does something besides entertain or fail at entertaining me.  Such is the case of Hanasaku Iroha (or Colors of Blooming).  The 24 episode anime series by P.A. Works studio, which by some odd means caught my attention.   A show that not only entertained me, but managed to provoke thought about my life.  Before I get too philosophical, let’s talk about the show.

Story
hanasaku41The plot follows a 16-year-old girl named Ohana Matsume who is sent to live with her grandmother at a hot spring inn called Kissuiso. The reason being was that her mother was eloping with her new boyfriend and evading his debt. This also meant that Ohana would be leaving her childhood friend who, at the point of her telling him, confessed his love for her.

She doesn’t let this keep her down, instead she keeps up her spirits for the new life ahead of her. However spirits don’t remain high since at the moment of arrival, she’s told off by employees and put to work by her grandma who runs the inn. Instead of the glamorous life she envisioned living at a hot springs inn, the reality is a daily routine of work.

Trying to fit in will mean Ohana has to fit in with her co-workers as well as her grandmother. Sui Shijima is a strict and very traditional spirited Grandmother, and owner of the inn. Nako Oshimizu is a shy and timid waitress who is the same age as Ohana. Minko Tsurugi who is also the same age as Ohana is a very cold and rude (tsundere) apprentice chef. That’s just scratching the surface as the inn is staffed with a host of unique characters that provide for an interesting chemistry.

hanasaku2At first, I wasn’t too sure if I was going to enjoy Hanasaku Iroha. I couldn’t stand the sheer abuse the story put on Ohana right from the start. An abusive and strict Grandma, a dead beat mother, a failed love, an obvious love triangle. All of this put onto a young spirit was a bit much. However it’s in that detail that marks a good deal of the show’s intriguing elements. It also in the hardships presented that really helps Ohana develop and shine as a truly inspiring character.  It also helps that Ohana’s character design is so dynamic and well designed that it produces a great and entertaining element even when placed with a less dynamic characters.

Animation
The art style is absolutely beautiful. Each setting the characters are placed in are crafted with care and detail. From the bustling towns to the quiet countryside, the scenes crafted helps create an immersive viewing. It doesn’t stop there either, as the character designs are also well crafted. Each of the characters have their own distinct personal traits that set them apart but avoids becoming jarringly different. To top it all off the presentation and animation is great.

Sound
The following is based on the Japanese audio version.  While the opening music was a bit different from my taste, it grew on me. The elements of music are quite subtle throughout the show, but add a sense of ambience that’s necessary but not overwhelming. There’s also quite a bit of great vocal scores to round the more emotional moments which were great. I also very much enjoyed the voicing in this series. While one particular english obsessed lady was a bit jarring, the rest of the cast was excellent. All points of emotion were believable and entertaining.

Conclusion
hanasaku3As I teased in my introduction, Hanasaku Iroha is a rare breed. It not only entertained me for many hours when I was hooked into marathon sessions, but it also invoked thought. Seeing how Ohana overcame her life and stuck to her passion caused me to seriously question myself and how I view my hardships and my path in life. It may not be the same for everyone, but after finishing the last episode I couldn’t help but sit in silence pondering my own life.  This element coupled with the fantastic art style leaves this title to be a top favorite series for me.  Who’da thought a show about waitressing at an inn could be so compelling.

Family Friendliness-Hanasaku Iroha is a very clean series.  However at times it meddles with inappropriate material as one of the characters is an adult novel writer.  Every few episodes he will include his ideas for writing which includes 16-year-olds in suggestive situations.  Even so far as giving it minimalistic visuals that suggest but don’t show anything.  There are also a few bath scenes involving submerged or side shot naked characters.

VERDICT: 4.5 / 5

Pros:

  • Enduring character development
  • Thought provoking elements
  • Beautiful animation

Cons:

  • A few slow points
  • A few unlikable characters
  • Character tropes present
Share on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.