Posted by psgels on 25 September 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews, Hana-Saku Iroha

Hana-Saku Iroha…. is an interesting one. Probably the best way to start a review about it is to warn that it can be quite misleading when you start watching it. This series has two wonderfully written opening episodes that have a ton of well written drama, only followed by episodes of random slice of life hi-jinks.

This is a criticism, it takes time to get used to, but also: once this show finds its pace, it delivers a unique slice of life series. The thing is however, that it doesn’t care whether or not it annoys its viewers. This can be great for realism, but this series always tries to take this a bit beyond the comfort zone by inserting random stupidity at times. Throughout the series there will be plenty of teenaged romance angst, random yelling, characters who turn a mosquito into an elephant. Oh, and a depraved writers of smutty romance novels.

And on the other hand we have this series’ brilliant ability to write drama. Seriously, the characters in this series can get annoying, but their development is absolutely wonderful. When it wants to, it can create strong conflicts, character-development focused scenarios and heart-warming dialogue without getting cheesy. Especially in the second half the cast (and with that I mean nearly the entire cast, not just the main characters) develops into engaging characters, with everyone making some sort of impact.

What also helps is that PA Works really put in effort to make this series a feast for the eyes. The art and animation is crisp and fluid, the background art is gorgeous. This was really intended as their celebration for their 10th year anniversary, and they really succeeded here. Hana-Saku Iroha celebrates working and taking responsibility. And through its characters, it really turned that into a wonderful message.

Storytelling: 8/10 – There are scenes that come off as stupid and annoying, especially in the first half. When this series gets serious though, it really delivers excellent drama.
Characters: 9/10 – They will get on your nerves, but their chemistry is excellent, they’re really well used, and their development is top notch.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Clean and crisp. A feast for the eyes.
Setting: 8/10 – Good themes, although it does tend to ignore the borders of realism at times.

True Tears
Konnichiwa Anne
Les Miserables – Shoujo Cosette

13 Responses

  1. Puran says:

    I have a feeling you’ve become a bit stricter with your scores. You’ve just scored two series 85, while when I was reading the review, your words made me believe you would rate them at 90 (and I mean this and Kami-sama). Not complaining, just making an observation. (maybe natsume is pushing everything else downwards? :P )

    Still this show was a nice surprise. I wasn’t expecting anything when I started it and it turned to be a really good slice of life series. The only fault I can find is that the first 2 episodes prepared me for a different series than the one we got. But that’s not necessarily bad.

  2. Hogart says:

    This show turned out alright, once I figured out what the heck it wanted to be. Thank goodness they didn’t botch the ending.

    I enjoyed the show when it was about the situation between Ohana, her mom, and her grandma. But the rest, especially the stuff about her uncle, really dragged it down for me.

    I think if they put more effort into showing me the inn was a great place, rather than having characters say so over and over, I would be far more taken with this series.

    That, and I think I’ve developed a violent aversion to the phrase “fest it up” and Minko’s various lame insults :S

  3. Skoopman says:

    I’m glad I watched this Anime and every, really EVERY Anime studio should take an example of the animation quality and beautiful backgrounds deliverd by PA Works. I really don’t know how they kept up the great animation throughout all the 24 episodes, but I applaud them. Of course the series had it’s ups and downs, but overall it was really good.

  4. Firechick says:

    Whoa! Psgels, you’re actually putting Konnichiwa Anne as a recommendation with Hanasaku Iroha? If I remember correctly, you were rather harsh on that anime (though for good reason).

    And yeah, I’m glad this anime ended. For me, it’s only flaw was Minko being a brat throughout the entire show!

  5. info600 says:

    The only interesting thing I’d say here is that Ohana’s development can be related to the show itself only because they both have an identity crisis…and the fact that they were resolved at the same time…

  6. Ray says:

    The creators should have stuck with the smartly written, awesome drama as was evident in the first two episodes instead of the moronic, clowny claptrap filler employed throughout most of it.

    It is as if the writers just tossed everything in the garbage early on only to go back to try and dig it out when the show only had a few episodes left in its run.

    If they really wanted to do a funny/comedic with some seriousness/drama sprinkled in here and there, maybe they might’ve learned something from Skip Beat. At least in that show, Kyoko’s anger is relatable and the situations she’s put in have a great balance of comedy and drama when it fits. I feel that Hana-Saku Iroha was never able to really accomplish this at all.

    I mentioned earlier how much this show had so much wasted potential and looking back over its run; it really shows this fact to a nagging, almost aggravating degree. To me, Ohana herself is the biggest disappointment. She had the potential to become the most awesome, kick-ass female protagonist in a slice-of-life show to face challenges head on with such an admirable intensity and really make her an endearing person – and yet the show COMPLETELY abandons this angle very early on. Instead, they craft Ohana into this overly emotional, selfish (yes, she really is), “fest it up” annoying balyut that embodies many of the clichés of other female anime leads into one package.

    To close, despite my obvious personal dislike of Ohana, I think most have said and will agree that this show continuously failed to truly know what it wanted to be and/or accomplish with the time it had.

  7. gan says:

    Whoa 85?That was a surprise.I was expecting at least 87,5! I guess as some people have mentioned earlier you have become strict with your scores :P
    Btw don’t you think that ‘Production Values’ could have received a 10?The animation of this series was,without a doubt,superb!

  8. Blue Bomber says:

    ^^^ +1 on production values. The colors, lighting, consistency of quality, etc. were just amazing in this series. Even when the plot waned, the animation never let up. One of the reasons I kept up with the show. ;)

  9. Joojoobees says:

    The strength of this show was really the gorgeous visuals. I’m so glad they delivered a compelling Bonbori festival, it was one of the two keys to this ending on a positive note for me. The other was Ohana’s grandmother who was a great character, and very unusual both in complexity and to have a character of that age who was at all realistic.

    I wouldn’t say I really cared for most of what happened in the middle, but I’m happy I watched the show, nonetheless.

  10. Akari Mizunashi says:

    “At least in that show, Kyoko’s anger is relatable and the situations she’s put in have a great balance of comedy and drama when it fits. I feel that Hana-Saku Iroha was never able to really accomplish this at all.”

    Excellent reference to Skip Beat, Ray; I tend to think of that show as one of the most underrated in the past few years. This is exactly how I felt while watching the show: the drama was always forced, the character’s actions were never believable and the show never did anything but cater to a teenager anime fan’s angsty mind.

    I’m not one of these people that were upset about the abrupt change in direction post episode 2; teenage drama of any kind is usually not my cup of tea regardless of quality. NONETHELESS, I can attest to the fact that the vast majority of the series compares poorly to the first 2 episodes and the finale in terms of writing&direction.

    My personal motto is that if you aren’t going to make things believable, if you aren’t going to write meaningful scenarios and if you aren’t going to do drama right…you may as well not do it at all. I clearly do not share the same motto with many directors. Thus solely for the sake of the captivating art, I attempted to endure watching this show week to week.

    At the end of the day the only reason I am sore is because the background art and visual/atmospheric effects were just too wonderfully gorgeous. It pains me that it was absolutely wasted on a show of such undeservingly shallow content.

  11. Will says:

    To be honest, Hanasaku was a big disappointment. This is really a case where the production team put everything in the style and particularly nothing in the content.

  12. MAruu says:

    Hana-Saku Iroha excite me.. and so interesting :)

  13. rampart says:

    Hanasaku Iroha is a beautiful anime..visually. The animation, the charater design and the background drawing all was superbly drawn throughout the series. Its very hard to find any flaws at all in term of the animation qualities.

    The storyline however, is only moderate at best. Even at the story’s climax, I found it really bland and not as exciting as it could have been. It tried to be a warm and touching, but could suffered bit from overly cheesy dialogue and storyline. At times I felt like it would a drag just to continue to watching the next episode.Its the kind of anime that when it’s over you just stare blankly at the screen and ask ‘…what was it all about again?’

    do not get me wrong though. it is still a good anime. The beautifully done art and animation alone could possibly make it worth watching. Although I was hoping for something that touches my heart more than just my senses. I would still recommend anyone to give it a try.

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  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 12:04 AM)
    On the note of good balance between humor and drama- I think BoJack Horseman is an example of a show that executed that almost perfectly in both seasons. You are laughing one minute and amused by the hijinks and silliness and the next minute you are actually moved and shocked by the honest introspection. Too be honest BoJack is more a tragic character then a goofy one, and his struggles are deeper and more existential than they have any business being in a show with anthropomorphic animals.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:56 PM)
    The changes in the setting actually made me more excited for season 3 then what I felt the past few weeks, since now the plot needs to move forward from the cliffhanger and hopefully this translates to more cohesion and refocusing on what mad the show great in the first place. I’m pretty sure S3 will also be a blend of episodic and arch story elements tho. Overall a few ups and downs but still a great show.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:52 PM)
    The finale also had some of the most overall arch story elements featured in the season. Earth joining the Galactic Federation is a big deal story-wise from now on. Also the use of a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” (not the Nine Inch Nails one clearly) was a nice fitting yet surprising touch. The throwback to Mr. PB after the credits was a good idea, but felt flat in it’s actual execution.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:49 PM)
    I thought R&M had a pretty good finale. The episode achieved what was missing from most of season 2, and that was a balance of randomness and meaningful bits. What made Rick Potion #9 and the previous season’s finale and general tone great was a sense of humor that was combined with more sincere drama and character developments; a sort of sweet melancholy.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 09:51 PM)
    @K-off, not having too much trouble with the interface but I still cannot create categories.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 08:56 PM)
    Eh, I’ve updated myself now on the onepunch manga and also the manga for yuruyuri, I can cross the shows off my list now. I forgot to mention onepunchs first episode crammed in the first volume.
    I stopped reading though around chapter 30, it was decent fun for a bit but I’ll be continuing with it in small doses.
  • k-off
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 08:19 PM)
    @Aidan Yeah? Well I at least have to hand it to psgels for continuing to pay for the site. By the way, is WordPress still fucked up on your end, or is it fine now?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 04:57 PM)
    @;(: Actually that was probably a bad word choice on my part, I meant that the humour in those episodes didn’t always work so well for me.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 04:56 PM)
    Whereas my favourite season 1 episodes were Rick potion n09 and rixty minutes.
  • ;(
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 04:55 PM)
    @Emma: What do you mean by “uneven”?

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