Posted 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.

Suggestions:
True Tears
Konnichiwa Anne
Les Miserables – Shoujo Cosette

Posted on with categories: Hana-Saku Iroha



What a wonderful ending. The creators did a wonderful job at adding in some final character development, while the epilogue at the end that showed where everyone ended up at was exactly what I was hoping for. This was really heart-warming, and out of the slice of life endings this season (Usagi Drop, Croisee), this was my favourite.

The stars of this episode were Sui and Ohana. Ohana’s wish-tag, where she claimed to want to be like her grandmother was wonderful. Sui meanwhile, saying goodbye to her memories of the Kissuiso and wanting to pick up being a waitress again. those two things made this ending really worth it. My only criticism: the Kou storyline was cut off. Anime, let’s face it: running into two characters as they are about to romantically confess is a dead horse. Stop beating it!

In the end, I think that the biggest problem with this series is its first two episodes. And don’t get me wrong, they were two wonderful and amazing episodes, but they also caused me to sit with an annoyed face at the subsequent eight episodes. The big reason for that is Ano Hana: the first two episodes gave off too much of an impression that this show would be similar. Anohana was meant to be a romantic tear jerker. Something which it did really well, however during its airtime, Hana-Saku Iroha just couldn’t get out of its shadow. Only now, in the summer season it really was able to show ts worth, and stand out on its own.

I mean, the first half of this series did have its share of charming episodes, but the second half is superior because of how the cast grew. The cast growing together was done wonderfully and gave this series a wonderful closure, even though there were enough points that were rather annoying. PA Works, I applaud you.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 19 September 2011 with categories: Hana-Saku Iroha



What can I say? This was a wonderful episode and an excellent climax to this series. The creators stuffed a ton of character development into just this one episode.

This is going to be a bit strange, but I’m going to compare this ending with Tiger & Bunny’s for a bit. The big reason for that is because during that final arc, the side-characters all felt a bit lumped together. This episode of Hana-Saku Iroha however, avoided that: every single character had his or her own presence. Just about every character had his or her moment in this episode. It was a complete chaos in the Kissuiso, and the creators actually gave everyone something worthwhile to do. And best of all is that through this chaos, there were a ton of characters who were forced to act differently from their usual self.

This is a show that celebrates working, and it definitely hose a very interesting climax here: how to avoid getting caught up in it? After so many episodes in which the characters worked incredibly hard, I was afraid that they wouldn’t address this issue, but this episode really completes the circle and balances things out. This episode really added a lot to this series, and this is the kind of ending that I really like to see: the one that takes the series, keeps its core qualities and pushes them even further.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 11 September 2011 with categories: Hana-Saku Iroha



… have I just been trolled by this series?

I mean, I was really looking forward to the characters all going their own way and moving on. And here this episode comes and hints that the Kissuiso actually isn’t going to be shut down. The only one who is still on my side is grandma.

This episode was incredibly unpredictable and created drama in the exact opposite of what I expected. That drama though… again was really good, like what we’ve come to expect from this series. We suddenly got to see a totally different side of Ohana’s grandmother, and her performance in particular was stunning throughout the entire episode.

I have no idea what the creators have planned for next week, though. The thing is that a cheesy life goes on ending just doesn’t seem to fit here after all that build-up. Will it work well as an anti-climax? If the creators can pull that off though, then I admire their guts. Either way though, they have something planned here…
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 5 September 2011 with categories: Hana-Saku Iroha



Bravo, Hana-Saku Iroha! Well done! Awesome episode! This is what I’ve been waiting for!

Seriously, this is the thing that sets Hana-Saku Iroha apart from the other slice of life dramas: when it wants to deliver drama, it really delivers it well, with terrific acting and imaginative set-ups. This episode brought all sorts of events from the series together, and the great thing is that the creators really put in effort to give this episode an as interesting premise as possible while still never tugging at the viewer’s suspense of disbelief. Sure, there are some coincidences, but their timing is used wonderfully, so who cares?

I mean, the creators could have just settled for showing how everyone would move on after the closure of the Kissuiso. Then however, they didn’t just bring in the director again, they actually also showed the test footage he made during his arc, and the creators show it to Kou of all people. There was a ton of character development because of that, and Ohana and Kou only met at the end of this episode.

To think that, in three weeks there finally won’t be any Mari Okada series airing. Ever since 2008, there have only been two seasons in which she DIDN’T write something: Summer 2008, Spring 2009. Apart from that she hasn’t just been churning out one series after the other, but she wrote many of my favourites with only rare moments of weaknesses (really, only Fractale really went wrong, along with perhaps that Kodomo no Jikan OVA; Vampire Knight apparently was a very good adaptation of an unfortunately cheesy manga, and perhaps Kuroshitsuji I was a bit too long for its own sake). My favourite has to be the work she did on adapting the Armed Librarians, with a close second the amazing original script that she wrote for Ano Hana.

As for Hana-Saku Iroha, I remember comparing it to True Tears, noting how it completely lacked its subtlety. After 23 episodes, this still remains the case, but True Tears was the kind of series that really turned its subtlety and ambiguity into its main selling point: you could never tell what the characters were really thinking. Hana-Saku Iroha meanwhile is a lot more blatant, but it has a big knack for creating interesting situations and genuine drama. Overall, if I had to compare the two then I think I’d still prefer True Tears, but that’s mostly because it really had amazing acting, whereas the characters of Hana-Saku Iroha do tend to try a bit too hard at times. I still consider this to be an excellent series though: it took its hiccups, and didn’t just make up for them, but actually used them and made them a core part of the series.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 29 August 2011 with categories: Hana-Saku Iroha



Um… people; I just realized something: 1.

That’s the number of currently airing series where both parents of the main characters are still alive. Usagi Drop is the freaking ONLY one who has confirmed that! With Hana Saku Iroha we could thus far still dream that Ohana’s father was some horrible bastard who left his girlfriend as soon as he got her pregnant. What happened to the days of Noein, where parents could simply get… divorced or something? The best thing we can hope for at this point is for Sket Dance’s Yusuke’s father to be a raging workaholic who is never at home or something.

Having said that though: I loved this episode, for a lot of different reasons. First of all: the creators did not wait until the last episode to resolve the Tohru subplot. Tohru now knows about Minko’s crush on him, he won’t be misinterpreting hints from her anymore, and with Ohana totally uninterested in him, it will be a matter of time before his crush on her fades.It’s nice to see all of this happen gradually, but more importantly: the creators had other plans for the climax. Plans that indeed involve dissolving the Kissuiso, allowing everyone to go their own way. It’s the best way for everyone to really shine, and to pack in a ton of character development for everyone. I applaud the creators for going that route!

The characterization for the wedding also was wonderful, making this a really heart-warming episode. Enishi and Takako really came together as a couple here, and the subtle details, like them holding hands were nicely animated as well. Ooh, and Ohana’s mother has finally returned! Next episode she seems to be making an even bigger appearance, which is going to make that finale even more awesome.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 21 August 2011 with categories: Hana-Saku Iroha



I’m sorry for doubting the ending of this series. I should have known: writing good drama is what this series is best at, and this episode wasted no time: we’ve finally gotten to the finale of this series and so every moment of it should count.

So yeah, last week I said that this show has the tendency to completely ignore certain subplots, only to randomly make them appear later on. And guess what? It pulled that again. We don’t see Enishi and Takako for a few episodes, and WHAM: they’re suddenly getting married. I did not see that coming.

What I did see coming was that finally the love triangle would start moving again. The way in which it happened though… I have to praise the creators for it when Tohru just said so many things he shouldn’t have said. Minko was finally pushing herself to get closer to him, and then he starts to praise Ohana for all the things she’s done, right in front of her.

The wedding planning by the way also was great. There was some great tension between Enishi and Takako about the costs of the wedding after Ohana’s grandmother forced them to hold a ceremony. They’re a bit of a strange couple, but that makes it all the more worthwhile (after all, how often do we get to see actual marriages in anime?). It wasn’t romantic, but it did feel very genuine.

The biggest WTF was the cliff-hanger though. You’re forcing us to wait a full week after THAT?!
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 16 August 2011 with categories: Hana-Saku Iroha



As expected, this episode was not as good as the Nako-episode, but it did avoid the cliched way to solve everything, and Minko definitely received some development. Festival arcs remain a dime a dozen, and while this episode wasn’t amongst the better ones out there, the characterization still managed to shine.

Instead of the cheesy “let’s all make up and be friends now”-speech, Minko actually gradually made up with her classmates. She was really calm in this episode at the points where it mattered, unlike the previous episode where for some reason she refused to explain exactly why the omelet rice would be impossible. It’s much more fun to watch her character this way. But yeah, her problem is that things with Tohru still aren’t going anywhere, or at least: things aren’t changing. This episode did tell us that Tohru knows Minko’s cooking really well; that was a very nice touch. Oh, and Ohana was a really great side-0character here, who made sure to throw in a light note once in a while, while at the same time Nako and her friend also were surprisingly good.

I just get the feeling that this series is deliberately ignoring certain things in order to save them for later. We got this at first with Nako’s shyness: that to disappeared for like, thirteen episodes before it returned. In the meantime we also haven’t heard of Kou in ages either. My best guess about what the ending will be about is indeed the love polygon. This does sound a lot less interesting than Ohana’s issues with her mother, so let’s see how the creators are planning to make this one interesting. What I really hope will happen is that the focus on the final climax will rely more on the themes of “working” than the romance. That one has been built up much more consistently in any case.

Oh, and while I’m bitching a lot about this series, but I do consider it to be very good. It’s definitely something else and it always manages to find ways to annoy me and flesh characters out in ways I did not see coming. It’s really well detailed, but because of that I just keep finding things that get to me.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 7 August 2011 with categories: Hana-Saku Iroha



This show has the tendency to develop its characters really, really well, while being really annoying in the process. the previous episode was a great example of that, and this episode continues that trend with Minko. This episode was enjoyable, interesting, and again got quite a bit on my nerves.

Beyond the attention at Minko, I also have to praise this episode for not just looking at her, but rather the entire cast. This episode was quite well balanced in order to give a lot of characters their share of screentime and to flesh them out a bit. It’s especially the small details in this episode that rocked. This episode also finally gave some character to some of the classmates of the lead girls, and despite being yet another school festival episode, I enjoyed the small individual scenes.

Minko’s development isn’t looking out to be as good as what Nako got in the previous episode, though. Her crush on Tohru had always been a bit superficial, and the entire drama around her revolved around it, where she wanted to make good food in their class restaurant to impress him and started yelling at one of her classmates for doing exactly the same. At this point anything can of course still happen, but Nako development last episode was very good, especially on hindsight.

In any case though, the entire cast is growing together at this point, and I hope that the next episode will do the same. For example, Nako helping out her classmate in the art club was surprisingly genuine.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 1 August 2011 with categories: Hana-Saku Iroha



An interesting, albeit very annoying episode.

So, I asked for a Nako episode, and I got one. This episode dealt with her shyness, and unfortunately in order to do that it had to have her act like a bit of an idiot The entire episode was about her trying to change herself, with the result that she did a ton of things that she wouldn’t do. It definitely wasn’t bad… but she did get rather on my nerves. The only real criticism I have right now is the random guys who popped up in this episode (they were really annoying in the bad ways…) and that Nako probably is the first who begged her employer not to give her a raise…

This definitely was an episode for the long term of this series: what the next episodes need to do is show how she changed. She really didn’t appear much during the past months, so the shyness also suddenly returned from having been gone for like, what? 10 episodes?

Interestingly though, this episode also secretly fleshed out the rest of the cast when the four girls went shopping and we got to see some unexpected sides of them that we had not seen before. Ohana’s grandmother’s part in this episode was also very strong: the main theme of this series is working, and the end of this episode really delivered on that again.

This probably won’t happen, but what I’d like to see the most out of this series at this point, is a significant time-skip: show these characters as they’ve grown up. What has become of them? How did their character development during the past few episodes change them?
Rating: * (Good)

Star Crossed Anime Blog

8 User(s) Online Join Server

Featured Posts

Kimetsu no Yaiba – 20 [Pretend Family]

After last week’s episode, I had high hopes for Kimetsu no Yaiba this week. Sadly, I think I came away from it with more criticisms than complements. Perhaps natural, since living up to last week was nigh impossible. But I wasn’t prepared for Yaiba to undercut its best episode either. Welcome to Yaiba, episode 20, […]

Dr.STONE – 7 [Where Two Million Years Have Gone]

Ah today is a good day. The day where Dr.STONE reinforces what I loved about it when I first read it. You see this week Science takes center stage, we meet the ancient sorcerer Chrome, and the legendary Kinro gets his fabled weapon. Enough with the preamble though, welcome to this weeks Dr.STONE and lets […]

Mononoke – 2 [Zashikiwarashi – Part 2] – Throwback Thursday

There really isn’t a good way to introduce this episode. Nothing is really going to soften the madness of what I just watched. As this week Mononoke has given us one of the darkest/creepiest yet most endearing episodes I have seen in a long time. So let’s just get on with it. Starting off, a […]

Cop Craft – 06 [Need For Speed]

Cop Craft mixes up many unusual elements such as porno magazines, gay policeman, car chases and even romance into its trip this week. The result is that while it’s light in content, it proves to be more entertaining than when it deals with serious plot. While at this point I still prefer the relationship between […]

Kanata no Astra – 08 [Past]

There sure is a lot to unpack in Kanata no Astra this week. Kanata no Astra loves to give clues, and with every reveal it opens up more questions and make it think how all these puzzles fit in a big narrative frame. I must say that I am enjoying the ride so far, it’s […]

Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note – 6 [A Girl, a Department Store, and a Gift ]

It turns out that next week will be the beginning of the adaption of the source material of volume four and five and this episode marks the end of original anime content. I rather like this episode as it breaks away from Waver solving cases and has a fun little shopping adventure with the three […]

Vinland Saga – 6 [The Journey Begins]

Another week, another dose of Viking murder, courtesy of Vinland Saga. This week we watch our baby boy grow up, learn a bit about Viking history, and get into the series proper. Let’s dive in! Starting off, as always, the production aspect. This week showed us some of the cracks in Vinland’s production. For while […]

DanMachi2 – 5 [The Hearthfire Mansion (Home)]

DanMachi, you have me scratching my head. It takes you less than 20 minutes of air time to wrap up a 4 episode built, fortune changing battle – and then you spend the next 20 discussing Hestia’s Homebuilding. And what’s more – it was a very enjoyable Fixer-Upper-At-Your-Enemy’s-Expense episode. Just…a bit puzzling pace. Let’s take […]

Fire Force – 5 [The Battle Begins]

For the second episode in a row, Fire Force has quietly impressed me. Obviously the episode of the week would have to go to Yaiba (see Lenlo’s excellent post on it!), but Fire Force turned in an admirable performance. With the mess of Episode 3 still looming, I was quite happy to see an episode […]

Latest Reviews

Serial Experiments Lain Anime Review – 78/100 – Throwback Thursday

Serial Experiments Lain is weird. It is a series unlike any other, wholly unique in anime, both modern and historical. Every aspect of it, from presentation to narrative, is best described as an experience. It is because of this that I believe Lain is a must watch, if only to experience a piece of anime […]

Penguin Highway (2018) Movie Review – 89/100

You’re walking along in your neighborhood, going about your daily routine. It’s a fine morning. The sun is shining brightly. But suddenly, you see something strange. You squint your eyes; even rub them, to make sure it isn’t a mirage before exclaiming with excitement, “Oh, look. It’s a bird. No, it’s a plane! No no. […]

One Punch Man Season 2 Anime Review – 34/100

Often at the start of one of these reviews, I will wax philosophical about a series. Attempting to slowly draw you, the reader, in to whatever topic or anime I am discussing in that review. This time, none of that. This time, I have to come out and say from the beginning, that One Punch […]

Dororo Anime Review – 55/100

In the modern anime sphere, getting a complete story, start to finish, is a rare thing. As is getting an adaptation for an older work. Dororo however has, through the grace of Twin Engine, managed to get both of these. Based on the 1967 manga of the same name by legendary Mangaka Osamu Tezuka, Dororo […]

[Star Crossed Anime Exclusive] Code Geass: Lelouch of the Resurrection Review – 80/100

I was lucky enough to be at Sakura-con in Seattle on 20 April 2019 for the Funimation’s movie premiere of Code Geass’ third movie with the Director himself, Gorō Taniguchi, along with his senior staff in attendance inside a room full of raving fans. Was it was worth the decade-long wait to have a worthy […]

Paranoia Agent Anime Review – 67/100

In an era of the mundane, where every series is the same moe blob, the weird sticks out. Even the most mediocre series can get attention just by being weird. Paranoia Agent is not mediocre, and it is far beyond simply “weird”. Written and Directed by Satoshi Kon, Paranoia Agent is one of his last […]

Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019) (Winter 2019) Anime Review – 78/100

Just like the titular character, Boogiepop Phantom the series has become some sort of urban legend itself in this medium. Its Light Novels are amongst the first Light Novel ever released, dating back to mid-90s. Moreover, the franchise has endured the test of time, as it inspires anime, live-action adaptations and Boogiepop is a well-known […]

Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai (2019 Winter) Anime Review – 77/100

Coming to Kotobuki, there are lots of aspect that catch my attention: it’s from a famed director Tsutomu Mizushima who can turn the most trashable and genre-able concepts into something intriguing; it’s an CG show about air pilots: it has extended aerial combat set-pieces. Watching it till the end, I have to tip my hat […]

Kemurikusa (2019 Winter) Anime Review – 79/100

Kemurikusa is your very definition of an overlooked gem, one that never really gain much discussion anywhere, but one that has a distinctive style from an up-and-coming auteur who has full control of his projects. Coming to Kemurikusa, all the attention it has came from the fact that it is created by TATSUKI, a mastermind […]