Episode 19 -
The one thing that has always stuck out about Hanasaku Iroha is that how it often manages to push character development in the most absurd, yet at the same time subtle, ways. It’s really quite something to see, where scenes that might be disguised as silly slice-of-life moments actually have a much more implicit meaning to them. This episode does just that with Minko, though not quite as subtle as the bits of development for other characters in this show.
The primary focus in this episode was Minko and her rather conflicting feelings regarding Tohru, as well as her rather antisocial position in relationship to her classmates. It’s actually quite the conundrum here, where Minko’s rather blunt personality sparks off a lot of drama and debate. Seriously though, is omurice that important? I’m guessing there’s something in Minko’s past that biases her against omurice, though I can’t quite imagine what the heck that would be. It’s kind of odd how Minko is working hard to try and impress Tohru, when the girl who wants to make the omurice is trying to do the exact same thing towards one of her own acquaintances. While the drama was a bit too heavy for my liking, it did it’s job of exposing quite a few of Minko’s problems and general demeanor towards certain things.
Aside from all the focus on Minko, this episode also tried to develop characters across the board. We see the rather small bits of development for Nako, Ohana, and even Yuina. While some of the development was a bit subdued and underwhelming, other bits of development were pretty darn good. Ohana’s odd dream, and her reaffirmation as a “shijima lady”, is subtling poking at some of her insecurities about herself. As for Nako, her involvement with the art exhibit turned out to be a rather genuine way of showing her struggling to grow a bit more capable. You could also tell that Nako holds some rather deep admiration for Ohana’s rather headstrong personality, and in retrospect, Nako’s character development episode last week does an amazing job at reinforcing this.
Anyways, this series seems to be continuing with it’s “one side character per arc” development setup, but the writing in this episode was surprisingly better than I anticipated. Hanasaku Iroha has a tendency to mask serious character development in some outrageous, silly plot events, and that mostly holds true in this episode. Don’t get me wrong, I still wish this series would bring some more focus to the star attractions (Ohana and the Shijima family), but the character development for these side characters is gradually improving.
Overall Enjoyment: 3.6/5
Screenshots are later in the post.