Deciding to run off with a man, Ohana's mother sends her to live with her grandmother in a small town. Her grandmother is an exceptionally hard woman who runs a hotsprings resort named Kissuiso. No hand outs are given, so if Hana wants to live there, she has to earn her keep! Hana finds the others employed at the inn to be an odd bunch, some of whom she doesn't get along with very well, but Ohana is determined to make things work. It's an experience which will change her life as she grows into a woman.
I hesitate to describe this anime as "slice of life", a label I usually apply to anime about nothing with no direction. Hanasaku Iroha (Color of Blooming) is certainly more gentle and sudble in its approach to story telling, similar to slice of life shows. The difference is that Hanasaku Iroha has a point (a few actually). It's exceptionally well balanced; not pushing too hard, yet not weak either.
If you're a Japanese culture junkie, you'll enjoy the hot springs Inn setting, but the resort isn't just a prop for characters. Kissuio means something different to everyone there, and offers special opportunities. It captures the feel, responsibility and pressures of a work environment, but in a way very Japanese.
The characters provide a solid foundation for the show. Many have traits commonly found in anime today, but they're shades to a more complex realistic personality; making them believable as actual people. It's an accomplishment to have a large diverse cast with none that annoyed me. A few of them rubbed me the wrong way at first, but I grew to like them too.
Hanasaku Iroha never goes overboard with drama, even if it seems inevitable. While problems arise, issues are solved in a plausible way, making it a little harder to predict in my opinion. One girl clearly has crush on a fellow employee, but it's handled in a thoughtful way. I would have said either he breaks her heart or they start going out, but instead he respects her feelings and doesn't do either, which I thought made sense. Ohana's story is another good example. It seems like she simply left a boy behind in Tokyo while never answering his confession. But the reality is she's unsure of her own feelings, which takes time to figure out. Each character has a similar charming story behind them. The show also has a thoughtful conclusion.
By never shooting for the depths of despair, it Hanasaku Iroha never achieves anything amazing, but I still found the stories very endearing. It's a truly lovely anime with a soft touch with its story and characters. While not suited for those seeking the extreme end of anime hijinx, it's a solid anime with a tame approach.
Satsuki: Once your daughter accepts your efforts, you're done being a parent.
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