It would appear that in order to be an award-winning novelist in Japan, you need to be able to tie up a person well. Or maybe not.
What They Say
Hanasaku Iroha centers around 16-year-old Ohana Matsumae who moves from Tokyo to out in the country to live with her grandmother at an onsen ryokan named Kissuisou. While restarting her life there initially seems daunting, Ohana beings working at the inn, makes friends with the other employees and watched her life take an unexpected twist.
Life at the inn goes on as normal. Minko mutters about how much she hates Ohana while peeling radishes. Nako is worried about the "revenge meal" that Ohana has planned. Apparently she really dislikes taro that much. The two girls make their way to the staff kitchen, expecting the worst, but to their surprise, Ohana is not there, and neither is the meal. Of course, from the previous episode, we know where she is: she is being held captive by the Bad Novelist (Mr. Jiroumaru). A very pathetic figure who doesn't even know how to tie up a woman without referring to a bad novel in order to learn how. What is completely unbelievable about this situation is how calm Ohana is, even though she is gagged and bound (though not very competently. Perhaps that's why she isn't that afraid).
In the end, it seems that Ohana's optimism about her completely unbelievable and unlikely to ever happen in reality situation is not at all unfounded. All it takes is her being willing to help the idiot with his novel to get herself untied. In the meantime, the staff begins to wonder where Ohana went and initiate a search, which turns up nothing. The Manager decides that instead of running around like chickens with their heads cut off, they will perform a thorough cleaning, including places that are usually not cleaned (she's a smart one, Grandmother is). When Nako is sent to the Wave Room (where the Bad Novelist is staying), he tries to fend her off, but she becomes insistent, which leads him to start abusing her. This, of course, prompts Ohana to appear. We move into the realm of farce again as the Bad Novelist threatens to tie up Nako too, only for the old repairman, Beanman, to appear, followed by Tomoe. At this point, the Bad Novelist freaks out and tries to run away. The Manager is quite willing to hear him out, but the staff is quite insistent about his bad behavior, and so Jiroumaru runs away in one of the inn's vehicles, leading to a not very high speed chase filled with no tension and little drama. Along the way, Mr. Ren, the head chef, asks the Manager is they should add beancurd skins to the menu. And so, they stop at the local tofu shop to pick some up.
It would appear that the writers for this show decided that they wanted to do a riff off of high melodrama, having the Bad Novelist go to a seaside cliff, threatening to throw himself into the sea. The music swells, the inn staff arrive, and after Jiroumaru goes into an overly dramatic speech, Ohana completely ruins the mood by stating some bald truths. Jiroumaru was moved by the Manager's words, stating that he had taken advantage of her goodwill, but Ohana bursts his bubble about it being a sign of her good personality. It's merely business to her. She only wants the bill to be paid, which he can do by writing an award-winning novel. The Bad Novelist, overcome by feelings of inadequacy about ever winning a novelist's award, jumps off the cliff, but after hitting the water, he suddenly has second thoughts. It is at this point that Nako reveals a hidden talent of hers, as she is a veteran swimmer, having trained since the age of three. So, he is saved, and we get some fanservice.
It's pretty tame after all of this manufactured drama. Ohana reassures the novelist that he does have *some* talent: one line of his dirty novel resonated with Ohana: that deep down inside she wants to sparkle (I'm getting flashbacks to Shugo Chara here). In the end, things return to normal, with addition that Jiroumaru will be temporarily working at the inn to pay off his bill, while also trying to write that novel. Ohana learns that she's not entirely alone, thanks to a text message from an old friend, and he also discovers just how much Minko hates her. We also get a glimpse into the inner thoughts of the Manager, who says a few words to her late husband, noting how Ohana is the spitting image of Satsuki. There is a slight hidden smile to it, and it may be that her imperious and imposing facade is not a true reflection of the thoughts that go on inside.
The interesting parts to this episode were the parodies of other genres, with the diversion into crime drama, capped off with the denouement on a cliff next to the sea, combined with slapstick farce, watching the comical attempts of the Bad Novelist to carry out his crime and then make an escape. And, the erotic novel. The use of music was also interesting, in that there were homages to the those genres, especially with the mournful guitar and violin music that is played until it is suddenly cut off as Ohana interrupts. The bath scene has piano music of the sort fitting for that scene (in an American context, we would expect a saxophone), while the slapstick moments are played up with spirited synthesized music that adds the right quirky beat to the action.
With this episode, we get an end to the somewhat menacing turn that the conclusion of the previous episode hinted at, but instead of violence or tragedy, things are, as one can now come to expect for this show, played as farce for comedic effect. In addition, it would appear that every episode, we are going to learn a little bit more about Ohana, this episode providing us with a glimpse into a desire that Ohana had that even she was previously unaware of. Overall, the show continues to be entertaining, providing a light-hearted look at the life of a city girl now living and working in a small country inn. Ohana is slowly moving forward.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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