「花咲くいろは」 (Hanasaku Iroha)
“To Bloom One Day”
I’ll just say it now — it wasn’t the type of tear-jerking scene that I had expected but I was shedding some tears by the end of the episode.
By bringing together all the different pieces that were scattered from before the anime even started, this final episode finally took the opportunity to meld them back together into something that brought along a sense of closure. From multiple generations of Mother and Daughter fixing their broken bonds to the most immature people recognizing how feeble they are (and how to fix it), the sense of closure was there.
The message that I came across, as much as I didn’t want to, seemed to be that life isn’t as happy as one would like it to be. Ever since Sui decided to close Kissuiso, I clung on to that bit of hope that something would be able to change her mind or someone would be able to override her. As much as that contradicts what Sui has been trying to convey this entire time, which is the fact that she doesn’t want others trapped in the dream she created with her late husband, I’ll admit that I wasn’t on the ball with the direction of this final episode until the last few minutes.
Had the clips of everyone’s life after leaving Kissuiso not played, I’d probably be full of rage. But once I saw everyone applying their true talents toward the things that they themselves wanted to do, Sui’s true intentions rang clear like a bell. I can’t imagine the amount of guilt Sui felt when she realized that Kissuiso wasn’t building dreams, but rather destroying them in order to pursue her own. It may be true that one’s dreams may change or that one might not have a dream to follow, but seeing how well everyone’s adapted after leaving Kissuiso, I can honestly believe that Sui’s decision was the best for everyone.
That said, I’m still a little upset about this bittersweet ending. Instead of giving us our cake, it’s more like someone gave us half a cake and no utensils to eat it — it’s a nice gesture to give us some leftover cake but it still pisses me off that I can’t fully enjoy it. However, it still didn’t stop the tears from building as I watched from Sui give up everything she put her life toward. In a beautifully drawn out way, it was brilliant how they flashed the before and after of every room within Kissiuiso. Combined with the beautiful soundtrack playing in the back, I was fighting the urge to let those tears fall.
It’s been a long time since the first episode, and I must say that things have come very far since then. Not only did an arrogant and headstrong Ohana managed to turn into a loveable and headstrong Ohana but the story has had more twists and turns then I’d expected. Honestly, I had no idea where this series was headed when it started (it’s also an original piece from P.A. Works) but I liked how things stayed true to the very end.
On the way to that end, there may have been a few lackluster episodes that might have lost a few watchers along the way but I think the series as a whole stands out as something that’s interesting and a little different. There wasn’t a happy ending where problems from the past are instantly solved. There wasn’t a happily ever after for the couple that have been waiting till the last episode to express their love for each other. There wasn’t even a flash-forward to the future where we could get a glimpse what everyone ended up doing with their lives.
But there was a story that modeled how the real world works — a world where the impossible doesn’t happen and disappointment is the norm. As much as I wanted Ohana, Enishi, or even Satsuki to inherit the Kissuiso from Sui; it wouldn’t have made much sense from a business or ethical perspective. The best choice was for the place to close its doors to open everyone else’s doors to the future — and that’s exactly what happened.
However, all this disappointment would not have been possible had I not cared for the characters or the story they were placed into. Ohana is a great character, but without people like Minko and Nako to balance her out I’m sure she would have gotten old quickly. Minko and that hate we all had for her slowly turned into love as that façade she attempted to put up went away. I’m sure as soon as she opened herself up a little bit most of you were leaping on the Minko bandwagon. Nako on the other hand was the quiet girl who would instill some sense into Ohana when things were getting hectic, proving just how deep she is inside. It also didn’t hurt that Omigawa Chika and Toyosaki Aki were voicing the two, respectively.
And that doesn’t mean that everyone else wasn’t just as important. Every person played a part and instilled something different into Ohana. From Sui to Takako all the way down to “Beanman” and Tohru, each person had a lesson that helped mold Ohana into a better person.
Since day one, I’ve wanted to find some sort of meaning from this show. As the Divine’s preview beautifully stated, this is a show that is focused on self-discovery. And the hardest thing in the world is probably trying to figure out just what and who you are. The one thing I’m taking away from this show is that even though life is generally crappy and will deal you some pretty crappy cards, it shouldn’t stop you from living it up while you figure out just who you are.
On the patented Takaii Meter-Of-Recommendations, I’d have no reservations about telling people to watch Hanasaku Iroha. It wasn’t a grand-slam, but it was more than entertaining. With a stellar cast, interesting story, and a great team behind it; I think that anyone can enjoy this show.