It was difficult for me to tell what this show was going to be like – if it would be quirky like Working! or fluffy like K-On! or neither. Turns out, it’s neither, but I aside from assessing what it’s not, I haven’t quite figured out what it is yet. All I do know is that I enjoyed the first episode. Aside from the beautiful animation and character designs, the story has been set up well and I like Ohana thus far. I especially like how she had the silver spoon and rose-coloured glasses knocked straight off her face with the back of an old wooden spoon.
Okay: So Ohana doesn’t have a silver spoon in her mouth (and I highly doubt she has any particular affluence in her upbringing, aside from your typical middle-class luxuries), but she did see life through rose-coloured glasses – or at least she was looking for life through rose-coloured glasses. I love that the story is about a girl who’s young, naive, and doesn’t see the drama in her life as it is, but dreams of experiencing it in other forms. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.
I wasn’t expecting the grandmother to be quite as strict as she is, but I’m not surprised either. I’m sure part of the story will be dedicated to breaking her icy exterior down, and her subsequently warming up to Ohana and vice versa. I really like the grandmother; I like that she displays indifference to Ohana and has taken her in as an employee rather than her grandchild, and the reason for that is because I want to see Ohana learn some propriety and the meaning of hard work. And no I don’t think Ohana is misbehaved or has bad etiquette or anything, but there’s something about seeing a 16 year-old girl correlate the necessities she’s being provided (food, shelter, clothing) to legitimate and hard work, that makes me feel… proud? I mean, these days, even some adults have a hard time understanding the value of a dollar. So to see a 16 year-old wash floors to get a grasp of what the “cost of living” feels like makes me feel hopeful for the future.
Now I know someone’s going to complain about my outlook because Ohana didn’t exactly have it “easy” to begin with, considering what her mother’s like and the responsibilities that she seemingly lived with on a daily basis (like food preparation and probably most of the house chores), but it’s about a shift in perspective: Living life with her mother and Ko’s friendship was Ohana’s comfort zone. And while in that comfort zone, she hardly recognized what she had and was always looking for “more”. But once she was forced to live somewhere else with people who didn’t know her or appreciate her or like her – and without Ko’s reliable and ever-present friendship, she realized how different life could be, and how change isn’t always better. She learned to appreciate life the way it was.
That’s not to say she won’t learn to appreciate the new turn her life has taken. Ohana seems to be one of those eternally optimistic characters; I suppose that’s a plus side to being young and hopeful: You’re resilient through trials and it can be contagious. Plus it seems she has a fun cast of characters to charm herself into being a part of.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Canaan, but I did manage to stick through it – mostly because of the pretty characters and the small sliver of hope that it would end well. So with the way Hanasaku Iroha has started out I feel like I could like it – that I should like it. But I’m also prepared to hang onto the slightest sliver of hope for a well run, well ended series in the event that it turns out to be… more like Canaan.