Teenage girls are a tricky thing to do well in anime. Anime about (and often aimed at) teenage girls is a continually saturated market, making it hard to improve upon. That said, I liked Hanasaku Iroha. In particular, the portrayal of Ohana was intriguing.
A part of my fascination is with the fact that Ohana’s character is immediately translucent. While our takeaway impression of Ohana, after viewing is that of a cheerful, positive (if misguided) girl, from the first time she opens her mouth, we know (or can make assumptions) about who she is.
Ohana is the child of the MTV generation, easily bored, and completely willing to slip into fantasy. She has no focus, and is cheerful for the sake of being cheerful. There always seems to be a bit of bite to her whimsical phrases, quipping to her mother that she was adopted, or musing about her friend’s method of getting corn out from the bottom of a can of soup. Either way, Ohana is insincere in her interactions, and quintessentially ‘tuned out’.
She putters around with large headphones on continually, looking at things through glass and a camera lens. Anyone who listens to music on anything larger than an earbud can attest to the fact that a part of the headphone experience is drowning your senses.
Similarly, when Ohana reaches for her camera, she’s framing what her eyes see: reducing it, cartooning it, and sanitizing reality for herself.
When confronted with reality (in the form of a thrown mop and bucket, no less) it’s easy to interpret Ohana’s reaction as being upbeat. It’s what we’re conditioned to see in anime like Hanasaku Iroha. The reality of the situation is as Minko points out: Ohana doesn’t understand the reality and the gravity of work, and what that means. She isn’t upbeat, just ignorant. The romance of her new ‘stage’ fades from view, and, the child that she is, she cries.
Hanasaku Iroha, as much as the title will have you believe it’s about blossoming of some sort, is going to be about the shattering of deep-set, narrow paradigms for this girl.I’m looking forward to it.