Monday, March 9, 2020

REVIEW: Hanasaku Iroha the Movie: Home Sweet Home (anime movie)

Hanasaku Iroha the Movie: Home Sweet Home is basically a side story in the Hanasaku Iroha series, which I saw and reviewed way back in 2012. It takes place prior to the Bonbori Festival, which I can't even remember at this point.

Ohana is still thinking about what she wants out of her life and struggling with her mixed feelings about her mother. When Yuina (a character I'd completely forgotten about - she's the heiress to a rival inn) arrives in order to learn more about how other inns are run, Ohana's grandmother makes her Ohana's problem. This leads to Ohana discovering an old logbook from her mother's teen days, back when her mother first met her father.

While that's going on, Nako is struggling with frustration and exhaustion. She's been left to take care of her younger siblings while both of her parents are away for work. She loves her siblings but struggles with the knowledge that, sometimes, what they really need is their real mother rather than their older sister acting as a surrogate mother. Minko isn't in the movie quite as much, but she does have her own problem: figuring out why Tohru keeps rejecting the meals she makes for Kissuiso's customers.

What I really wanted this movie to be was a continuation of the series - if I remember right, Kissuiso's ultimate fate was left hanging. The movie I ended up getting was pretty good, though, a condensed version of some of the things I most enjoyed about the series.

One of the series' biggest strengths was its depiction of the relationship between Ohana, her grandmother, and her mother. That was continued here, this time with flashbacks to Ohana's mother's younger days. Ohana's mother felt smothered by life at Kissuiso and longed for a bigger, grander life in Tokyo, or really any other big city. Meeting the man who would one day become Ohana's father gave her something more specific to shoot for - a job that would bring her closer to him. The storyline involving Ohana's mother and father didn't work quite as well for me because he was obviously a good bit older than her - I was a little worried that this was going to turn into an "adult guy romances an underage girl and gets her pregnant" thing, but thankfully that didn't happen.

So the logbook gave Ohana a glimpse of her mother beyond the unreliable adult she'd grown up with - she saw that, just like her, her mother used to be a frustrated teen who wanted more out of her life. Viewers also got another peek at a younger version of Ohana's grandmother, working hard to run Kissuiso as well or better than her husband had. It didn't provide as rich and full of a picture of the characters and their relationships as the TV series did, but it was still very nice.

Nako's storyline tied in with Ohana's a bit - the way Nako's parents chose work over events important to their kids reminded Ohana of all the things her own mother skipped out on - but also gave Nako a chance to shine. She spent so much time being a little mom that it was nice when she finally broke down and told her mother how she really felt. And the way Ohana's grandmother handled Nako and Ohana leaving maybe tied back into her development as well - I could be wrong, but I suspect she'd have been stricter back when she first took charge of Kissuiso.

It was nice to get back to these characters and Kissuiso, even if only for a little bit. Although the movie wasn't quite as good as the better parts of the TV series, it also lacked some of the TV series' weaknesses, so it evened out in the end.

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