Hanasaku Iroha Volume 8: The end blooms near

Hanasaku Iroha had its ups and downs, but beginning with the previous volume, the quality from the first half of the show comes back. The show, which began broadcasting in April 2011, was set to air 26 episodes. We near the end of the series with Volume 8! BDInfo/Photobucket Album

Volume 8 contains episodes 22-24:A Determined One-sided Crush, Compensation for a Dream, and Sui Shijima, The Last Boss.

A Determined One-sided Crush continues from our last volume where Minko wants to force Ohana and Tohru into a relationship. We discover more about the relationship between Satsuki and Ohana’s father and that gives Ohana more determination to confront Kou with her feelings. The episode continues strongly into a great scene where Tohru overhears Minko and Ohana’s arguement about her feelings for Tohru. Tohru handles the situation nicely and allows everyone to work together to pull off Enishi and Takako’s wedding well. After the credits, we get a big announcement that not only is Denroku retiring, Sui’s going to close the inn!

Compensation for a Dream takes us back to Tokyo to see what Ohana will do after the inn closes. With an amusing side-plot of getting money back from the movie’s producer, Takako begins to bond with her niece-in-law. The conversations between the two provide great depth for Takako beyond her past with Enishi. Also greatly played was Kou watching what was taped from the movie at Kissuisou. The episode ends with a moment that made you want to see the next episode immediately while it aired as they finally meet again.

Unfortunately, there’s two more episodes and so the confessions don’t come from either Ohana or Kou. They set up for the final episode where he comes to visit the inn. Sui Shijima, The Last Boss returns us to Kissuisou where the line is drawn between the workers and Sui over the closing of the inn just as they’ve become swamped with reservations. The reasons behind the closing of the inn help add to Sui’s character and show how realistic owning a business takes away from your personal life. Another great episode.

I keep saying this, but episodes 21-26 show the greatness of Iroha and this continues one of the better arcs for the show. It’s a joy to re-watch.

Volume 8 comes with audio commentary by Tomoe (CV Mamiko Noto) on episode 22. Not only does she start by imitating the four girls, but she continues to get drunk throughout the commentary. While it’s not as funny as the previous ones, this too was hilarious. Also on episode 22 was staff commentary entitled Female Staff Members’ Free Time Chatter by Production Manager Akiko Okutsu, Finish Animator Yuko Koshida, and Production Advancement Keiko Ikezaki. They gush over the show and the characters. It’s interesting, but you don’t miss much if you don’t know a lot of Japanese. The video extra for this volume was a set of commercials advertising the show on Gangan Online, and TV spots for the show (prior to and airing) and BD volumes 1 and 3.

And as usual, this volume comes with a Hanairo Notebook. This notebook contains episode summaries, minor character designs, interviews with Chief Animation Director/Character Designer Kanami Sekiguchi and Main Animator Yuriko Ishii. Follow that, there are rough sketches and finished images for each of the main characters. It’s interesting to see the changes between the original line art drawn by these two and the finished image. There’s also Chief Animation Director’s Iroha and Animator’s Iroha interviews at the end. A much denser Notebook than usual.

So there’s one more volume to go and Hanasaku Iroha concludes. It’ll be a sad day, but at least we’ll have the new work to look forward to. I’ll be editing the past Hanairo Notebooks and working on the 8th Notebook featured in this review over the next couple of weeks for a cumulative post. As you can see, this is a lot more work than others and RL obligations have been weighing me down as well.

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