Hana-Saku Iroha Blossoms for Tomorrow Volume 2 Premium Edition is the continuation of the heartwarming tale of Ohana’s life experiences at Kissuiso. When her mother runs off with her latest boyfriend, Ohana Matsumae is sent to live with her grandmother, who she has never met nor spoken to. Her grandmother is not pleased to find Ohana on her doorstep, and sets her to work at her Taisho-era (1920s) hot springs inn. It’s not a lifestyle that Ohana would have chosen, but she decides not to be discouraged and to make the most of her difficult circumstances. Most Slice of Life anime is very focused on the school life so it was indeed refreshing to see a new setting in a genre that doesn’t really try to be innovative. The Slice of Life genre excels in the ordinary.
But the writing is where the series really shines. It takes mundane events, ruminations, and stressors and makes them into a joy to watch. As Ohana continues to live and work at Kissuiso, she gradually comes to fully appreciate that, for some, being an inn worker can be as much a way of life as a job, and that may be true for her as well. When the inn hosting their school field trip experiences a sudden staffing crisis, the Kisuisso girls cannot help but come to their aid. Their professional instincts also take over – not always beneficially so – when Ohana and Minko’s class opt to do a café for their school’s Cultural Festival. A director wanting to use Kissuiso for a movie set adds in a new wrinkle, as does an upcoming wedding for one of the staff’s own. As the Bonbori Festival approaches, an even bigger crisis looms: the end for Kisuisso may be drawing near, which forces everyone involved to look to their futures and decide what they want most.
If you ever wanted to know how to make omelet rice, episode 20 will show you in thoroughly animated step-by-step detail. That is just the charm of the series, at least for me. Most episodes center on a certain event or conflict. They’re the focus of the episode and the conflict often gets resolved towards the end of the anime. The writers introduce to us a lot of plot-lines, and continue to add conflicts and sub-plots well into the last few episodes of the series. In true form, everything seems to come together in the climax of the final episode, almost a little too neatly, although pleasantly open-ended in all the good ways. In fact, not everything is tied up at the end, which is unfortunate. The good outweights the bad though, so there isn’t much room to complain. This good-hearted show offers a whole slew of things to win over its audience: a lively cast of characters, a novel setting (especially for non-Japanese), an engaging story, and some truly gorgeous animation and visual design.
There were hardly any plot holes, but again, it takes quite some time after Ohana moves to Yusonagi to learn what’s happened with both Koichi and Ohana’s mother back in the city, which was a bit disappointing considering that they were both introduced as essential factors. Some of this bleeds over into Volume 1, but as the anime progresses, characters are fleshed out, relationships are strengthened and typical work related conflicts are resolved. The inn and its surrounding countryside are depicted with great attention to detail and a lush use of color, and the character animation is likewise full-bodied and expressive. I love it when anime shows us the world we know and are familiar with, but through artistic and attentive eyes, and this show is a fine example of that. NIS, bring on more slice of life anime, the world welcomes it! Recommended.