Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Review on Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home

For an hour and a half or so, it really did feel good to be back.

Back of course to Kissuiso with the cast of Summer 2012 s Hanasaku Iroha. Home Sweet Home premiered a while back in Japan, and as you would, fans outside of Japan most likely have seen it recently being that it was around mid-October that the Blurays had been made available. Interestingly enough, news about a new "project" after HanaIro ended was already filling the air, and it would seem that P.A. Works was shooting for something big. Alas, I only remembered that there was going to be some new HanaIro material by chance. I gotta wonder, how many people consciously waited for this?

I'm sure those who loved HanaIro did, or at least knew that there was going to be a movie come Fall 2013 (I honestly was expecting a spin-off series or something). I may not love HanaIro, but it will always have a nice cozy spot in my anime-viewer heart for having one of, in my opinion, the best first episode a series could have. My main qualm with the series was that they never beat the impact that first episode had, and I'd even go so far as to say it was their fault for setting that standard. For you guys who saw HanaIro, then you probably understand where I'm going here.

If so, then rest assured; Home Sweet Home is as welcoming as its title. Picking up where the series left off, the movie portrays a sort-of aftermath of Ohana's self-discovery; she now faces the question "What of it?". Or at least, that's my interpretation of it. HanaIro, in its core, has always been a growth story (taking from the title itself even, a story of blooming). Not so much a coming of age perse, but a finding of the self - Ohana knows that she she has to be "something", but she just doesn't know what.

This movie is more of that really; rather a good half of it, as our flower here is still at the final stages of her blooming process. Seeing as that might not appeal to those who were disappointed with how the series played out, I'd like to think the other half of this movie pulls Ohana's weight quite nicely - Satsuki's half.

Satsuki, or Ohana's mom, was an "intriguing" character from the series, primarily because she was a huge part of the conflict of HanaIro; a seemingly irresponsble single mother that drove her only daughter away because of her messy habits. An almost villanous role until midway through the series where we kinda see where she's coming from. It was enough to clear the air about her character, but nothing really clear about her as a character.

Suffice to say I liked the Satsuki half of Home Sweet Home. We get to see a nice parallel to Ohana as we see Satsuki when she was around Ohana's age; young, ambitious, and determined. It adds a new layer to the dynamic between the two, and it was honestly a nice bit of closure to see. The plot may be a bit too coincidental for some (too parallel could also be an issue to others), but I guess HanaIro's always been like that. It's good drama in my book.

Of course, HanaIro has more than just Ohana and Satsuki, and we get to see all of Kissuiso again (we even get to see Kou-chan for a brief moment). This is where the movie thinned out a bit, yet tried to compromise with sub-conflicts. Nako, Minchi, and Yuina each have their time in the spotlight as well, albeit more of a side thing, which leaves much to be desired. As the series' namesake though, everyone undergoes some form of productive development as a person, so it's not a total bummer. I mean, I'm just glad they stayed away from the romance, which was one of the real weak points of the series.

As far as production stuff is concerned everything is pretty much up to P.A. Works standard. I believe even more so since this is a movie. The scenery is still very pretty and flushed out, and the character designs are sharp and well defined. nano.RIPE again offers a nice tune as they did in the past, closing the movie of with Kagefumi.

Is this movie for everybody? Probably not. For one, you really need to see HanaIro the series before watchig this one, as it really does directly follow-up. If you did watch the series and like it, you'll more than likely find this movie entertaining. And if you love HanaIro, then hey, more HanaIro love for you
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