The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home

Title: Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home
Genre: Drama/Slice of Life
Company: P.A. Works
Format: Movie; 67 minutes.
Dates: 9 Mar 2013

Synopsis: Ohana is gradually becoming used to her new lifestyle at Kissuiso away from the city. One day, as she is cleaning up a staff room, she stumbles upon a collection of old logbooks. As she reads them, she discovers the life story of her mother, Satsuki, and slowly learns more about the relationship between Satsuki and Ohana’s grandmother, the owner of Kissuiso.

The Highlights
Storytelling: Highlights the best aspects of the main series in one movie.
Character development: Remains the main strength of Hanasaku Iroha.
Satsuki: Her life story single-handedly carries the story.

I watched Hanasaku Iroha around 3 years ago, and I remembered how the first few episodes invoked mixed reactions. Fortunately, while wondering if  the story was going to get better, it actually did: the characters, especially female lead Ohana, and the slice-of-life story slowly develop and the series became one of P.A. Works‘ best drama productions. When I stumbled upon Home Sweet Home, I wondered what else was left to tell. To my surprise, it covers one aspect of the original story I think is an important component, yet never realized it was missing.

I remember being not particularly impressed at the first few episodes of Hanasaku Iroha, but I certainly was past the halfway point of the series. As the story and characters develop, one character stands out from the rest: Satsuki, Ohana’s mother. Her personality is mostly fleshed out through Ohana’s memories, and most of the time, those memories highlight Satsuki’s gross irresponsibility and selfish acts as a mother. Of course, it’s a biased impression by Ohana that results in us concluding that she’s simply a bad mother. But Home Sweet Home does a huge service to her by unraveling a side we never knew about: her rebellious adolescent days.

The sentimental portrayal of Satsuki’s juvenile days sheds insight to her motivation to move out of her rural home to the city. More importantly, we witness her journey of self-discovery into adulthood, and later parenthood. It drives home the overarching theme of Hanasaku Iroha, especially on Ohana’s experiences of growing up. Satsuki’s story is familiar: there’s a part in almost everyone’s life where one becomes rebellious and wants to break out from their monotonous life, all without knowing which path to take in life. It’s that poignant crossroad in life that many people will identify and relate to, the part where we have to take the first step in making decisions in our lives and determine where things go from there.

Although Home Sweet Home‘s length is just right for its story, I do think it’s a tad short. For a movie, the 1-hour length left me wanting more from the story, and furthermore, it feels more like an OVA instead. Nevertheless, this is still a worthy treat for people who enjoyed the series, and it perhaps can also be analogous to a succinct trip down memory lane with a new discovery that no one expected to see. It’s one of the better titles in the coming-of-age genre and a fine instance that illustrates how people have a side to them that none of us could imagine, making ourselves no different from each other.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: AC

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