Monday, December 9, 2013

Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home

Released on March 30th, 2013 and taking place within the span of the main series (about 2/3 of the way in, so early fall), the movie Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home tells three self-contained tales involving various members of Kissui Inn. We see more of Ohana's mother Satsuki's past and her motivations, more of Yuina's exploits, and more of Nako's family life. Though the 3 plots have little to nothing to do with each other, they intertwine like a braid, together but separate pieces.
The movie starts off with a young Satsuki, though we don't come back to her plot till about 20 minutes in.
The first arc deals with Yuina coming to the Kissui Inn for a few days as an apprentice. Ohana is none too thrilled about this, considering Yuina's naiveté and inexperience compounding the fact that Ohana now has to train her. Despite Ohana's attempts at reining her in, Yuina flits about the inn, blundering up everything from kitchen duties (which she was never invited to in the first place) to putting something away in storage. Yuina leaves a big mess for Ohana in the storage, which leads us to...
Dammit, Yuina, lookit this mess Ohana has to pick up now!
The second arc, which deals with Satsuki, Ohana's mother. Ohana stumbles on Beanman's daily log, which she glances through, surprised to find mention of her mother. She begins reading them to glean some information about Satsuki's past, which we gain a window into as Satsuki comes of age in Yunosagi at the Inn, thinking about her future and falling in love.
We get to meet Ohana's dad in this movie, too. Pretty cool if you ask me.
The third arc springs up amidst all this chaos, and deals with Nako's increased burden due to her parents not being at home, leaving Nako with all the responsibilities of the household and looking after her 3 younger siblings. Putting strain on this, Nako's younger sister Mana has a field trip in a few days, which their mother promised to attend.
Why, Nako, why did you trust your kid sister with the water glass...
The first and third arcs by themselves seem almost like extended episodes (not helped by the fact that this movie's only an hour long anyway). Satsuki's memories are what really ties this feature together into movie status, lacing the whole epic with the same syrupy nostalgia we enjoyed in the main series. Despite this needed element, the movie feels a little less than coherent due to the shortness and lack of new material. Satsuki's past is really the only thing that counts this as separate and distinct from the main series. It was enjoyable, but for a movie, it was a bit of a letdown that it was basically a big OVA.
Though at first she seems inept, Yuina eventually does rise to the challenge and proves herself not a total ditz.
Despite what I just said, this is not bad in the slightest. On the contrary, Home Sweet Home exudes a warmth and tenderness we came to enjoy in the original series, making the dramatic moments all that more bitter. the music is still lovely, the visuals still awash with that old-timey feel, and the characters still their distinctive selves. it's as if the movie itself is filled with nostalgia, bearing that "one more time" feeling that one gets with the ending of a beloved series. i'm not sure how well that translates into a movie, but it's at once cozy and bittersweet.
If only the happy times could last.
As with the main series, Home Sweet Home keeps up the pace of semi-ecchi moments, meaning that, in line with the main series, this is good for the 15+ set. It also tells a coming of age story, but in a slightly different manner, so if you liked the series, you'll like this, too.
Good choice, man.
Home Sweet Home is available from Underwater Subs, Deadfish Encodes, Hatsuyuki Subs, Coalgirls, Rice Subs, TAO Subs (Spanish), and Liuyun (Chinese). It has been licensed by NIS America in North America.
Whodababy. >w<


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