In time-honoured anime drama fashion, the end of last week's Hanasaku Iroha left us with an unfortunate coincidence, as Minko and Ohana just happen to be passing by the Fukuya inn at the same moment said establishment owner's daughter hops onto Tohru's motorbike. Welcome to the world of the love triangle...
Or is that really the case? As Ohana finds herself pressured into explaining Minko's foul mood as soon as she steps foot inside , speculation is soon rife as to Tohru's exact intentions and what is going on between himself and Yuina. While all of the girls are assuming it's all about love, Jiroumaru suggests an alternate explanation - that Tohru is leaving to work at the Fukuya inn. This suggestion, coupled with further musings which seem to match this possibility, brings about even more despair and concern from those involved, not least Minko of course, as we learn a little more about why she looks up to Tohru and how he influenced her career as a wannabe chef at the inn himself.
Unable to comfort Minko properly thanks to her impressive ability to blurt out the wrong thing like so much verbal diarrhoea at every turn, Ohana is desperate to find a way to help her would-be friend - a train of thought which gets a kick-start thanks to the inn's preparations for the forthcoming lantern festival. Naturally, rather than do anything as reserved as simply praying for Minko's good fortune, Ohana instead takes it upon herself to effectively storm the Fukuya inn and demand that they return Tohru to his former employment... only to find that the entire situation was partially a misunderstanding based on unfounded speculation in the process. Still, at least it's brought Minchi and Ohana closer together at long last, so the entire charade isn't a complete disaster - indeed, in Ohana's case it even gives her some more thought as to how to respond to Ko.
As per every episode before it, this week's Hanasaku Iroha had a wonderful lightness of touch in everything that it attempted - it never focused too much on its drama and anguish while still making it perfectly clear, while its comedy was equally subtle via certain mannerisms, one-liners and snatches of dialogue without ever throwing its jokes in your face. This combination makes for a series which is great fun to watch, pure and simple - Ohana alone lights up and dominates every scene while still remaining utter believable as a dim but good-natured blabbermouth, while the show's supporting characters all do their part with aplomb right the way through to Ohana's grandmother (who is rapidly proving herself to be anything but the witch she seemed to be back in episode one). In other words, this is still my favourite show of the spring season so far, and it's going to take quite an effort to dislodge it from that position.