It's Tomoe's turn to get an episode in the spotlight as we hit this seventh instalment of Hanasaku Iroha - although for a while it looks as though it might also be the head waitress' swansong at Kissuiso.
The reason for this is that Tomoe finds herself under pressure from her parents to return home and attend a marriage meeting, with her mother worried about her current single status - although Tomoe doesn't want to admit it, she does feel as if her life is little more than a daily grind of working at the inn with little time for fun or relationships. This depressing thought isn't exactly helped by the return of some regular visitors to the inn - a group of "survival gamers" who take their hobby entirely too seriously to the extent of making an operation out of following Nako around and trying to peek into the baths whenever possible.
With Tomoe seemingly on the way out of Kissuiso, she decides that she might as well accelerate any such departure by raising Hell for these guests and so sets about mistreating them wherever possible by waking them early, stopping them eating the "rations" they've brought with them and disrupting their "operations" while having entirely too much fun in the process of doing so. You can probably guess what happens next however... the guests in question love these attempts to "whip them into shape" and prevent their activities, seeing it as a challenge and thus being well and truly fired up for their return visit, while Tomoe herself realises that working at Kissuiso can actually be pretty fun if she only puts her mind to it.
Okay, this was an incredibly predictable episode of anime from the moment the "survival gamers" were introduced into its scenario.... but that doesn't stop it from being hugely funny throughout. Tomoe's fleshing out as a character was both entertaining and much needed, while Ohana and Nako in particular were on hand to deliver some fantastic one-liners against a backdrop of utterly ludicrous scenes that were incredibly fun to watch. I'm sure that those who tuned in to this series for its everyday drama alone will be wailing and gnashing their teeth at this week's instalment, but despite being attracted to that sense of drama myself I know good comedy when I see it - when Hanasaku Iroha hits top form like this it simply can't be beaten in terms of pure entertainment value this season, while this particular episode also easily took it back to the top of the chart for the season's best-looking series.