Last week's instalment of Hanasaku Iroha brought us quite a shock, as Kissuiso's manager announced the pending closure of the inn - given that bad news, it's hardly surprising to see a decidedly melancholic atmosphere around the place as this latest episode begins.
As all and sundry consider their futures and what the closure of Kissuiso might mean for them, Takako seems to be the only one willing to go out and take the initiative, as she decides that this announcement must be somewhat related to the money lost during the abortive filming project - thus, she sets off for Tokyo in the hopes of tracking down the movie's would-be producer in the hope of getting the money put towards that project back.
Following Takako on this trip is Ohana, who is sent along to discuss her own future and what she should do next with her mother, who just so happens to be arranging some plans for Ohana's future herself it seems. In fact, it's Satsuki who has a hand in most of what goes on this episode once we reach Tokyo, as she tracks down Ko and allows him to watch the test footage shot for the film as she digs around regarding his feelings for Ohana, while also giving Takako a perfect opportunity to corner the producer she's searching for - something Takako eventually succeeds in doing with relish and a surprising amount of martial arts ability.
I suppose it was inevitable that these final episodes of Hanasaku Iroha are going to focus overwhelmingly upon drama over anything else the series might have to offer - while this worked well early in the series, it just feels like there's something indefinable missing on this occasion; all of the pieces of the puzzle are correctly in place but the finished picture still doesn't look right. I genuinely can't personally pin down what feels wrong about this episode, all I can do is assert that it didn't work for me - perhaps it's that Ohana's character was too muted during this instalment, or perhaps she doesn't work as well when pulled away from characters she can successfully bounce off, but I suspect her rather half-hearted efforts this week were at least part of the problem. Here's hoping for a return to form over the final few weeks of this series which has been wonderful more often than not.