Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

1 November 2013: Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home feels like we've never left

Hi there, sunshine.

The Hanasaku Iroha movie, Home Sweet Home is very pleasant, but I'm not sure it really feels like a movie. It's not very long (although it doesn't feel short) and it mates so well with the episodes from the series that it feels more like an OVA than a theatrical production simply because it is not especially grandiose. (Rebuild of Evangelion, this is not.)

Yuina and Ohana
Sheesh. It's not a pork bowl, Yuina.

Nevertheless, it is a very enjoyable watch if you liked the Hanasaku Iroha anime series. The visuals look better than ever and the characters are endearing as always. I started the movie knowing basically nothing about the plot or its themes, having somehow missed all the trailers and any hype all y'all might have drummed up for it. I was pleasantly surprised to see Ohana's deadbeat mom, Satsuki, taking such a prominent role. Confirming what I already knew from the series, she was a pretty great teenage girl, but is still a terrible mother, however you look at it.

Minko does have pretty amazing skin.

Family and motherhood are important themes in this movie, but the execution can be hit-or-miss depending on how you feel about children. It's no secret that I generally loathe anime children, particularly when they make trouble for other people. (Let's face it, that basically all anime children ever do.) For that reason, I felt the sub-plot about Nako acting as a stand-in mom to her younger siblings in place of their frequently absent actual mother was a bit too melodramatic. This was time that could have been better used for more scenes concerning Tomoe's corrosive envy of Minko's flawless skin.

Nako squanders her youth.

Speaking of mothers, I never though I'd say this, but Satsuki's mother (Ohana's grandmother) slaps Satsuki a bit too much in this movie. I think she can get away with it as a stuffy old grandmother dispensing old fashioned discipline, but in the flashbacks where a much younger Sui is smacking around the rebellious teenage Satsuki, she just comes across as abusive. If it was supposed to make me sympathize with Satsuki and wish she'd get knocked up just to spite the only authority figure in her life, I guess it worked.

Satsuki, Enishi, and Sui
Angry teenage Satsuki is awesome, and I'm not just saying
that because she appears to love raglan shirts.

P.A. Works succeeds with Home Sweet Home for the same reason it succeeded with the Hanasaku Iroha series and more recently with Tari Tari. These are nice places and interesting people to be around—even the freakish weirdos. Thankfully, Kou had only the most minor of bits in the movie. He was always the Hanasaku Iroha Achilles' heel in my opinion. The kid's dead weight. I was pretty glad to see the rest of the movie's cast again, though. We should do this again some time.

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