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Monday Musings
Monday, 13 June 2011 14:16
I was watching episode 11 of Hanasaku Iroha last night, and found my urge to thwack someone rising rapidly, thanks to the behaviour of one of its character: Ohana's mom, Satsuki. Which got me thinking a little about how the show - and one other this season - was handling the small matter of "family"...

The other show I had in mind was Astarotte's Toy which, underneath its rather creepy premise, is developing a neat little storyline that's bringing a dysfunctional family together. It's quite heartwarming, in its own little way. Hanasaku Iroha, meanwhile, is using its "heartwarming comedy" shell to present something a little more sinister: the story of a family that doesn't work. The first clue to this was way back in episode one, where Sui issued her three-slap lesson to Ohana - a scene that drew the ire of many, and seemed to convince quite a few people to drop the series right there, calling it outright child abuse. I wouldn't entirely agree with that - Sui since then has been presented far more sympathetically, and the scene set a marker that you would always know where you stood with her, that you'd never have to try and work out what she was really thinking. That sort of directness has its place, even if you don't agree with how Sui expressed it.

Not so with Satsuki. Part of her attitude I can understand: I'm a child of a one-parent family, I know only too well that there are times when work must come first, to make ends meet, and I'm not going to quibble too far with that. Where Satsuki falls down with me, though, is that even making allowances for that, she simply doesn't seem to care. Want to run off with her fly-by-night boyfriend? Ohana's not considered, and is sent to live with Sui. When that falls through and Satsuki returns home, there's no attempt to contact Ohana or bring her home - instead, she gets on with her life as though Ohana doesn't even exist. When her job presents her with a conflict of interest between her work and her family (and we're not just talking about Ohana here), she chooses the job without a second thought. Even when she drops by Ohana's one-woman protest and leaves her a bag of snacks, there's more of the feeling that she's making a token gesture, rather than that she actually cares about her daughter's well-being. She's far too self-centred for that, with the only person that she cares for quite clearly being herself.

All of which led me to tweet in frustration:

HanaIro, ep11: Ohana's mom really is the sort of person who should never be allowed children. #anime

If you're not going to spend time with your children and care for them, don't have them. I have kids myself, and as much as they annoy me (frequently), I can't imagine treating them with the indifference that Satsuki treats Ohana. In many ways, Ohana is in a far better place at Kissuiso, and the emotional closing scenes of the episode make it very clear who her "real" family are now (I won't spoil, go see the episode).

Now, if we could just get to see Satsuki being taught a good enough lesson to make her change her ways...

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