Admittedly, I’ve been a little off on my anime game lately, but I still manage to check out many of the newest releases when I can. Thanks to our new friends at NIS America, I had the pleasure of watching Hanasaku Iroha the Movie: Home Sweet Home. While I wish I could have seen the TV series to better understand the characters and their stories, this set is still a nice stand alone piece that’s worth watching.
I read that while this movie was made two years after the conclusion of the series, putting the story chronologically around the twentieth episode. To give a little backstory, the main character is named Ohana, who works at a hot springs inn called the Kissuiso Inn that is ran by her grandmother. One autumn day, a new girl named Yuina arrives to learn how an inn works, and it falls on Ohana to train her. Things soon fall apart thanks to Yuina wanting to do things her way which causes nothing but problems for the other workers there.
After finding a storage room that Yuina failed to clean, Ohana finds some old logbooks kept by the groundskeeper named Denroku that focus on when her mother, Satsuki, was a teenager working at the inn. As the inn continues to have problems (the power gets cut off for quite some time as it needs to be fixed) and the some of the other characters work out their own problems, Ohana continues to read the logbooks and learns some about her mysterious father and how her parents met, and that her mom is a lot like her than she’d care to admit, despite their bittersweet, estranged relationship.
Home Sweet Home is a little on the short side with a running time of an hour or so, but I did enjoy watching this movie that featured fun and realistic characters and nice slice of life story. Every so often it’s refreshing to watch something that doesn’t feature giant mechs, monsters, and all the things most expect of anime. Watching the film in high definition is always a bonus, especially for animation, as you can see every vivid color and detail come to life as you watch. I’m also glad to say it’s presented in it’s original Japanese audio with optional English subtitles, and the voice actors fit their roles perfectly.
Sadly the extras are as light as the movie, as there’s only the original Japanese commercials for the movie and some trailers for three other NIS America anime releases. Luckily there’s a full-color, 32-page hardcover art book for those who purchase the Blu-ray, which has scene-by-scene director commentary, staff member interviews, concept sketches, and setting illustrations according to NIS America’s site.
It’s painfully obvious that Hanasaku Iroha the Movie: Home Sweet Home is made for the fans of the show, as they’re the ones who will truly benefit from it. But we expect this from theatrical anime releases, right? But don’t let that stop you from checking it out, as it makes a good entry point in the story for those who may want to go back and watch the series after viewing the movie. Those who enjoy the quiet side of the anime world will want to be sure to pick this one up.