Blu-Ray Review: Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms For Tomorrow – Part 1

MVM Entertainment provides a slice-of-life filled dramatic comedy with the release of Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms For Tomorrow – Part 1; but what can one expect from the Blu-Ray release? Let’s take a look and find out.

Synopsis:

When Ohana’s mother flees with her boyfriend to avoid paying his debts, Ohana is sent off to live with her grandmother, who owns the hot spring inn, Kissuiso.

Upon arriving, Ohana is put to work at the inn. Thrust into a life where the customers always come first, she struggles to find her place at the inn and fit in with her fellow coworkers.

Our View:

Originally announced as P.A Works tenth anniversary project, before being adapted into a twenty-six episode long anime series, Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms For Tomorrow is the coming of age story filled with emotion, comedy and most importantly an ever-evolving drama that keeps you coming back for more. In short beautifully animated and carefully crafted story lines makes this first half of Hanasaku Iroha:  Blossoms For Tomorrow worthy of your attention.

Featuring characters designed by Mel Kishida, who has also worked on Koei Tecmo’s Atelier games, and beautifully animated by P.A. Works animation studio Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms For Tomorrow tells the story of Ohana; a girl who dreams of a more unique lifestyle that ultimate finds herself sent to live with her estranged grandmother. What starts off as a story of one girls dream of being unique and filled with dramatic events soon spirals into family feuds and finding oneself in a world that is totally unfamiliar and business orientated.

It all begins with Ohana as she finds herself whisked away to her grandmothers place after her mother decides to elope with her new boyfriend. If this wasn’t stressful enough before leaving her best friend, Kōichi, reveals that he has feelings for her; thus leaving Ohana even more confused about her current circumstances and emotional state. Regardless Ohana looks forward to her exciting new life; that is until she meets her grandmother. Ohana’s grandmother is the manager of a hot springs inn known as Kissuisō, and shortly after arriving at the facility she is ordered to work amongst her peers as staff member.

This sees Ohana undergo a transformation of self-centred-girl to a hardworking individual that aims to prove her worth to her grandmother and in turn finds herself learning more about her co-workers and they desires they each have.  Nako and Minko for instance, both of which are the same age as Ohana and in turn attend the same school, each have difficulties they wish to overcome and Ohana, with her mingling personality, makes it her objective of resolving them in order to become better friends with them both at school and at the Inn.

For instance Nokia works alongside Ohana  and finds herself timid and shy during her duties within the Inn, while Minko, who aims to become a chef one day, has feelings for the junior chef, Tōru. The daily activities of Ohana, and her personality of getting involved with everything, doesn’t just stop with people her own age either; as she starts to become more involved with the business, and in turn her grandmother, and soon learn what it makes to offer great service and more importantly begins to understand her own feelings as well as those feelings she has for her best friend.

This, is in essence, what the first half of Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms For Tomorrow has to offer. A dramatic story of self-discovery and understanding; not just for one person finding love– but for multiple people each looking for something. Sure enough the end result is Ohana understanding her situation and coming to terms with it; but the series also explores the different characters personalities, their own ideals and dreams, to offer a more fulfilling story.

Extras:

Although the story provided within Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms For Tomorrow is both dramatic and charismatic the selection of bonus content on offer in this Part 1 release of the series leaves much to be desired.

In this case MVM Entertainment are using disc masters originally authored by NIS America in America, as they did publish a small amount of anime titles , and the only bonus content on offer is textless songs and trailers for other anime series.

The trailers themselves are for other titles published by NIS America in America, such as A psychodelectric Girl to Ground Control, and all three titles included as part of the trailers have yet to be licensed for a UK release.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50, BD 25
Region: B
Running Time: 3:32:27 (Disc 1), 1:34:08 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: LPCM 2.0 (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Although considered as the ‘first part’ of Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms For Tomorrow the story presented within this set feels complete and satisfying as it features a beginning, a middle and an end with a conclusion left opening for a sequel, which in this case is the second half of the series. The events within Part 1 of Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms For Tomorrow see sixteen year-old highschool student Ohana Matsumae forced to live with her grandmother after her mother decides to elope with a new boyfriend. At first this causes some excitement for Ohana as it means a new exciting life; but upon arriving at her grandmothers place, which turns out to be a Hot Spring Inn, she realises that her new life will be nothing but easy.

In this instance Ohana is forced to work a part of the regular staff and in doing so will receive free bored and a paid salary. This change of pace at first proves to be a challenge; but Ohana is spirited and finds herself changing ‘head-long’ into the work in order to gain her grandmother’s appraisal. Soon after becoming familiar with her daily tasks she soon starts to take interest in those working at the Inn, some of which also attend the same school, and through various different events and scenarios she soon finds herself befriending those she works with and becoming an integral part of the Inn.

There is more to explore with this story though; firstly we have the relationship between Ohana and Kōichi and then we have the relationship between Ohana’s mother and grandmother. The relationship issues also expands to cover Minko and Tōru and a potentially love-triangle with Ohana; even if she doesn’t realise it.

Storylines aside this Blu-Ray release of Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms For Tomorrow – Part 1, of which is being distributed in the UK via MVM Entertainment, uses the same disc master as that authored by NIS America when it received it’s North American release all those years ago. This means we receive the same disc layout, presentation and supplementary content as our friends in America which includes removable subtitles on the main episodic content as well as promotional material for both the series and other NIS America licensed titles.

This means it also comes with some disappointing aspects; firstly the subtitles are white (which can sometimes be difficult to read on White / lighter toned backgrounds) and no subtitles are presented for the Japanese promotional content. Regardless if you can overlook these minor complaints you are treated to highly satisfactory product.

Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms For Tomorrow – Part 1 provides a fulfil dramatic slice of life comedy that features both a compelling story with a progressive narrative that steadily progresses until its first cour conclusion. Its beautifully crafted and well thought it; but more importantly it is highly entertaining from start to finish and this Blu-Ray release is easily the best way to watch the series and the elements it has to offer.

Score: review-stars-5

Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms For Tomorrow – Part 1 is now available on Blu-Ray via MVM Entertainment in the UK.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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