Blu-Ray Review: Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms For Tomorrow – Part 2

Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms For Tomorrow – Part 2 sparks the return of Ohana and the Kissuiso Inn but is it a good return or does it outstay its welcome? Let’s find out what is in store from MVM Entertainment’s latest Blu-Ray release.

Synopsis:

Ohana’s job at Kissuiso continues. Just when she grows accustomed to her daily tasks as a hot spring inn attendant, Kissuiso’s financial stability is called into question.

An opportunity to have a movie filmed at Kissuiso causes a big to-do, but will that be enough to revitalize interest in the inn and keep everyone’s dreams alive?

Our View:

P.A. Works tenth anniversary animation project Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms for Tomorrow continues in this second release of the series, and while the animation quality remains on ‘top-form’ as its previous instalment the story takes a slight detour from what one would expect. Beautifully animated set pieces with a mixture of CGI give this series a ‘shinkai’ vibe but aside from the animation quality the story presented here is nothing but moe-styled slice of life fun that expands into something bigger.

Taking place shortly after the events of the first half, of which saw Ohana forced to live (and work) with her grandmother at Kissuiso Inn after her mother eloped with a new love interest, we find that Ohana has not only settled in at school but has become committed to her daily tasks at the inn. This backdrop aside the thirteen episodes included in this second instalment focuses more on the individual characters of Kissuiso before returning back to Ohana’s own thoughts and feelings. As such we find ourselves in the midst of a school trip with Ohana, Minko, Nako and Yuina taking centre stage for the most part.

In this scenario the inn they stay at is managed by Yunia’s future partner and while Yosuke looks to the future of managing the Inn with Yuina, Yunia has no interest in doing so. At around this same time the staff of the Inn leave due to what they believe to be terrible working conditions and as such the girls from Kissuiso help out. The spotlight of this story may seem to be on Ohana but in actuality it is on the relationship of Yunia and for the first time we see her character evolve from a sheltered rich girl to someone who will work to obtain her dreams. This ‘vibe’ continues and with each passing scenario (or selection of episodes) the focus is shifted to different characters within Kissuiso.

It’s an interesting way of presenting the second half of the story and further reinevents this series in a way that all characters are treated in equal fashion and share the spotlight. The second group of episodes for instance focus on Kinishi, the son of Madmam Manager, and his idea of allowing a movie producer to film on location with the facility. Unfortunately it turns out to be nothing more than a hoax but we see Kinishi evolve through this story and become even more independent; including opting to marry the female companion that seems to act as a manager within the Inn.

The stories don’t end here either as even Nako and Minko share the spotlight, and bring some much heated love rivalry into the equation. Nako, who is often shy and timed at work and school, acts differently at home with her siblings; and for once we get to see this and her own ideals of what it means to be her. Minko on the otherhand, who wishes nothing more than to confess her feelings to Toru, finds herself in conflict with Ohana and her meddling ways due to events that seem completely out of her hands.

These individual storylines act as a way for the viewers to become better acquainted with each key character within the series and more importantly acts as a prelude to the final events of the series; the closure of Kissuiso. At madam managers request after the bonbori festival she wishes for kissuiso to close and the staff the part-ways; which is a lot harder than it may seem for those involved. What started off as a story about wanting drama in her life soon spirals into romance and wanting to protect things she holds dear; but while the events of this half focus on events ‘surrounding’ Ohana; it is Ohana that is at the centre of it all and helping it move forward. A unique slice-of-life story that ends on a rather emotional high of parting ways.

Extras:

Once again Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms for Tomorrow provides dramatic and fun-filled sequences that leave a heartwarming smile on your face; but while this may be the case for the episodic content the bonus features leave more than desired.Once again MVM Entertainment UK are using the disc masters originally authored by NIS America in the US and as such the bonus features is limited in quantity.

In this case promotional trailers from the first half are included alongside textless opening and closing songs for this second half. It is relatively surprising that the second half didn’t feature its own promotional trailers; but alas if they did they are not included here.The remaining bonus features meanwhile are trailers for other NIS America related releases; most of which have yet to receive a UK release.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50, BD 25
Region: B
Running Time: 3:33:18 (Disc 1), 1:34:38 (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:

With how the first half of Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms for Tomorrow ended I expected this second half to begin in a more ‘dramatic’ manner; but instead it begins in a more calming and reassuring fashion of simply getting on with its story. That story, at its core, is the blossoming of Ohana through the various different situations she must overcome. From a story perspective it is simply about her understanding herself, her feelings and what she wants to do in the future; of which she comes to understand by the time the credits roll on the final episodes. Unlike what one might expect it is not an emotional dramatic filled rollercoaster; and instead it is a charming slice-of-life story that is beautifully created and well presented right until the very end.

Regardless of this series true goals of presentation the events within this second half mostly focus on the characters within Ohana’s life and the dreams they want to achieve. At first I was initially put off by this idea, as Ohana is the focus of the story after all, but soon enough I grew to enjoy the stories being told for the different characters that Ohana interacts with. Whether it be Yuina’s selfish lifestyle, Nako’s busy home life or Minko’s harbouring feelings for Toru; each gets explored in a unique, and rather daring, fashion that makes the bigger picture of Ohana all that more entertaining and dramatic. These interesting storylines mind you are nothing but a prelude to the biggest story point of them all; the closure of Kissuiso and the family within it separated by their own ideals and dreams.

Storylines aside this Blu-Ray release of Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms For Tomorrow – Part 2 remains faithful to the previous release and as such presentation and quality remains consistent. MVM Entertainment have also once again opted to use disc masters produced by NIS America and as such these discs feature the same content as the North American part and, slightly annoyingly, feature the same subtitle layout in presentation. It’s not a ‘issue’ and more of a design choice but portions which see multiple characters talking can be confusing due to the subtitles being presented in the same manner throughout (unlike Sentai Filmwork related subtitles which change font or colour).

The events within Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms for Tomorrow – Part 2 differ from the content offered in the previous part and while at first this left me feeling uneasy and disasatisfied on its direction of story I soon began to enjoy the individual character stories and the ever-growing build-up to its dramatic conclusion. Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms for Tomorrow is beautifully presented series and offers a story that further explores the characters within it and this second half further explores those characters, and their stories, to give it an even deeper meaning of friendships and family; but more importantly it gives an open-ended conclusion to a dramatic story unlike any other.

Score: review-stars-5

Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms For Tomorrow – Part 2 will be available on Blu-Ray from the 15th July 2019 within 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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