Hanasaku Iroha (anime)
As an otaku and writer of this column, I read a fair amount of manga and watch a lot of anime, pastimes I love. But in order to write reviews, I often end up watching shows I would never have considered worth my time - and most of the time I'm proven right.
So it was a welcome surprise to find that Hanasaku Iroha, an anime that I'd put into that pre-judged book cover category, delivered something quite unexpected: an engaging story and interesting lead character with a complex psychology.
The story revolves around Ohana Matsumae, a 16-year-old living in Tokyo. When her single mother runs off with her boyfriend, she is shipped off to live in the countryside with a grandmother whom she has never met or even spoken to.
But when she arrives, her image of a warm and fuzzy granny is shattered: her grandmother a very stern innkeeper. Not only does Ohana receive a cold welcome, she is told she will have to work at the family's hot spring inn to pay for her room and board.
Because of her irresponsible mother, Ohana learned to look after herself at a young age. She is strong-willed and learned years ago not to rely on others, so she rolls up her sleeves and makes the best of her situation, learning some important lessons along the way.
The show is produced by P.A. Works in celebration of their 10th anniversary and is directed by Masahiro Ando (Sword of the Stranger).
This is by far one of the best drama animes to come along in ages. Don't miss it.