Hanasaku Iroha, exploitation of precariat

Hanasaku Iroha, episode 1-2 were totally excruciating. The most repugnant anime I’ve ever seen.

Ohana Matsumae, a 16 years old high school girl raised by an irresponsible single mother, is sent to her unknown grandmother’s. Because her mother ran off with a sleazy dude. So, Ohana is delusional, claims to be a biracial girl, fathered by an unknown American soldier stationed in Japan with a Japanese female jazz singer. Yes, an abandoned child idealizing missing parents, just like Dreams From My Father was about young Obama’s delusion. Oh, maybe she wants to be like BENI, a famous biracial singer from Japan.

Yeah, I also wish I were multicultural. Not as a mix of the colonizer and the colonized, but the bridge between cultures. Too bad I wasn’t a product of exogamy. Japan is such an endogamous society. The imperial family is the embodiment of it. They won’t marry anybody outside the Japanese race. Some bigot in the parliament even said Japan can’t allow to have female emperor because she might give birth to a blue-eyed child. And this kind of racism/sexism continues to dominate Japan’s politics. So, the only choice I had was exodus to America, where a biracial can be POTUS. A scion of intermarriage among races, cultures, and religions. So, I perfectly understand and empathize with Ohana’s delusion.

Yet, reality is, she’s just another Tokyo girl, not a biracial. That itself is harsh reality. And then, what’s more, she’s abandoned, so she moves to the countryside to live with her grandma in Kissuisou, an inn her grandma runs. There, a sweet little sixteen faces 3-D cruelty. In other words, she gets christened with Japan’s work society. She encounters power abuse, verbal abuse, corporal punishment, sexual harassment, sweatshop working conditions, and all of these are business as usual. E.g., they make her use a rug to clean the floor, by her own hands! Don’t they have a mop? What century do they live in?

And angry Ohana protests that, as any American would do, but their attitude is, “That’s how it is…” Typical response of ippanjin (average people). Notorious kotonakare-shugi (事なかれ主義), the principle of conceding anything to avoid trouble.

And when Ohana makes a mistake at work, her grandma, the tyrant okami of Kissuisou, a witch of crony capitalism, gives severe slaps in the face to her and her co-worker, making their faces bruised up and bloody. Excessive and cruel punishment. Yet, it’s not even a matter of the 8th Amendment! This is assault and battery red-handed!

Moreover, a kitchen dude treat a female prep like piece of crap. And he also treats Ohana the same way. He just calls her out like animal, even resorting to sexual harassment. No respect whatsoever. What a jerk. Appalling…

This anime has made me utterly resentful. Dehumanization of workers is like the colonizer abusing the colonized, yes, whipping slaves in cotton fields. Even in the 21st century, this sh@t still happens in Japan, especially to precariat.

And unfortunately, the whole Japan is like this. A rigid seniority system still runs amok. Though they know it’s not right at their heart, they’re like, “I also went through hazing when I was a greenhorn, so deal with it.” That’s what company’s senpai would tell you. And Kissuisou symbolizes the obsolete Japanese feudalism work ethics. Individual rights are easily trampled upon in Japan on a daily basis. Unless there’s the Second Coming of General Douglas MacArthur, there’s no way Japan would change. There’s no way you can enjoy as an grownup, so better go to 2-D instead. See how many Japanese young people are taking refuge in 2-D!

So, I would like to see Ohana take this matter to court, and punish these evil doers. Send me a jury duty letter! We will make these bastards all guilty. Especially I would like to see her grandma lose her business license. She MUST pay the price for her wrongdoings. Maybe court wouldn’t even bother to hear Ohana’s case, yeah, after all it’s Japan. So, the best way for her is to move out of the land of oppressed like I did.

Yes, it’s true that Japan is the most democratic state in Asia, I wouldn’t even need to bring up China to make that point, but compared to the United States and Western Europe, it’s way too backward. Who would be proud of this country? Ohana should get out as quick as possible, or otherwise, she’ll lose her opportunity forever and trapped in this absurdity like Sisyphus.

May Day is around the corner, so we should celebrate this coming May Day! To Ohana! To her freedom!


Author: Monsieur LaMoe

A refugee from Japan. Live in NAFTA. Get hooked on Moe. Moe is opium? Twitter: @MonsieurLamoe

3 thoughts on “Hanasaku Iroha, exploitation of precariat

  1. While Hanasaku’s third episode was really silly and kind of inappropriate I still think this series has potential to not go the usual routs of over the top fanservice pandering as shows like Grenadier did. The series has a great drama-comedy atmosphere like in Fruits Basket which I enjoy. This show has promise



  2. I dunno. Personally, I think the show is questioning this very mindset, which in itself makes for an interesting kick in the pants to such notions. I expect Ohana to really warp the place over time. She seems to have the strength and temperament to do it.

    1. @wintermuted,

      Thanks for the comment.

      Sadly, this is what Japanese companies are like, strict seniority system is real. Honda’s founding CEO Honda Souichiro was famous for punching his employees in the face. In America, this will for sure end up in court.

      I agree. Yes, she’s a tough girl, standing up for what she believes. I’m also expecting Ohana eventually to overcome this uphill battle and blossom.

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