With the introduction of Wakura Yuina – the granddaughter of the rival hot springs inn – and the really large Grey Heron, our cast of characters is complete.
Let’s go backward: How old is Tohru? Originally, I had assumed the was in his early-mid twenties (according to Wikipedia, he’s 23) – and perhaps a bit too old to be responsibly interested in a 16 year-old, but perhaps Yuina’s well developed body has swayed him otherwise. Or how about we don’t assume Tohru and Yuina are romantically involved, and that he’s giving her a ride on the back of his motorcycle because he’s hoping to leave his junior chef position at Kissuiso for a senior position at the Fukuya inn. Or… maybe they’re actually childhood friends and he’s always taken her out on little trips and it’s just this one time that they’re seen by Minko. Way to go Hanasaku; way to make me think more than I have to.
Next: Why does Minko hate Ohana so much? Aside from the fact that she pulled up her chives the very first day she was there, but it’s not like Ohana meant to, and didn’t she apologize for it? And it’s not Ohana’s fault that she can cook and Minko can’t, and she received praise from the staff for the breakfast she made. It’s not like Ohana deliberately made good food to one-up over Minko. And how is Ohana supposed to know that Minko likes Tohru? … Oh wait: Minko’s still a teenage girl. She doesn’t need a logical, legitimate reason to hate Ohana. I hope they become friends soon though, only because Minko’s attitude is really starting to irritate me. I wonder how long it took Minko to warm up to Nako, or is it because Nako’s such a pushover that she’s so much easier to get along with than the loud mouthed, inconsiderate Ohana?
I’m pretty sure I saw someone say something about Minko having a crush on Tohru early on in the series; I don’t remember who said it though. But whoever said it was right: Minko likes Tohru! And apparently makes all the other boys in her school cry. In a show with a bunch of adolescent girls (and a 28 year-old, frustrated, single woman), I wasn’t surprised to see romance come in this early; the developing of Ohana’s feelings for Ko are by far my favourite moments of the series. It’s just so… sweet and realistic, their story. And now whenever Ohana thinks back to moments she shared with him – moments she considered him a friend and only a friend – she sees them from a new perspective, through eyes that have looked in the face of romance. Ko’s officially gone from “my best guy friend” to “I don’t know; I’m confused!”, which is really only a step or two away from “the guy I’m in love with”.
Finally we come back to Yuina. She seems nice – nice enough to save Ohana from her overbearing classmates, at least, but her questionable relationship with Tohru is going to cause some conflict with Minko, which will probably centre around Ohana being (or wanting to be) friends with both Yuina and Minko. Yuina seems a bit spoiled too though, which is different from the other “hot springs in successor” in the story. And for a while, Yuina and Ohana may be compared to each other – the difference between their upbringing and family structure, the difference between their grandmothers, the difference between their expected futures, the difference in the way they’re treated now (I doubt Yuina is cleaning the rooms and making food at her inn).
It would be interesting if Yuina, Minko, Nako, and Ohana never actually became good friends, and all the scenes from the opening and closing were just placed to mislead us, haha. I think it’s more likely that they start out rocky and end up good though. Now if these cute girls would only pick up some instruments and make some music together…