Ohana Matsumae is a sixteen-year-old girl with no purpose or direction in life. One day, however, she gets the chance to reinvent herself when her mother and her boyfriend do a moonlight flit to escape his debts. Left alone, Ohana goes to live with her estranged grandmother, but when she arrives she finds herself forced to work at the family’s hot spring resort, the Kissuiso Inn. With her grandmother considering her nothing more than an employee and a roommate who hates her, Ohana’s happy dream of a new life soon turns into a nightmare. Now the wide-eyed girl must learn the value of hard work as she attempts to make friends and familiarise herself with life at the resort.
When Hayate was young, Santa appeared in a dream and told him that if he worked hard, he’d be rewarded. Thus, with an unbreakable will, the unfortunate Hayate has struggled through life holding onto that belief. In the present, his parents are lazy and unemployed, forcing Hayate to work several jobs to pay the bills. As if things couldn’t get worse, Hayate’s parents then run away, leaving him with an enormous debt and loan sharks on his tail! Naturally, the best solution to find money fast is… to kidnap someone?! A girl named Nagi is the target, but due to an unfortunate miscommunication, she believes Hayate has proposed to her and falls for him hard. After Nagi paid off his debt, Hayate must now work as her butler in order to repay her; but first, he must adapt to her wacky world!
Art college: cradle of romance, home of bittersweet moments. Takemoto is struggling to find his direction in life, while his roommates Morita and Mayama are moving confidently - or recklessly - towards their goals. Enter Hagu-chan, the childlike and beautiful prodigy whom everyone admires; and thus the love triangles begin. Together, the trio explore the pain of first love, the trials of romantic conflict, and our loyalty to those annoying people who happen to be our closest friends.
Both these anime have love triangles and people trying to understand their own feelings and what to do with them, especially when the person you like doesn't like you back. The characters in both series are determined to make their dreams come true and are very passionate about what they want to do with their lives. The art style in both anime is bright and colorful.
Although Ikoku Meiro no Croisee has a heavier focus on cultural differences than Hanasaku Iroha's somewhat more dramatic coming-of-age themes, both series have a very gentle and sweet feel to them. As a bonus, both shows also feature an adorable female protagonists in traditional Japanese dress.
Inari Fushimi is a middle school girl who's never had a requited love, since she's a shy, clumsy and not very bright. One day, she witnesses her crush Kouji giving a letter to her classmate Akemi. Shocked and saddened, Inari rushes to a shrine, where the goddess Uka-no-Mitama-no-Kami appears to her. As thanks for saving a fox pup, as well as out of pity for her plight, the goddess grants Inari the power to shape-shift.
Both these series focus on a girl in her early teens going through some growing pains. Romance is an element in both, but there is also a strong emphasis on relations with other characters (friends and mentors), who are in turn presented with considerable depth. Both series are visually appealing with frequent depiction of traditional Japanese architecture and costume as elements in a modern setting. Inari relies on supernatural elements, while Hana-Saka Iroha is much more realistic, but both tell a good story well. If you liked one, I recommend trying the other.
On a day like any other, average middle-school-student Yurie Hitotsubashi got the surprise of a lifetime – she became a goddess! Unfortunately, even with her newfound powers, Yurie still can’t manage to find the courage to confess to Kenji, her crush. With Yurie’s fame comes others’ fortune; Matsuri, caretaker of the local shrine, names Yurie the shrine’s new goddess and becomes her manager – for yen and glory! Along with Yurie’s faithful best friend Mitsue, the trio set forth on an adventure to find out what it really means to become a goddess.
I cannot clearly explain why I feel that Hanasaku Iroha and Kamichu! are so similar, it must have something to do with the fact that both oozes of a feel-good atmosphere. Oh, and the animation, artwork and landscapes are totally gorgeous... and that's true for both series. If you liked one you should definitely check out the other.