Ano Hana, episode 10: Were we ever friends?

Fantastic, fantastic episode. Honestly, the direction, the music, the tension, the artwork, everything about this episode was done perfectly. I still don’t dig the everyone can see Menma development, but I forgot all about it while watching Ano Hana this week. Honestly, I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that this was one of the best episodes of any anime I’ve ever seen. Definitely top 10 material.

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As the group march towards their goal of sending Menma towards heaven, the tension between each of these friends continues to rise. Tsuruko snaps at Yukiatsu for not noticing her. Anaru bears her heart out to Tsuruko about Jin-tan. Jin-tan continues to harbor doubts about sending Menma away. Yukiatsu remains torn between moving on and pouring salt on Jin-tan’s wound. While Poppo struggles to redo the mistakes he feels he made in the past. Seeing each of their different motivations as they take the final walk was high tension at its best.

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Fucking artwork. It’s gorgeous. Say what you will about Yukiatsu’s motives, or Anaru’s motives, or heck maybe you’re even wondering whether Poppo is or isn’t a Menmasexual. But all of them have their eyes towards the sky, the future, while Jin-tan is the only one continuing to look for escape.

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Another great scene was seeing Menma’s brother remind his still grieving mom about the things she’s missed out on his life. Just really well-directed. It’s not over the top, it’s not cheesy, it doesn’t make any of the characters seem selfish or insufferable – just normal, flawed, and hurting – like a real family would be after a tragic loss.

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Another great scene (honestly, there was not a single bad minute in the episode) is when Yukiatsu suggests to the group that they re-enact the day of Menma’s death. Ballsy, ballsy suggestion. And Jin-tan, he same as before, tries his damndest to squirm out of it. But what’s interesting is that it’s Poppo who forces the issue and then later stops Jin-tan from making the same mistake in running away again. The only bad part is the show hasn’t done a very good job of giving us much background on Poppo. They’ve given us vague hints about Poppo feeling like he could’ve done more… of something. But it’s not really clear why he felt the need to force Jin-tan to confess to Menma. Honestly, I really hope the reason isn’t that Poppo was Menmasexual too.

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But what was really interesting was, as they marched to the fireworks drum, I kept thinking in the back of my mind, what if it doesn’t work? What guarantee do they have that this was Menma’s wish? Heck, what guarantee do they have that granting Menma’s wish would send her to Heaven to begin with? Again, the direction of this scene where Jin-tan and Menma realize that she hadn’t ascended to heaven was just perfect. Menma’s slow realization, Jin-tan’s sudden realization and relief, and then…

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Yukiatsu’s mondo explosion. Geez, I feel for this guy. How do you move on from the past, when the past won’t leave you alone?

Ano Hana, to me, has felt like a show that didn’t deserve the traditional happy ending. There was just too many open wounds among these former "friends" for it to work out that way. If Menma had gone, the Super Peace Busters would’ve broken up again. And the gang would’ve likely gone their different ways. The only tie that is holding their friendship together (and really, with all the jealousy, anger and bitterness amongst these "friends", I have a hard time believing they were ever really friends to begin with) is Menma. But even that tie is tenuous. Menma can’t stick around forever, and even if she didn’t, even she wouldn’t be able to hold the Super Peace Busters together.

I honestly don’t have a bead on what they’re going to plan to do next. It’ll be interesting to see how the show wraps everything up in its last episode. A second season would seem very unlikely.

15 Replies to “Ano Hana, episode 10: Were we ever friends?”

  1. It was already questionable at the beginning where the producers plan to go when they’ve a ghost inside their story. I have full confidence that they will end this in a satisfying manner though. But as you said, how they’re going to do this…I have not the slightest clue. I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised next week.

    1. I have to think that Menma will eventually “disappear”, I just wonder if that’ll leave enough time left over to give us an epilogue on the characters. I don’t know that these guys were that good of friends to begin with, but it seems like it’d be sad if it ended with everyone going their separate ways.

  2. Uh, Jinta has always been the only one who can REALLY see Menma. Everyone else in the Super Peace Busters can only experience her physical manifestations (her moving things around). Not exactly close to what your comparison last week with Six Sense suddenly having everyone see dead people… It’s just that they’re aware of the fact that their dead friend is literally there with them more than anything else.

    As for Menma’s wish… It’s looking like it wasn’t even her wish to begin with, but that of Jinta’s mom. So it pretty much adds another dimension to her spirit returning to the mortal plane, and everyone misinterpreting just why she was doing so.

    Also, man, Yukiatsu has some issues. Definitely seems like all that he’s been doing in the past episode or two is tantamount to ‘If I can’t have her, NO ONE CAN’.

    1. I disagree, I think it is close to the Sixth Sense comparison. Whether they actually see her or not isn’t the point, because by seeing her physical manifestations it completely changes the whole tenor of the story. It’s a little deus ex machina trick to move the story along. If Menma doesn’t do her pen and paper tricks, everyone continues to think that Jin-tan is just a crazy hikikomori. And a lot of the drama that occurs between Poppo, Yukiatsu, Anaru and Tsuruko doesn’t get a chance to occur.

      Connections with Jin-tan’s mom might be a good guess. I haven’t thought much of those scenes, but they must be doing flashbacks for a reason.

  3. When a show is pretty good – shows promise – I start wishing for a not-so-happy ending, to give a little rigor, reality & self-respect to the story. Samurai Champloo did a good job of that, and Michiko to Hatchin pulled it off even better.
    When a show is as good as this, though, I’ve long since forgotten about ‘the story’ and I just want these people to find happiness. Let’s hope!

    1. Heh, that’s a good way to describe it. Although in Ano Hana, I feel like rooting for one person’s happiness is the same as rooting for another person’s happiness…

  4. The ending song was really nicely placed this time, overall a great episode. Let’s now hope they’ll keep the quality in the ending as well…:P

    1. Yeah, I’ve really liked how they’ve faded in the ED for most of the eps this season. It’s leaves a great memory when a show can do that.

  5. Yes, yes! The scene with Menma’s brother was really excellent. Once I saw him come in, I felt my heart sink. It was going to be some sappy “stop thinking about menma, b-baka!” moment, but it turned out better than I could have ever imagined!

    The episode as a whole was very strong. imo, the only thing that stops it from being god-tier is the half-assed characterization of Jintan and Menma. Menma really doesn’t have anything going for her as a character, so Jintan’s love for her isn’t really believable. No matter how well Yukiatsu, Anjou, etc. are fleshed out, I can’t help but feel uncaring for the two main characters.

    But yeah. I hope the ending will focus a little on Menma instead of Jintan’s seemingly meaningless feelings towards her.

    1. I can sort of believe Jin-tan’s love for her. I don’t know that there needed to be that much behind it. It’s sort of like just little crushes people have as kids. But I do wonder about why Jin-tan specifically can see Menma. How was she able to show herself to Jin-tan, when no one else can see her?

      But you’re right about Menma. She’s just a funloving dead girl which no living girl can compete with, because she has those undefined, unbeatable properties like… cuteness and kindness. I wonder if all the guys like her just because she looks like the little Russian loli from Fate/Stay Night.

      1. The truth about Ano Hana is that all this was just a massive troll for the Super Peace Busters to gather some cool material for their 2 hour panel on “The dead-but-not-dead loli zombie brigade: why no real girls can hope to compete against them”

  6. I really hope that they release that haunting new piano bgm that they used for the hanami scene. The one they introduced after Saa’s appearance was so chilling and sad that it really elevated my connection to the set piece. Really want that for my mp3 collection.

  7. It’s a good point about how they could’ve been friends to begin with. Or maybe they were and the the crushes on Menma developed and that would’ve spelled the end for the group even if Menma hadn’t died back then.

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