Ano Hana, episode 11: We still didn’t know the name…

Of the flower we saw that day, because everyone was crying and wailing and stabbing each other in the back like Machiavellian assholes.

ano-hana-7
ORZ

Sigh. Sigh. SIGH! Let’s talk about the good stuff first. Tour de force voice acting. Haruka Tomatsu especially as Anaru – I heard dramatic tones from her that I’ve never heard her do before. Takayuki Kondou and Saori Hayama also go to town as Poppo and Tsuruko. Great stuff. This was the kind of movie/show/episode that actors love to do because melodramas make the award voters go weak at the knees. It’s also the kind of melodrama that I’m used to seeing in Korean melodramas where the story just piles it on, doesn’t show a single drop of restraint in painting everyone as utterly incapable of not being a gigantic possessive asshole in order to kick up the drama and deliver the tears. These guys were friends? No, fuck that. They weren’t friends. Enemies don’t have this kind of jealousy in their relationships.

ano-hana-2
Poor Poppo, just couldn't stand everyone else's jackassery

Thank goodness for Poppo not being a Menma-sexual. Unfortunately, his revelation that he saw Menma’s death just came way, way, way too late. Romantic jealousy? Bah. Who gives a shit about something we’ve seen a million times before. But Poppo’s guilt at watching his friend die? What a great plot opportunity wasted. I mean, what exactly happen? Did he have a chance to warn Menma? Did he see her the moment she hit the water? Could he have helped her or was she just a floating body by the time he arrived? Was he the one that alerted the authorities about Menma? It’s a shame the show spent 30 seconds glossing over the most interesting admission of guilt and gave us a whole season’s worth of humdrum jealousy.

ano-hana-3
Smile for the camera, aaand go back to crying

The sudden turn on a dime from everyone crying to everyone laughing about Anaru’s double eyelash couldn’t have been more abrupt and unbelievable. You can’t spend 90% of the season showcasing the sniping, the jealousy, the resentment between this band of enemies, and then at the last minute do a double take and change everyone to be all hunky dory friends. What possible reason do we have for believing these kids were friends to begin with? Because we saw 5 minutes of them playing around? Because they inscribed something into a wall? Please. The show just spent too much time characterizing these people as resenting and hating each other, to expect me to believe that they’re friendly now is impossible.

ano-hana-4
All she needed to do was kick him in the balls

Those that speculated that Menma’s wish actually had to do with Jin-tan’s mom’s wish were right on the money.

ano-hana-5
Uh, marry me?

Oh now, everyone can see Menma, because if not, how can they all deliver their own personal emotionally manipulative goodbyes?

ano-hana-6
False advertising

Ano Hana. Ano Hana. Ano Hana. It’s a hard show to judge. It was a very good show. Most will like it. Many will love it. And except for a few missteps along the way, I was digging it throughout. The ending… is technically fine. They actually wrapped up the loose ends and brought everything full circle. But the way they brought it full circle left a bad taste in my mouth. I have a weird incomplete feeling about it. I wasn’t frustrated with the content in the ending, so much as the over the top melodrama just seemed unnecessary. What began as a feeling like a subtle, realistic story about friends drifting apart because of a tragic event, became more and more outrageous as the show went along.

Ah, at least on the plus side they didn’t give us some wack Menma resurrection ending like in Angel Beats.

8 Replies to “Ano Hana, episode 11: We still didn’t know the name…”

  1. This was one series finale that REALLY left a bad taste in my mouth. There’s only so much crying that can be done an episode before it starts to get really old really fast, and boy did this get agonizing to sit through around the halfway mark.
    I can’t honestly say I hated AnoHana, because it did have its moments, but this episode felt like it completely invalidated all the buildup that came before with all the subtlety of a freight train plowing into a fireworks factory.

    1. Yeah, it was a disappointing end. Which is a shame, because like you mentioned, the show did have its moments. Heck, the last episode I thought was memorably fantastic. But unfortunately, they jumped headlong into the dark side and totally obliterated all traces of subtlety.

  2. In my opinion, the worst part of this show was having a ghost be one of the characters. It always was a little difficult for me to take because of that. On the other hand, it did the job it seemed to have set out to do, which was tug at the heartstrings. I enjoyed seeing the characters overcome at least some of their hangups, and have an honest conversation.

    In many books/movies/anime, problems would easily be prevented or solved if people would just share the information that they have. That leaves me frustrated, and shouting, “tell him about the gun,” or whatever. This show dealt with people being uncommunicative, but in a believable way. People were selfish, guilty, embarrassed, etc. And instead of someone having some special knowledge that would have solved anything it was just bottling up their feelings, not being willing to admit to what was inside. None of it would have solved Menma’s dilemma any sooner, it just would have lifted their individual burdens. To me, it seemed less stupid that they wouldn’t share information, and more a believable description of the distance that can be found between people.

    If it weren’t for the ghost girl, I would say this was a pretty realistic drama, with very believable characters.

    1. The ghost was a bit hokey to begin with, but I think the big mistake was revealing her to everyone. Before then, they could’ve given us a sort of twist ending, with Menma just being a figment of Jin-tan’s imagination. When the show started, that’s how I thought it was going to develop. With Jin-tan’s imaginary friend pushing out of hikikomori mode in order to bring back his old circle of friends together. But actually, the re-friending part happened quicker than I would’ve expected, which left them with no choice but to reveal the ghost.
      Yeah, I did think the characters were quite believable – but more so as individual characters, less so as friends.

  3. > Ah, at least on the plus side they didn’t give us some wack Menma resurrection ending like in Angel Beats.

    Spot on. If Angel Beats can be considered “good drama” then why not AnoHana?

    All it comes down to for me is it kept me interested in a tenuous premise, made me feel some empathy for characters who are mostly unlikable, and it made the most of a hokey ghost-story scenario.

    I was expecting a teary “healing” anime from the start, and it was pretty clear they were going to offload all of the tears to the end.. so I didn’t mind this ending as much for it’s cheese as for the little pieces that should have been foreshadowed earlier to balance out the drama (Poppo, mostly).

    1. Heh, now that you mention it, Angel Beats had basically the same mistake in the end as Ano Hana did. They’re almost like mirror shows, at least emotionally, except Ano Hana was always at a slightly higher melodramatic level.

  4. Outstanding review, RP!

    Yes, I think you summed up all of Anohana’s strengths nicely… but also all of its weaknesses.

    It was a bit cheesy how quickly the Super Peace Busters could move from stabbing each other in the back, to acting like they’ve always been best buds. Yukiatsu wrapping his arm buddy-like around Jinta and calling Jinta “leader” was the one bit I found hardest to take.

    On a technical merits and plot cohesiveness level, this was a superb anime. But the melodrama was very excessive at times, and the anime frequently (and especially in the finale) gave me a “theater of the mind” impression. What I mean by that , is that the narrative never quite feel authentic or real to me, and was just progressing in a way that was, as you said, designed to manipulate viewer emotions.

    Nonetheless, it was a very tight drama, and Okada avoiding anything overly bizarre in the end, so I think that on that whole, Anohana was a good anime and a good watch.

  5. I’m quite satisfied with the show overall, and I was touched by the final episode but not that I cried or anything. I agreed that having that kind of a finale is much better than having Menma to resurrect.

    Just like you, if there’s something that I didn’t like about this series, it’s the characterization of so much hating, jealousy and resentment, especially on the part of girls. Aside from that, I didn’t like how they didn’t give as much emphasis on the healing part.

    Nonetheless, regardless, I find this showing enticing and heart-warming. Overall, I find it pretty decent anime and recommendable.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.