Anohana Series Review

Anohana has ended up as a superbly sparkling success, as it is both commercially soaring, and critically acclaimed.

And yet, as good as Anohana was, I have to admit a slight degree of surprise over this. Which is why I spent some time puzzling over just what made Anohana become received so well by domestic (i.e. Japanese) and foreign audiences alike. In this blog, I will share what I’ve come up with, while also reviewing this anime in general.
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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.

blend

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Ano Hana 5&6

Episode 5

After chasing the fake Menma down in episode 4, we see Yukiatsu sitting on the ground dressed up as Menma. Jintan goes to Yukiatsu and asks if he is all right. At this, Yukiatsu blows up and pins Jintan to the ground. Poppo tries to interfere, but Tsuruko stops him and says that this is a good chance for Yukiatsu to work out things from the past.

Yukiatsu blames himself for Menma’s death and believes that she ought to appear to haunt or curse him, not to Jintan. Jintan acts as a mouthpiece for Menma to speak to Yukiatsu. He tells Yukiatsu that Menma says thank you for the hairpin.
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Ano Hi Mita Hana No Namae O Bokutachi Wa Mada Shiranai – Episodes 1&2

This post is extremely delayed because of personal issues I had to attend to. Here is the first impression post and second episode post for Ano Hi Mita Hana No Namae O Bokutachi Wa Mada Shiranai.

From left to right: Tsuruko, Yukiatsu, Menma, Jintan, Anaru, Poppo

I was captivated by the first episode of AnoHana for many reasons. Though this series may seem like the typical story about a ghost asking someone to fulfill its wish so it can rest in peace, AnoHana also beautifully ties in the theme of friendship.

Episode 1

Jintan, Menma, Anaru, Tsuruko, Yukiatsu and Poppo were close friends and playmates when they were young. After Menma’s death, their friendship fell apart and everyone went their separate ways.

In the present, we see that Jintan has never recovered from Menma’s death. He doesn’t go to school and has become a recluse. He is haunted by Menma’s apparition, which only he can see, and believes that she is the embodiment of his stress and trauma. He asks Menma what he has to do to get rid of her. She replies that he needs to grant her wish – a wish that can only be granted when all their childhood friends are together.

Menma, who has been dead all this time, does not know what happened between the time of her death and the present. She innocently believes that everyone is still the same and has not changed. Even Jintan’s encounters with Anaru, Tsuruko and Yukiatsu do not shake her strong belief.

Menma pays a visit to her old home and finds her father, mother and younger brother inside. Her mother is paying her respects and offering a bowl of curry to Menma. Her younger brother, Saa, seems bitter and questions why one should bother with such a meaningless act since the dead don’t eat.

The use of flashbacks was extremely effective for this episode. The scene when Menma was about to fall off the fence was memorable. Jintan immediately had a flashback to the day he heard about Menma’s death. For Jintan, it was as if Menma was to die again. The imagery during this scene was amazing.

The ending song and last scene was wonderfully meshed together. I loved how the lyrics of the song matched the frame when Jintan opened the door to the base. I will be using either the OP or ED as my new ringtone soon. The art for this series is superb. I find Menma’s coloration to be very interesting. Her dress is white and her hair is gray – like a ghost.

Episode 2

Poppo and Jintan reconnect at their old base and it seems like everything is back to how it used to be. Jintan is very fortunate to have gained Poppo as an ally. It seems like Poppo hasn’t changed much in that he is still jovial. Instead of going to high school, Poppo works part-time jobs and then uses that money to travel.

Nokemon! Gotta Catch ‘em All!

While delivering papers for his part-time job, Poppo bumps into Yukiatsu who gives Poppo a hint about a possible wish that Menma had – to catch a legendary Nokemon. Poppo then finds Jintan and together they seek out Anaru to catch this Nokemon and fulfill Menma’s wish.

Obviously they succeed, but Menma does not disappear. After all, it would be a pretty shitty series if Menma had her wish fulfilled without bringing everyone together.

The nostalgic feeling that Poppo, Jintan and Anaru feel in this episode is something special. Most of us played Pokemon with our friends when we were young. The fact that these three can still play together so innocently after becoming separated is touching. It is like a return to that innocent childhood state for them.

More about Anaru was revealed in this episode. Anaru holds herself responsible for indirectly causing Menma’s death. She regrets asking Jintan that question that day and has commented in episode that she is the one who “should feel ashamed”. Anaru wanted to be like Menma. She had curly hair and glasses and envied Menma’s long hair. I’m guessing that she wanted to be like Menma whom Jintan liked. It is hinted that she also liked Jintan. In the picture above, it seems like that her like for Jintan has not faded.

Although Anaru liked Menma, she also hated her. In a flashback, we see that Menma and Anaru have matching stickers on their Gameboys. When Anaru got home, she began to scrape the sticker off. A few minutes later, we see Anaru’s Gameboy with the sticker still on there, but with tape on it to prevent it from falling off. It goes to show that despite what Anaru says, her feeling of friendship and like for Menma was stronger than her jealousy.

Earlier in the episode we see a confrontation between Anaru and Tsuruko. Tsuruko seems to have gotten over Menma’s death while Anaru is still suffering. Tsuruko even comments on how Anaru has not changed since then and is still easily influenced by people.

Creeper

Did this scene creep anyone out? I know Yukiatsu is extremely bitter whenever Menma’s name is brought up. I’m guessing that he used to have feelings for her as well. The creepy thing about this scene is the dress that Yukiatsu is seen sniffing. It looks strangely familiar. Menma’s dress perhaps?

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AnoHana is off to a great start. It has extremely strong characters that people can identify with. First there is Jintan who deeply regrets making fun of Menma and feels that he is indirectly responsible for her death. He wanted to apologize to her, but didn’t get to because Menma died. Now that he has been given a chance (or he has created one for himself since he is the only one who can see Menma), Jintan can finally put to rest the trauma that has been haunting him for so long. There is Anaru who also feels responsible for indirectly causing Menma’s death. She regrets asking Jintan that question, which set forth the chain of events.

Menma is a strange character. She is dead and can only be seen by Jintan, yet she can touch and knock things over. She is even seen eating a piece of meat in episode 2. When she hugs Anaru in episode 1, Anaru mentions about how she feels a weight on her neck. What Menma is exactly is something that puzzles me. Her mentality is that of a young child’s since she doesn’t get any of the sexual references that everyone else makes.

There is also Tsuruko and Yukiatsu. Yukiatsu is extremely bitter, I daresay even hateful, toward Jintan whenever Menma’s name is mentioned. Tsuruko seems to have gotten over Menma’s death and doesn’t think much about it. Poppo is still cheerful like he used to be when he was younger. He still says that Jintan is awesome. These characters are so rich and the first episode has been such a wonderful teaser that I’m dying to know more about these characters and what happened between them after Menma’s death.

I think that many viewers can relate to this series because of the theme of friendship. We may not have had a friend who passed away, but we may have had a falling-out with others. I have hopes for this series to further explore and test these ties of friendship. Menma seems to have faith that her friends are still who they used to be deep down inside. It will be interesting to see if this is still true at the end of the series.