Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Anohana

 
Anohana (otherwise known as Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai) is an 11-episode series from spring of 2011. it follows Yadomi Jinta (aka Jintan) as he tries to get his group of 4 other childhood friends back together at the request of the ghost of the 5th. the others, Anjou Naruko (aka Anaru), Matsuyuki Atsumu (aka Yukiatsu), Tsurumi Chiriko (aka Tsuruko), and Hisakawa Tetsudou (aka Poppo) don't believe that the ghost of Honma Meiko (aka Menma) is there with him (with the exclusion of Poppo, who believes him from the start), but eventually come together to grant her final wish so that she may rest in peace. the 6, otherwise known as
The Super Peace Busters, encounter resistance among each other due to hurt feelings and growing apart, but eventually rejoin amidst tears and intense emotion for Menma's sake.
 
The friends as Kids. L to R: Tsuruko, Menma, Anaru (top), Poppo (bottom), Jintan, and Yukiatsu.
 
the overall story is sad. that's a given fact with the basic plot. but the amount of waterworks in this show, both for the characters and the viewer is unmatched by any anime i've ever seen. that's not to say that all this sad is a bad thing; on the contrary, the point of a story is to make you feel something, and this show had such a rich emotional pallet (focusing mainly on sad) that it did its job spectacularly. you can see the guilt and pain written on each person's face as the memories of nearly 10 years ago are brought back to the surface. in the end, though, even after all the blurted out feelings and teeth-gritting anguish, there is a cathartic release of sorts, leaving everyone involved feeling fresh and healthy, if a bit empty and still sad. it's a good kind of sad, though, the kind that comes with closure, which is something everyone in this series desperately needs.
 
Old Friends brought together by the power of Menma and Nokemon.
 
the characters, lively and unique, have a human quality to them, perhaps due to the emotional trauma they have experienced. that they can still live, love, and laugh is really comforting, since it shows that even after a horrible winter, a new spring is right around the corner. Jintan is the protagonist of the series, and as a result we see his emotions most of all, his desperation, his defeat, his drive to help Menma. we eventually discover that he has an ulteriour motive (well, doesn't everyone in this series?), but in the end he is working just to help his friends. not everyone starts off so pure in their intentions, but eventually the playing field is leveled and even the most cold-hearted of the bunch has accepted the reality.
 
Jintan might be a recluse and socially awkward, but he'll go to any length to help his friends.
 
the setting here works well for the series; an unnamed Japanese town with a lot of surrounding nature. it's safe enough for kids to run and play, but even safety has its limits, with the example of poor Menma. it has a bit of a sleepy feel to it, with little action outside of the years-ago tragedy. perhaps that is what causes the sleepy nature of it all, that no one is ready to move on, all stuck in the past. the series moves semi-slowly, mostly because no one wants to talk about how they feel, adding further to the overall lethargy. the rest of the scenery is quite nice, with the houses looking cozy and summery.
 
There are a lot more woods around here than what you see in most anime. Please take note of what's above Menma's head.
 
the music is quite background, excluding the opening and ending, and the occasional insert song. not sure if this helps or not that it's rather unmemorable, but at least the OP/ED were good, fitting the series to a T. the ending is actually a cover version of a song released by girl band ZONE in 2001, called "Secret Base ~Kimi ga Kureta Mono~ (10 years after Ver.)" (Secret Base ~君がくれたもの~ (10 years after Ver.) Secret Base ~The Thing you Gave Me~ (10 years after Ver.))", performed by Menma, Anaru, and Tsuruko. the song itself is about 2 friends saying goodbye after one has to move away, and their final summer together. the opening, "Aoi Shiori (Blue Bookmark)" fits the lighter side of the series, and seems to reference the diary in the show.
 
Sad and Adorable.
 
Anohana was an anime i had been meaning to watch for a long time, and while i won't say i wish i hadn't waited so long, i'm glad i didn't wait longer. it was sad, it was emotional, it was really quite beautiful. even if you don't like shojo series, you'll still get something out of watching this one (unless you were born without a heart, in which case, i congratulate you for surviving, you medical miracle). this show is probably a bit too heavy for kids, but teens and adults will enjoy this, if only because it's so real. not the part about the ghost or anything, but all the rest of it.
 
Time and differences make no matter. The Super Peace Busters will always be Friends.
 
Anohana is available from Coalgirls, Unlimited Translation Works, Doki Fansubs, and UNC Fansubs (Spanish). it is also licensed for distribution in North America by NIS America.
 
Lolwut
 
4.5/5

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