Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower we Saw that Day, or Ano Hana) begins with Jinta, a hikikimori and soon-to-be high school drop out, meeting the ghost of the girl he loved as a child, Menma. In a fit of youthful passion, he told her she was ugly and ran off, and she died before he could meet her again. Menma’s return leads Jinta both to reunite with his other childhood friends in their efforts to grant Menma’s wish so that she can be reincarnated, and to confront their own pasts.
Ano Hana’s greatest strength lies in its impeccable characterizations and emotionally charged script. All of the characters are both sympathetic and deeply flawed. Each of them gets their chance in the spotlight and makes strides towards overcoming their weaknesses, although no one fully resolves all their problems by the end of the story. The side characters also have a chance to shine, particularly Menma’s family. The story is quite emotional, with many tearjerk moments. Expect to cry multiple times while watching Ano Hana.
For me at least, part of the appeal of Ano Hana is the nostalgia factor. As high schoolers, Menma’s friends have a chance to return to their secret clubhouse and to trade Pokemon. I had my own trip down memory lane and returned to the secret clubhouses of my past. Mine was inside a pine tree, so I wasn’t quite as spoiled. (Back in my day, we walked ten miles to school through the snow everyday and it was uphill both ways… but I digress.) It makes for an interesting setup to see high schoolers interacting with their friend who hasn’t grown up and is still a child.
I don’t particularly have anything negative to say about Ano Hana: it perhaps didn’t have the most ambitious plot, but its superb execution and characters more than make up for this, and the simple story becomes one of its strengths, with only eleven episodes to spare. Ano Hana, for me, was the highlight of the season, and it comes highly recommended.
- Plot / Script – 9 / 10 – Moving, emotional script.
- Characters – 10/ 10 – Consistent and believable characters with depth and multiple facets, memorable interactions between them.
- Production – 9 / 10 – Above average, enabled me to become engrossed in the story but did not overshadow it.
- Overall – A-
Recommendations – Asatte no Houkou, Welcome to the NHK, Haibane Renmei