Tag Archives: ano hana

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai Review — A-

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-

RecommendationsAsatte no Houkou, Welcome to the NHK, Haibane Renmei

Ano Hana 11 — Making Jinta Cry

In an unexpected twist, it turns out that Menma’s wish was to make Jinta cry. I didn’t see that one coming. What a mean bully! (she’s so cute though, so we’ll forgive her!)

This last episode wasn’t quite as strong as the previous one, but that’s a difficult standard to match. It was a good conclusion, which managed to wrap everything up nicely. My only quibble is that it was a bit too head-on. For a series which has been strong at the interactions and gradual growth of relationships between characters, this episode wasn’t the most subtle. There was also a bit too much wailing and bawling for me. Still, overall a superb episode.

Most of the crying did pay off, as all of the characters managed to reconcile and become friends once again. One of the parts I enjoyed most was observing the renewed friendship between Jinta and Yukiatsu. Yukiatsu confessed his jealousy of Jinta, Jinta confessed his wanting to keep Menma to himself, and Yukiatsu called Jinta the leader once again. It’s somewhat surprising in retrospect that Yukiatsu managed to be both a crazy crossdresser and one of the most sympathetic characters.

The creators also did a nice job of brining the high tension down a few times during the episode. Jinta commenting on Anaru’s double eyelash was so out of place I couldn’t help but laugh, and I found what turned out to be Menma’s wish hilarious. The wish was a great fit though, and tied everything together: Menma, Jinta’s mother, and Jinta’s own growth. I suppose it could also explain why Menma could only speak with Jinta, although I don’t think any explanation is necessary. Menma’s cards were also quite touching, especially the one for Jinta.

Ano Hana ended up being a worthy successor for Hourou Musuko’s noitaminA timeslot. It’s been one of my favorite show of the season, along with Hyouge Mono. Next season the timeslot will be hosting shows from Bones and Production IG, so I have high hopes.

Ano Hana 10 — Tamaya!

This episode was quite the tear jerker, and by far the strongest episode of Ano Hana yet. It makes you cry, but it’s not the kind of thing where there are a couple especially sad moments: the creators took their time to wring out every last tear from every single character and pile all the emotions together into a bundle of fireworks for a spectacular climax. Yukiatsu’s replaying of the day of Menma’s death worked brilliantly, just like blasting a hole in a dam. They didn’t let up on the tension at all after this, following up with a breakdown from Anaru, a conversation between Jinta and Menma, Yukiatsu’s talk with his wig, Menma’s hug with her brother, and culminating with the fireworks launch. Rather than having a few cry-worthy moments, as in earlier episodes, this episode had me right on the border of breaking down and sobbing for the majority of the time. It made for a much more intense and memorable experience.

The way they dealt with Menma’s mother was quite nice (I’m going to guess that the part for her parents to play is mostly over). In any other show I would have expected Menma’s mother to end up coming to the fireworks launching, to forgive everyone and to finally let go of Menma. Unfortunately it’s never quite that easy. But you can tell that, with the help of her husband and son, Menma’s mother has come a few small steps closer to accepting her death, as she cries to see the fireworks launching in the distance.

Poppo and Mysterious Girl Tsurumi even get some time in the spotlight as well. Tsurumi, as we’d guessed, is in love with Yukiatsu, and it turns out that she can actually be rather jealous, although she doesn’t seem to blame Anaru. Poppo’s cheery exterior does serve to hide some scars from Menma’s death, it turns out: it seems that he blames himself for being able to “only watch”. I wonder if he was actually there and knows what happened when Menma died.

The biggest surprise of the episode came when Poppo began pressuring Jinta to reenact that day, joining in with Yukiatsu and Anaru. I haven’t really been able to figure out why. Perhaps he knew what Jinta would say, and wanted to help him say it? I kind of doubt it though, considering how downright scared he looked as he was chanting. My guess is he was trying to confront his own regrets, and I think that the final episode will probably have the answers.

To feel truly human, characters need to be flawed, and this is another area where Ano Hana truly shines. Take, for example, Jinta, who wants to keep Menma to himself even though he knows it’s best for her to be reincarnated. I already mentioned the case of Menma’s mother; there’s also the different jealousies of Anaru, Tsurumi and Yukiatsu. All of the characters have experienced growth, but it’s gradual: it isn’t easy for them to overcome their flaws. Yukiatsu tries to force Jinta to overcome the same problems he has, but still talks to his wig at night. Anaru wants Jinta to love her, but cannot help feeling somewhat glad that Menma is gone. Tsurumi believes that her love for Yukiatsu is hopeless, but can’t let go. Jinta wants to set Menma free, but calls her back at the last moment.

This episode was sad, but Menma knocking herself on the head and looking sheepish helped to cheer me up at the end.

Ano Hana 09 — Down by the Riverside

Now that Menma has revealed herself. the focus shifts away from questioning the authenticity of Jinta’s account to the characters’ relationships with Menma and one another.

My favorite part of this episode was watching Matsuyuki’s feelings towards Jinta, a mix of jealousy, loathing and admiration. Matsuyuki has an interesting interpretation of why Jinta didn’t try to prove Menma’s existence earlier: he wants to keep her all to himself. I personally think it’s more that he wasn’t entirely sure if she existed himself, and was afraid to put her to the test and discover that she was only a figment of his imagination. But it’s details like Matsuyuki’s interpretation which best serve to cement his relationship with Jinta.

The love polygon in this show is turning out quite well too. It’s not over the top or the focus of the show by any means, and is more of an undercurrent. The relationships with Matsuyuki are particularly interesting: asking Anjou out while he still clearly hasn’t gotten over Menma.

I think that for the finish Ano Hana is going to need to bring both Poppo and Mysterious Girl Tsurumi into the spotlight. Tsurumi has mostly stayed in the background behind Matsuyuki up until this point, and we know very little about her or what she actually thinks. It seems that she likes Matsuyuki, but she hasn’t interacted much with anyone else. Poppo has been more talkative, but I feel like there ought to be more to him than there appears (but then again, maybe not).

Ano Hana 08 — Haunted Clubhouse

Another storm of emotions in this episode. Ano Hana is doing a great job at keeping things interesting and turbulent. This episode had (at least) five touching moments. It started with Menma’s mother’s break down. Then Anaru made a teary confession, both of how she likes Jinta and how she feels guilty to have been glad Jinta said he didn’t like Menma. Jinta shares a touching moment with Menma’s brother talking about their parents, and then has a moment with his own father. Finally, Matsuyuki nearly strangles Jinta to death for claiming to see Menma (with the tacit support of everyone but Poppo). In the end, Menma reveals herself to everyone by writing a message in her diary.

I really love when a show can tie together a lot of different threads and characters, building them in parallel. It’s probably because I have a short attention span it really gets at the interactions between the characters. Hourou Musuko also did a great job at this. I greatly prefer this kind of interleaved format to more episodic formats.

One question though: if Menma can actually call people, write in her diary, cook food, and isn’t a figment of Jinta’s imagination, why didn’t she just do these things earlier? It would have saved them both a lot of misunderstandings. It’s not really important though, and it probably did make the show more interesting by adding some extra questions to answer and allowing some suspicion and distrust between the characters.