Name: Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai
Summary: A group of six childhood friends drift apart after one of them, Meiko “Menma” Honma, dies in an accident. Ten years later, the leader of the group, Jinta Yadomi, has since become withdrawn and lives as a recluse. One summer day, an older looking Meiko appears before him, saying she wants to have a wish granted, though she does not remember what it is.
Review: AnoHana was probably one of the more popular anime out during the Spring 2011 season, well deserving at that. As a drama I would say that it did a decent job to get its point across. Personally I’m not a huge fan of dramas because they usually bore me and I have quite the “I don’t care about your problems” attitude. It doesn’t help that I don’t know any of the characters personally either. My speculations would be that dramas are only good if you can relate to the characters in some way or another. However, I tend to not relate in any way shape or form, or don’t care to relive what I have gone through already. AnoHana I feel brought me in with its more general message. Despite the personally unrelated theme of a dead friend that everyone was very closely connected to, I actually got a couple messages from the anime. I’m not sure how well I will follow through with the lessons it has taught me, but I’m sure I can at least give it a go.
Started with the art I would say that AnoHana matched competitively against most anime out in recent years. It had solid coloring, great backgrounds and realistic yet unique characters. I’m a fan of anime that don’t stick with the same facial structures for everyone and only change around clothing and hair color. I find the varying character designs left each of them more memorable. The clothing also reflected the characters very well. The one that worked perfectly was Naruko. They made it a point to bring attention to her clothing tastes which is probably one of the bigger reasons hers struck me as memorable. Often times when she was hanging out with her friends from school she would wear more revealing clothing that would be considered fashionable or “in”. Her ever changing personality also had her wearing more conservative wear while she hung out with her old friends from Super Peace Busters. Other characters such as Popo who wore bright buttoned shirts spoke his very helpful and eccentric attitude. Jinta’s plain jeans and simple shirts kind of gave away his rather bleak personality. Chiriko and Atsumu were always wearing their school uniform showing off their studious achievements, or very comfortable average clothing. Finally, the one that was the most obvious, was Meiko’s. Her outfit was a simple long, white dress and a tiny blue ribbon. Matched with her blue eyes and silver hair it was basically an open window showing you her innocent and kind nature. For that I give the creators a lot of credit because it was obviously not a fluke. The attention to minor details is a definite bonus for any anime because its those that pull out the avid fans from the mass of viewers.
The story was alright; it did well enough to keep my attention for eleven episodes. Considering that I’m not a huge fan of dramas in the first place, I would say that it is better than many of the others I have seen. Really the only problem I had was the ending and character development. I don’t really feel like being a negative nancy just yet so I’m going to start off with what I enjoyed about the series and what kept me watching week after week. Although I wasn’t dying to know what happened after every episode, they did leave each one off very well. The episodes often ended after a discovering something crucial about one of the characters. This kept the pace of the anime pretty steady instead of dragging everything out until you get tired of hearing about it. It also spread a pretty nice message about friendship. I know for one that I don’t keep in touch with almost any of my old friends from high school or before. However, after watching AnoHana I kind of got the urge to send them a quick message seeing how they are doing. It probably doesn’t sound as impactful as it feels, but I’m sure after watching this series you will feel the same. AnoHana did a terrific job making the drift a little bit more natural. Having characters like Naruko and Jinta (or Atsumu and Chiriko) keeping some sort of contact through school made it seem like it wasn’t some sudden drop in relations. The only one that seemed to completely vanish was Popo, but he was quick to return after seeing Jinta again. Throughout the series you begin to learn that none of them really changed even though it is several years later. I’m a firm believer that people never really “change” personality wise. The change you see in people is often due to their change in interest or hobbies. Naruko was a prime example of this. She was never extremely rebellious or had loose morals, however, her new group of friends sort of moved her into wearing flashy outfits or keeping up with the latest trends. Even so it was clear to see her former self through the new make-up. Overall the initial setup for AnoHana was well done and set the foundation to a pretty good anime.
The character development wasn’t perfect but it had it’s moments. I couldn’t get some of the friends because it seems to me that they were way over dramatizing everything. Then again, that is what most dramas do, kind of the point. As the anime progressed I started to like the characters less and less with one exception, Chiriko. Chiriko kept my interest the longest and probably my favorite character. I felt that the anime did a little too much character focusing though. It felt like they talked too much about Atsumu and Naruko instead of spreading the screen time. Popo was the most unappreciated character in the anime and it always seemed like he was looking in from the outside. It was his original gung-ho attitude that got everyone together in the first place. It also didn’t mention anything of his past or present self until the very end. Even then I would say that his dark secret kind of came out of nowhere. You could argue that he was “that one friend” everyone has in the group. You know they are there, and they do their thing, but overall they have a weak presence. Jinta and Atsumu were my least favorite of the lot because they seemed to take everything too seriously. I understand that the topic is rather morbid and losing a close friend isn’t something you can cope with easily. It just seemed to me that they had the support and friendships they needed to get through it. Jinta didn’t seem to have a bad life going for him. His father was loving, understanding, and lost someone dear to him as well. Atsumu had Chiriko who was by his side every day pretty much. Yet he had this creepy obsession and irritating attitude that made me want to grab him and yell, “Who the hell do you think you are?”. This is the reason I don’t understand dramas or find much interest in them. The characters seem to make the worst of everything and get all huffy and in a fit. Seriously who holds grudges for YEARS because the girl they liked was into someone else? Finally I wanted to talk about a character that I did really like. Although his presence wasn’t common, Menma’s little brother Saa played an excellent role. The brother who was forgotten by his own method because of Menma’s death kind of brought everything together for me. As the series progressed it seemed like he played the element of “past and future”. At first you see him as the forgotten son like I said; a role that shows how hung up his mother is on the past. However, later you see him as a “new hope” for the mother. Basically to show that she can start finally moving on.
The soundtrack for the anime was phenomenal. I have become addicted to the anime’s opening Aoi Shiori by Galileo Galilei (what an awesome name too). The lyrics and melody went perfectly with AnoHana and I listened to it over and over. There would be times I would actually repeat the opening multiple times before starting the anime. I’m sure that it played a large role in my eagerness to watch. It is one of those songs that really set you in the mood for the anime to come. The closing was equally as good. They did a great job blending the song into the episode just before it ended so the transition didn’t seem abrupt. Ai Kayano’s “Secret Base” is one of those songs that can bring a tear to your eye with its mystical melody and touching lyrics. Definitely a song that I can play over and over again without losing its meaning. It feels like everyone is just trying to remember the joys of their past while holding back their tears when they realize some things can never return.
Final statements: It may not have been my favorite anime of the season, but it definitely left an impression. I think if I could relate a little better to the characters I would have shed a tear. Unfortunately it felt like the series was trying to force me to cry which ended up backfiring. Still it is a preferred watch and considered a solid anime.