Or Ano Hana, in short. In contrast to the uber long title, the series is composed of 11 tear-jerking episodes; each one unfolding the forgotten past of six childhood friends and how one of them can achieve nirvana.
How can someone cope up with the death of a loved one? For some adults, drowning themselves in sorrow is the solution. Some may say, “Life has to move on,” and they go back to their previous lives as if nothing happened. Others drastically change after the mournful event. See? Coping up isn’t that easy even for an adult. What more for children?
Ano Hana delves on how the other (living, may I add) characters moved on with the death of Menma, a ghost who suddenly reappears and asks to be reunited with her friends in order to fulfill her wish. Without them knowing, all of them have changed and grown apart; each one trying to create or perhaps, distance their present selves from the person they were when they were still kids.
Ano Hana is dramatic. You’ll think, when death is the theme of a story it is usually sad and melodramatic. For this series, it’s true and not really. It is of course sad; every character is carrying a burden while cursing things.
The basic premise of the story is bringing together Menma’s childhood friends. While it starts interesting and engaging, the story slowly slips up in the middle and then, tries to pick up the pace once again just before it ends. Flashbacks are used heavily as a reference of the childhood days of the characters. These, however, act as a diversion from the main plot and focus mainly on each one’s struggling emotions even at a young age.
It was kind of upsetting that the main characters are tad stereotypical. They are what they seem to be. Aside from changing some things on themselves, the way they think is childish. How they see things is somewhat identical to how they used to think in the past. And the involvement of some characters on that particular incident in that fateful day seemed forced. It felt as if they needed to have something to do (indirectly) on the day of Menma’s accident.
I don’t like their predictability but they are just the type of characters you’d love to hate but can’t. They grew physically, yes. But what triggered their maturity is Menma’s wish. They slowly realized how conceited they were. That is what I think the reason why I couldn’t hate them. They are like real life individuals who cannot face their own past.
Having said that, my favorite characters would be the supporting characters, namely Jintan and Menma’s family. They appeared on few occasions, said few lines yet they appealed the most. It seemed that they were the ones who were pained, who mourned, and finally understood everything. Actions speak louder than words, after all.
Despite its gloomy theme, the character designs are vibrant and soft in the eyes. It is simple and attractive. They used pastel colors both for the characters and landscapes.
Its music fits the story: Aoi Shiori with its catchy beat, together with the video of the Super Peace Buster’s younger days. And my personal favorite, the ending song entitled Secret Base ~Kimi ga kureta mono~ sung by the voice actors of Menma, Anaru, and Tsuruko. It was as if the story was written based on the song.
Nonetheless, this is a great anime of the past season. It has been a while since a series made me cry from the first episode up until the last. Ano Hana has some flaws, both in story and technical stuff but I can recommend this to anyone. Its shortness did not stop the story to wrap things nicely, although the name of the flower remained a mystery (though I think they have already given the cue right of the bat), it’s up to the audience to name it. Also, I enjoyed the references they made, for instance, Nokemon (parody of Pokemon), posters of different anime, and Yama-chan from Hey! Say! Jump!
One advice before watching this, grab a box of tissue and put it near you.