[Anime Review]: AnoHana (Ano hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai)(+ Movie)

wallpaper Anohana group title wallpaper Ano hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai

Director: Tatsuyuki Nagai

Writer (of original novel): Mari Okada

Animation Studios: A-1 Pictures

Version Watched: Subbed

I’ve often said that it’s incredibly difficult to fit a meaningful story into just twelve episodes. In many cases series of that size just seem rushed. Since having seen Ano hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai, however, I now feel that no anime of that length has any excuse for being less than excellent. While I would like to take that position it would be incredibly unfair, so instead I’m going to assert that AnoHana (no, I’m not typing out the full name every time I want to mention it) is a wonderful, shining example of what shorter productions can do. Weaving a mixture of emotion and comedy better than most series out there (and with only eleven episodes to boot!), I personally class it as a must-watch.

Not in employment, education or training, Yadomi Jinta spends his days lazing around the house and playing video games while seeing or speaking to no one. It’s a little out of the ordinary when his childhood friend Honma Meiko (or Menma, as her friends call her) pays him a visit in the middle of a scorching summer’s day. After all, she passed away ten years ago. As memories of days gone by and the friends Jinta has drifted away from flood to the surface, he vows to fulfil Menma’s last wish. During the struggle to convince his old playmates of the existence of a ghost only he can see, the crippling effect of losing a dear companion on the group he used to lead becomes all too clear.

wallpaper Anohana Ano hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai group bridge

While sometimes it’s really difficult to fit all of what a series is about into a summary (chances are you’ve seen me complain about it far too often), it was surprisingly easy in this case. What I absolutely cannot fully convey, though, is everything happening behind this shallow synopsis of the plot. The tear-jerking emotion flowing from the characters on the screen, the staggering weight of loss they exude and the pain caused by the memories they can’t possibly forget are astonishingly potent. I’m a big fan of fiction that evokes extreme emotion, whether that be sorrow, anger, happiness, excitement or any of a range of other examples, and AnoHana does that beautifully. In addition to the emotion itself, it’s interesting to see how Menma’s death earlier in their lives affects the very foundation of the characters’ personalities. You see varying levels of it starting from the very first episode and that’s what grips you and keeps you wanting more.

One of the things that really gets me about the series is that I simply can’t think of anything it does wrong. That’s not to say everything about it is perfect but I would have to do some extreme nit-picking to find anything to complain about, and even my normal pet peeves don’t give me an avenue into writing about negative aspects of the show. The pacing is wonderful, the story flows from major event to major event without stagnating in between. The characters’ interactions and personalities are believable and develop over time so that they’re not just stereotypical archetypes. The course of the events themselves is just so satisfying. The one thing to note is that it’s not a series that has me raving about how much I love it or its characters and greedily buying up all its related merchandise, but then again it’s not really that sort of series.

Anohana group wallpaper young Ano hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai

Because I feel an odd need to find some sort of weakness, I do need to mention that the show’s technical aspects don’t stand up to its newer counterparts (which I admit is an incredibly unfair thing to say).  The quality of the visuals won’t wow you, though their composition is well thought out and remarkable in itself. While the background music does its job well I can’t say I would remember it if I heard it a few weeks from now, so I guess you could say it doesn’t stand out. Keep in mind that that’s something I say about the vast majority of series. What is done absolutely fantastically is the ending song, which often plays while events at the end of an episode are still ongoing. Because the ED fits AnoHana perfectly it gives those scenes ridiculous amounts of impact and I wholeheartedly applaud whoever chose to include it.

It’s probably worthwhile for me to take a moment to comment on the AnoHana movie. Having loved the original eleven episodes I found that the movie wasn’t really something I could recommend. Despite being set after the conclusion of the main set of events it fills up a huge portion of its time with flashbacks that you’ve already seen and yet still wouldn’t be able to stand alone as a summary film. Yes, the new material was interesting but there was so little of it that it didn’t justify the 90 minutes I spent viewing. If you have to watch it, it’s pretty safe to skip the flashbacks as they don’t add anything extra.

Summary – Ano hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai is now one of my favourite series. It’s not the kind of show that gets you hyped up but I seriously looked forward to watching more episodes each night while it lasted. The series grips you with emotion and holds you in place with the believability of its characters and their experiences in a way that few anime do. If you have even a shred of ability to empathise you’ll probably find yourself in tears at least once, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I certainly did. Unless you’re allergic to emotion this is required watching.

 Score: 9.5/10 – Great

Anohana group wallpaper Ano hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai

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About Silvachief

I'm a Gamer that dabbles in a little bit of everything. I'm big on Video Games, Visual Novels, Anime, Books and TV Series, but there's more to me than just those!
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32 Responses to [Anime Review]: AnoHana (Ano hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai)(+ Movie)

  1. Overlord-G says:

    Hehehehe. You praising this show tells me you will automatically trash Sora no Method if you were to ever pick it up. I guarantee it.
    As for this one, first time it touched me, second time it was not as good. Oh well, Anaru, Poppo and Tsuruko were enough to make me smile during each viewing.

    • miharusshi says:

      The thing about Anohana is that the first viewing is like a magical experience, but once you revisit it the impact is as good as gone (though some scenes may still cause your tear ducts to operate).

      But, yes, I have to agree that this 11-episode series is one of the best when it comes to just the right amount of length and good amount of drama.

    • Silvachief says:

      I’d like to think i’d enjoy it a second time around. Even if you’re right and the impact isn’t the same, i’m pretty sure i’d enjoy seeing those characters you mentioned as well.

      I’ve looked up Sora no Method before I and I think I decided against watching it because of relatively poor reviews. I take it you wouldn’t recommend it to me? =P

  2. I loved this series as well, but even I was rolling my eyes at the extreme dramatics in the last ending… did you think the drama was right or did you also find it a little OTT?

  3. fire says:

    I don’t think the series was as that emotionally moving – it just didn’t have “it” – that je na sais quoi – for me

    But yeah – 12 episodes is short, but it’s no excuse for sub-standard work. The best parts of FZ was in in its 12 episodes 2nd season – Shinsekai Yori also achieved the same kind of impact about 6 episodes in – and Madoka managed to ascend to godhood (quite literally) in about 3 episodes.

    What are your plans for visual novels? Any big ones you’re planning to read? On the translation front – SubaHibi is crawling ever slowly to the finishing line (95% complete); and in terms of new VNs – looseboy’s new VN Boku no Hitori Sensou is coming out in February.

      • fire says:

        Ha, haven’t read a VN since comyu – tried Swan Song for the 2nd time, but just couldn’t get into it.

        I’ll probably try one of Clannad/Umineko/Ever17/Little Busters. In VNDB’s top ten, and excellent by all accounts, so no reason not to try them. Probably some time in March, during my vacations. Can’t really do the stop-start reading of VNs – breaks immersion far too much, as I’m sure you’ve found to be the case yourself.

        I’m more looking forward to reading Hakomari.:

        http://myanimelist.net/manga/55215/Utsuro_no_Hako_to_Zero_no_Maria)

        It looks utterly, incredibly fantastic. 9.01 ranking on MAL – finding this was like finding the LN equivalent of GSM. I’ve only been putting off reading It, because I want to do it at the perfect time – not just reading snatches from it.

        If you’re interested – and I really think Hakomari is 100% worth it, you can download it from Bakatsuki:

        https://baka-tsuki.org/project/index.php?title=Utsuro_no_Hako_to_Zero_no_Maria

        • Silvachief says:

          I haven’t read Swan Song either, though I can see myself giving it a go at some point.

          Every one of those VNs you’ve listed gets mixed feelings from me. They all have very good points but fall down in other areas (in my opinion, anyway). All of them except Umineko have very good payoffs with variable early and mid content, and Umineko has very good early content but doesn’t pay off. I would recommend either Little Busters or Clannad.

          I’m not a fan of reading off of screens, unfortunately (except VNs, of course), though that does look like a very good read. I may consider it if I run out of physical books.

          Weird…I could have sworn that I wrote you a list of what i’ve been playing…I’ve got reviews written for Aoishiro, Comyu, Rising Angels, Steins;Gate and Yume Miru Kusuri. Right now i’m playing Symphonic Rain which is good but heart-wrenching. Afterwards i’m going to pick up the Sunrider series on request, and after that…i’m not sure. I still need to re-read Kira Kira, Deardrops and Dengeki Stryker so I can go through their new content.

        • Lambda says:

          Can 110% recommend HakoMari, favourite LN series, Maria best girl. Character development is amazing, though it’s a little… twisted in all.
          Also really looking forward to Subahibi. We were promised some progress….
          And as someone reading three VNs at once, starting and stopping when I’m interested again is much better for me than powering on through it, because that can cause some… Anger…

          • Silvachief says:

            I’m definitely someone that benefits from reading through as much as possible. University kind of gets in the way of that, though >.>

            • fire says:

              Yeah, university can be a bitch. Just finished 2 research essays in three days. Not the most enjoyable thing, to have deadlines right after returning exams. Fun times.

              Glad to see another person recommending Hakomari – honestly it’s short enough that a LN can be finished in less than a day. Especially for these thriller type stories. Not having enough time shouldn’t be a real problem, compared to VNs.

              You can also check out Gekkou or Kamisu Reina (by the same author as Hakomari). The former was very enjoyable, the latter very, very clever and impressive. Hakomari’s supposed to be a thousand times superior to both, so I’m really hopeful. Just having the pdf shortcut to Hakomari on my desktop makes me salivate!

              • Lambda says:

                I’m glad I’m not there yet in Uni, but I still kinda miss work… That gave me time to read things… And have a social life….
                Gekkou disappointed me because I like Orange Juice. :/ Kamisu Reina is… a hell of a lot darker. And just kinda odder in general? It was harder to get into.

              • Kai says:

                HakoMari’s the first LN I read as well. Awesome LN :p Still to this day remains my favorite LN series I had ever read.. though I don’t read much to begin with.

  4. Annalyn says:

    I have to agree with just about everything you said, though I haven’t seen Anohana in about a year. It has become a sweet memory to me. Like you said, “it’s not the kind of show that gets you hyped up.” I don’t know if I’ll ever re-watch it. The characters didn’t really demand my devotion, but the anime as a whole was sweet, moving show… like a delicacy in which the individual ingredients don’t stand out much, but the entirety melts in your mouth. At least, that’s how I remember it. It’s just one of those where, if the emotion hits me the way it’s intended, its memory will echo in my heart as much as my mind.

    • Silvachief says:

      Given my reviewing schedule, it’s been about 6 months for me now XD
      That’s probably a pretty good way of describing AnoHana. I wouldn’t go for just characters or just the story or just the visuals, but when they’re all together I can’t stay away. I’ll probably end up watching it again when that feeling of needing to double check how I actually feel about a series comes around. For the moment, however, i’m sticking with new content.

  5. Lazarinth says:

    I’m curious, do you think Menma was an actual ghost or just a figment in Jinta’s and, in the end, the others’ mental state?
    If you think the former, the next time you watch this again keep this thought in your mind; “With every interaction Menma has with the physical world (and you’ll notice quite a few) why can’t she use this to reveal herself to the other friends?”
    If you think the latter this tells a completely different story about a mentally ill person encouraging the mental illness to come out in his friends.

    • Silvachief says:

      I see where you’re coming from with that. Group delusions aren’t unheard of but it would be pretty crazy to have that many people involved (this -is- anime though, I suppose). Still, I did feel like Menma was a ghost rather than a figment, mostly because of the way the group can suddenly see her all at once and then disappears soon after. That doesn’t fit with the way delusions/hallucinations play out.

      I’ll have to keep an eye out for those interactions though. Perhaps it could be the case of an unreliable narrator (or cameraman, in this case) and the things we see her do aren’t actually done until she writes that note? I can’t remember the bits, so that’s a vague guess. The other option is that she wanted them to come to terms with her existence without supporting evidence for the sake of her own emotional satisfaction. Failing your suggestion and those ideas, the only other option is plot holes XD

  6. Lambda says:

    I loved AnoHana, and pretty much agree with what you’ve written. It’s the kind of story where you can at least remember how you felt two, three years after the fact (it was two years for me, I think). I love the ending to pieces and still listen to it occasionally if I want a softer sounding song (also, it’s pretty easy on Stepmania, so there’s that..). The opening was less memorable, though.

    Tsuruko best girl, no debates. Poppo best guy.

    (Spoilers follow:
    Although I was hoping for Yukiatsu x Anaru. I didn’t find Tsuruko needed to end up with anyone, and it might’ve been better for her arc if she didn’t… And on a romantic level, Yukiatsu and Anaru suited each other more…? Also, the way the story actually brought Poppo back into importance was great, because it seemed like they were ignoring him hardcore and then… It was truly like Menma’s death was affecting everyone equally!) /spoilers

    • Silvachief says:

      Glad to hear it =) The ending actually has something like 8 variations, which is ridiculous no matter how you look at it. In any case, i’ve stuck with the anime version but also grabbed the opening and enjoy listening to it. There’s one particular line in the OP that always gets me.

      Anaru Best Girl, shots fired. Poppo Best Guy, not contested.

      I’m pretty vanilla when it comes to shipping. JintaxAnaru for me. While I agree that Turuko didn’t need to end up with anyone I was fine with the Yukiatsu pairing, since it ws pretty much always going to happen…I didn’t care as much about either of them as characters. I want an “Adventures of Poppo” spinoff series >.>

      • Lambda says:

        Worth it. Makes me wanna listen to all of them… But I’ve only listened to the ending version… Hm….

        No! Tsuruko deserves someone 10x better, okay?

        So long as we agree on the Best Guy, nothing else matters, really. An Adventures of Poppo spinoff would be so good 10/10 would watch. I mean, c’mon, they wrote him a crazy awesome-sounding life… and it’s Poppo….

  7. Kai says:

    One of the best anime of the season indeed, that last scene was pretty damn emotional the first time I watched it. Not sure how my second viewing would be like if I were to rewatch it, but then again, I rarely rewatch shows anyway, lol.

    And Anaru Best Girl. For once we agree.. xD

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