Usually, when you run a website like ours, you are given press copies to review series of anime. However with Anohana Flower, I bought this anime after seeing the first couple of episodes online, where they had been posted by NIS. This proved to be a good move because I didn’t want to wait 10 weeks to see the whole series and so I purchased the disks. AnoHana is about a group of five childhood friends who reconcile to grant a wish of their sixth friend who died. Jintan starts seeing the ghost of Menma. First he thinks it is because of his stress and of the heat and calls her his ‘summer beast’. She tells him she only can go away if her wish is granted, but she can’t remember it. Jintan then starts gathering the „Super Peace Busters” (that is how the six of them called their group) to grant Menmas wish. In the course of the series the friends often mention how they have changed, but also that a lot of their personalities stayed the same.
After our site received quite the backlash from this years edition of the Top 50 anime, I came to realize just how passionate anime fans are. It is now, that I exclaim the bold statement, that even the most jaded anime fans will be holding back the tears in the last episode. Part of what is interesting about animé is that it is ntroduced to a gaggle of former friends who were all affected in their own ways by Menma’s tragic death when she was a little girl. AnoHana: The Flower We Saw That Day is an interesting exercise in memory, regret and the vagaries of time. While the revelation in the first episode that Menma is dead is surprising, there are a few gags involving the fact that Jintan can see her while no one else can. This unabashed willingness to deal with rather “heavy” issues is handled quite well in the series.
To make matters worse for him, he also lost his mother to illness after Menma died and now it’s just him and his father. For Menma’s family, we get some very good material interspersed over the set showing how they dealt with it, particularly her mother who hasn’t made any forward progress at all and has kept her son and husband at a distance because of it. Though only 11-episodes in length, the program puts enough character development and plot in for a show four times as long. The strong characterization and solid story pacing allows for those big drama moments to hit hard and it rounds itself off as an enjoyable anime series. While I can’t promise other, less sentimental watchers will experience the same reaction, for me anohana made me appreciate many of the seemingly small, insignificant elements of existence and the social bonds which make these things worthwhile.
This is another sumptuous looking anime, as it proves that blu-ray should be the only format you view anime in todays age. The story’s actually a mix of two genres: sentimental romance and supernatural fantasy. So, you should know what kind of anime this is by now before watching the first episode. There is very little objectionable material in the series except for a bit of cross-dressing by one of the characters and the suggestion, never openly discussed, that the hero’s father is gay. The concept of a Hikikomori (a virtual shut-in) may be foreign to most American viewers not familiar with Japanese culture, so the sheer guts shown by Jintan in facing his fears and leaving the house may be lost on most viewers. It has amazing art, story, and is just so much brimming with emotions that you’ll just get sucked into the story and get attached to all the characters. In that respect, the series is unconditionally recommended.