AnoHana–Anime Early Impressions

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In an anime season notable for long titles the second longest is Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai (We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw that Day.) It is also my second-favorite so far, but tastes vary and this may not be to yours.

This is an original story by Mari Okada (Gosick) but it feels more like one of those ultra-sentimental stories by Jun Maeda (Air, Kanon, Clannad, Angel Beats.) Some people like those stories; others can’t stand them.

The story involves a group of teenagers who were close friends as children but who drifted apart after the death of one of them: a girl called Meiko “Menma” Honma (Ai Kayano). Now Jinta “Jintan” Yadomi (Miyu Irino) has become a hikikomori. Naruko “Anaru” Anjou (Haruka Tomatsu) who used to be jealous of the relationship between Menma and Jintan, now hangs out with a group of “bad girls.” Tetsudō “Poppo” Hisakawa (Takayuki Kondou) has dropped out of school to bum his way around the world.

As for Atsumu “Yukiatsu” Matsuyuki (Takahiro Sakurai) and Chiriko “Tsuruko” Tsurumi (Saori Hayami), they now attend an elite high school and have become completely insufferable.

Menma has started to haunt Jintan. She looks a bit older but she still has the same childish personality. Jintan assumes that she is a hallucination, but we know better since we see her in scenes where he is not present. She says that she has a wish that needs to be fulfilled, but she doesn’t know what it is. She’s pretty sure it requires that the old gang be brought back together…

I’m not sure where this is going. The tone so far seems primarily hopeful and upbeat. (Jintan and Anaru are clearly depressed, but this is more than balanced by Menma’s irrepressible cheer.) I suspect it’s going to get darker though. For one thing I see at least one hint that Menma’s death may not have been accidental.