One of the reasons this series works so well for me is because it truly does make an effort to capture that nostalgia I yearn for every once in a while. This episode was just as good as the first one. You can tell a lot of thought and feeling went into AnoHana.
Following from the first episode’s cliffhanger of an ending, Jinta meets up Poppo who has completely outgrown him physically but still displays the same kind of admiration he had for Jinta when they were younger. Jinta accidentally mentions Menma and ends up telling Poppo about her wish. Together, they try to figure out what Menma’s wish is.
It’s interesting to see the contrast between Poppo and Jinta. Poppo quit school and went out to see the world while Jinta can hardly leave his house. Poppo might look like your typical jovial sidekick yet in a way he seems like the most mature out of the cast, considering he’s likely to have had a wider range of experiences compared to everyone else who haven’t left the town they grew up in.
I’d say this episode focused on Naruko and gave her the most growth this time around. Admittedly her story isn’t exactly new to many of us. She was simply one of those girls who caved in to the pressure of fitting in and ended up going through a huge transformation. That said, it’s her guilt over what happened to Menma and how she secretly clings to the things she loves that makes her character more realistic.
All this development makes me curious about Yukiatsu and Tsuruko, both of whom haven’t exactly shown their best sides. With Yukiatsu degrading Jinta and Tsuruko doing the same with Naruko you have to wonder how traumatizing/depressing their passage to adolescence must’ve been.
Also, Pokemon references were the best. It definitely adds up to the nostalgia factor of the show. It’s nice to see a part of your childhood referenced and used as a way to usher the plot forward. Sure, I expected that wouldn’t be Menma’s wish– it’d be hard to believe she’d come back as an apparition for that but Jinta, Naruko and Poppo’s efforts were great to watch and made for an amazing episode.