To the people who watched AnoHana 11 with earphones on, how are you?
I’m going to be harsh on AnoHana not because I hate it, but because I like it. I expected a lot from it, and it has delivered more than once. People who read Hachimitsu should know that. I showered this with praises, especially during the first half.
But, things were already fumbling a bit from episode 6 onwards. And by the 9th episode, it was clear that the creators were running out of steam, discarding and overlooking a lot of points they built up. Why did this happen? I have no idea. Despite that though, everyone seems to love the ending and this is why I must sit in front of my computer and write this commentary. To me, watching anime and blogging about it is an exercise of observation and a chance to come up with sensible criticism.
I’m very emotional. I cry at a lot of things and I consume a lot of sad movies, dramas and books. And to me, good drama is something created with a careful hand. You don’t pound your audience with a sledgehammer of sad moments, you let that feeling sink in gingerly. You let them think about it. It may not feel like an explosion of emotions, but in my opinion, good drama is caused by an undercurrent of feelings. I watched 500 days of Summer last night and these were the things that made it so effective and realistic. It’s the restraint that the characters exercise that appeals to me. And guess what happens in the 11th episode of AnoHana?
Five minutes in and everyone breaks down, they scream at each other and collapse into a mass of tears and snot. Everyone exposes their feelings and Jinta stands there and watches them act hysterical. 10 episodes later, Poppo reveals his issues and it only lasts a minute or so. Why? Who knows. The creators probably don’t care for him as much as Yukiatsu the crossdresser. BUT! Anaru’s false eyelashes come off and everyone laughs. And I’m sure Jinta is just standing there thinking: Damn, all my friends are crazy. The creators weren’t satisfied with just this though, they build up an avalanche of screaming and crying. Now, I’m sure this was done with the intention to make people cry. And you know, they were right. This IS effective, it does work for a majority of people.
Maybe I’m just an unfortunate soul who doesn’t see the appeal. But that would be weird considering how I cry over things like Tada Kimi wo Aishiteru and Koizora, two of which were intent on making you cry and you knew it, but it still worked. For a more appropriate comparison, I cried over the anime Honey & Clover multiples times. Heck, I cried over that dog episode in Gintama.
AnoHana may be more of a feel-good drama, but you can’t deny that it’s intent is to make you cry. If it weren’t, it wouldn’t make it’s characters cry and shout all the time. And instead we’d have more funny but heartwarming episodes. Maybe one of Jinta trying to prove that Menma is real by visiting an eccentric medium or something.
There’s also how Menma acts more like a plot device than an actual character. I understand that she died young and that makes her have a more positive and kinder outlook on life. But such a character doesn’t make for good drama. I know how people love their sick/dying/dead girls (I do!) but Menma isn’t complex, interesting or likable enough. And yet, the series decides to abandon the more interesting characters to make way for developing her and Jintan’s romantic relationship.
Jintan’s unique quality is that he’s a hikkikomori, a quality I could somewhat relate to. But this, like everyone else’s interesting stories are quickly swept under the rug. Maybe the show is telling us that the cast needs to get over Menma before they can fix their more current issues, but this wasn’t done in the best way possible. Thus, my disappointment. It almost feels like this wasn’t the message they were going for from the very beginning.
There’s also the ‘make Jintan cry’ wish that wasn’t originally Menma’s wish but Jintan’s mother’s. The mother becomes a plot device to assist another plot device and I wasn’t very pleased. Besides, Jinta’s lack of empathy towards his mother says a lot about how much the creators care about her.
But what about the title? What does the title mean?
I bet Menma’s going to be reincarnated into a bunch of flowers, and the OP and ED suggest exactly that. By the way, we get no answers as to how Menma died but worry not, we don’t get a lot of closed endings anyway. Everyone still continues with their lives and the move on. Poppo looked liked he lost weight, because apparently, being big was him being an emotional eater of some sort. Okay, I was kidding.
The ending wasn’t a complete disaster but it leaves much to be desired. You’d be kidding me if you said this was the best this season. I’m leaving that to Steins;Gate and Tiger & Bunny’s capable hands…for now. (insert dramatic bgm)
It really bothers me not just how this series decided to end things but how they executed it.The animation here is excellent though and I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t recommend this series. I’d definitely recommend it, especially to people who are just getting into anime. It can appeal to a wide set of audiences and it’s good enough to be enjoyed even by the most jaded anime fans. But if you’re like me, who has seen a lot of sad dramas during their angst-ridden days, don’t expect a lot. You’d be better off watching 1 Litre of Tears. Sure there’s screaming, but screaming in a more believable– respectable manner.
This won’t be the last post about AnoHana, I’ll be writing a review of the show as a whole but that’s after I write that [C] 10-11 review.