2011 was a strong year for anime in my opinion. Modoka Magica an Steins; Gate aired which are two of my top 10 favorite anime of all time, and I bet a lot of people agree with me. Well another great anime aired in 2011 called Ano Hi Mita no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day) or just AnoHana for short. So lets get to the synopsis, A group of six friends used to play a lot together but drift apart after one day when their friend Menma dies in an accident. After Menma’s death the former friends lead different lives without much contact with each other. Jinta the former “leader” of the friend group has basically become a Hikikomori and he has decided to quit high school. During this time the ghost of Menma appears before him and asks for him to grant her wish but nether Menma or Jinta know what the wish could be. Jinta gathers his old group of friends together in an attempt to grant Menma’s wish so that she can move on to the afterlife. The problem is that no one besides Jinta can see her. Through a mess of inner feelings and conflicts the group tries to help Menma move onto the afterlife.
I have to get this out of the way before I really focus on the animation, which is great by the way. The tears in this show (there is a lot of crying) are ridiculous. I mean I never expect anime to have realistic tears but these go above and beyond what I am used to. It looks like they are crying rivers out their eyes. Normally small details like that don’t bother me but this was too much. Being a drama show AnoHana doesn’t have a lot of movement but there was just enough animation so that you weren’t bored visually. The backgrounds while not being extremely detailed serve their purpose well. A-1 Pictures animated Anohana, which is part of Sony/Aniplex, which means the animation is of the highest quality. Everything about the animation is vibrant and clear. The character design is also strong; everyone has their own distinct styles, which sets them apart from each other, especially Anaru, she knows how to dress.
Anohana has a great cast of characters but don’t expect to find much character development. Due to only 11 episodes most of the time is spent on developing the story. Most of the character development revolves around Jinta, Yukiatsu and Anaru while the rest of the cast gets left out. The show calls the characters by their nicknames (like I have been), which made me feel as if I had a relationship with the characters adding to the overall character experience. Also the constant flashbacks of the kids all playing Pokémon together (although they call it Nokémon) helped me relate to the characters. It wasn’t that long ago I was sitting in their place playing Pokémon with my friends. (Wait that’s a lie, I still play Pokémon with my friends.) AnohHana also delves into some psychological problems the cast has, especially with Yukiatsu’s problems, it helps provide some understanding and context to specific situations that occur and feelings that the characters have.
AnoHana’s sound is nothing spectacular but it get the job done. The opening consists of a forgettable j-pop song called Aoi Shiori and the ending is a sad sounding song, they fit the overall mood of a drama show well. The voice-acting cast doesn’t standout but it wasn’t in any way bad. Menma’s voice actor does a great job playing her role and making her sound as adorable as she is. The full cast was best when it came to the scenes of intense drama, they are able to sound extremely upset which fits those scene’s overall moods. The background music consists of light piano songs. You probably won’t notice them too much, but they are there.
Don’t let the fact that the plot revolves around a ghost girl turn you off; AnoHana is incredibly believable for having those characteristics. The show feels realistic, and it made me really care for the cast of characters. The show dives deep into the theme of loosing someone close to you and the pain it causes which makes for a strong plot. The show is incredibly well paced despite having only 11 episodes and it never feels too rushed and managed to have a very fulfilling ending.
Overall AnoHana is a touching story I can recommend to anyone who is looking for a good tear-jerking drama. It is an emotionally rich show that could make the strongest of men feel sad. On a side note I love the references to other anime, not only is there Pokémon like I said before but Jinta watches Occult Academy in one of the episodes, I found it neat. Occult Academy was a pretty good series by the same studio; maybe they were trying to advertise it. So go out and watch AnoHana, you won’t be disappointed.
Thank you for reading