Hello vice, after over 50 reviews since I started off on Anime vice, M’s is still here bring you reviews on whatever I damn well please. This time with something a little different; Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, a somewhat popular anime by A-1 Pictures most famous for the persona 3 anime. Originally aired back in 2011 I completely missed it during my hiatus and just happened to stumble upon while looking for something to test the PS3 app for Crunchy roll. Which as an aside is a fairly broken app, when it works it’s awesome…when it works.
As for what Anohana even is, it’s not too complex a plot. A group of six close childhood friends all separated and grew distant after one of them, Meiko "Menma" Honma, dies in an accident. Years later what use to be the group leader, highschooler Jinta Yodomi, has grown reclusive over the last year with no friends. That summer after ten years Menma appears again to him. Unsure of whether she is a horrific delusion, a ghost haunting him, or the real kind hearted Menma, either way Menma has returned only to him asking to have her wish granted. Only problem is she has no idea what the wish is; just that it will need all six of them to accomplish. The Series lasting only eleven episodes goes from there dealing with issues of greed, love, heartache, jealousy, happiness, friendship, but most importantly grief and whether one really can/should/must let go or not.
Almost anyone who has ever had to go through losing someone they love knows that desire of having that person back so much it hurts; as such it’s not a surprise that this sort of story isn’t that rare, in fact it’s a very common drama set up being such a universal wish. While that is true, Anohana is a perfect example of how fantastic execution and reinvention of even the most used story designs will beat an original idea without proper exection by a mile and then some. Instead of necessarily presenting a completely new story concept it presents it in a slightly new way and makes it meaningful and heartfelt in a way I didn’t think possible in eleven episodes. The Characters all act with a good blend of vices and virtues and show the weight of this emotional burden so well and so differently character to character. They all come alive in a way that I don’t find often and are, while not always likeable, relatable as hell. This is especially true with the main character who while hurting inside constantly and deeply it shows subtly never making a heavy dive into melodrama. The story is gifted with a charming feel, and very subtle progression is one of the best things in terms of pure execution. Anohana simply succeeds at everything it tries to be without ever falling on its face.
However, that might be helped simply by the fact that Anohana doesn’t try to be much. It’s not particularly funny, a good romance, twisty, dark or meta in any way but then again it’s not trying to be. It’s a simple charming, real and emotional experience, but there really isn’t anything else to it. So if you’re not watching it for the feels there is not a damn thing this show has for you. Other issues remain nitpicky. While never out of character a few of the cast come off as jerks more often than one would hope and, like any drama, it has a few moments where people say or do things more in the service of the plot then sense, but you’d be a hard pressed to find a piece of fiction that doesn’t do that. Other then damning it for not trying to be an anime for everyone or nit picking pointless inconsistency it lacks any big flaws. There isn’t a problem really to be had with what Anohana is. Really it comes down to if that is really something you’re going to enjoy or if it’s, and it could easily be, not for you.
This being said, if something like that, a short emotional piece with a lot of charm, is something you would enjoy Anohana is superb. By the end I was crying like a child, something anime hasn’t made me do in well ever. Because of relationships between a group of people I’ve known for less than five hours and thirty minutes I was crying for a good five to ten minutes. That is something pretty impressive to me, whom generally has a difficult time crying or showing emotion.
Anohana is in a sentence is a fantastic, subtle, charming, emotional, little anime. Something that I find is a rarity to seen done well. If you try to go in with the “I’m just going to stone face my way though it” or “There is no way this will be as sad as Clannad” attitude your really just going to rob yourself of the experience. If what I say interest you, give Anohana a casual shot like I did on a whim and try to just enjoy it for what it is. If you do, even if you don’t agree with me, I think you’ll understand why I give Anohana 4.5 Nokémon out of 5. Later vice.