Reading Between Reviews: Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

Anohana is one anime in a line of many emotional tearjerkers.  Because, you know, we all need a good cry every so often right?

1. Story: (7.4/10)- Good

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While the story has huge amounts of potential, as far as execution goes, it feels like it tries to do a lot, while ultimately just doing a good job all around.

Jinta Yadomi is a young, high school-age guy, who spends all his time NOT going to high school, instead choosing to play video games and stay home.  The death of his mother and his childhood friend, Menma, have taken their toll over the past few years, turning the once-extroverted, excitable young kid, into a complete recluse.  However, all that looks to change when an older-looking Menma, almost like a ghost, has come back to haunt him!  Stating that she can’t go on to the afterlife because of some unknown regret, Jinta makes a plan to help her, by reuniting their old 6th grade gang, the Super Peace Busters.  However, time has not been friendly to these young souls, all having their own issues to work out, and so, how will they react to Jinta, and the desires of a friend that has been long gone?

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The story of Anohana is very much based on its characters, and the interactions between them, but also, inevitably, revolves around Menma, and the mystery involving her return.  Menma’s presence throws a wrench into the plans of every character in the series, and, as one would expect, forces them to confront feelings and situations that they’d much rather forget.  It’s an interesting concept for an emotional story, and one that has lots of potential for thematic strength.  The themes of loss, friendship, and the hardships of life can all be expressed very well, except… I feel that they weren’t expanded upon as much as they could have been.

It’s obvious that in an emotional anime, characters tend to have their own struggles that they need to confront, leading to growth, and thematic consistency.  However, Anohana’s narrative, and the stories of the characters involved, simply don’t emphasize those consistent themes.  Instead, the show focuses more on the independent problems of each character, which, admittedly, works well, considering the characters we get are really likable, but…it just feels like there’s some missing potential, for deeper thematic and personal significance.

2. Characters: (8.3/10)- Great

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Anohana’s character roster is characterized very well in a short time, with the exception of its most important one.

The featured characters of Anohana are the members of the old Super Peace Busters: Jintan, Menma, Tsuruko, Poppo, Anaru, and Yukiatsu.  Ultimately, these characters, and thieir stories, are at the heart of Anohana, making it either really good if you love them, or really bad if you don’t.  However, thankfully, for most of these characters, they are developed very well, honestly.  We get a deeper look at just about every important character involved, their emotional struggles, social worries, and more.  They’re, for the most part, portrayed very, very realistically, dealing with very understandable problems.  However, one character in particular, the character that the story of the anime revolves around, was done only decently at best: Menma.

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The circumstances under which Menma is brought back in one of those times in anime where you have to suspend your disbelief, and I am ALL for that.  However, Menma herself suffers from being assigned to a particular role in the story, without getting the chance to develop much of her own character.  She is the innocent, happy, selfless girl, who, thanks to her personality and circumstances, is able to do things, and see hope for growth, in people who have none.  She gets lots of exposition and history that we see for ourselves, but I just don’t think it’s ever applied to her character in the series in an extremely fulfilling way.  Point being: maybe it’s just me, but I wish Menma were characterized a bit better.

That being said, Anohana is definitely a great anime in regards to its messages of friendship not being so simple, especially considering its ultimate conclusion, and the strength of the characters involved.  Unfortunately, the way in which Menma functioned in the story was not very conducive for the theme of loss, which, again, was hinted at throughout the story.  Because of this, the characters of Anohana are a rather…odd bunch for me.  They are great, entertaining, and realistic to me, but I feel that, similarly to the story, there was just something missing that could’ve made it that much better.

3. Art/Style (8.2/10)- Great

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The artwork of Anohana isn’t the best, but it has a very colorful, unique style that works for it, while the music does its job pretty well.

Now, first off, I have to say that Anohana’s coloring style is one of the most stand out  I’ve seen in any anime.  The show didn’t have the best, or most spectacular animation I’ve ever seen, but the sheer color and artistic style of the series gives it something that really defines it.  From an animation standpoint, basic things remained…well, basic, while much emphasis is put on the facial expressions and actions of the main characters.  There was a lot of effort put into the characters of Anohana, and it honestly shows.  It complements the cheerful Poppo, and when Menma shows excitement or sadness, you know it by how she reacts.  This animation is a standard of Anohana, and I definitely enjoyed it.

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I mean, something about this is just so…bright.

Musically speaking, there are a few great piano tracks, but unfortunately, nothing exceptional beyond that.  The music does add that bit of atmosphere to the show, but ultimately, aside from the intro and maybe one other song in particular, they aren’t very memorable- they don’t immediately conjure up emotional memories.  Music in an emotional anime is almost required to do that sometimes, portray its individual style, to link the emotion of that series to something concrete.  However, as good as the music of Anohana was, I just don’t think it accomplished that.

4. Personal Enjoyment (7.3/10)- Good

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Ultimately, the series was definitely enjoyable, and thought provoking, but had just a few too many flaws for it to feel like something great.

I’ll be honest here, and say that Anohana was an anime that did touch my emotions.  It was very sentimental, very good at detailing character growth, and was ultimately a very solid show.  Anohana, did not, however, provide many of the “raw” moments that other great emotional series did, until the very end.  And honestly, the ending of Anohana, due to lack of explanation and an odd build-up, ends up being very hit-or-miss.  Depending on what kind of a person you are, how caught up you get in a series, I can imagine that Anohana’s ending hits some people HARD.  But a bit unfortunately I guess, I’m not one of those people.

It’s a quality anime, a good emotional ride, but it’s one that isn’t indisputably great.   That said, I enjoyed it, and I think there’s a good chance you might enjoy it too.

Final Rating: (7.8/10) – Good

Recommended If:

  • You need to fill the void left in your heart from another emotional show, or have time on your hands.
  • You’re a sucker for a friendship story done right.
  • You enjoy some very well done character relationships.
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9 thoughts on “Reading Between Reviews: Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

  1. I don’t really get the point you’re trying to make with the story part of your review. In one line you state the series focuses on the struggles, and in another stating that characters are likeable and that they each cope with their own problems which is a good element of the story. I’m confused. Apart from that, I can agree that it depends from person to person. I really liked series such as Angel Beats which wasn’t appreciated by everybody. Can you name a series that is well balanced emotionally. You didn’t give an example, but I am very curious at your personal favorites.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fair enough- I’ll be honest and say that this is probably not my most well written review, but I can explain a bit more!
      Basically, I feel like Anohana focuses a lot on the independent narratives and struggles of each character, while not…using them very well to construct an overarching narrative. It’s probably a personal preference thing, but it’s harder for me to like a series when I get hints at themes of loss, hints at themes of friendship, without totally going through with it. Although maybe that’s just me.

      I worded it terribly in the review, but I hope that explained it a bit e-e
      As for a well balanced emotional show, I personally feel like Plastic Memories, if you’ve heard of it, was objectively pretty solid- same with Your Lie In April. If I’m being TOTALLY frank though, Clannad: After Story gets me, although that’s definitely the MOST biased pick I have haha.

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      1. I’ve seen Plastic Memories, Your Lie in April and Clannad AF:p Your lie in April was very good although Kousei was a pathetic character. He was overly present and the constant whining made the show almost dreadful to watch, luckily Kaori made up fully or else this show would be a total train wreck. Also, that’s my opinion.

        I really like Plastic Memories since it shows us a possible future of robots being conscious and the border between organic and synthetic fading. Clannad is really the winner of the three. Angel Beats is still my personal number one.

        I’ll admit that AnoHana was a tad rushed, but the theme can be very personal and also melancholic which doesn’t suit everybody. It was fun reading a review about it nonetheless.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You know, I wouldn’t call Kousei pathetic, but do agree with him not being the strongest protagonist by a long shot. That’s a fair opinion, good sir.
          Plastic Memories raises a lot of great ethical questions, and applies them to its narrative in a very real way. Man, that ending scene; sooo good. And yeah, Clannad’s the basic pick, but hey. It’s that way for a reason!
          Well, I’m glad that you enjoyed the review man! Emotional anime are hard to talk about sometimes, just because of how personal they can end up being. But hey, they all (well, for the most part) have some merit in their own way at least!

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  2. I don’t necessarily agree with everything you had to say here. For example, I think you missed the point of the individual narratives since they do all have a related theme and idea that they convey; this idea being how grief/loss effects people differently.

    Any way, interesting review and glad you enjoyed the show in the end. It’s one of my favorites! Off to go read your “Your Name” review next.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s fair. Anohana is a show that I’ve considered overrated from my past experience of it, but I HAVE considered watching it again, knowing more about what people say makes it good. Perhaps I missed that related theme, you know?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Understandable, I’ve definitely missed things on a first watch before. Sometimes shows are way better on a rewatch with the added knowledge you have today. Feel free to check out my review on the blog if ya want my thoughts :)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ah, I’ll definitely check out your review! Would be interesting to get that second opinion :)
          But yeah, who knows, maybe the second experience will be completely different! If so you’ll hear about it in another post later down the line, for sure. :p

          Liked by 1 person

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