Ano Hana – Episodes 10 – 11 [END]

The firework is finally completed and launched…but Menma is still there.  They try to figure out why, but Yukiatsu thinks he knows: none of them really genuinely wanted Menma to rest in peace for her own sake.  So they decide to apologize to her and say goodbye properly, but can they do so before Menma disappears?

Everyone finally found Menma

Everyone finally found Menma

I kinda wish that either Menma’s brother or mother had been able to see her go, though I guess it’s just as well the five who knew she was there were the ones to see her. At least Menma’s mother finally seemed to get over her resentment for them.  While I like touching endings, it seemed like they said goodbye one too many times in this one.  I mean, it didn’t make the episode bad really, but I think it was getting to the point of “OK, is she ever going to actually, you know, disappear?” Not that I was cheering for it, but you knew it was going to happen, and the scene seemed to linger for just a bit too long.

Also, while we get a hint of future things, such as Naruko and Jinta getting along, it’d been nice to have it be more definitive.  I know, most series don’t bother to do that, but I always find it nice to be more assured of the happy ending you’re looking for than merely “they seemed to be on good terms” which they already were.

Overall, I’d say this was a pretty good and touching series, though interestingly enough, perhaps the least interesting character of the whole series is the one who is the center of it all: Menma.  Sure, she’s cute, and one really sympathizes with her when she tries to communicate with the others, but can’t, but in a sense, that is almost all she is. We really don’t learn much about her personality except that she’s childish and she likes Jinta, which is presumably why he is the one who can see her.  She does finally get some depth in the final episode, but by that point it’s pretty much too late.

Everyone else’s characters are far more developed.  That doesn’t make it a bad series, but I think it may have been better if we really got to see what about Menma made her the center of the group, besides just being Jinta’s and Yukiatsu’s crush (and by extension, Tsurumi’s and Naruko’s rival).  The reincarnation bit also seemed to be a little out of place.  It gave Menma the motivation to want to go, but seeing no definitive result from it also just kind of made it seem like something thrown in as an afterthought.

I also never really got into Poppo’s character. Again, we never really find out his real motivation until the final episode, and even then it just comes off flatter than everybody else’s.  Naturally, it can’t be easy to be the one to see your friend die, and I’m sure he’s haunted by that image, and in a way, perhaps he is the one who is the worst off because of it.  But his exuberance and his willingness to believe Jinta from day one just doesn’t seem to fit.  The other characters were more believable, either not beleiving Jinta from the start, or playing along until they finally decided he had gone too far, before Menma was actually able to show she was there.

Having said all of this, I think the journey one takes through this series still makes it a good watch, and one still feels for all the characters in the end, despite the flaws in the series.  Many times you can cut the tension between characters with a knife, because of the cloud Menma has left hanging over them, and it’s nice to see all of them finally accept their loss and move on with their lives in the end.

Ano Hana – Episodes 7 – 9

The group remembers that Menma wanted to make a firework to shoot a letter to God for Jinta’s mother, and they wonder if this is the wish she wanted, so they start planning.  However, it hits a hitch when the owner of the fireworks shop they were working with – who happens to be Menma’s father – stops their plan.

Reopening Old Wounds

Reopening Old Wounds

It only took Menma 8 episodes to finally use her ability to interact with the physical world to prove she existed, though she only did it when pretty much everyone but Poppo was about to rebel on Jinta because they thought he was just pushing his pain of losing Menma onto everyone else.  However, she seems to have some limits in interacting, though, as she appears to only be able to write with the pen that came with her diary.

As I said last time, Jinta and Naruko aren’t going to be able to make any progress while Menma’s spirit is still around, though Naruko is making it even harder by reminding Jinta that if he does indeed grant Menma’s wish, she’ll likely disappear.  We also have a possible future problem between Naruko and Tsurumi as Tsurumi didn’t seem to happy with Naruko and Yukiatsu commiserating together.

At first I thought the fireworks thing might be another false track regarding Menma’s wish, but they’ve spent so long on it I”m wondering if they’re on the right track, especially since Yukiatsu finally convinced Menma’s father to let them building one.

With only two episodes left, we obviously don’t have time left, but we still have several issues to resolve, including those between Jinta and Naruko, the possible friction between Naruko and Tsurumi, the situation between Tsurumi and Yukiatsu, and with Jinta’s increasing fear that Menma will disappear.  I kinda hope that, at the end, Menma is able to show herself to everyone one last time, and that people are able to properly get over her themselves.

Ano Hana – Episodes 4 – 6

So we find out that the “other” Menma was actually Yukiatsu, who appears to have about the deepest issues as anyone regarding Menma. Then we go off onto a non-Menma path as Naruko is lured to a love hotel by a boy she was hanging out with, only to be rescued by Yukiatsu, but not before being seen by a member of the PTA.  This leads to the entire school thinking that she’s been going out hooking up with boys.

Still searching for Menma's wish

Still searching for Menma's wish

So the story moved on several fronts in this trio of episodes.  We get a better idea of exactly how Menma died (seemingly tripping going down a will, falling down the fill, and falling into rocks on the side of a stream).  We find that Yukiatsu is yet another member in the “it’s my fault Menma is dead” club, and one has to start wondering if there is anyone not in that club at this point, though it doesn’t seem like either Poppo or Tsurumi have any  visible regrets like that regarding Menma.

We also get the first real hint of what Menma’s wish was, when Tsurumi and Yukiatsu discuss the fateful day, remembering that Menma was the one who called them all out to their shack to ask for advice on something, though we still don’t know about what.

Meanwhile, the deal with Naruko and Jinta standing up for her begins the what was probably the inevitable arc of those two getting together, though they probably both have to get over Menma for that to really happen.  But it’s obvious Naruko has something for Jinta, and Jinta does at least seem to feel a strong friendship at the very least toward Naruko.

With the diary, Jinta is probably hesitant to read it without getting Menma’s consent, and I wonder if she’ll really want them to read it.  I have a feeling it’s not going to answer the primary question of what her wish was, in any case.  Before I said I was kinda surprised that everyone got together so fast, and I guess my feelings were right as Tsurumi and Yukiatsu still seem to be the only ones who still haven’t bought into what Jinta is saying about Menma yet.

Ano Hana – Episodes 1 – 3

This is my final “catch up” show: Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (or Ano Hana for short). When I asked for suggestions for shows to watch from the spring, this was one of the ones suggested, plus it looked like about the most promising show when I looked at season previews anyway.  I have some good hopes for this show so I hope it doesn’t disappoint.

Yes! We're all totally not over our friend's accidental death!

Yes! We're all totally not over our friend's accidental death!

So we have Menma, who died somehow accidentally several years previous to the series, who has apparently reappeared to Jintan, who was the person in their friend group closest to her, in order to have a wish of hers granted.  Naturally no one can remember what the wish is, and so starts the search for whatever she wanted.  Of course, Jinta doesn’t believe Menma is even there, but despite that, her memory somehow gets the rest of their group, who had all largely gone their own way over the years, to get back together.

I guess the hardest thing for me to swallow is how readily people seem to accept the Menma thing.  Maybe they don’t really believe she’s there, but find getting together for her sake is a way to commemorate their feelings for her, and for Jinta and Naruko especially, their guilt over feeling responsible for what happened to her.

I wonder if we’ll ever get a fuller idea of what, exactly, happened to Menma. All we know is that she chased after Jinta one day after he ran away after Naruko asked if he loved Menma, and then we saw her shoe in a creek, but that was it, Presumably she fell or drowned or something but we don’t really know.  As for Menma’s wish, all we really know is that she says it requires everyone getting back together, but that’s about it.  I don’t know if it means Jinta having to confess his feelings about her in front of everybody or what will fulfill Menma’s wish.

Also, we also seem to have “Menma’s ghost” going around which both Poppo and Yukiatsu have seen now, though why there is a ghost separate from the Menma Jinta sees, we don’t really know yet. In any case, Jinta’s Menma seems to be able to interact with objects which, you would think, they would have thought of having her do in order to prove to the others that she’s there by now.

This definitely has the potential to be a good series, though I’m not really sure in what direction it will go.  I thought a good portion of the series would be gathering everybody together, but now they’ve done that after just 3 episodes. I’m not really sure what they’ll spend the last 8 episodes on.

Catching Up and Summer 2011 Season

Now that I’ve fully caught up on the shows I had been watching and blogging when I left off in February (even if they haven’t all been posted, the reviews have all been written and are in the queue), I thought I would go back and hit up some series from the winter and spring that looked interesting that I missed, as well as talk about what shows I was looking forward to in the summer 2011 season.

A look into what I've been up to for the past 5 months

A look into what I've been up to for the past 5 months

As far as going back, even though i already had three series from the winter season that I was working through, how can I not go back and give my thoughts on Madoka Magica, given all the hype I’ve seen about it online?  It’s #13 on MAL and all so I think I’ll go back and see what all the hype was about.  I’ve kind of learned from experience that if I put off watching a series people are hyping until later, it may be quite a while until I actually do get around to watching it, so I thought I’d go back and do it while I had the chance.

I wanted at least two shows from the Spring 2011 season as well. I didn’t want something that would spill into the summer season, so I needed something that was 13 episodes or less, as a result, there were a couple 26 episode series that looked interesting that I skipped over.  Instead, I’m going for Moshidora and Ano HanaAno Hana came based on a couple of recommendations, plus it looks like the most interesting  shorter show from the spring anyway. I’m picking Moshidora, partly because there aren’t many other interesting choices, and partly because it seems unusual: a management centric show, applied to baseball, targeted toward a middle aged audience.  It’s something different so I’ll give it a try.  I’ll run through these series in groups of 2 or 3 episodes just because they’ve all already finished airing at this point.

Now, as for the Summer 2011 season, I was debating between doing 2 and 3 shows, but since the two shows at the top of my list looked more serious, or at least not goofy, I decided I wanted to add a third goofy show to the list.  As a result, my list of shows for the summer are: No. 6, Usagi Drop, and Morita-san wa MukuchiUsagi Drop looks, based on previews, to be the class of the summer shows, so I have high expectations for it. No. 6 ventures into a type of show that I typically don’t watch very often, but the premise seemed interesting enough to give it a try.  I’m hesitant about Morita-San, partly because almost everyone working on the show is green, and the trailer was kinda iffy regarding production values.  It’s also a 4-koma, which can make it very hit-or-miss.  However, it seemed like the best choice out of the possibly goofy shows, so I’ll give it a try, and maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.