I started watching Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (aka Ano Hana, or We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day) thinking it would be one of those anime that tries to be deep but doesn’t know what it’s doing. Well, I was wrong, the anime isn’t deep, but the writers and directors did know what they were doing.
For those who aren’t familiar with the title, here’s the plot summary from MyAnimeList:
A group of childhood friends drifts apart after one of them, Meiko “Menma” Honma, dies in an accident. Years later, the leader of the group, Jinta Yadomi, has become withdrawn and lives as a recluse. An older Meiko appears to him, and says that she must have a wish granted, though she does not know what it is.
Ano Hana is a simple story of regret and understanding. There are few moments where we will find a character not regretting what they did or didn’t do in the past, and the others judging them based on that. What sets Ano Hana apart from other anime is that it’s very easy to relate to the characters. How many people can say that there isn’t a moment in their past that they wish they could go back to and say the words they wanted or take a step forward? How many people can say they don’t think about how others view them, or that they don’t judge others? These are the issues that all of the characters face.
I was impressed that Ano Hana was able to present the personal obstacles that each character faces and have them overcome them within 11 episodes. The relationships between the characters was also very realistic. It’s known that men are generally in consensus with regards to what makes a woman attractive, while what’s attractive in men will differ from woman to woman. Ano Hana managed to work this principle into the group and create a believable love chart (a welcome change from the usual harem anime love chart).
The one thing I thought Ano Hana could have improved with the characters was to give Poppo’s story some more thought. One of Jinta and Menma’s childhood friends, he acts like a laid-back, funny guy throughout the anime. There are few indications that he has any regrets or internal conflict, so I was surprised to see him break down in the last episode for a reason that was explained in a minute. It’s like Poppo was just an afterthought for the writers, and they decided to just put together something in the last episode so that he wouldn’t be left out.
One of the great things about Ano Hana is that there are no wasted scenes or episodes. There is no filler beach episode or fanservice in general. Every scene serves to further the tension between the characters, reveal something new about the relationships, or show a new detail from the past. I could find no fault with the directing.
The animation-style wasn’t to my liking, but the backgrounds were beautifully done. Quality-wise, the only glaring detail that really bothered me were the invisible glasses. Other than that and a few disproportionate hands, there wasn’t much to criticize.
As for the music, I just have to say that I absolutely love the ending song “Secret Base ~Kimi ga Kureta mono~”. This song actually precedes the anime and there are several versions of it. The version in the anime is sung by the female cast, but I actually prefer the version sung by Scandal.
All in all, I thought Ano Hana was a great human drama that shows how friends can help each other overcome their fears and insecurities. A few details, notably Poppo’s character development, are in need of improvement, which stops it short of being perfect. It is well-executed though, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good drama to watch.