Thursday, July 19, 2012

AnoHana a.k.a the Real Cause of Rising Sea Levels

Yes, yes. I know this show came out ages ago- early 2011, to be precise. It's not all that long in the grand scale of creation, but it's long enough for a lot of things to have been said of, argued over, and well, judging from reviews, even die from dehydration due to excessive crying- over this eleven episode show with a name so long that most people abbreviate it to AnoHana, which means "That Flower"- which gives away absolutely nothing in relation to the full title.

Of course, not that it matters, since the full title doesn't make any sense until the final episode. You'd actually be forgiven for forgetting the lengthy title, only to remember it at the very end when they finally bother to bring it up. It's actually quite possible that 99% of viewers (excluding botanists and florists) would have no idea what flower it is until after they watch the entire show, and finally have time to idly wonder, "wait, what flower?" To be fair, none of the characters in the show know either.

Nor do they bother looking it up on Wikipedia, or uploading a photo of it to Yahoo! Answers (Yahoo! Chiebukuro in this case). Nor would you, and nor did I, which is perhaps proof of how absorbing this show is. It's been some time since I watched it, but it feels as if every episode ended with a cliffhanger (I checked again: apparently I'm exaggerating). In any case, every episode left me wanting to watch the next one immediately, albeit with positive anticipation and not dread, in the case of never-ending telenovelas.

Time to stop rambling and get on with the review, though. AnoHana focuses on a brief period in the life of five high school kids, and how one incident in their childhood holds them down, in various ways. Look back to the picture at the top. From left to right: Poppo, Anaru (a most unfortunate nickname), Jintan, Menma, Yukiatsu, and Tsuruko. I did say five kids earlier, and I stand by that count. You probably think that I'm suffering from oxygen deprivation and have become unable to count beyond five, but the figure is accurate, simply because the kid in the middle, Menma, has less oxygen in her petite frame than I do, because she's quite dead.

Jintan is the main character, and seemingly the only member of the group able to see Menma's ghost, either because of their mutual feelings or because her death weighed the heaviest on him. The rest don't believe him, pretend to believe him, or tell him that he's finally lost his last marble, which isn't particularly shocking since we often see him with his fringe tied into a front facing coconut tree when he's at home.

Menma doesn't really know why she's come back to haunt Jintan, but Jintan eventually decides for her- that Menma is a ghost because she has an unfulfilled wish, and he will grant that wish to let her pass on properly, Ghost Whisperer style, though obviously he has nothing on Jennifer Love Hewitt.

In the grand finale everybody blows up. Relationships are mended, lies unraveled. Menma passes on, obviously- that much I can say without leaking spoilers like a sieve without a wire mesh. On to a more personal note, then. Like I said earlier (in different words), this show does a fine job at tugging on your heartstrings.

Interestingly the character I related to the most was Tsuruko. That's right. The character you'd instantly pigeon off as a studious meganekko (bespectacled girl). The following sentences will be quite a spoiler, but here goes. Time for the ever-loved text dump! ...if you can read it, of course. Run it through Google Translate and treat yourself to a laugh.
だって最初から xx になんて敵わないってなんて分かってたもの。
私はあなたと違う、敵わない夢なんてみない 。
Which is really quite close to how I often feel. Not now, of course, being blissfully from such worries due to a near total lack of social interaction. That being said, there's probably something in any of the five- or even ghost-Menma that you'd be able to relate to- maybe even a little of each character. Or perhaps you'd relate to the experience of childhood friendships withering with age- most of us would, really.

Now to round it up- the titular flower. It's a Forget-Me-Not. Now go ahead and cause the sea level to rise, assuming of course you correctly made sense of the symbolism. Watch this show now. Every view, every teardrop, puts us one step closer to Waterworld, and I think I'd enjoy that very much.

...bugger having to swim with the fish, though.

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