No much more can be said about AnoHana: The Movie other than the uselessness of its existence. This is ninety minutes of flashbacks repeating key events from the series and ten minutes new footage. The new scenes take place after AnoHana’s end with the cast writing letters to Menma, their lost friend. The narrative cycles through the five friends in turn, flashing back to their respective threads from the series. Some struggle with what to write, others have grown in life.
And that’s it. There is still plenty of cuteness and heart to the characters, but the series has more. All the film has going for it the series does better.
AnoHana: The Movie could have been a ten-fifteen minute OVA instead. As is, the recaps aren’t worth sitting through for such measly new content.
Art – High
Same colourful art as the series, low character detail included.
Sound – High
Given this is a best-of scene collection, the emotional acting carries over, as does the pleasant soundtrack.
Story – Low
The emotion is still here, the cracters are still good, but without the in-between moments to weave a fluid narrative, the engagement is gone.
Overall Quality – Low
Recommendation: Watch the series instead – AnoHana: The Movie is for those who want a little extra, like the RahXephon Movie, though AnoHana: The Movie is easier to follow without seeing the series.
Emotionally powerful story surrounding a strong cast of characters with development.
Proper opening and closing.
Good animation with an attention to character movement details.
Great voice acting that conveys the characters’ emotions.
Characters’ side plots needed more time.
Visual character detail drops at times.
Too few music tracks.
Ano Hana, or the excessively long name above, is a show I went into not knowing what to expect. By the end of its eleven episodes, I was impressed at its ability to weave charm, emotion, character, humour, and conflict into one. This is an anime not to be missed.
We arrive as high school student Jintan is shadowed by the ghost of his childhood friend, the late Menma. She pesters him non-stop and eats his food. As kids, they were part of a group of six friends called the ‘Super Peace Busters.’ Since the death of Menma, they drifted apart, venturing down different paths in life. Jintan fell into a state of depression, failing exams, avoiding school, all the while attributing the hallucination of Menma to stress. The adorable Menma tries her best to cheer him up with her loony antics; she’s a cute character with the heart of a child and innocence to match. She isn’t overdone either, keeping her from becoming an irritation, as is often the case with her character archetype.
Jintan soon realises she will move on if he completes her wish, only, she can’t remember what it is, the scatterbrain. They figure it involves getting the old group back together. This is harder than thought since everyone has changed after so many years, and only Jintan can see Menma. Former friends have turned either pretentious like the black-haired girl, Tsuruko, or callous and heartless as Yukiatsu, the light-haired boy. Only Poppo, the boisterous traveller believes Jintan that Menma has returned. Lastly, there’s Anaru, who has joined the trendy girls out of low self-esteem despite being little like them. The acting is fantastic, particularly for Anaru.
The struggle is on for Jintan, with Menma’s well-meaning help, to rekindle their friendships. Even Pokémon games are used (or Nokémon as they retitled it here) to bring back the memories – they incorporated it accurately from the three starters, trading to evolve, hunting in grass, and even using a link cable for Gold Version!
Conflict is interspersed with light-hearted humour that never overpowers the emotion of the show. An adorable charm complements the heavy moments, creating a good balance where no single aspect becomes too much. With a well-crafted plot built on a foundation of believable, three-dimensional characters, you feel the emotions, the trials and triumphs of everyone. The side plots are relevant, as they have to deal with problems like any other teenager; often, writers will forget that problems don’t go away just because another arises. We still see jealousy, selfish motives in relationships, and doubt at capabilities. Jintan especially has to overcome great adversity before the end. Looking at a poster or screenshot doesn’t do this anime’s depth justice.
Warning: if you are the sort who shows emotion in times of sadness for a show or movie, prepare for rivers here.
My one complaint in terms of plot is how little time some of the side stories get to develop. Another episode or two could have satisfied every thread.
You won’t go wrong in watching Ano Hana. You will feel joy and sorrow simultaneously for deep characters brought to life by the right voices, leaving no reason not to spend time with the Super Peace Busters.
Art – High
The art leans towards charm rather than the emotion. That’s not to say the emotion won’t come through their expressions – the opposite in fact. Menma’s cute design enhances the sorrow you feel for her, while making her more adorable during her wacky moments. No compromises were made with the environmental art; however, the same can’t be said for the characters. There are times when the quality slips, in particular regards to light and shadow.
Sound – High
An aspect I rarely comment on, for it is usually unremarkable either way is the opening and ending sequences. Ano Hana manages to do both beautifully, music and art matching the story well. It is unfortunate the same can’t be said for the background tracks, which are lacking. At first, I thought the acting was nothing special outside of Menma – who sounds adorable – but was pleased to concede defeat when the emotions hit their high notes, delivered with skill by the actors. Anaru the trendy girl is especially good.
Story – High
A coming-of-age story that looks to the past filled with depth, emotion, and conflict. Brilliant.
Overall Quality – High
Recommendation: Watch it. Ano Hana surprised me with the quality of its narrative, delivering mature drama rarely found in teen stories.