This little anime’s full title is, believe it or not, longer than the series itself, as in the Japanese name of it has more characters than episodes in the show. Fun fact aside, what is AnoHana about though? If I really had to pick, I’d probably say that it’s about moving on.
Jinta “Jintan” Tadomi is a fifteen-year-old shut-in. His somewhat comfortable sleeping-eating-gaming routine comes to a surprising end when the ghost of a childhood friend, Menma, appears in his house and starts following him around like the last time they were together was the day before. Jinta first thinks that she is a creation of his traumatized mind. However, as he understands that Menma’s soul is really walking among the living, he decides to help her pass on. Little does he know that this will lead him back to old friendships and right to his painful past.
Despite the overly long title, AnoHana doesn’t seem like much at first glance. There’s no mystery, no horror hidden behind Menma’s death other than the tragedy of a child’s passing. None of the characters is a mysterious psychic, a sociopath, or anything more than a human being with a complicated past. No need for cults, gods, or curses. AnoHana is all about people, their emotions, and their relationships with one another. The focus on those relationships, particularly on love, er, pentagon in Jinta’s group of friends might sound a little cheesy, which it is to a certain point. To some of you, the very idea of it may even be a complete turn off. Believe me, though, when I say that AnoHana is one example of intricate romantic teenage relationships that works. Maybe it’s because, for once, it is actually complex, instead of being a simple matter of dates and break-ups. An intense mix of grief, jealousy, love, anger, and hatred swirls inside each and every one of those characters, to the point where their being able to overcome their issues and find the strength to grow seems almost like a miracle. Then again, isn’t that what us real life peeps go through as well?
Like all the best works, AnoHana is, ultimately, a tiny window on the human experience. A tiny window with pretty visuals and an ending that will make you bawl your eyes out. Twice, if you watch the movie. So if you need a good dose of feelings, do yourself a favour. Buy a couple of tissue boxes, bundle up in your favourite blanket, and dive into the warm summer of AnoHana. You won’t regret it.