Anime Review: Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

By Drew Hurley 27.03.2020

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Anohana: Flowers We Saw That Day (UK Rating: 12)


The friends people have as children rarely stay with them throughout their lives. Whether thought arguments, by drifting apart, or due to tragedy, people tend to change and people grow apart. That's certainly the case for Jinta Yadomi and his group of friends. As a group of 10-year olds, they were inseparable, but when the death of one of them tore everybody apart, it will take her returning to reunite them again. Coming courtesy of MVM, this complete collection is available from January 27th.
 
When the series opens, Jinta is living the lazy life of a hikkikomori in his home. Though, constantly having to deal with the annoyances of his young friend Meiko Honma - or 'Menma' - keeps him occupied. This young girl is acting like the typical imouto, pestering him to make her food, jumping on him in bed to wake him up - just generally being a pain. It's soon revealed, however, that Jinta is the only one seeing Menma. The ghost of his past.
 
Meiko is the same 10-year old she was back then, even though five years have passed. Yet here she is, living with Jinta. Though it's only Jinta who can see her. It's introduced in a Sixth Sense style way, where Jinta and his father are about to dig into some ramen, seemingly ignoring Meiko's nagging for a bowl of her own. Unlike Shyamalan's tale, the twist around her ghostly existence is made in the first episode. Though, it's unclear if she's truly a spook, or just a figment of Jinta's imagination.
 
As the series develops, the history of these friends is revealed. While Jinta was once the charismatic leader of this little team, in the half-decade since they all hung out together, things have changed. He's now developing into a regular Japanese N.E.E.T highschooler. Refusing to go to school, and living his life at home alone… alone with Menma. The other members of the group of friends having grown up and grown apart.

 
When they were kids, this group was made up of Jinta, Menma, and three other kids. A bespeckled, curly-haired, nerdy girl nicknamed Anaru. Jintan's earnest follower Poppo, a skinny kid with a shaved head who idolised his leader Jinta. The quiet and mature girl in the group, Tsuruko. Then finally Jinta's rival Yukiatsu, a kid who wants to be Jinta, but can't bring himself to get there.
 
Now jumping to five years later, the kids are almost unrecognisable. Anaru has become one of the most popular and attractive girls at her school, though in doing so, she has abandoned the real her. No-one knows of her nerdy obsessions, her love of games or manga, instead she pretends to be into what her friends are into, just to be popular. While Poppo has lost touch with Jinta, he hasn't lost his admiration for his friend. Poppo has left school behind too, instead, supporting himself with part-time jobs and living in what was once their secret base. Yukiatsu had more of a rivalry and jealousy of Jinta, which has become a driving force of motivation, pushing him to become one of the most popular guys in school with the ladies, and head of his class as he prepares for his college exams. Tsuruko has remained close with Yukiatsu at least, the two of them hanging out every day. What Tsuruko has left behind, was the civil part of her personality behind, now freely speaking her mind without restraint.
 
This group of friends has little in common to keep them united anymore, other than their loss. It's slowly revealed over the course of the series that Menma's death tore the group apart. The truth of that event, the tragedy of Jinta losing his mother shortly after losing his friend, and the revelation to why Menma is here as a ghost, all plays out across these eleven episodes and challenges the audience to try and keep a dry eye.
 
Jinta reveals to the group of the existence of Menma's ghost and enlists them in trying to discover what is keeping Menma from moving on. Whether it's finally capturing that super rare Pokémon (entitled Nokemon here to get around Nintendo's armies of lawyers), or finally building the giant firework they plotted to create as kids. The group comes together once more in trying to help their dearly departed friend. The kids have to confront their past, their guilt, the barriers they've put between one another, to get their friend off to heaven, and to finally move on.
 
This series comes from A-1 Pictures, who have previously put out productions like Silver Spoon, Black Butler: Book of Circus, the Persona 3 Movies amongst many others. It also has some familiar names at the helm, with veteran director Tatsuyuki Nagai and written by the prolific Maki Okada. The Japanese dub has some familiar big brand names too, especially in the main cast of six friends. Miyu Irino os Jinta, best known as voicing Sora in the Kingdom Hearts series. Menma is the wonderful Ai Kayano, who delivered memorable performances as Shiro in No Game No Life, and Mikan in the very best Danganronpa game. Poppo is Phoenix Wright himself, Takayuki Kondo. Anaru is played by Haruka Tomatsu, also known as Asuna of Sword Art Online. Yukiatsu's VA is going to become even more well known soon - an impressive feat considering his mammoth catalogue of characters already - as he'll be playing Cloud in the upcoming Final Fantasy VII remake. Outside of the dual dub options, the only bonus features are some "web previews" which are trailers for each episode.
 
8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
There are plenty of anime out there that unapologetically pluck on the heartstrings, and any veteran anime fan will need something special for anything to have an impact. This is special. Beautiful, heartfelt, and moving. This feels like a truly personal story. It's amazing just how long it took to get a release here in the UK, considering it was released in Japan back in 2011. Now that it's finally here fans shouldn't wait a moment more. Rush out and watch this superb story.

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