Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
Once the tears start, they just don't stop
Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない), lit. We Still Don't Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day) is supernatural tragedy anime directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai and follows a group of teenagers as they struggle to cope with the death of a friend, which is only complicated further when her ghost appears.
This is an incredibly sad story. I'm not talking about depressing sad, but just tear draining sad. Through the eleven episodes, the series really makes you feel for the characters. The story of what happened to their friend Meiko Honma, mainly known as Menma, was sad enough, but seeing how it pushed her close circle of friends into different directions due to their handling her loss was soul-crushing. It didn't help that Menma's existence almost tore what was left of their friendships even further.
It didn't help that our starring ghost was bubbly and cheerful while everyone else was emotionally torn. So much of our legends of ghosts revolve around them being miserable and angry entities, yet Menma was kind and happy, while still avoiding the annoying clichés of another famous friendly ghost. This contrast did a fantastic job at making the story feel more tragic, and made the viewer question if our own beliefs of the dead might just be reflections of our own negative emotions.
Even though Menma was a key character, she still felt more like the catalyst to push the story of her friends and family to move beyond the rut of grief they were all stuck in. She was always the same, but the rest went through dramatic changes throughout the series; a couple of them barely feel like the same characters by the end.
Although, that might be just because you could barely see them through the tears. Even the ending credits for the last episode kept the tears flowing far beyond the final fade due to the song. The last episode was certainly the most tear-draining, but with every episode rallying your tear ducts to action, you should at least be prepared for the onslaught.
There is only one thing that I felt could have been improved, and that was the pacing at the beginning. The first few episodes really dragged on as the story introduced the characters. Although, this is a very minor problem since it fleshed out the characters so well that we could almost feel what they felt.
With how sad this series is, many people might want to stay away from it, but that would be a mistake. This anime is all about dealing with grief – the different ways we all deal with it, and the different ways we recover. Through this story, it passes on a strong message to its viewers that should help them cope with their own grief, and paints death in a much lighter picture than how many people tend to see it. Even if the message doesn't stick with you, the emotional impact of the story, and the characters, will surely leave you with a strong memory. Just be prepared to wipe away your tears.
Need a second opinion? Check out ShadowedBlade.net's review.