Back when I had became a huge Key fan I decided to watch all their stuff. Fine, but now I had nothing new by them to watch so I felt a little down. On various Key subreddits I noticed in people looking for suggestions an anime called “Anohana” being brought up similar to Key’s style (closest to Little Busters! or Angel Beats! I’d say) so I decided to give it a watch. I’ve been vocal about my opinion about this anime but let’s get into the review before I spoil it and there’s no point in reading! Quick note before the review, the reason I broke from the normal “Japanese Title (English Title) Review” title is it’s Japanese title “Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai” was just too long and doesn’t even have the word “Anohana” which is what most people refer to it as so I decided to stick to just English.
Anohana follows a group of 6 childhood friends that formed a group called “Super Peace Busters” as children and have now grown up and entered high school while all going pretty much their separate ways. The anime starts with Jinta who is revealed to not go to school, stay indoors and be generally unhealthy. One of his friends Meiko (will be referred to as Menma) is complaining to him when we get a pretty big reveal for the start of a show. You notice how the top banner has all the characters as both young and grown except one? That’s because Menma died while they were still hanging out. This is our story now, Menma has come back, grown up too, but only Jinta can see and hear her. Throughout the episode Jinta and Menma run into other members of the Super Peace Busters where Menma is forced to learn they have all changed. First we meet Naruko. She seems to want to continue being friends with Jinta, however she is also the only member we see with friends outside of the Super Peace Brothers. She’s also grown into the stereotypical “popular girl” where as she used to collect and share games (she never got rid of them). Next they meet both Chiriko and Atsumu. Both are intelligent and hang out with each other and Atsumu is probably the closest thing to an antagonist Anohana has. I’ll get more into that later. Lastly Jinta meets Tetsudou (will be referred to as Poppo) who has probably changed the least out of any of them (he even still lives in their old hide-out). It is later revealed Menma has come back to have a wish granted but she can’t remember what it was only that Jinta was vital to it, so Jinta with the help of Poppo and sometimes Naruko, start work on trying to figure out her wish and grant it.
One of the things I feel was done really well was conflict. For a 12 episode show there was quite a bit and it didn’t seem like there was too much or they were adding conflict for the sake of conflict, it was all stuff you could see happening if this anime was real. The conflicts weren’t even all relating to Menma, there is one point some guy from school tries luring Naruko into a Love Hotel causing rumors to be spread about her all over the school. I want to get into conflicts as I really did like them but a lot involve Atsumu and his ulterior motives so I can’t due to trying to avoid spoilers. Something else I felt was done incredibly well was all of them blamed themselves for Menma’s death and the group’s separation. This isn’t a normal “I could have stopped it from happening but didn’t!” type thing that you see happen a lot in fiction, they all had legitimate reasons for blaming themselves (aside from Poppo, his was basically what I said earlier) that if I was in their position I would probably blame myself for the exact same reasons too. One last thing I think was done great was the ending. I’m not going to get into it but I’ve watched the entire anime twice and this scene countless times and still get super emotional just writing it. The brilliant use of self-quoting and slipping the characters between childhood and teenagers made what could have been a simply sad scene into one of the saddest scenes I have seen in any anime. You really need to see it (with the context of the show) to understand what I mean.
The soundtrack for this is amazing. I saw a post on Crunchyroll a few weeks ago that I can’t find for the life of me now where a magazine polled readers on their favourite anime OPs/EDs and both made it onto this list. In fact, Secret Base 10 Years After Version (ED song) I often see ranked in best anime songs lists. The other songs are all great too with one of my personal favourites being Last Train Home (still far). I’m not even sure why I like it so much I think it’s just used at all the right times in the show and brings memories. The voice actors were also pretty good (Secret Base is even sung by Menma, Naruko and Chiriko’s voice actors) however I did find Naruko’s sad voice to be a little annoying and you do hear it quite a bit.
My only real complaint with the show is how much it makes me want more. I haven’t had time to get into the manga but the anime had a pretty definitive ending so I doubt there’s more. There also is a movie but it’s more the series recapped from different character’s perspectives from after the show ended. It was also pretty good but not as good as say, a series of the Super Peace Busters as kids would be.