Why do I do…. This? Why do any you do this? Maybe it is something to do with leaving a legacy and this is the funny way we’ve decided to go about that. A legacy…. I’m told it’s “planting seeds in a garden you don’t get to see” and maybe this blog and your blog and everyone else’s corner of the internet is that garden. Social media and content creation are just scrap booking for the digital age, it’s us telling our story through the hobbies, discussions, and media we think deserves to be part of it.
Aren’t we all just a product of our environment, shaped but what music, shows, movies, and people we chose to spend the little time we have on this planet indulging in? Not nearly enough time to explore all the media, art, people out there so we share. Share Our likes, interests, and a piece of ourselves hoping that people will resonate in the same fashion and accept what we’re selling in the market of ideas.
Maybe it’s comforting to have this archive of well…of you. Maybe positive reviews are immortalizing memories of happiness and joy or that with every piece of writing it’s commemorating a thought, a feeling, a current state of being and you’ve captured it somewhere. I find comfort in that, because I can’t trust myself to stay the same person. In ways that can be a good thing, you can grow and improve and hopefully never look back. There’s always a chance to suffer a bit of snake-bitten luck and feel the weight of the world: maybe one day the amount of passion, exuberant optimism for what the future holds wans and your tastes grows more bitter and some quality that was once there is now… gone.
Now I know what you’re thinking, When’s the weird ranting going to stop? Or maybe why is Anohana your Halloween special, that’s not spooky? First if there’s anything I fear it’s little ghost lolis and being in tune with my emotions so…. Screw you I make the rules around here.
2nd Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day is all about my weird opening rant. Accepting change, grappling with your life purpose and legacy, and finding a healthy balance between cherishing your past nostalgia and advancing your future ambitions is why Anohana is simple, sweet, and beautiful.
Anohana is cinematic poetry, it uses a lot of flowery imagery (pun intended) and metaphor to really paint an articulate a piece that clashes the misery of grief, loss, and regret juxtaposed with the joy, innocence and bliss of childhood.
Others have probably covered how this series is excellent for plenty of reasons, but I will center my focus on the dynamic of the group, the Super Peace Busters. My favorite aspect of the show is how each character offers a different philosophy or perspective to the conflicts and even though I can’t relate or agree with them all they do feel justified in their ways.
Spoilers Ahead: Go Watch the Series
Jinta “Jintan” Yadomi
Jintan’s character is developed a lot through decision-making. How does a charismatic leader become an isolated NEET… it might have a lot to do with regret. It is sort of a drastic change, but it’s justified in that maybe if I had decided to run away and hide my true feelings and that ended with one of my best friends dying, I would probably not trust my judgement anymore either. That sort of plays into Jintan’s internal conflict through the series, he doesn’t want to muck everything up again but because he is the only one who can see Menma is forced to take action despite his reluctancy to.
I love how they continue to explore Jintan’s decision making and further in the series it still about decisions but whether he wants to share Menma with his friends and if he is willing to let her go. Jintan works for me as he’s easy to root for in his redemption arc. Never exactly in the wrong but someone who’s conflicted and reserved that it’s rewarding to see overcome their inner/outer turmoil and learn to confront their problems.
The reluctant leader, but someone who takes charge with courage and passion.
Atsumu “Yukiatsu” Matsuyuki
Have you ever met someone with a punch-able face and an even more punch-able personality? I think good characters create an intentional strong response to them and Yukiatsu is just that. I hate the guy, but then the show both wants to make him more of a complicated character so then they slowly make him more sympathetic…. but also add a joker to the deck and make my very uncomfortable about him. I have probably never felt more mixed about a character then Yukiatsu and I think that’s the intent with his inclusion, but I also think they might be a little too extreme in presentation.
Yukiatsu is introduced as someone who would kick your puppy and leave a big thumbs up of a Facebook post where your mom died of cancer. He’s rude, he’s condescending, and just despicably arrogant so I was like I don’t care what they show to redeem this guy I don’t eff with him. Then the show breaks the cold exterior and shows a sensitive soul… who’s completely unhinged and now I feel bad but also don’t want to stand to close to the guy.
I mean parading the forest in a Menma dress and wig, that’s a little too Norman Bates for me. Everyone just makes cute jokes about how he did that, like they found he had like an embarrassing scrapbook of pictures of Menma with like hearts drawn on the pictures. This wasn’t cute this was psychotic; this wasn’t “wow he really cared about Menma” this was “wow Yukiatsu kind needs to end up in a padded cell”.
A good attempt at softening the jerk, but this out of everyone does it sort of comply with the too over dramatic criticisms.
Chiriko “Tsuruko” Tsurumi
Doesn’t get the same level of screen time as everyone else but she adds a very welcomed dynamic to the equation. Tsuruko, is presented as the most mature, levelheaded reasonable person in the group and while she’s great at helping others deal with their trauma, she also has problems of her own. I like the realness of her relationship with Yukiatsu, it’s almost her commitment to getting the best version of him to the world that makes me accept his redemption. She’s someone with a tough love mentality, that everyone needs to take their medicine already, while also not practicing what she preaches.
I love the little bit with cutting her hair, it reflects having a healthy nostalgia with the past and even though she is someone who has worked diligently to strive forward, she can always still feel fondly about the past. Similar to Yukiatsu I do feel the appropriate words to encompass my feelings would maybe be “appreciate” or “tolerate” instead of saying “liked” or “enjoyed”. Sometimes they cross the line in the beginning and just make her a little too heartless that I don’t emphasize with as much as these other characters. I think it’s difficult to have that huge shift of cruel bully to vulnerable protagonist in so few episodes. Overall, I think the show does a decent job of it, they definitely give her a thematic identity and she serves that role damn well but part of me just kind of wonders “if she could just not” sometimes if that makes any sense.
Naruko “Anaru” Anjo
I can’t stay mad at that love-hotel face, unlike other characters discussed Anaru isn’t downright cruel in the beginning and that makes her transition to victim of cruel circumstances a little easier to accept. From a character design perspective, I am fascinated by the change from child to teen it captures how people change and how people emulate people within their social circles. My least favorite character is the Kardashian girl she hangs out with and I like that it’s implied that Anaru’s personality is influenced from this relationship but isn’t directly addressed in the show.
Anaru is a character time and time again I disagree with in their actions and decisions but there is an openness to her heartache that I do empathize with the character. Maybe it is that she is willing to put herself in vulnerable positions more than her friends that you do get a feel for her conflict. I also think that Anaru is the character who is the most self-loathing and demonizes herself for feeling the way that she does instead of lashing out at the others in the group. Anaru doesn’t wish ill will upon anyone and just wishes she could be happy but of course she wants what she can’t have.
I apparently enjoy this character type between Kyou (Clannad) and Ami (Torodora) but I don’t think I enjoyed Anaru as much as these similar characters. I feel that Anaru is more paced for a theatrical experience and hence we never get to see a charming confidence to her that these other characters display. In the beginning Anaru is just kind of a “B” and by the end she’s just kind of an emotional wreck. The other two characters I mentioned definitely have their moments of being rude or emotional but overall just seem to have a poise and charisma to them that they’re likable throughout. I don’t think they could give Anaru this attribute as its already displayed by Tsuruko but because both girls don’t have the duality that Ami and Kyou have I personally didn’t enjoy them as much. Still Anaru is a greatly explored character that I greatly emphasize with.
Tetsudo “Poppo” Hisakawa
Get yourself a friend like Poppo. I love the child/man-child of the group who is just a pure fun-loving soul and I think we needed that contrast which is definitely true to life. I like how you realize that once everyone has established baggage and that’s kind of the point of the show, you notice that Poppo hasn’t revealed a lot about how he’s managing and…. you begin to sweat nervously.
So yeah Poppo has the most fucked up, tragic experience of the group and dear golly gee I couldn’t imagine seeing something that horrific now let alone when I was a dumb kid. This show is great at motivated details, Poppo travels is because he’s trying to distract/escape his trauma, he’s eager to help Jintan because he feels he wasn’t so helpful back then. He’s a great addition to the overall thematic message of everyone has their own way to deal with grief and it does effect everyone. Even the happy go lucky goofball is extremely miserable and certainly needs a hug from a friend.
Meiko “Menma” Honma
It’s a great touch to have her kind of stunted, even as a ghost she still is pretty much a child. They really go all out with big blue saucer eyes and purity aesthetic that it really makes it difficult for you not to feel sorry for this girl. Sweet, caring, adventurous, unselfish, optimistic, practically just every positive attribute is something you could say about this sweet little ghost girl.
It’s funny that her goal ended up being to make Jintan cry, because dang she makes me cry. The ending is just bittersweet perfection, it’s such a touching moment and it perfectly wraps everything together. At least I think so it’s was hard to see between all the tears but what I did see was absolutely beautiful.
I think some people will think that’s she too perfect or idealistic but 1. Don’t speak ill of the dead like that and 2. They do give her some flaws like… balance.
This series only works if you too feel that Menma is an incredible and innocent person so yeah maybe we’d still love a flawed character but since the grieving friends place her on a pedestal I’m glad I also kindly hold her to a similar high regard.
Keeping the Peace
I do want to offer some criticism of the show, I do always think it’s fair to not enjoy things and hope to reach some common ground with all entering perspectives.
I watched this as a series but like many anime series there is a theatrical cut and I would almost say that this is a rare instant where I’d be curious as to whether the theatrical cut was better. I think the pacing is a problem for some people and I do think the plot does run in circles at some points. The part of the show that is irritating to a lot of the detractors I found was the point that “communicating with Menma shouldn’t have taken as long as it did” is a common complaint.
Honestly I always find the “fictional character within the spur of the moment does not think exactly the same way I do given that I have no reasonable experience to confirm that I would follow this very specific way of thinking I came up with after reflection upon the plot for a few hours” is kind of silly. I do agree that both for dramatic effect and realism they could have easily had a scene of her trying to write on normal paper, have it not work and later when she’s desperate to stop her friends arguing she is able to write in the diary because of “sentimental magic” IDK.
Another reason I am interested in the theatrical cut is that I would be interest to see the “cliffhanger moments” presented as tense moments in a film. As much as the ending of each episode kept me engaged in watching further and can slam you like a truck I do wonder if it disadvantageous. I probably enjoy listening to Secret Base as much as the next Anohana fan but to some effect when it cuts in it is robbing the attention of some pretty raw, emotional scenes. When Poppo tries his best to communicate with Menma, and Menma feels guilty for being unable to I think there’s a lot of discomfort to that scene that would play so much better if you only have the room tone or subtle scoring of that scene. Instead you have Secret Base a pretty banging ED but it starts to divert your thinking to “oh, boy what’s to come next” then really feeling that moment.
One of the popular criticisms I saw was that “you can’t solve your problems by talking and crying about them” and I just go WHAT? I never got that “the problem was solved” or that everyone lived happily ever after. The main conflict that ailed each character was that they weren’t letting go, they were trapping these feelings in and they just needed to express them and get them off their chests. Therefore, I think expressing your emotions is kind of a way to solve your problem of hiding your true emotions. It doesn’t end with a big happily ever after montage of everyone living their best life because that’s not what the show is saying. I don’t think everyone is happy now, they all still have a little bit to get over (a couple of them even say this), but the scene of everyone conquering their inhibition and crying it out is a momentous step towards healing and living better.
Most major complaints is that it’s melodramatic and I can’t say you’re wrong if your taste doesn’t permit this level of tolerance for sappy scenes then that’s fair. For me it’s fiction and I enjoy that it uses fiction and animation to create hyperbolic cathartic stories; I don’t know I like Naruto too and Naruto is just Anohana with punching (please let that be the one thing you walk away from this post with). Unrealistic but they explore different characters and emotions by putting them in scenarios that are enticing to my voyeuristic imagination.
Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day is very sad, but explores innocence and trauma, life and death, outward fortitude and inner turmoil in such poetic ways in a beautifully animated bundle that I highly recommend you go explore this one. Remember your friends are always dealing with something in life, so even if you don’t want to open up with a good old cry session, make sure you let the people you care about know how much you appreciate them. You never know when they might be gone.
Speaking of appreciation thank you incredible reader, not just for this one but I have finally completed 31 Spooks of October… what an adventure it has been. If you joined me on this wild and spooky adventure, I hope you had a grand time. I tried to give a festive experience that maybe it made you spooked, maybe it made you laugh at how much of an idiot I am, maybe you learned something or found something horrifying to enjoy.
Right before this I got over 200 WordPress followers and somewhere during this made my 300th post and I find it incredible that I’ve gotten to make so much ‘shit’ and meet some amazing people in the process. I don’t know how much time I have posting on her and I don’t know if I’ll ever reach another milestone I see worthy of celebrating but in the spirit of Anohana and Halloween I just want to thank the special 200 or so of you that has made this so incredibly fun and worth-while.
I might not have a lot and I might be doing everything wrong but it’s this 200 of you that have keep me going and keep inspiring me with your own amazing content, validating the stuff I produce, and just being kind and interesting folk that I never would have met otherwise. I’ve gotten to do so many cool things from 31 Spooks, to Space is the Place Tour, to the freaking Jon Creator Showcase that I just keep get motivated to carry on and see where this silly little endeavor takes me next.
To anyone out there still reading even after recognizing I was ranting for a second time know I just want to say thank you so much, continue to put yourself out there because if a dummy like me can have so much fun doing this than I definitely think you can too.
Have a spooky Halloween, and as always; I will see you, at the movies!