Readers Recommendation: Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

It’s felt like forever since I was recommended to watch this show via the Readers Recommendation poll. To tell the truth, I actually finished watching Anohana over a month ago, and I’m already halfway through the next Readers Recommendation show. I never wrote about this series because by the end of it all, my feelings were all over the place.

Was it good? Was it bad? Did I enjoy it? How were the characters? Honestly, I wasn’t able to answer any of those. The only thing I could confirm was how the ending made me feel: incredibly depressed, but I already knew that was likely, given many of the shows fans already warned me to ensure I’d had an iron wall built around my emotions before diving into it.

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Steeling myself

And after spending a lot of time thinking about Anohana and my feelings towards it, my feelings on the show are still divided. It’s alright. It’s average. Sometimes I enjoyed it. Other times I found myself bored to tears.

The series kicked off to a great start, sucking us in to an emotional tale of an isolated high school student, Jinta being haunted by his past, quite literally, in the form of the ghost of his childhood friend, Menma who died when they were young. It sets itself up to be a real tear jerker, and I was looking forward to seeing some really high emotional stakes throughout the narrative.

And while the show does provide us with that quite a bit, it wasn’t enough.

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Because unfortunately, Anohana is packed with a lot of slapstick humour, something I wasn’t particularly fond of. I don’t mind jokes. Jokes are great. I don’t expect a series to be all grim dark and super serious all the time. But the abundance of jokes in Anohana was ridiculous, and things often got so silly that I forgot I was watching an emotional tale about dealing with the loss of a loved one and overcoming the grief that takes over from that loss. To top it off, the jokes aren’t even that funny. They’re stale and throw the entire atmosphere of the show completely out of whack.

That being said, when Anohana takes itself seriously, it does a fantastic job. There are some really touching moments sprinkled throughout the series and almost all of them hit me right in the feels. The ending in particular was just really depressing. I bawled my eyes out for a good few minutes as the ending credits rolled.

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So in the end, I suppose I was definitely connected enough to the narrative and its characters to warrant such a reaction.

Speaking of the characters, they were what kept me interested most of the time. While the story itself had its fair share of ups and downs, the cast were all likable and I found two of them in particular to be extremely relatable.

I saw a lot of my teenage self in the protagonist, Jinta. He’s alone, he barely interacts with others, and he’s a shut-in who spends most of his time cooped up in his room playing video games to escape his own harsh reality. As much as it pains me to admit it, that used to be me. When I first started high school, I did the exact same thing, minus the skipping classes. As such, I found myself rooting for Jinta and found his character to be extremely likable, it was a real treat and was more or less the reason for most of the enjoyment I got out of the series.

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Then there’s Poppo, the other character I connected with a lot. While his role in the story isn’t as major as Jinta’s, I found myself relating to him through his love for travel. In an attempt to escape his grief over the death of Menma, Poppo drops out of school entirely and makes the bold decision to leave his life behind and travel the world with nothing but a backpack and a trove of memories. This is something my girlfriend and I have recently found myself having a passion for, and as such, I saw much of my current and likely future self in Poppo. It’s a small thing, but it made all the difference.

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As for the rest of the cast, I found them likable. Including Jinta and Poppo, they were all fairly archetypical, but in the end they were fun and engaging characters who acted like a real group of lifelong friends, and I appreciated the interactions they had together, especially when the emotions were raised to their highest intensity.

The visuals were fairly mixed this time around. The character designs were pretty good, but aside from Jinta and Menma, they were fairly generic and didn’t stand out too much from other titles. The colour palette of the show was alright, but a little basic and often far too vibrant. The show also didn’t get a chance to showcase much impressive animation, but considering the kind of show Anohana is, it’s not that big of a deal.

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The soundtrack was pretty great though. I can’t fault it. It hit all the emotional beats perfectly and did an excellent job at setting the tone be it melancholic of comedic. The opening theme is also pretty fantastic as is the ending theme.

In the end, Anohana made me feel things, but it could have done so much more than that. Sure, I was sad, but I wasn’t as connected as I’d liked to have been. The timing of its comedic moments was poor, the humour was bland, and the narrative was fairly uneven because it refused to give more focus to what really mattered. But when it did focus on delivering the emotionally engaging part of its story, it did so with grace and succeeded brilliantly.

It’s just a shame it didn’t get its priorities right. We could have had something, Anohana.

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What’s Next?

The next Readers Recommendation has already been decided. The next show I’ll be giving a shot is Kill La Kill!

Stay tuned.

Interested in my scores for Anohana and other Anime titles? You can find them on my horrendously incomplete MyAnimeList page.

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9 thoughts on “Readers Recommendation: Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

  1. I’m a little confused by this post. You seem to have liked a lot about this show but then summed it up to being decidedly average.

    I’ll start with the disclaimer that I enjoyed this show a lot. I felt that as a story about a group of friends getting past the trauma of their youth by coming together it did a very good job. Your criticisms sound like they’re entirely based around the humor, including the show’s lack of focus on the emotionally engaging parts of the story (I assume because of distracting humor?).

    I also watched this about a year ago whereas you just finished it, so I might not be remembering it well, but I don’t recall a lot of slapstick humor in this. Could you give an example of what you were referring to? The humor I remember was the joking/teasing among the friends and Menma’s lack of understanding about certain things.

    Did you discuss at some point about not liking Slice of Life very much? I can’t remember if it was you, but generally the humor to me felt appropriate for that genre, so I didn’t find it out of place. Aside from that, I thought the series was heavily focused on the emotional story, and exploring the different ways these characters were affected by what happened. Did you feel this was overlooked in favor of other less important elements?

    I’m only pressing on this because when you liked the story, found some of the characters relatable, liked the characters overall and found it to be emotionally engaging when it wanted to be, I’m unclear on why the humor was a big enough turn off to overshadow what you enjoyed.

    In any case, I’m interested to read what you think of Kill la Kill! I watched/reviewed it last year (not long after Anohana I think) and though it took a little while to grow on me I enjoyed it a lot as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      Sorry for the confusion. That’s likely due to how confused I was, and still am, over my own feelings towards the show. As I said at the beginning, I’m kind of in the middle and very divided, I’d even say “confused” as to how I feel about the series.

      That’s part of it, another example would be Jinta’s father being a crossdresser and having him overly obsessed with “cute” things (I understand why that’s the case, but it felt it was done for comedic effect a lot of the time). There were also moments where serious stuff was happening, only for the mood to be broken by a sudden tone shift in the form of a character saying or doing something silly (although I can’t provide a specific example because my memory is terrible).

      That being said, I could have just taken things the wrong way. Perhaps it’s not as big an issue for most people as it was for me.

      That may have been me. I wrote a whole post a while back about my struggle to connect with Slice of Life, so perhaps much of my issues with the series stem from that.

      I definitely felt that, at times, the emotional narrative was given less focus in favour of other things, but that may just be me.

      However, as you said, when the show managed to be on point, I found myself really enjoying it. I feel as though I may have been looking for something specific and just wasn’t too happy when I wasn’t given exactly what I was hoping for, which is a bit silly 😛

      I’m about halfway through Kill La Kill and it’s a blast so far. I have a lot to say already, so hopefully my thoughts on that one will come across more clear and less muddled.

      I seem to be a fairly confusing person sometimes when it comes to sharing my thoughts. Hopefully I was able to clear things up a bit (or maybe not!)

      Regardless, thanks for reading! 😀

      Like

      1. Hmm.. did two characters combine in your head? 😛

        Jintan’s father did call a lot of things cute, including Jintan. I think it’s part of his semi-hippy nature considering he’s not all that concerned that his son doesn’t go to school.

        The crossdresser was Jintan’s friend, Yukiatsu. There was almost certainly no humor intended there though. He has a deep psychological issue and I think the series made it a point to show what kind of pain he was in, being driven to do that.

        In any case, I’m not sure if I understood exactly where the snag was for you, but I can understand if you think you might have had a specific expectation that wasn’t met. My comment was aimed more at understanding your point of view than anything else. Hopefully the exercise had the benefit of pointing out where you might be able to better organize your thoughts (in written form anyway :D)

        Always a pleasure to read, regardless.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Actually, it’s worse than you thought. I some how got confused with another series (I wrote that reply at like 6 am after waking up, so was being stupid and have a stupid example that wasn’t real).

          Hopefully I was able to clear things up though. I like these kind of comments, brings more discussion to the table. Hope I can be less vague next time 😛

          Thank you!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Lol, well… as long as you had the right series in mind when you wrote your article. The bit about the slapstick humor has me wondering 😛 The other series wasn’t Ouran High School Host Club was it?

            It is perilous indeed to do anything thoughtful before you’re fully alert. As long as you like the discussion I’m always up for it.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. I get that a lot of people like this show but I found it fairly dull for most of the run time (mostly becuase the jokes don’t land for me and I never really got attached to the characters). The end also just seems like a needless attempt to tug at my heartstings and while shows like Angel Beats and Clannad got away with that because I did care about the characters, with Anohana it just kind of made me sigh. That said, there’s nothing wrong with it other than my own tastes because it’s actually quite a beautiful anime.

    Liked by 1 person

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