I give this amazing, tear-jerking anime...a 95/100!
But before I start this review, I'd like to tell you all a story. When I was young, I knew a boy named Brandon. He was very physically disabled and had to be in a wheelchair. I don't remember what he had (his mother explained it to me once, but even now I still don't remember), but we went to summer school together (NO, I didn't go because I had bad grades!). His mom and my mom were good friends around that time. But sometimes I had to go to his house for a while. Partly because my mom had to work and she couldn't leave me alone at home so I had to be babysat by them, or because I had to look after him for a while. Sometimes I liked him, and sometimes I was rather annoyed, partly because he often kept calling me over to him to watch scenes from Disney movies (which I dismissed at the time, though not openly). I wasn't MEAN to him, per se, but I didn't know much about disabilities and how different people were back then, and there's just so much of one person you can take in a certain amount of time. Know what I mean? My mom tells me that whenever I got home, I would shout "Free at last! Free at last!" But after we grew up, we never saw each other again. Then when I was in middle school, I found out he died. I don't know how so, but it made me feel a little bad and sad. Even now I wish I had been a tad nicer to him. But what struck me best about him was that he always looked happy, even in hard times. I couldn't understand why he'd be happy all the time, and I wonder if he was happy until he day he died? My dad says that he was happy because he got to live, even though his life was cut short (possibly because of his disability).
That was the memory that this anime, AnoHana, brought back to me. AnoHana is short for Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai ("We Still Don't Know The Name of the Flower we Saw That Day"). Jeez that's a mouthful! It's the story of six kids who drift apart after one of the kids died. Jinta has become locked in his house unwilling to socialize with anyone, Naruko spends most of her time with her trashy girlfriends, Atsumu and Chiriko focus more on their studies, and Poppo travels the world. The sixth friend, Menma, died in a river many years ago, and these characters can't seem to move on!...that is, until Menma's ghost appears before Jinta and asks that he grant her wish. What is that wish? Why is Jinta the only one who can see her? What secrets does everyone else hold in their hearts?Well, I'm gonna save the best for last and begin with the animation: it's beautiful. I loved it. No frame is wasted, everyone is constantly moving, and even their smallest movements are animated awesomely. Plus I LOVE how the secret base looked (heck, some people in real life are building a live version of it!). The soundtrack...eh, it was nice, but it didn't really stand out to me. But I did love the OP and the ED themes! They fit the show perfectly! I always felt happy whenever I would listen to these songs, as they'd make me forget about stuff at school (on Fridays I would come home and watch this immediately) and draw me into the wonderful world of AnoHana.
Okay. I'm sorry, but I'm saying this another time: THE CHARACTERS!!! I just cannot shut up about these characters! They're perfectly varied, colorful, and wonderful! They're different (one's an airhead, another's a jerk, another's socially inept, another's indifferent, etc.), and they're developed excellently throughout the show. Everyone has their reasons for feeling the way they are (some are plain creepy while some are just natural), and this anime makes sure to juggle their personalities around and make them into perfectly well-rounded characters! Plus the anime makes sure to breathe life into every single one of them. My favorite has to be Menma. She's sooooooo adorable and cute! And I don't mean that in a moe way either! There's one thing that annoys me. Everyone keeps calling this show moe, but quite honestly I DO NOT think this anime is even CLOSE to being moe! Menma's the only childish character in the entire show, and she has perfectly good reason for being so! Other characters in moe anime are moe just for the sake of being moe and satisfying the tastes of good for nothing males who have nothing better to do than to sit in front of their computers and TVs in their basements and be aroused by cute girls who look like little kids.
Ever head the saying "short but sweet"? This little Noitamina title is the best example of that. Of course, I would've rated this anime higher if there weren't any of those really small but perverted scenes (mostly regarding Poppo), but that's just nitpicking so I'm not going to dwell on them. Plus they're EXTREMELY small so they can be easily forgiven. What surprises me again though is that this is a totally original project. It's not based on any manga, book, visual novel, or any other media. This series belongs in the Anime no Chikara slot, don't you think? Sure it wasn't made in 2010 and sure the timeslot was a flop, but if A-1 Pictures made this back then, Anime no Chikara would probably have been a huge hit! Not that I'm ticked off it's on Noitamina, but you get the idea.
No anime before has ever managed to bring a long lost memory out of me. Not even my number one anime of all time, Shounen Onmyouji, could do that. I am sad that it ended, but it has a special place branded in my heart (and in my top 20 favorite anime). I'm definitely looking forward to Noitamina's summer line up (Bunny Drop and No. 6), along with a bunch of other anime (like Natsume Yuujinchou 3 and Ikoku Meiro no Croisee!!).
So, AnoHana is just an adorable, tear-jerking and heartwarming anime about growing up, regrets, letting go of the past, and moving forward in life. Are you human!? Do you have a childhood memory that you want to re-live? THEN GO WATCH IT NOW!!!