Guess I will blog something this season after all.
Overall, I find this season kind of underwhelming. Actually, I find is kind of quietly disheartening, as it made me wonder initially if I was beginning to phase out of anime. I didn’t watch much for the winter, even failing to finish something I found to be a lovely watch (Hourou Musuko). I went long periods of time without watching anime AT ALL. So finding myself uninterested in most of the springtime fare was worrisome to me, for I feared it was only a sign of a decline in my interest as a fan.
Now, I say all this even though I’ve been quietly enjoying Ano Hana quite a bit. I suppose in part because despite my enjoyment of Ano Hana, I also am bothered by some of its elements, i.e. the loli service moments that were present in the first two episodes. I think Ano Hana has several solid points, so the loli moments were disappointing in a way I wouldn’t find them to be in something like Astarotte’s Toy (I would just find them gross there, but wholly within expectations). So, yes, I really do like Ano Hana, but I’m also still on the leery side.
I suppose I should actually move on to the show itself.
I am not promising to write about Ano Hana every week. I find it a bit difficult to watch, and find that I need a couple of days to really digest it. It hits a little close to home, so it requires more digestion than something more complex, like Hourou Musuko.
Although maybe I’m being unfair to Ano Hana – what makes a storyline dealing with a scattered group of friends who lost one of their own when they were young less complex than one about kids struggling with gender issues? They both possess their own complexities. I would agree that Hourou Musuko’s issues are more complicated in a modern society given that they dig at the very roots of a society, but the process of losing a friend to death is still extremely hard and one’s reactions to it often do inspire the derision of society (see: the way Anaru’s friends treat Jinta, the way Tsuruko denigrates Anaru’s choices), sadly enough.
All of which is to say – both these sets of kids face fairly big things to contend with.
Well, evidently I am incapable of ever traveling in a straight line. And I’m probably going to have some readers upset with me for not privileging the problems faced by LGBT kids over the problems by kids handling bereavement. So it goes.
So! Ano Hana episode three.
Previously, I had remained unconvinced that Menma wasn’t actually just a hallucination of Jinta’s. I figured she probably was, but wasn’t wholly convinced. Having watched episode three and thought back on earlier episodes, I think it is safe to say that Menma as we know her is, in fact, Menma’s ghost. Her scene at the family altar in Jinta’s home convinced me of that, although, honestly, her scene in her own house should’ve told me that much sooner.
Of course, this leaves a couple of other apparitions unaccounted for.
Based on what we know, I’d say it looks like Yukiatsu might actually be the crazy one in the mix here. I wasn’t as skeeved out by his smelling of the clothes as a lot of folks were, but in light of the revelation that he apparently purchases girl’s accessories and that Tsuruko doesn’t know who he is giving them to, coupled with his statement of having seen Menma’s ghost, I’m inclined to chalk this one up to hallucination. That we, the audience, also have not seen this ghost he claims to have seen lends this point of view further credence; we did see whatever it was Poppo saw, after all.
Of course, this then begs – what was it that Poppo saw?
Honestly, I’m not even particularly interested in speculation on this point. It could be part of a larger pattern, that is, that all the kids are actually now talking themselves into believing they’ve seen her ghost when they haven’t, but there’s so little evidence that I don’t at all want to commit to such a viewpoint. Hell, even suggesting that Menma’s been sleep-walking at this point would seem at least as valid as any other conjecture.
Yukiatsu and Tsuruko remain our least sympathetic characters, but I’m sure we’ll see some more humanizing development about them going forward. Since I find Jintan, Anaru, and Poppo to be quite likable thus far, I’m also pretty confident that my opinions on Tsuruko and Yukiatsu will come around, even if Yukiatsu is truly pretty repellent at the moment. Menma is kind of annoying, but, quite frankly, the show’s never nor will it ever (probably) actually be about her. It is about those she left behind, and how her passing affected them – she plays a linchpin role in it, but only insofar as she was the springboard for all the problems in the first place.
That being said, we did get a touch more development on her with her interaction with the home altar. That was really quite sad. I also think it indicates that Menma’s wish must be granted in order for her to pass on, even given her statement to Jintan that she is going to stay in his house forever. It is pretty obvious that her wish, by the way, is for the group to reconcile. Little by little in each episode I’m sure wishes she thought she had or others thought she had will be granted, only to prove that that wasn’t actually her wish, but nevertheless advance both the plot and the road to the wish forward.
The news that Jintan’s mother also died when he was young helps explain his father a bit more, too. I maintain that Jintan’s father’s inaction is borne out of a sense that he can’t affect anything about the situation. I doubt we’ll get any, but I would really welcome more about Jintan’s father. It doesn’t even have to be a huge amount, just some insight into him. He lost his wife, and had a young son who was shattered by the death of a friend and probably his mother as well. It couldn’t have been easy. Did the illness and death of his wife give him a sense of helplessness that in turn informs his behavior toward Jintan now? Did he struggle after his wife’s death? Did he slip into his own depression which has rendered him unwilling to push things with Jintan? I’d love to have some of these at least alluded to.
Ultimately, we all know where this show is going. That isn’t terribly mysterious. But its one of those stories where the destination matters not; it is the way they go about getting there. I’m just hoping the route there isn’t littered with moeshit.
EDIT: By the way, I am really enjoying E Minor’s posts on this show; he’s a good writer, and casts a fairly critical eye on anime he watches, so I would encourage you to check those posts.