Ano Hana Episode Four

Best cook-out ever!

Especially the food!

Joking aside…

So, the big reveal about the second Menma is that it is… Yukiatsu in drag! This probably would’ve surprised me, had I not succumbed to temptation and read E Minor’s post first, but, well, I did, and, actually, this post is happening sooner than it would’ve had I note read his post. I’d originally intended to watch Ano Hana today due to scheduling, but having seen a bit of his post… yeah, I watched it Friday night and therefore have had enough time to chew over it and post about it.

Having had the mystery solved, what I am most curious about is how Tsuruko knew about it, and whether Yukiatsu knew that she knew about it. It certainly puts their scene in episode three in the store into some interesting light, depending on what exactly the combination of knowledge is. Tsuruko may’ve been trying to indicate to Yukiatsu that she knows, and that she isn’t at all happy about it. On the other hand, if he knows that she knows, Tsuruko may’ve just been signifying her frustration to Yukiatsu with her comment wondering what girl he’s buying it all for. Re-watching that scene, I’m inclined to interpret it as the latter based on both his body language and hers – he won’t look at her and there’s an uneasiness in his smile, while she’s fairly forcefully hostile about the situation. I think he knows that she knows, but that they’ve never actually brought it up directly with each other. It is the elephant in the room.

And then there’s that picture Tsuruko drew. Menma or Yukiatsu? Or is it even an either/or case? Does Tsuruko herself even know?

Ano Hana has successfully humanized Tsuruko and Yukiatsu despite having initially portrayed them fairly negatively. I’m impressed; surely it would’ve been easier to have not made them quite so harsh to start with, but this route makes them feel realer, and it also didn’t tamper with their original characterizations. Tsuruko is still fairly abrasive, given how she blows Yukiatsu’s cover. Yukiatsu is still a jerk, even if he is a jerk who also happens to have some serious problems (dressing up as your dead friend and pretending to be her ghost? really?). Their cores haven’t been altered; we’re just seeing more of the rest of their personalities as well, which transitions them from potential antagonists to co-protagonists.

In particular, though, I really liked Tsuruko’s characterization during this episode. The thing with the cups was a really nice touch, as small as it was. And seeing her in a private moment, when she was drawing that picture, was interesting, as it revealed something past the whole “perfect student” thing. She, too, was the reason for the forced revelation about Yukiatsu, having used Jintan to provoke him.

I would really like to see more of her relationship with Yukiatsu, because it seems a complex dynamic. They definitely appear to be close, but there’s also a lot that isn’t being said between them. Tsuruko may be the contrast to Jintan’s father – she doesn’t know what to do about her clearly messed up friend, but she’s willing to take the bull by the horns even if she is unsure as to where to go from there, whereas Jintan’s father has a messed up son and doesn’t know what to do about it, so he does nothing.

I found Yukiatsu’s admonition to forget about Menma to be so sad, and also really awful of him, since he clearly wants to hog her all for himself, even if it is only his memories of her. The fact is, ultimately, what scares us most about death is the idea of being forgotten, of having our efforts, essentially, “go to waste”. In extinguishing memory of a person, they die a second death, a more permanent one. In this world, immortality is being remembered – Cleopatra may be physically dead, but recollections of her live on, and probably will continue to do so. In this way, she has achieved immortality. Same goes for all those famous figures from history you can name off the top of your head.

Its funny, because yesterday I was talking with someone, someone I met very recently, and they mentioned in passing that a friend of their had died. They mentioned it in explanation for why they’d made a certain decision relating to their future career. And I said, “Ah.” and nodded, then the conversation moved on. But then later on, I went back and asked them what their friend was like, because I realized that when I mention my friend who died, no one ever asks me what she was like. And isn’t that the part that matters? Not their death, but their life? Who they were, what they liked, how they lived?

It is sad to just have Menma become “my friend who died when I was young”. Its cruel.

I don’t really have anything else to say about the episode, now. I’m very curious to see how everyone handles the news about Yukiatsu; I have no idea how I would react to a friend dressing up as and impersonating a friend’s ghost. I hope I would be able to be level-headed and not get angry, realize that there was probably something seriously wrong. Yukiatsu’s action is very selfish, but it is also an indication of desperation and of something being very, very wrong. Where will we go from here?

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One Response to Ano Hana Episode Four

  1. Hogart says:

    From her shopping trips with Yukiatsu, it would make sense that Tsuruko would have some doubts, if not guessing it outright (it’s how I guessed “the reveal”). Plus, she clearly read his open hostility to Jintan properly, so I think she put it all together in advance.

    What remains is whether she’s been able to deal with Menma’s passing, which is unlikely given how no one else has talked about it. Her behavior and personality seem to imply that she’s bottling it up, and taking our her frustrations on her former friends rather than talking things over.

    Neat little drama so far.

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