The damsel-in-distress Anaru.
Sigh. Really? It wasn’t enough to have Anaru rescued by a boy last episode, but here she has to be rescued yet again by another one?
I am frustrated. On the one hand, Anaru is a character lacking self-confidence and self-esteem, so it makes sense that she doesn’t stand up for herself. On the other hand… this is so over-done, and I don’t think Ano Hana is executing it particularly well. Yukiatsu also lacks self-confidence and self-esteem, although he covers for it with a much bolder bravado than Anaru ever attempts, but he is never obviously rescued by anyone, even when one considers Tsuruko’s actions. Jintan also lacks both these qualities, and is himself never rescued from a bad situation. While it would surely be dull to witness them all being rescued, why do we need to see it happen twice with Anaru? I would’ve settled for her getting herself out of the love hotel fiasco and then had Jintan stand up for her in class, honestly. It seems more important to have had that part than have had Yukiatsu save her from the creepy man; couldn’t she had just run into him after the fact?
I feel like Anaru as a character has degraded over the past couple of episodes. She may lack self-confidence, but she at least has some feistiness in her, we’ve seen it before and we’ve seen it in her more tsun moments. But now that she’s been telegraphed so obviously as a potential love interest for Jintan, its as if the winds have been completely ripped from her sails.
Also, seriously, enough with the virgin remarks. Jintan, what the fuck? You’re a hikkikomori. Your biggest interaction with a female comes in the form of a ghost whom even you admit could be a hallucination. “You can tell she’s a virgin.” Yeah, and so are you, moron. Geez.
By the way, I had some sort of decent theory during the classroom scene with the book that the teacher was reading aloud, but it flapped its little wings and vanished, so… yeah, sorry, can’t quite comment, although I wonder if the mention of male pride being hurt juxtaposed with Jintan’s growing frustration with the chatter of his classmates was a subtle dig at his prince act. But probably not.
Oh, and he did, of course, have to toss in a thought about how Anaru isn’t really all that smart when he observes that she is, from his initial judgment, taking notes on the reading. She has to work hard just to do decently! You know how it is with girls!
Its all too bad, because, honestly, the rest of the episode is fairly solid material. The visit to Menma’s house and seeing her mother was heartbreaking – Menma’s mother is so happy to see them, and it turns out that all of Menma’s stuff has been packed away at the behest of her father. It is very clear that her mother isn’t okay with this, but has allowed it to happen anyway, probably since she probably thinks her husband is right. And he is right to an extent – you can’t let someone’s death take over your life (as Mother Jones said, “Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.” Granted, she was talking about social activism, not dead lolis, but close enough). But it also does no good to try to pretend they never existed at all, and to try to pretend that everyone is alright when they aren’t.
I wish we’d spend more time with Menma’s mother to get a better read on how she’s handling it, but from what little I have seen it seems that she’s probably not as badly off as Yukiatsu or Jintan but not doing as well as Poppo, either. I was also struck by how isolated she seemed in this scene – its late enough that the light looks like the early evening, but her husband and son are nowhere in sight. How hard is it for her every day to be in that empty house by herself, with just the altar and chores for company?