Ano Hana Episode Six

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?

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14 Responses to Ano Hana Episode Six

  1. E Minor says:

    I think the shrine to Menma tells us that the family isn’t trying to push her out of their memory, just that there’s no reason to leave her room completely in tact.

    As for Irene’s isolation, I’m not sure we’re getting a complete picture. It has been years since her daughter’s death. Sure, the father and son could continue to hang around the house every single day to try and cheer the mother up, but, again, it’s been years. They too must tire. It’s up to Irene to accept her daughter’s death and move on.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I didn’t touch on this in the post, but I also wondered if Irene’s isolation is also powered by the simple fact that she isn’t herself Japanese ethnically.

      I wouldn’t expect her family to be hanging around all day every day, but it did strike me as a bit curious that the house was so empty at such a late hour. Perhaps Irene’s lingering feelings about her daughter’s death has caused them to avoid having to be around her. As I said before, I wish we’d get more about the adults in this story because of things like this, but doubt that we ever will.

      • E Minor says:

        I’m hesitant to touch the race issue. There’s little to any sign of racism in the show at the moment. It also begs the question of why Menma’s dad would marry a foreign woman if he eventually grows to resent her for that very fact. Again, I don’t think this speculation is baseless, I just think the show’s too light-hearted to touch the issue like how it kinda turned Anjou’s problem into a chivalry thing for Jinta.

        It’s too bad anime is usually about young people so I know what you mean about the lack of adult perspective. Even so, we could always assume that the father is working late (customary in Japan) and the son, still immature, doesn’t know how to deal with his mother’s grief. Then again, I’ve made enough excuses for them. It could also just be a gap in Ano Hana’s narrative. The show isn’t perfect, after all.

      • adaywithoutme says:

        Oh, no, I meant vis-a-vis her neighbors, not her husband.

  2. kadian1364 says:

    Like you, I want to like Ano Hana very much, but it always throws in some offhand remark or unbelievable reaction that makes me say, “Woah, what?” A-1 seems to have an invisible ceiling for all its anime productions. They all have interesting concepts, detailed animation, and likeable characters, but erratic and amateurish writing limit the ultimate achievements of them. And it seems Ano Hana has also bumped that ceiling.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      At least the loli-service angle has largely been dropped.

      Re-watching the classroom scene, I got irritated over the contention that Anaru has a face that looks like it’d go to a love hotel. WTF? That’s so demented and so sexist.

      I did like the girl who said it wasn’t a big deal to have been to a love hotel, and that it sucked she’d been caught.

      I’m hoping Ano Hana can pick it up a bit, I found the first four episodes to be very good, and these last couple have been a bit disappointing in comparison.

  3. E Minor says:

    I wouldn’t want nosy neighbors around! Would you? But I see your point.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Yeah, more in the larger social scheme. And it doesn’t even have the be out-and-out racism, but, rather, feeling isolated from her own family and the support structure she had prior to ending up in Japan. Of course, this is assuming that she herself came to Japan as opposed to having grown up there with her family.

      Of course, there’s no real way to tell since we know so very little about her.

  4. Sorrow-kun says:

    I have this (hopefully unfounded) concern that the reason they constantly affirm that Anaru is a virgin is so they don’t alienate certain sections of the otaku community that get up in arms about that type of thing.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Honestly, you’re probably right, which is really fucked up. After the preview for episode five aired, the DVD sales plummeted. So. Fucked. Up.

  5. Elineas says:

    Anaru’s degeneration in character feels like a two-fold issue. The first is the frustrating glass ceiling of forced appeal, which my fellow NHRVers have already tackled. The other is the fact that there’s no one jumping on her issues anymore. We take Jintan’s POV most often, and Tsuruko is nailing Yukiatsu all the time, so we’re always aware of what’s going through both of the males’ heads. Anaru, however, hasn’t really been fundamentally attacked since Tsuruko got on her case, so she ends up as merely a tool to develop Jintan. I think that’s a shame for both girls, because Anaru doesn’t seem to take Tsuruko’s words to heart at all, and Tsuruko makes every conversation she’s in 99 times more interesting. Or maybe this is just my way of saying “moar Tsuruko plz” as everyone else (including the anime itself) is ogling Anaru.

    I’m also rather fascinated by the classroom thing. If we go back an episode, we also get a school scene with Yukiatsu and Tsuruko concerning intelligence beyond the classroom (which you can find online as an SAT-like passage by typing into Google “when we talk about intelligence”). I thought it was a very interesting way to obliquely point to the mental aptitude needed to deal with tragic events in the show. Like the scene in this episode, there seems to be some selectivity going into these scenes, but your guess is as good as mine as to whether we’re just blowing hot air or if there’s a deeper meaning.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Her “issues” just get so cheaply solved more or less – the white knight rides in! It is extremely frustrating. And, really, it doesn’t get at the underlying problem, i.e. her lack of confidence. As a character, she’s treading water.

      Tsuruko is a much, much more interesting character than Anaru as things stand right now, but I’m worried about where they’re going with her relationship with and to Yukiatsu. The girls getting mad at her in the classroom was so cliche.

      Or maybe, just in general, I find the notion of a “all the boys want Menma, all the girls want to be Menma” situation tiresome. This especially since I don’t think they can really develop it in a way that isn’t overdone. If they were to step back and look at these kids desires to be with or be like Menma as a problem of perception, i.e. they’ve all idealized her in their conception of her, then that would be pretty intriguing to look at. But I don’t think they have the run time to really delve into that any more.

  6. annna says:

    I too think that Anaru’s virginity is just fanservice for the otaku. I’m really starting to hate the show the more I watch it because it sticks so close to all the anime tropes and plays them safe. And of course, quite sexist.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Its very disappointing; the show had a very strong start, but it just seems to have tripped into a cliche-ridden funk. I liked Anaru a lot to begin with, but she’s become less a character and more an object with the passage of time.

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