When it comes to storytelling, as hard as it is to make someone laugh, I feel it’s even harder to make someone cry. But when you can make someone empathise with the characters in your stories so much that they shed tears, then you have something truly special.
Ano Hana is one of those stories.
Ano Hana is the story of 6 children. After the tragic death of one of their close friends, the friendships of five children slowly start to break. Time goes on and about ten years later, they have all gone their separate ways. We meet Jin-tan, who has become a recluse and lives away from society. Jin-tan’s life involves eating, playing games, surfing the internet, and sleeping. This all changes when the girl who passed away, Menma, suddenly reappears in Jin-tan’s life.
I always struggle to write a proper review without giving away key parts of the story. The only review I’ve written recently where I did that was Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo, which had fantastic art but an utterly broken (I’m being very polite) plot. The stories which I love, I never want to spoil for my readers so I try to give as little information as possible. This might leave people wondering, “How do I know if it’s good if you won’t tell me why?” I have to assume that people who read these reviews have similar taste and that if I like something, they will too.
I’m not afraid to cry, and Ano Hana had me choking back tears at the beginning of the final episode. As the episode unfolded, I couldn’t contain them any more and they came pouring down my face. (My beard still tastes salty!) The only stories I can say that definitely made me cry more is Mary and Max, Marley and Me, and probably Grave of the Fireflies.
It’s not without it’s faults, and there are some minor “plot holes”. They aren’t really plot holes, because in the context of the characters, they make sense, but some people go “Oh why didn’t XYZ happen sooner?”
So while it’s not perfect, it’s only eleven episodes long so it’s definitely worth at least one watch. I still can’t believed I missed this when it aired in the middle of last year!