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Final Impressions: Ano Hana

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So. You've got a drama show about a bunch of friends, and you're on your last episode, one that's a full week shorter than is usual for a season. You're not quite satisfied with how it's making the viewers feel. What do you do?

The solution is simple: drop a drama bomb on it.

Ano Hana's is, without a doubt, potent, weapons-grade stuff, but sadly underscores the fact that said drama bombs are tools of last resort. When no other weapons are at hand, overkill is the final solution.

Mind you, I can't imagine anyone watching this didn't expect to see this sort of thing at one point or another, but again, to have it actually used is something of a disappointment.

Then again, if Ano Hana's mission was to damn the torpedoes and drag a sniffle out of me, no matter the cost, they did succeed. Empathy is instinctive, and when one sees this many people crying their hearts out, be they 2-D or not, some sympathy is guaranteed. The unfortunate side effect is that the sniffle is often followed by laughter, directed at this blatantly, awkward attempt at manipulation. Subtlety test failed.

But enough ragging on that. A good majority of shows that attempt to lay it on as thick as Ano Hana does do fail, and the mere fact that it did manage to tug on a few heartstrings is something to be respected. It's unfortunate that that silver lining shined a light on how ridiculous the whole affair was, in retrospect.

Perhaps the biggest tragedy in all this is Menma herself. While it's only natural that her role in the story is to act as a catalyst to help rebuild the bridges she broke by going off and dying, to explicitly state what her last wish was (i.e. to help Jintan "live" again) cheapens her character. No one could be so disgustingly selfless. Well, no one besides Jesus, but he's kind of a special case.

That could probably be handwaved away by the notion that Menma maintains her childlike innocence beyond the grave, but in the end it's simply an excuse. We didn't need to be hammered over the head with it.

That thought brings up another nagging flaw (albeit one sprung from cynicism): the fact that these kids are all still children. Thanks to the anime mandate that all people must be in their first year of high school to be considered alive, having them act out all that melodrama feels contrived and unnatural.

In a way, it feels like the only people who have the right to feel they way they do would be Menma's family, broken as it was by the loss of a favorite child. Everyone else is a bit too precocious. As is often said in shonen fight shows, they're a few years too early to be carrying all that baggage.

It could be that I'm underestimating the complexity of children. Adults often make that mistake. All the same, a show allegedly designed for mature people to watch (that's what Noitamina shows are for, ostensibly) should at least treat its audience as mature.

But ultimately those complaints are what-ifs and could-have-beens. As I said earlier, the mission was accomplished. Drama was dropped and some tears were shed. I enjoyed the ride. Ano Hana has earned its pat on the back. It's just a little sad that it won't anything more than that from me.

Also, the flower is a Forget-Me-Not.

 


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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures


 



Filed under... #anime #Final Impressions #Japanator Original #top stories

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