Impressions: AnoHana the Movie


The feels! I'm drowning in feels!

In 2011 I, along with many others around the world, discovered and fell in love with a little series known simply as AnoHana. It tells the tale of a group of estranged friends who are reunited by the ghost of their dead childhood friend in order to grant her final wish, and send her to the afterlife. By the end of the series, I was left a blubbering mess of tears. Partially because it was just that good and emotionally powerful, but partially because I had grown attached to the characters and thought I would never get to spend time with them ever again.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2014. The series I loved so much had been adapted into a feature film, and I once again found myself in that same teary state as I watched the movie in a small theater in Seattle. Was my experience as good as the first or, dare I hope, better than the original? Read on to find out.

It was a typical, foggy January day in Seattle. I woke up early excited to see the movie that I had literally been waiting months for. The bus ride couldn't have felt slower if it had tried but finally I arrived at the theater about 45 minutes early only to find that there were at least twenty people in line ahead of me talking about various anime and things. I even caught one girl wearing her Jintan cosplay as she waited in line. This was going to be a fun time to be sure. 

After getting my free gifts (I even scored one of the special letters from Menma!) I settled in and waited for the movie to begin. Finally I was going to get to see the film that I had heard surprisingly little about up to this point but once the movie began all of my excitement went away and was replaced with sheer joy. 

I'm going to do my best to not review this movie so much as just give an idea of what it is about and share my impressions of my time in the theater. I hope you'll forgive me if I stray too far into one territory or the other. The story of the AnoHana movie takes place on the first Obon after the group has sent their friend, Menma, to the afterlife by granting her wish (no spoilers on what that wish actually was). Over the course of the ninety or so minutes that this film runs, everyone in the group of friends reflects on their experiences with coming back together to grant Menma's wish and attempt to write individual letters to her in heaven. 

When this movie was first announced to exist many people were uncertain on what direction it would take and if it would live up to the original series. AnoHana was an emotionally driven and powerful series that wrapped up the story with very few loose ends left over. What could this movie deliver that wasn't already presented to the audience already? Would it just be another recap movie that attempted to milk the audience for more money without giving them anything new? The answer to those questions are "lots" and "sort of". 

As you watch this movie, you'll very quickly realize that it is indeed a recap movie that will take the audience back through the entire series from start to finish in the form of flashbacks and memories. As each character attempts to write their letter to Menma, the scenes from the TV series flood back to them as they remember what they went through as the main character Jintan approached them one by one to convince them that their friend had returned as a ghost and wanted to bring everyone back together. 

What is wonderful about AnoHana the Movie however is that despite being about 50-60% recap, it never feels like it is being weighed down or dragged by the "old" material. Despite having seen it more than once in the past, all of this footage felt just as powerful as the first time I saw it. Interspersed between all of the new scenes, seeing the story told again from slightly new perspectives gives the series new emotional depths and makes it accessible to everyone watching.

As I watched this movie, I occasionally glanced around the theater to see if I could get an idea of how much other people were enjoying the movie and was always pleased to see that very few people in the theater weren't having a good time. I mean, besides the one guy who sat a row ahead of me constantly shaking his head and darting out of the theater with his party once the credits started to roll. Other than that, the reactions I saw were pretty universal among the audience. They laughed together when Poppo did or said something ridiculous and they wiped tears away from their eyes when Anaru struggled to write her letter because of her still unconfessed feelings for Jintan. No matter what was happening in the movie, the audience told me with their actions that this movie was getting its point across and I knew that I was a part of something special.

Fans of various ages and tastes had come together to see this movie and it was reaching their hearts. It's not everyday that you get to see that happen and to witness it first hand is truly something special that I will remember for many months to come. 

Now a full day removed from seeing the movie, I'm still remembering scenes in my mind and smiling as I type up this post. The movie isn't perfect but it's near enough that I already want to buy it, watch it again and show it to others. The movie itself was a joy but the experience of seeing it with others in the theater made it extra special. I'm already looking forward to the day when I can get my hands on my own copy and add it to my personal collection. 

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LB Bryant
LB BryantAssociate Editor   gamer profile

I've been writing about anime and manga either professionally or semi-professionally since August 31st 2005 starting on before graduating up to ICv2 and other sites more + disclosures



Also on Japanator: Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day - The Movie   (1)   From our database:

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