Anime Spotlight – Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

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***This article contains mild spoilers***

Just thinking about this show nearly makes me cry.

I don’t usually watch anime that gets this serious, this sad, this emotional. But I happened on it by accident, was liking the first episode and then once the revealing of the story started up, it was too late, I was already all-in on this absolute tear-jerker of a show.

Normally I’d try to avoid spoilers, but the show pretty much advertises what’s going on right from the start, it’s the aftermath of the one real spoiler that’s the real story.

The story stars Jinta and Meiko (or Menma as her friends called her) along with a number of friends between them. Everything seems normal for a little while until your told what’s really going on. Meiko died years ago in a horrific accident as a child. The entirety of the anime is not about finding out what happened to Meiko, it’s not really a mystery of any sort. It’s more a story about a bunch of people dealing with the death of a very close friend that they still haven’t gotten over many years later and not only that, but some even feel responsible for her tragic death.

Meiko “Menma” Honma

The most depressing part of the entire series is the one dead character in the series, Meiko. The more you get to know her, the more frustrated you become with the idea that (in a fictional world) someone like Meiko would be chosen to die so young. She is an absolute sweetheart, seemingly one of the nicest people you’d ever meet. She really looks like the girl that would grow up to be the perfect wife for someone once she’d grown up past her teens, pretty not hot and just a beautiful mind. Which makes it even more sad that she’s haunted every day being a ghost in the human world where only Jinta can see her and she doesn’t know how to go to Heaven. In the early going, she’s putting on her happy face, presumably for Jinta who is clearly haunted by her death still to that day. But when repeated attempts to fulfill her final wish fail, Meiko breaks down more and more and we see that side of her that you can’t help by cry to.

The rest of the cast have their own problems. Like I said earlier, Jinta’s fighting with everything. Naruko clearly develops some social problems since Meiko’s death that lead to some shady lifestyle choices she’s made. Atsumu without spoiling anything is the most fucked up from the tragedy, he clearly suffered a psychotic breakdown after the events. Chiriko is the calmest out of all of them, but you wonder over time if she’s truly hiding something behind her demeanor. And Tetsudo pretty much turns into a happy-go-lucky world traveller with the intent of trying to fill so many memories into his head that he forgets the one that hurts the most. The entire series is like a slow, depressing mending of all their minds, some end up breaking down harder than the others as the series progresses.

The entire cast, present day (bottom) and before Meiko’s death (top)

By the end of the series, you’ve gone through hell and back. If you watch it in one sitting, you’re probably swimming in tears. There are moments where you get a break from the pure sadness of the show, but by the last 2-3 episodes, it’s a pure trainwreck. Which brings us to the ending.

There is no real happy ending to the series. Do they fulfill Meiko’s last wish? Yes, as one would expect from this kind of story. But it’s not exactly a happy ending for the characters, it’s definitely closure, but the last five minutes of the series is certainly not smiling. It’s pure sadness, moments that you have to be one hell of a strong person to not break down and cry as it happens. I’m usually that person, but that ending breaks your heart, it’s almost impossible not to shed tears to the end of this painful journey.

If you like a real emotional roller coaster, this is THE show to check out. Ranker has this listed as the saddest anime ever and while I haven’t watched the entire top 10, I’ve watched two of them and the other one on the list (Your Lie in April) has nothing on this show, so I believe the ranking.

Just do yourself a favour and have tissues ready.

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