It's new noitaminA season time again... and new "incredibly long title for an anime" time as well in the case of Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. Still, let's just hope that its plot is more memorable than its name.
This opening episode introduces us immediately to two of its characters - a boy named Jinta who clearly aims to keep himself to himself, something that he appears to be singularly failing to do as a girl known as Menma clings to him and bothers him at every turn despite the summer heat. So far, so typical... except Menma isn't actually alive, making her little more than a ghost; a half-forgotten memory; a root of the stress which has seen Jinta all-but drop out of school.
So we're introduced to the cause of all Jinta's problems, centred around Menma's death which he still feels responsible for and the subsequent break up of the childhood gang of which he was effectively the head. We meet numerous members of this group throughout the episode, seemingly all of whom have changed in some way, shape or form, and all of whom are clearly effected by Menma's death no matter how thoroughly they try to hide it. We also know of Menma's wish - to see all of her friends reunited again. But is that even possible considering how far they've drifted apart?
I have to admit that I'm not hugely enamoured of the way Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai has set up its principle at a base level - relying on Menma's ghost feels like a bit of a cop-out before we've even started, and the fact that said character almost feels like "Nessa Mark II" after last season's Fractale doesn't particularly help. On the other hand, I am interested in the show's premise on multiple levels, from the psychological down to the more simple question of whether a group of old friends can rekindle their relationships after so long removed from one another - there's clearly a lot of potential for drama, emotion and so on inherent within that concept, and Menma's presence and the way she seems to be more than simply a figment of Jinta's imagination could also serve as a positive twist on things if it's used well. Above all else, it's a noitaminA show so at least there's the promise of something outside of the norms of anime - let's hope it's more of a Wandering Son than a Fractale for the spring season though, shall me?