Friday, 22 April 2011

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai - Episode 2

The opening episode of Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai offered up a premise with plenty of potential, offset by the season's most irritating character in the form of back-from-the-dead ghost Menma.

Thankfully, Menma's input is far less in your face and annoying for this second instalment as she becomes almost secondary to the show's other characters (despite being foremost in all of their minds), beginning with Jinta's old friend "Poppo", who has been using their group of friend's secret hideout as a home from home when he isn't travelling the world.  While everyone else seems to be doing their best to avoid Menma's memory (and thus Jinta as a result), Hisakawa (to use his proper name) actively encourages discussing her, offering to help Jinta fulfil Menma's wish and her reason for re-appearing to him in the first place.

With Jinta unsure of exactly what wish he's supposed to be fulfilling, his train of thought eventually turns to Pokemon (let's not dally with the false name attributed to it in-series) and Menma's desire to capture a particularly rare creature within an edition of the game.  The trouble is, not only is the game a few years old now, the Pokemon in question can only be captured with the help of a friend, thus meaning that Naruko ends up being dragged into this game-playing treasure hunt... not that she minds really, as we delve a little deeper into both her own attraction to Jinta and how she looked up to Menma as kid in your typical love-hate relationship kind of way.

Overall, this made for a pleasant episode (not least because Menma largely kept quiet) that was well-produced and nicely realised, while at the same time never really breaking out of its comfort zone at all - everything occurred exactly as you'd expect it to without any real emotion or drama to it beyond what had already been soundly established or at least strongly hinted at in episode one.  That pretty much sums up my major worry about the series - that it's simply going to pull all of its major characters together under Menma's memory via a reversion to their "child-like" states without exploring why they've grown up, grown apart and changed since her death.  It's too early to start fretting hugely about this concern admittedly and the potential (necessity, perhaps - this is a noitaminA show after all) remains for it to do a whole lot more, but perhaps this episode's biggest disservice was that advertisement for Wandering Son within it that only served to remind me how much more that series achieved with its first two episodes.

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