Friday, 3 June 2011

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai - Episode 8

So, Jinta and company's firework making plans have been put on hold thanks to, of all people, Menma's father.  It's a small world, isn't it?

On the surface, the way around this obstacle seems simple enough - talk to Menma's mother who seemed so accommodating towards them the last time they visited.  So, the entire group head off to talk to Menma's mum, only to find that things really aren't that simple after all - for all of her welcoming banter last time around, Menma's mother quite understandably harbours a mixture of her own guilt and a substantial portion of blame towards her child's friends; feelings which overflow as she accuses the group of simply using Menma's name to carry on having fun just like the good old days.

It's an accusation that stings, and furthermore one which causes further fracture within the already precipitous state of the group as it is, with Jinta leading the way by deciding that he'll simply go about fulfilling Menma's wish on his own.  The next thing he knows, he has Anaru spilling out her feelings for Jinta to them (again mixed in with her own guilt about Menma's fate) to cause him further distress, and to ensure that the episode's tear ration is met even Jinta ends up bawling his eyes out.  On the positive side however, Jinta is beginning to understand the feelings of any parents concerned in the state of their children, via both his own father and Menma's mother's outburst.  As even more odd goings-on bring the question of whether Menma's "ghost" is real or not come to a head, the necessary evidence for her existence finally makes itself known.

I think it's fair to say that this episode of Ano Hana certainly wasn't lacking in drama and emotion - the outburst from Menma's mother was inevitable as was Jinta's reaction to it, whereas Anaru's confession was rather more surprising and perhaps one of the more moving moments of the series as it's one of the few examples of a character being absolutely honest with themselves we've seen thus far from the series.  This does however bring us to the eye-rollingly forced climax to the episode which finally seems to reveal Menma's existence to all of those concerned - if it was so simple, then why didn't someone suggest this eight episodes ago?  Are they really all that dumb as to not think of a "test" of some kind to prove that Menma is real and not a figment of Jinta's imagination?  Unfortunately, bringing this into play so late almost belittles everything that has come before it - we're now eight episodes in to Ano Hana and yet its characters and story have barely shifted at all, leaving us with very little time to really explore the guilt and worries that have been bubbling on the surface of every character since day one.  Still, at least now that everyone can see the elephant in the room (with apologies to Menma for that vaguely offensive allusion) we can maybe get on with moving somewhere with the series.

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