Friday, 24 June 2011

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai - Episode 11 (Completed)

Their firework may have been launched as the culmination of a lot of hard work and tears, but come the end of it all Menma is still well and truly with us - what next to get rid of her... err, I mean, what next to help her pass on?

Although fulfilling Menma's wish of making a firework at least had the side-effect of reconciling her family, there's clearly still more work to be done, and this comes to a head that very same night when Yukiatsu calls out the rest of the gang for a late night meeting to discuss what to do next.  As those present delve a little deeper into why this particular piece of wish fulfilment didn't have its desired effect, the truth begins to seep out about the selfishness of those involved as they worked to help Menma primarily for their own ends - indeed, even Poppo has his own reasons that he finally reveals, although to be honest that particular side revelation isn't really explored as much as it perhaps should have been.

While all of this is going on, what the group don't realise is that Menma is disappearing - thus, by the time everyone decides that they need to make peace with her properly it's almost too late, resulting in a race against time as Jinta tries to get Menma to the gang's secret base before she vanishes entirely.  By the time he arrives Menma is still present but even Jinta can't see her, leading to a painful night of Menma keeping up the pretence of playing hide and seek while she crafts her own proper goodbyes to her friends and leading into a heart-rending and poignant finale for all involved.

After expressing my frustration with this series on more than one occasion, I have to step up and say that this was a fantastic finale, which managed to turn a lot of its negatives from prior episodes on its head (namely the selfish nature of all the characters bar Menma) before drawing every single ounce of emotion to create a powerful ending to the story that was a mixture of cruel disappointment and beautiful closure for all involved.  Perhaps its final little slither of genius was turning this climax into a line in the sand for all the remaining characters to "grow up", which goes some way to washing away their frustrating and occasionally downright stupid behaviour throughout the rest of the series.

Ultimately then, this final episode to Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai has somehow managed to allow the series as a whole to equate more than the sum of its parts - for much of the series it seemed Hell-bent on blowing its big moments of drama and importance, and even in this final instalment it throws out important moments as though they were nothing, but come the end of it all it rose above all of that to create a hugely emotional tale that managed to pull on my heart strings significantly harder than I expected it to be capable of.  If that isn't the sign of a good drama, then I don't know what is.

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