In Tatsuyuki Nagai’s Anohana, Young Jinta is a teenage recluse, and no wonder. His last words, five years ago, to his childhood friend Menma, before she ran away, was injured and drowned, were cruel ones. And the next day, his hospitalized mother died.
Worse, Jinta is constantly pestered by Menma. She follows him everywhere, comments on his video games, and seems to want him to do something for her.
The rest of his childhood friends’ group isn’t doing a whole lot better. They were all playing in their secret fort the day Menma died, and none of them have dealt with it all that well. On the surface, Popo has fared better than Jinta, but he is obsessed with the death he witnessed. He is sure he could have saved her, if he hadn’t been frozen in terror. He has traveled all over SouthEast Asia, but he cannot escape his memories. Yukiatsu is also fine on the surface but we learn he is really suffering. And so on for the rest of the group, who once called themselves the “Super Peace Busters”.
Is “Menma” real? Only Jinta can see her. But she – or he – cannot move on. Menma finally tells him what she needs him to do. He will have to get the old gang back together to help her, to give her a proper send-off.
Lesson learned: I missed something here. Serial manga are often made into serial anime, and then sometimes live-action, or the serial is made into a movie. I connected with the film a lot better after reading the manga.
- You can watch the whole series on Crunchyroll as I plan to do: Anohana – The Flower We Saw That Day
- For an engaging explanation, see Geoff Thew’s excellent review Anohana: A Life-Changing Tragedy
- Special mention for the soundtrack music of Galileo Galilei, the short-lived J-pop rock group.
- I had a high-school friend whose father was killed a logging accident, and whose stepfather was killed in a boating accident. Suffice to say that children are not infinitely resilient.