For my next review I chose the anime We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day, (Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai) (2011). This drama/slice-of-life anime is only 11 episodes long.
What’s it about?
Jinta Yadomi, Meiko Honma, Naruko Anjou, Atsumu Matsuyuki, Chiriko Tsurumi, and Tetsudou Hisakawa were childhood friends and grew up together. However, after the death of Meiko Honma (fondly called “Menma” by the others), the other five drift apart. Ten years later, Jinta Yadomi starts seeing Menma’s ghost, who is surprisingly the same age as him. Thinking that Menma is unable to move on because she has unfinished business left in this world, Jinta brings his old friends together to grant her wish. But whether they believe Jinta, and whether they can overcome the conflicts they had when young, is a different matter entirely.
The characters and plot of this anime are its strongest points. Let’s start with the characters, shall we? Each character is unique and has had a lot of attention paid to them. All of them are also refreshingly realistic in terms of personality, and the way they have changed in reaction to Menma’s death. Note here that realistic by nature doesn’t mean perfect; all of the characters have flaws and short-comings in their personalities, as does everyone in the real world. Over the course of the anime there is a bit of character development as each character recognises their own flaws and begins to accept themselves as individuals. The relationships between the characters are also very interesting to watch develop.
Now turning to the plot… and wow. If you’re looking for something to make you cry, you’ve found it. This anime does a great job of exploring the effects that the death of a loved one has on different people; encompassing reactions such as social withdrawal, bitterness, and running away. The plot also covers Menma’s feelings of leaving behind her loved ones, and gives everyone the chance to say goodbye. However, there are plenty of light-hearted, funny moments, which does a great job of breaking up the sadness of the anime. Overall, the plot is emotional, tragic, and beautiful, with a bitter-sweet ending that will probably reduce you to tears.
Another great thing about this anime is its music. The opening song and animation does a great job of setting the tone for the anime, and is one of my favourite openings. Whilst I wasn’t particularly interested in the ending song the first time I watched this anime, when I re-watched a couple of episodes I realised how good it was, and how emotional it was in the context of the series. Both are key in creating this anime’s atmosphere.
The art throughout the series is of a pretty good standard and I like the way the characters have their unique styles. The details in the background are a nice touch as well.
There were a couple of things that I didn’t quite like about this anime. Firstly, the final episode. As a whole, this episode is excellent; emotional and tear-jerking, and also ties the anime up well. However, there were a couple of moments that were very over-dramatic, seeming forced to me rather than emotional (i.e. the scene below). I also kinda felt like the writers were dragging the episode out a bit too much, and milking the ending for all it’s worth.
The only other thing I didn’t quite like was Menma’s wish… I was hoping it would be something bigger than what it actually was. However, it’s not exactly detrimental to the anime as a whole… I think I was just a little disappointed.
Art: 8/10: Decent throughout the whole series.
Story: 8/10: The bitter-sweet plot does a great job of exploring people’s reactions to death, and is quite touching.
Characters: 8/10: The characters are wonderfully realistic, and develop throughout the anime, to a point where they can finally, slowly, move on with their lives.
We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day is a sweet, sad anime that will get those tear ducts working. Although it’s a little over-dramatic in places, the anime does a good job of exploring the effects of a loved one’s death, and presents the story with great art and beautiful music. Overall, I give it an 8/10.