Antipodes: Ano Hana and Honey and Clover’s first episodes
This post is dedicated to Jack, the kind poster who pointed out to me that a certain anime with an original story started airing. That anime was Ano Hana, or Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. Since the complete title is unwieldy, I will use the shortcut from this point on.
The first episode of Ano Hana reminded me a lot of Honey and Clover. I realized that the reason was that it had similar directors. Tatsuyuki Nagai also directed Toradora, and while sadly failing to maintain its beautiful beginning was also a decent watch. The theme of the series is more similar to Honey and Clover’s, however, than Toradora’s: both essentially deal with friendships, although romance remains to be a strong factor in the progression of the plot.
I recall that when I first watched the first episode of H&C, I wasn’t too impressed by the plot or the characters, but it left enough of a mark in me that made me stick with it. I had no regrets by the third episode, and was definitively sure that it was going to be one of the greatest series I would ever have seen by the sixth. That hasn’t changed, even after six years: Honey and Clover remains to be brilliant.
While H&C’s first episode was more jocose, however, Ano Hana starts with a beautiful elegiac tone. Instead of starting with introductions, the series started with goodbyes. It is not only in this sense, however, that Ano Hana serves as an antipode to Honey and Clover: whereas H&C was all about developing weakly-founded friendships into becoming lifetime covenants, Ano Hana started with strong friendships undermined by an incident and dissolved altogether by the passage of time. One started from creation; this series started with destruction: Jinta is a quasi-hikkikomori, and the friends that he had known in the past have transmogrified into spectres of their former selves. It is only the haunting of Menma, the friend lost in a certain fateful incident, that started to turn the wheels once again. Time moved once more.
The incident that occurred to Menma is actually reminiscent of Cross Game‘s trigger as well: it was with Wakaba’s accidental drowning that forged Kou to become a person that was capable of fulfilling her dreams for him. This is no Adachi series, however, and sports is as far from the people’s lives here as abundance is to the beggar.
This series honestly feels like a high school permutation of Honey and Clover. If executed as well as H&C, it will not be inferior, only as differently good. While the nucleus of friendship remains to be the similar focus in both series, I feel that whereas H&C dealt with the more mature aspects of romance and adulthood, Ano Hana will be the reverse in the sense that it will be escaping from the constraints of maturity and return to the celebration of unadulterated, childlike friendship.
I may be wrong, but I’m definitely watching this.