Ano Hana – 03: dissecting the pertinent questions

Because there are no interlocking plots or nuanced allusions to literary works, I have difficulty talking about the series itself. I don’t think it’s bad; on the contrary, it’s been great so far. I’ll try to talk about the series anyway, and the few curious points regarding the third episode.

That sure as hell doesn't seem like a mere hallucination to me.

The existence of Menma

This is one of the central questions of the series that will probably only be resolved much later on. For the time being, as I see it, there are three main probabilities regarding Menma’s return.

  • Menma is a projective hallucination of Jinta’s which symbolizes the things that he’s missed over the years.
  • Menma truly appears differently to each and every Super Peace Buster.
  • Menma is a ghost.

Menma is a projective hallucination of Jinta’s which symbolizes the things that he’s missed over the years

I’m no psychologist, but I’ve read enough on and about psychology due to requirements in the university, and schizophrenics can very well have these powerful hallucinations that plague their lives and drive them to further madness. The thing with these hallucinations of heavily deluded people, as far as I can remember, is that they are truly vivid and iridescent, seemingly simulating reality. This blur is one of the triggers to further madness.

The thing I find with Jinta and his actions do not present any signs of obvious mental disorder. He is reclusive perhaps due to his past, but is in no way mentally debilitated. As a hikikomori, his personality reflects part of schizoid personality disorder, as well as part of avoidant personality disorder. Both disorders are deficiencies in the molding of personality, and hallucinations are quite unlikely with these disorders.

I have some knowledge regarding the schizoid personality disorder, since one of the psychology tests I’ve taken reflected my tendency to this disorder: I am quite introverted, and prefer solitary activities most of the time, although I can tolerate fitting in with parties or excursions, for example. I guess that’s partly contributory to my solitude, but that’s for another time and another write-up. I believe Jinta’s more of the avoidant type, however, and the incidents in his past seem to reflect this. He desires to reach out to others, but was so hurt by the chain of traumatic catastrophes that occurred in his childhood that he was transmogrified into someone afraid of opening oneself and going out towards life.

He may suffer from this disorder, although I don’t think it’s severe as he could still manage to go out of his house with Menma’s prodding. Severe hikikomoris do not go out of their own rooms, and practically, like Watashi in the Tatami Galaxy, live their lives in total solitude. As he could still be convinced to go out and still has the ability to attach himself emotionally to Anjou and Poppo, I feel quite positively as regards his recovery. I think it’s more about moving on for him than really having a true disorder.

Menma truly appears differently to each and every Super Peace Buster.

This is highly dubitable, as I believe (and this concurs with the animation) that only Jin sees Menma. The one who walked the forest near their meeting place was clearly human. That utterance of Yukiatsu seemed to be more of envy than of anything substantial.

Menma is a ghost

I shouldn’t believe in ghosts. I’m going to be a doctor soon and spirits should just pale in comparison to the scalpel of science.

But I do, and that’s because I’ve personally experienced something physically possible, but very improbable in its coincidence: our electric fan had a light that had burnt out for years. No matter how much I tried to turn it on, it never did. One day, however, without any of my family touching it, it just buzzed on. And it was on only for that day, when a grandfather in my mother’s side died. It may be explained by circuitry that worked only on that day, but I’d like to believe there was something more.

It is also frankly the simplest explanation. Rather than creating a disorder for Jinta, it seems improbable for a schizophrenic hallucination to bake some cake and walk around like an airhead. Hallucinations are often violent auditory disturbances for schizophrenics, not some cute, peaceful girls exhorting nice guys to live their lives once again. But there may be instances of those, so I can’t truly say for certain.

Going by Occam’s razor, however, this seems to be very suitable. It’s only the reason why she came back that remains to be the questions if we go by this thinking, and I frankly don’t think this series is of the cerebral caliber of David Mamet’s House of Games or Christopher Nolan’s Inception. Were it perhaps by Masaaki Yuasa or Satoshi Kon, I would have strongly doubted the sanity that Jinta seems to present, but because this anime seems to deal with emotions rather than dissimulation or illusion I think it’s safe to say that this is the most plausible option. (I highly recommend both films, by the way.)

* * *

The crossdresser

So who was the crossdresser? We again have three viable options, but the answers I feel don’t seem to be as clear as the former question.

We have:

  • Tsuruko
  • Yukiatsu
  • Menma’s ghost

He's shopping for girl's accessories - and they're not for Tsuruko.

The ghost Menma doesn’t wear a watch, so it has got to be between Tsuruko and Yukiatsu. Tsuruko may have held a light for Yukiatsu, and it may be her quirky way of luring him back to reality as a friend, or as a desiring, unrequited lover. Worse, it may be Yukiatsu, who remains to be faithful to Menma to the present time, and was twisted and turned inside by her death. He was shopping for girl’s accessories, and has a dress of her in his home. He may never have gotten over her. I think it’s Yukiatsu, but we’ll probably know on as the series progresses.

P.S. I love the OP and the ED.

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2 Responses to “Ano Hana – 03: dissecting the pertinent questions”

  1. ImperialX Says:

    Thank you for a brilliant article like always. /a/ ha been conducting some tests, and the general consensus is that it is Yukiatsu.

    The way how Menma can physical interact with objects and entities in our dimension makes it technically impossible for her to be a hallucination. When Anjou felt a weight on her shoulder in episode 1, I immediately dispelled that idea.

  2. Michael Says:

    ImperialX:

    That’s my point, essentially. Poltergeists were examined to effect on the real world, so as a viewer it was pretty difficult for me to think of Menma merely as a hallucination.

    I’m thinking it’s also Yukiatsu.

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