Ano Hana’s end: flirting with bathos?

I’ve been more productive as regards my blogging lately because we had a short, two-week break from class. In that span of time, I read four books, watched some Korean drama series, and watched Steins;Gate, in addition to some episodes of American serials. I think I have been quite productive. I am behind my anime, however, that I still hadn’t finished Ano Hana until today. I realized that I truly preferred [C] to the drama in Ano Hana despite the fact that Ano Hana is the better anime in terms of its technical aspects and tightly-wound story. That’s probably because I’ve been accustomed and conditioned to the plots found in Korean dramas, and the best among them (like My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox) more seamlessly integrate the supernatural to mundane problems such as love and romance. I’m not saying that Ano Hana is terrible or bad: I’m just saying that I find [C] to be a more original series despite Ano Hana’s excellence.

Forgive me for thinking this scene funny.

I think what made me jaded with regard to Ano Hana’s last episodes were the fact that the most well-rated Korean dramas were just a lot more evocative, and these were what I was watching for the past few weeks that when I saw the last episode, I was laughing instead of being in tears when they confided in one another that they had their own selfish reasons for wishing that Menma would go to heaven. In addition to the emotional dramas I’ve seen, I was also finishing up on Saturnalia, which is a collection of excerpts from classic perverse masterpieces. Perhaps that was the reason why I wasn’t affected as I should have been: after reading excerpts featuring the coprolalia of Sade and the perversions of Li Yu, Swinburne and von Sacher-Masoch, romance probably tends to be funny instead of affective.

But in all honesty, the ending just didn’t affect me as much as I wanted. Despite being disappointed with the ending of [C], it attempted to make sense out of its limited time and budget, and did it valiantly despite a multitude of flaws. Ano Hana’s ending wasn’t really flawed: it was just beyond the melodrama that I expected, although I still wouldn’t classify it as bathetic. I’m glad Menma was finally able to go to heaven, don’t get me wrong, but the ending was indeed a wake-up call: I recall that Honey and Clover‘s ending had Takemoto confess to Hagu after he had found himself through touring Japan in a bicycle. I didn’t think that was melodramatic: in fact, the way he confessed to her seemed so natural to me. It was what he simply wanted to say after realizing that he liked her, after all. This was in stark contrast with the saturnalia of tears and crying in the final episode of Ano Hana: I thought that it was a bit overdone.

The series was still a decent show, however, but I stand corrected in even comparing it to Honey and Clover. What did you guys think of Ano Hana?

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11 Responses to “Ano Hana’s end: flirting with bathos?”

  1. Adamar Says:

    Not going to say I [i]hated[/i] it, but the overall impression the series left was still largely negative.

    Interesting set-up in the first few episodes (the nostalgia angle was nice, but then had to go and ruin it with Pokemon Gold and Silver… on GBAs! Get it together, A-1), but the characters never really became likeable enough to care about them.

    This may sound ridiculous given the show is about a ghost, but suspension of disbelief is so flagrantly disregarded in the series, and it really niggled. A scrawny high school kid working on road construction, no-one bats an eyelid? Where are the officials when he never attends school? Why doesn’t Jinta’s Dad get him some god-damn medical help?! Why yes, I am reading too much into it. Oh well.

    Agreed on that last episode, although it was a groan rather than a laugh on this end. Melodrama isn’t all bad (Clannad probably falls under that category, and I find it to be perfectly acceptable) but AnoHana just went off the deep end.

    [C] is still the ‘flawed gem’ of the year; among other things I haven’t noticed anything else with such high quality discussion since.

    Do you plan to do any more writing on Blood-C? Would be interesting to see what you thought of how [i]that[/i] one turned out.

  2. Adamar Says:

    Hooray for HTML tags not working. I hate writing without italics, asterisks for emphasis feel so… plebeian?

  3. Michael Says:

    Adamar:

    For posts, you could use ‘< em >‘ tags (without spaces) to display italics. For what it’s worth, I liked Jinta and Anjou, but I must admit, even before the ending, Menma was already irritating me. I think that’s a good point you’ve made: the characters never really became that likeable.

    I think I understand: even beside the presence of the supernatural, there are some things where one can’t help but disbelieve. The examples you’ve made are quite apropos of the mistakes in the series. I also wonder why it took Jinta ages to prove to the others that he wasn’t hallucinating over Menma: maybe that was partly because he didn’t want others to talk to her, but come on, it wasn’t that difficult to prove he wasn’t insane.

    That’s good that there were others who had the same opinions as me: the melodrama seemed to be a little bit in excess with the ending.

    I quite agree with you on [C], as well. I don’t know whether there has been much discussion on other series, since I’m not really that informed given my status, but I do like it a lot.

    I will write more on Blood-C. From what I’ve seen, it’s not as horrible as people say it is. Thanks for the comment. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Taka Says:

    On my list of pros and cons for Ano Hana my pros were mostly about the music, art, and character design + the great opening episodes. The cons were a stream of various onomatopoeia for crying. It descended into melodrama toward the end and like you I was laughing when the series was trying to be emotionally wrenching. Really in my opinion the show should have been longer than 11 episodes. Then all the crying and emotional outgassing would have occurred over a longer span. Plots like the one in Ano Hana are the reason Cross Game was 50+ episodes.

  5. Michael Says:

    The music, art, character design were great. So were the opening episodes, so I’ll agree with you there. I do agree that it seemed a bit overdone in the end, and was heavily melodramatic. The good thing about Cross Game was that it focused on the characters as well as the sport, and did so well because it had more time and because Adachi is a brilliant author.

    From what I recall there wasn’t even melodrama. The relationship between Aoba and Kou developed naturally, and there wasn’t even ‘I LIKE YOU, BAWW’ in the series. Even Akane was just someone who liked Kou for who he was, but never showed it excessively. Cross Game is brilliant.

  6. Angelus Says:

    I think I agree about one of Ano Hana’s flaws being that it was simply too short to fit all the emotion into it, and thus the descent into melodrama at the end was pretty inevitable. Which is not to say that melodrama is necessarily a bad thing if that’s what you set out to create in the first place (like certain well-known visual novel adaptations), but in this case it definitely was a bad thing. I suppose to an extent the creators of anime are hobbled by the cour system, which means that you have to do things in multiples of 11-13 episodes, unless of course you can generate enough momentum for the final episodes to be released as OVAs. There was really too much in Ano Hana for a single cour, but the concept probably wouldn’t have stretched to two.

    For me, the tragedy of the thing was that the histrionics distracted the viewer completely from the very crux of the story, which was that Menma’s death wasn’t entirely an accident but at least in part a deliberate act of self sacrifice. I’m guessing now that there are people who are going to disagree with me on this, but if you do then consider the evidence for a moment:

    1) Jinta’s mother makes Menma promise to make Jinta cry
    2) She also tells Menma about reincarnation (or what might more accurately be called “re-becoming”), and Menma is entranced by the idea of becoming a “flower baby” after she dies
    3) Menma is fascinated by the fish in the river
    4) Even if she had fallen down the steep path leading to the river, we see from the way Jinta fell down the same path that there is no way she would have ended up in the water because the water’s edge was too far away
    5) Even if she had somehow rolled into the water, she would have been in the extensive shallows and still could not have been washed away
    6) Poppo saw her being washed away conscious and not struggling

    From this, we may deduce that Menma was playing in the river trying to see the fish in the deeper water and had perhaps tripped. At that moment she realised that she could now easily achieve her objectives of making Jinta cry and becoming a “flower baby”, and simply allowed herself to be washed away. Tragedy begets tragedy, as all of the great dramatists have realised. I see a little of Ophelia in Menma, but something even more tragic too – Jinta was deeply traumatised by his mother’s illness and subsequent death, but in an ironic twist, we see that her talks with Menma towards the end of her life had sown the seeds of Menma’s death also.

    (BTW, Adamar, senior high is optional in Japan, and around 10% of students leave education after junior high. As for young people getting jobs in the construction industry, surely you’re familiar with the clichรฉ of the young guy directing traffic around construction works at night to earn some money?)

  7. Michael Says:

    I think I agree with you on the idea that Ano Hana was simply too short to sequester all the emotion, and thus as a result it descended into melodrama at its end. I also quite agree that anime is limited by the cour system. Episodes often don’t end outside the 11-13 episode cour, and this sometimes causes the episodes to be jam-packed with information or stretched too thinly.

    The arguments you’ve made to support your statement are well-founded, but I somehow feel this was just an oversight by its creators, haha. I do love your analogy to Ophelia, because in retrospect Menma can indeed be seen as somewhat like her. Your hypothesis is unique, and is brilliant with your evidence. Thanks for that! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Adamar Says:

    Interesting to know, Angelus. That clears up some things, at least.

    (I recall /a/ joking that “Menma killed herself to make Jinta cry” or something to that effect. With some more thought it makes even more sense…)

  9. Angelus Says:

    That could well have been me, Adamar, I was very active in Ano Hana threads (always anonymously, though).

  10. Michael Says:

    Yeah, Adamar, I was surprised when Angelus appeared in a thread commenting about Steins;Gate, haha. Angelus is the man. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Ryan A Says:

    Melodramatic, hm. I found the ending lacked the impact I was searching for. I felt it dragged for half of the final episode, when it could have been more poignant for effect. Also, I had issues with some of the character focuses in that they seemed to recur. It was slightly irritating when I’m watching an episode and thinking, “they’re still not past this conflict?” But yea, I enjoyed it overall.

    Dunno about the H+C comparison. I definitely felt that was woven of a more realistic fabric.

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