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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?

Ano Hana 4 and 5: waiting and transformation

It may seem as if I stopped watching Ano Hana because I stopped updating. That’s not really the case: I really just don’t have much to say about it, even if I do like it a lot. I’ve already said as early as the third episode that I doubt Menma is just a hallucination of Jinta’s, especially because she affects physical reality by that much. She can eat, drink, and even cook muffins. Schizophrenics often have auditory hallucinations, and not visual ones, and these auditory hallucinations are often accompanied by god complexes, something that Jinta does not possess.

This series also has one of the best OP-ED combinations of this season.

The show isn’t exactly told solely from Jinta’s perspective to be considered as told by an unreliable narrator. The narrator is omniscient more than anything, and is a distant third-person observer, who simply shows their lives as they unfold. Having said that, I admired how they were able to transform Yukiatsu’s character as someone empathetic, who clearly had his own share of problems due to Menma’s passing, but despite that is still able to be a good human being to Anjou even after years of separation.

It was in this episode that the Honey and Clover vibes intensified for me, especially because of the complex web of relationships that surround the major characters. The two central men love a ghost; the girl who treasures Jinta can’t get past her feelings of regret, and the girl who treasures Yukiatsu can’t get past her cold appearance and aloofness. Both women have been waiting in their own ways for their respective guys to act, but both have been saddled with problems that they themselves have difficulty surpassing.

The series is essentially a story of friendship and the progression as well as rediscovery of that friendship. The series is not deep in the sense of the philosophical, but it does dig deep into one’s emotions and is a heartfelt series of moving on and living life. It’s shaping up to be one of the best of the year. I was touched with the fact that the extant ladies have been waiting all that time, in their own unique way, not only for their friends, but for their men to sweep them off their feet.

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.

Read the rest of this entry ยป

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai – 02: further comparisons with H&C

Back when I was still in college during the first four years of my blogging, it wasn’t difficult for me to broach topics in philosophy, psychiatry, and theology because I was actively learning about it. I also had the benefit of a wonderful university library: it was easy to glean important information from the country’s best library (now even better). When I started medicine, however, I no longer had both the time and the resources to obtain information and knowledge other than what I can obtain from the Internet. For the most part these were only small excursions and in no way could compare to the time and effort I poured into reading different texts back when I was in college. Life’s like that, however, and time flew.

I love watching the obvious subtleties of unrequited love.

I essentially still have similar tastes in literature and in anime, although I’m no longer as well-read as I was a few years ago. I hope the reader forgives me for that. I will hopefully revert back to myself as the etymological philosopher, or one who loves interdisciplinary study. It’s pretty much a struggle for me currently to dissect series compared to when I was in university, because I could only rely mostly on my stock knowledge. Exemplary series tear that diligence out from me, however, and that was the case with Tatami Galaxy: I simply had to respect a series rife with symbolism, meaning, and empathy. It was also a series that struck the core of my personal dilemma during that period, and that was the preternatural reason that I could write about it so much.

Most of the series that have aired pale compare to that, however, but some are so well-executed and well-drawn that one can’t help but appreciate the series. Series like these are Honey and Clover and Maison Ikkoku. They do not tease people’s knowledge about philosophy: they simply tell a heartfelt story that resounds within the viewer. I have hope that Ano Hana, or Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai will belong to this latter group that I treasure by the end of its run. I think it is primarily because of its similarities to Honey and Clover, although they are noticeably different in certain aspects that they may be treated as antipodes as I have mentioned in my previous post.

Their similarities, however, shine through in that both series essentially deal with the juxtaposition of friendship and romance: whereas Honey and Clover dealt with more adult issues set in the university, Ano Hana deals with issues of adolescence set in high school. It does not make Ano Hana inferior, but it does make it different, as I have said before. Although the issues will most probably be resolved in a shorter amount of time given the 11 episodes Ano Hana has, that same gripping element of unrequited love pervades both series. In fact, I will argue that some of the personalities of the six friends overlap with the characters of Honey and Clover.

Menma, for one, reminds me of Hagu. They’re both soft (physically and emotionally), and diminutive for their age. Anjou reminds me of Yamada, who has a facade of strength but is actually also broken within. Yamada kept on trying for Mayama’s heart despite the fact that he was never interested her beyond friendship; Anjou dissimulates her personality to hide that guilt that she kept on feeling from Menma’s death, and in this sense is similar to Rika as well. Poppo and Morita seem alike in the sense that they are relaxed and fun characters yet nevertheless hold depth. Rika’s character also evidences herself in Jinta, who regressed into himself and no longer cared about anything due to Menma’s death. It is the interplay of these characters and their rebirth, as well as the propulsion of their goals forward that is simply a joy to watch.

I really don't think Anjou's tsundere ... it's more of her being true to herself.

Episode two was just as good as episode one in terms of expanding the personalities of some of the major characters. The upbeat Poppo, the confused but concerned Anjou and the recovering Yadomi have slowly been transformed into more akin their childhood selves because of their friend who re-appeared to make a wish. The wish may probably be the beach outing that never materialized in Honey and Clover – and I will be all right with that. These people should be happier.

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.

... and then I thought ... holy shit, this may just be a different H&C

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.