Posted on 23 June 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews, Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-Tachi wa Mada Shiranai




Moe in Noitamina. It was a risk. Especially after how Fractale screwed up so badly, seeing A-1 try again in a timeslot whose audience has always been at older audiences with the same teenagers that anime is filled with… I definitely had some doubts right before this series started. And then Ano Hana aired and turned out one of the best written shows of the season.

Ever heard of the phrase “short but sweet”? This is the key to the best Noitamina-series out there: most of them can only be eleven or twelve episodes long, so they really need to know how to use their time, and this series is a brilliant example of how this timeslot should be used. It leaves no moment wasted, it never drags, and it’s always developing its characters, delivering heavy drama, and moving back and forth between showing new things about its characters and fleshing them out.

The show follows six teenagers as they deal with their pasts. All six of them end up as well rounded characters, with their strenghts and flaws: one is an airhead, another is an asshole, another is socially awkward. This series juggles all of them together brilliantly. The acting is excellent and this show is even able to breathe life into the side characters of this series.

Now, this is the kind of series where the characters write the plot. If you like series that have a complex storyline, you don’t need to go for this series: this is just a coming of age drama, but it’s amongst the best I’ve seen. It is very dramatic though: this series really pushes to get as much drama into 11 episodes as possible without making itself shallow: all of the drama here is meaningful and brings out the best of the characters, but if you like series with more restrained and composed acting, you might want to look elsewhere.

If you are looking for an emotional roller coaster however: watch this. Few series can boast to be this well laid out, especially when so small. Everything fits just perfectly. I’m not a fan of moe, but this show is so good that it immediately won me over.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Brilliant at juggling around its drama, never leaves a moment wasted, although the drama can get a little heavy-handed for some.
Characters: 10/10 – A complete tear-jerker; wonderfully rounded characters that play off each other amazingly.
Production-Values: 9/10 – No still frames, no recycled scenes, fluid animation, detailed art, excellent soundtrack. An overall job really well done in every aspect.
Setting: 9/10 – A soothing village back in a forest. Down to earth.

Suggestions:
Asatte no Houkou
Clannad After Story
True Tears

Posted on with categories: Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-Tachi wa Mada Shiranai



And it’s finally the time of the season again to review the large batch of series ending. The first one is Ano Hana, and really: I don’t expect any of the other series in the next few weeks to come even close to this one. There is just no way. This episode was completely amazing and it pretty much cemented this series as my favourite series of 2011 so far.

the creators really wanted this to end with a tear-jerker, and BY GOD, they succeeded! It’s not the kind of episode that tries to be as sad as possible, but god dammit it was emotional. Just about every character unleashed the final bits of his or her development. Every character got the chance to vent his or her lungs and confess about his or her problems. Everything came together magnificently. I cried more at this episode than at any other episode of this show so far.

This show… this show really knew how to save the best for last. Menma’s wish is so simple, yet brilliant. It ties everything about Jinta together. It wasn’t something epic, but just a small detail about one of the friends she grew up with. Or Poppo, who finally revealed that… he actually saw what happened in that river. It was clear that he had a secret, and this episode made such a wonderful use of that. THIS is how you build up plot twist and make them hit as hard as possible!

The ending also was just bittersweet. Sure, it still remains unclear why Menma was a ghost, or why everyone was able to see her at the final time, but really: who cares. Ghosts just work that way, and it didn’t go against anything that this series built up for. It was truly excellent as the emotional climax of this series.

There’s just one overused cliche in this episode: Menma’s airheadedness, or “I like everyone as friends”. This is a bad twist because anime often use it to sneak their way around having to seriously develop romance. Can we really fault Anohana for that, though? With Menma, she just feels like a kid who just isn’t bothered with romance, even though everyone around her is. In terms of that, she was a great character. It’s perhaps not exactly realistic, but even then it has some of the most natural characters of the season, aside from perhaps Showa Monogatari that nobody watches.

Overall, A-1: we couldn’t have asked for a better apology for Togainu no Chi and Fractale. I love these people, and this is the second time they produced something of classic material, after Birdy the Mighty. Not since Asatte no Houkou have I watched a teenaged drama without anything else that I liked this much (and with Asatte no Houkou only half the cast was actually teenager). Just about everything fits here and nothing feels wasted or out of place. This really was a wonderful watch.
Rating: **** (Fantastic)

Posted on 17 June 2011 with categories: Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-Tachi wa Mada Shiranai



What a wonderful penultimate episode. Everything is just culminating to that final climax of this series. Once again, this episode was just full of emotions and it continued to push its characters forward.

It was clear that the fireworks arc was going to be an anti-climax: there was no way in which that really would be Menma’s wish, but damn: this episode nearly made me believe that ti was. The build-up to the eventual launch was really quite sad, especially with Jintan not wanting her to go away. Yet at the same time, his personality would never have made him actually stop the launch. Beyond that though, everyone was somehow deeply emotionally involved in the launch. The climax, now that Menma didn’t disappear, is looking out to be amazing.

Overall, I’m going to wait until next week before claiming whether or not this was my favourite show of the year. This season also has a lot of series that go past 13 episodes for once, so I also can’t say yet whether it’s going to be the best series of the season. But what I can say is that it has the best eleven episodes of the past season. It left no moment wasted, it always sought to give more depth to its characters and the characters always made sure for hard-hitting and confronting drama. It’s exactly the kind of story that belongs in Noitamina.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 10 June 2011 with categories: Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-Tachi wa Mada Shiranai



Ah, it’s almost a shame that there are just two episodes left, but that’s the strength of a good Noitamina-series: they’re short, but really, really sweet. This episode was the calm before the storm: preparing everything for that finale, and it’s promising to become an awesome one that is going to involve every single character significantly.

I really liked how both Jinta and Poppo nearly broke their character. Unlike Yukiatsu who isn’t afraid to show his personal feelings or Naruko who is terrible at hiding them, both of them have been quite good at dodging these things. This time, even that composure broke. Especially Jinta, who right now is the one threatening to screw everything up.

As to the “big plothole” of this series, I think that it has a lot to do with this. While it remains questionable why Menma waited so long on announcing her presence, it is clear now why Jinta didn’t push her to do that: it’s pretty much as Yukiatsu said; Jinta wants to stay with Menma and wants to have her for himself, while at the same time he still has parts of the attention whore that he was when he was younger.

Meanwhile, Tsuruko also finally showed some new things of herself. She really is going to be a big mystery for that ending as well: she’s the most composed member of the cast so she really had relatively few scenes to show her character off compared to the more unstable characters, but with Yukiatsu getting stranger and stranger (he’s also hitting on Naruko now? Is this because he’s interested in her or because he just wants to take everything away from Jinta?) we finally get to see that she too has at least a crush. Her character was invaluable to the series, though. It showed that the cast wasn’t entirely made up out of people with issues. It was exactly what the cast needed here for variety.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 3 June 2011 with categories: Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-Tachi wa Mada Shiranai



Even for Ano Hana standards, this episode was amazing. I mean, how much can you stuff into an episode anyway? This episode went from heart-wrenching scene to heart-wrenching scene, and it just kept going! Each time showing new things about the cast, sharp dialogue and a huge heap of sincerity.

First there was Menma’s mother who actually lashed out at the group as a whole, then Yukiatsu forced Jinta to just go on on his own, Anjou confessed the feelings she had when she was younger, Jinta had a great scene together with his father, then Menma’s brother came along and as a desert Menma finally had the guts to make her presence known to the others. Heck, every single part here would have made for an amazing episode, but this episode found a way to put them all in the same episode. Now THAT’s how you take advantage of Noitamina!

I always found it a bit of a plothole that Menma didn’t just make stuff float in front of the group. Still, this episode showed that she can probably only bump into stuff, and probably thought that that wouldn’t be enough to convince people of her existence (she’s good at running away and all).

In any case though, this episode was also really good for one of the biggest strengths of this series: the way in which it puts so much meaning into its dialogue. The script in this series is masterfully written, in order to get as much out of the characters as possible. The characters here are both big liars, and surprisingly true to their feelings: they’re really able to express what they’re feeling, and this series does that in a way that I haven’t seen in a long, long while.
Rating: **** (Fantastic)

Posted on 27 May 2011 with categories: Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-Tachi wa Mada Shiranai



This probably is the moe-est show that I’ve ever considered as my favourite of a season. I mean, I have enjoyed teenaged drama romances before and all, but not to the point where they were done this well in such a short time. More than any other series this season, this series really nails the feelings of its lead characters and it continues to push their relationships forward. This episode was slightly special, though: for once it focused especially on Jinta and Menma.

Instead, I can only see this episode as a build-up red herring. That’s nothing bad, by the way. Some of my favourite stories use these red herrings. Rather than pointless, I love it when done well, they are excellent in fleshing out the characters and story, and the same pretty much happened here: the whole rocket story has nothing to do with Menma’s wish and all, but this episode really stressed the bond and the memories that the main characters made with each other.

By the way, it’s great that Noitamina has been pretty much consistently amazing for the past five seasons here: for the past five seasons and eight series since the timeslot turned into an hour long, there pretty much has been an amazingly well written series on, with the best still being Spring 2010. 2010 was overall a mediocre year, but THAT was the best season that Noitamina ever had). Heck, pretty much the only mistake during this period was Fractale. As for Anohana, I’d probably put it somewhere in the bottom of the top 8 of my favourite Noitamina series. Where exactly entirely depends on the ending.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 20 May 2011 with categories: Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-Tachi wa Mada Shiranai



I absolutely love how this show delves into the minds of its characters. This episode yet again had me teared up, and again it’s not just because of one character, but a whole bunch of them. I mean, most series pick one or two characters do develop each episode: this show does this with nearly every character for nearly every episode. Even Yukiatsu and Chiriko, who had a relatively small role in this episode, were great. I especially love how honest Yukiatsu has become.

The real meat of the episode though was about Jinta finally going to school, Naruko suffering through endless gossips about what happened in the previous episode and Menma only worrying about others. With all these, this show has a nice habit of not just showing characters, but it also keeps showing characters telling how they feel about other characters. Whether right or wrong, it’s actually a great way to flesh them out by showing how they seem in the eyes of someone else.

As for Menma, this episode could have given a really big hint as to why Menma is staying behind as a ghost. Running away is a huge concept of this series. The most apparent is of course Jinta, but the rest of the cast also tends to have this. Menma keeps avoiding talking about herself. I mean, did Jinta ever apologize for what he said to her, right before she died? It’s of course not going to be this simple, but I do think that something in that direction is her wish.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 13 May 2011 with categories: Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-Tachi wa Mada Shiranai



That was yet again amazing. Again, every character played a major role in this episode and nobody was left out. This series really never fails to pull at my heartstrings.

I love how the creators actually made Yukiatsu work as a character despite his cross-dressing antics. The way he composes himself right after his little break down makes him much more than just another insane character, and this series brilliantly combined these crazy plot twists with the down to earth setting here. I also loved how he acknowledged how cliche it was that he saved Naruko from being taken advantage to, even though the way in which he did it wasn’t cliched at all.

And heck, this episode did touch upon a very important issue in this series: why did Menma appear in front of Jinta? I mean, okay she was in love with him and all, but it probably isn’t this shallow: throughout the series we kept seeing how she wanted to be together with everyone; her crush on Jinta seems completely gone now.

By the way, I really have to say that, leaving the episodes she wrote of Simoun and Red Garden aside, that this is the best original screenplay that Mari Okada has written so far. There is just so much emotion put into it and everything is just so incredibly balanced. And that while she’s working on two other series this season as well!
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 6 May 2011 with categories: Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-Tachi wa Mada Shiranai



What makes an amazing 11~13-episoded series is completely different from what makes an amazing 24~26 episoded series. The latter has time to build up and flesh out characters. The former however doesn’t need that luxury, and needs to deliver right from the start. And Anohana did that wonderfully: all four episodes so far have delivered, and all have been amazing so far.

The strength of this episode was that it took the heart-wrenching formula and added even more to it: a completely weird plot twist. When Hana-Saku Iroha did this with its third episode, it lost part of its charm, but this episode retained the tension and the emotional connection, while it also showed how Jinta isn’t the only guy member of the cast who completely lost it.

The awesome thing about this episode was that just about every character shined: Matsuyuki for insulting himself, Jintan for having the guts to actually try and talk to him, Chiriko for getting tired of him, Menma for consistently encouraging Jinta, Tetsudo for joining her and trying to keep the group together and Naruko for still trying to get Jinta to go out more. These characters all have their flaws, but this show always makes them play with these flaws.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 29 April 2011 with categories: Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-Tachi wa Mada Shiranai



It’s been a long, long while since I watched a series that made me teary-eyed on such a consistent basis as Anohana. It’s got the most amazing cast of characters that consistently try to develop each other. These people feel real and the acting is absolutely amazing. I mean, even Hourou Musuko needed a number of episodes to get going!

Anohana is really about growing up: some of the characters here already have, while Jinta refuses to do so and Poppo just doesn’t care. The same goes with the rest of the cast, and this friction between the ones who have grown up and the ones who didn’t is amazing to watch, especially with such detailed characterization. These characters just keep telling more about themselves and becoming more rounded and versatile. This was an especially good episode for Tsurumi.

Three episodes in, and I only managed to spot one cliche: the dead mother. It’s a bit unnerving that BOTH Noitamina series this season have the dead mother syndrome, but Anohana even makes good use of that one. Living in a dysfunctional family had a massive impact on Jinta and probably even strengthened his trauma, let alone seeing him first lose his mother and then one of his best friends. The thing remains though that the easiest way for a character to have a dysfunctional family is hardly ever used: we hardly ever get to see people with divorced parents. Out of the top of my head, I can only think of two that did that: Noein and Kuragehime. Oh, and Hana-Saku Iroha.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

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  • Mike
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 11:14 PM)
    @Kaiser Takahashi was one of the first to take it out of “smut” made for men and gave the genre to girls.
  • K-Off
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 09:34 PM)
    My palette is cleansed after Legacy. I think I can make a push and finish Mirage Sessions by Monday.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 06:25 PM)
    Altogether there is no good explanation as to why Berserk has been on the fringes for the last 20 years. The silver lining is that it looks like things are picking up for the franchise- with a new series, two new games and frequent manga releases- so here’s hoping we get a much bigger budget for the next cour, and god willing maybe even a studio change. And I’m getting greedy, but gimme that From Software Berserk game! That would be an instant cash mine.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 06:18 PM)
    @Vyse: I was actually thinking of that, and the dark mature content is definitely a factor. Yet looking at what’s trending at the moment, with AoT and Kabaneri, it seems that the more violent stuff are bankable now. And it’s not like anime is stranger to adapting material that hasn’t finished yet. So I’m guessing that Miura is hard to work with probably, and maybe he’s tight about giving studios the license.
  • Rusty
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 05:16 PM)
    I like it better when animes are different then the manga because normally i know how everything will end after reading the manga.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 05:07 PM)
    And I’m more than open for an anime to do things a bit differently from the source, I mean look at the new berserk they included an action scene that wasn’t in the manga, I liked that.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 04:59 PM)
    @Mike: Makoto Takahashi! Makoto Takahashi! I know who he is, I spent a while looking at his art, best example of good oldschool shoujo style. He also is credited with kickstarting the shoujo-ai genre I think…
    @Bam: flowers of evil both improved on and took away from its source material.
  • reaLjustified
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 04:16 PM)
    Furthermore, it’s not as if Berserk is so special by itself that a decent adaptation is automatically impossible. You’re watching one right now. If you think otherwise than it boils down to personal preference.
  • reaLjustified
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 04:13 PM)
    @Vyse It’s obviously not trying to cater to children, the studio knows its audience. I wouldn’t automatically assume that just because it’s an anime adaptation that it’s an attempt to please everyone.
  • VyseLegendaire
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 03:45 PM)
    Because the story is so dark and so violent, its hard to cater to a middle ground audience that includes kids or maybe even adolescents.

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