Striking The Right Note: Anohana

Way back in October, I reviewed this series, and had some really nice things to say about it. Since then, it’s really stuck with me, as has the absolutely beautiful opening credits.

Since I’ve covered the show in the past, I’m going to skip my usual recap, and go straight to talking about the OP, and how it so perfectly sets up the show as a whole. If you want to know what I thought of the series in general, you can click over to it right here.

Also, here, because I feel linky today.

Yes, those go to the same place. I know. It was on purpose.

Which is different than being on porpoise. Being on porpoise is wrong, so don’t do it.

What was I talking about?

Oh, right! The OP for Anohana.

In my review, I called it Ano Hi, but apparently, the official abbreviation is Anohana, so we’ll go with that, and damn the confusion!

Really, if you aren’t confused by just being at this blog, you are probably already a little crazy.

As I mentioned in my review, the opening song is called Aoi Shiori, and was done by Galileo Galilei. It’s an absolutely beautiful piece of music, and everything in the opening was built around it perfectly. Every moment and every note are joined together in such a gorgeous way that it creates a singular experience. It’s hard, after seeing the show, to separate the song from this opening, just because of how well A-1 Pictures crafted this one.

The real magic of the OP, however, is that it embodies nostalgia in a way I’ve never seen before. From the changing ages of the characters, to the way they remember moments from their past as if they were playing over the present, it all evokes nostalgia so strongly, it’s amazing.

It also tells you how much they have all changed. The remembered images of their childhood played against their present, and how each of the characters react to it is gorgeous. The moment when Anjo, remembering how they use to play on the steps, and so deeply saddened by the loss of it, is a particularly powerful scene. As is Matsuyuki and his look of pain outside the temple.

The OP also tells you more or less what the story is about as the characters, now older, begin to comes together, selling the concept of reconnecting friendships very effectively. More than that, is the way Menma is absent from those glimpses of the older version of the characters, replaced in their line up with a flower.

Or how both the present versions, and the past ones, vanish, to leave her alone in their old clubhouse.

While it doesn’t tell you just what happened, it is enough to tell you that she is not with them in the way she normally would be, giving it that bit of a sense that there’s more to her side of the story. It draws you in very nicely, making you wonder why the difference, and giving you the feeling of wanting to know.

For a series that trades heavily in emotion, building an OP that plays to emotion was a smart choice, and sells the concepts and characters extremely well.

Check it out below, and for the love of God, move this show to the top of your watch list. It is so worth it.


14 thoughts on “Striking The Right Note: Anohana

  1. I often overlook how great this opening is because the ED, “Secret Base.” influenced my thoughts on the series so heavily. It really is expertly crafted and does a good job of building the viewer expectations.

    They use this juxtaposition of the younger and older Menma a few times in the series the way the OP hints at. One of the first moments that really hit me while watching this was a bit past halfway in the series when Menma elects to hang out at the base while Jintan goes to work or something. When he goes to look for her afterwards he finds her by the riverbank below the bridge, and sees her younger image for a split second. The feeling of desperation in that instant, conveyed in how he basically tumbled down the hillside, was just so painful. You could see how losing her again, no matter how it would happen, was going to be the hardest thing in the world for him, and in that moment it all felt so real.

    I sometimes feel like a masochist in pursuing ‘tragedy anime,’ but seeing a character dealing with such a strong emotional response is incredibly compelling for me. I love this series for what it tried to do. I never lost someone the way these kids did, but in watching them I felt like I could work through my own regrets – both in the past and the ones I’ll certainly have later.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That ending is amazing. I was seriously torn about featuring it instead, and may still at a later date. It’s such a perfect piece of music for this show.

      I remember than moment. I could feel my heart clutch, just at how well they put it all together. It’s the second best scene, I think, in the whole show. The ending is my favorite, both heart destroying and so hopeful at the same time. It’s profound in its beauty and tragedy. I can’t not cry like a baby when I see it.

      Here’s the thing about a good tragedy. It moves us like nothing else really can. In the darkest of moments is when we often find the best in people, and that’s something anime often remembers. Shows like this, and Ga Rei Zero, just to name two, chose to focus on that, and in them, we see more than just the pain. We see how strong a person can be.

      I’m staring down the barrel of my own tragedy, as you know, and I can only hope I am as strong as these characters.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Completely agree about the ending – beautiful and heatbreaking. Playing Secret Base over it is overkill, but perfect at the same time.

    I hope you see that even in this series that strength doesn’t come without pain. It’s normal, expected, important to process, and in my opinion the least someone can go through for a person who brought them so much. These characters are strong not because they got over the pain, which I don’t think they do, but because they came together again knowing that it would hurt. The comfort for them was in being able to openly and honestly let Menma know how much they loved her, and knowing that she loved them as well. From the way you talk about your girlfriend, I’m sure you have that as well.

    How is the treatment going? Do you have any word on when she might be able to come home?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, that music kicked in at the absolute perfect moment. It’s an instant kick to the feels. What works so well about the timing is that, while it is so painfully sad, there’s that note of optimism woven through the song. This is a goodbye, but it’s the right kind. The kind that lets you take that next step forward.

      Nothing in life comes without pain. To borrow a certain starship captain, we need it. It is how we grow. I’m just not ready for this pain.

      Of course, I never will be. Not if I had another twenty years.

      For now, we are waiting on tests and a few consultations to determine exactly how to move forward. It isn’t just the cancer that we have to deal with, but also her gall bladder, which has basically stopped functioning. Not completely, but enough that she has long periods of severe nausea and vomiting, which makes the cancer treatment all but impossible. Removing the gall bladder is also difficult, due to the cancer.

      Well, not difficult, but rather that surgeons are hesitant to do a surgery, even as simple as this, until the cancer has at least started treatment. The radiologist doesn’t want to start treatment until the gall bladder is removed for fear she won’t be able to handle the treatment. So, it’s a push to see which of these doctors is going to give in first and actually do something.

      Yes, this is really the situation. Neither doctor wants to work on saving her life until the other one goes first.

      I get it, but at this point, I don’t really care. I just want somebody to do something.

      As for coming home, that is a question nobody is even addressing. Odds are, depending on what happens next, she will be transferred to a skilled nursing facility closer to the hospital for her cancer treatments. We live 40 miles away from the nearest hospital, and they would rather she be closer and under constant medical supervision, so that’s probably what we’re going to do.

      Which just means she won’t be coming home anytime soon. When she does, it will either be because she is recovering, or for hospice care until her body can take no more. Nobody knows right now which.

      There is nothing in this world that can prepare a person for this. We’ve had twenty two years together, and as long as there is a chance for more, I am going to fight for it, and I know she will, too. We aren’t ready to say goodbye, not just yet.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is a truly awful situation. Both doctors have solid reasons it seems, which makes it all the worse, but you’re right. One of them needs to do something. Is there any way you can get a third party involved for consultation, like another doctor? I don’t know what the best thing to do is either, just trying to throw some ideas out there.

        It looks like there is a chance though, so neither of you should be resigned to goodbyes yet. That’s another mark of a strong person – fighting as long as you can. I can tell you both are strong, and you make each other stronger, even if you’re reluctant to see it in yourself.

        Whatever makes it easier for her to get treatment is a good thing, and I’m sure you’ll keep that in mind even if being at home by yourself is hard. 40 miles is a trip, but I did it twice a day for two years, so I hope you can still see her often.

        There is nothing that will prepare you for the worst case scenario, but you’re not there yet either. Keep doing all you can towards the best case instead.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Right now, that’s what the consultations are for. A third doctor, a lung specialist who has been overseeing her recovery from pneumonia, is involved and and is trying to get the surgeon to just get her gall bladder out as soon as possible.

          As he said to me the other day, they can do that without it being very invasive these days, using a tiny device that can even be inserted using a minimal opening. As she already has a drain inserted into her gall bladder to try and help stem some of the nausea and prevent gall stones from forming, he thinks they could just remove that, and go in through the existing opening. Thirty minutes and done, as he said, and she can start actually making a sustainable physical recovery without constantly losing ground to weeks of vomiting bile.

          According to her nurse, who I spoke with about an hour ago, that doctor is now pushing for the surgery, so hopefully that will help. If he and the radiologist both push together, there’s a good chance the surgeon will agree to do it.

          So, fingers crossed.

          We’ll hopefully know more come Monday.

          For now, I’m just leaving it in their hands. I’m stuck where I am until this current threat of severe weather has passed. There’s a chance for an ice storm to hit us, which while getting smaller every day, is not something I take lightly. I’ve been through two of those, and both times, we were without power for two to three weeks. By Monday, the threat will have moved on, so I can head up there and see if I can appeal to the surgeon as well.

          So, for now, it’s sit and wait. Fortunately, she is doing well enough at the moment, and is in good hands, so there is no immediate danger. Which is all that allows me to sleep at night.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Great song, if I were to compare it to something it reminds me a bit of the OP for Erased, both the music and the video itself. I haven’t seen this series yet, but as you are recommending it so highly, and being an old romantic myself (lol) I am making it my mission to watch this one as soon as possible 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a lot like Erased, an OP and a series I plan to talk about later this month. Both play on that often hard to capture sense of nostalgia so well. Which isn’t overly surprising, as both are from A-1 Pictures, so odds are, they were comparing notes.

      Have something on hand on for this end of this one. It makes me ugly cry every time at just how beautiful it is. Like Erased, it has pretty much a perfect ending.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Life experience, I find, either makes you more open to accepting emotional context, or more closed to it. No idea why that is, but it appears to be true.

          Personally, and I think you are the same as me on this, I’ll take the more open. It’s so much more fulfilling.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I was having a discussion with a friend of mine the other day, and she was pretty surprised at how open I have become these days. I completely agree, it is much more fulfilling indeed, instead of keeping it all bottled up inside. In the end that usually comes back to bite you.

            Liked by 1 person

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