April 22, 2011

AnoHana Ep2: I Remember Yesterday

Posted in AnoHana tagged , , , , at 10:28 pm by meotwister5

Most of us have probably had friends we haven’t seen in years, sometimes by circumstance or by choice.  When the chance to reconnect does happen, however, we get surprised both by how much they’ve changed, and how much they’ve stayed the same.  The geeky dues suddenly look like bodybuilders, the sporty ones get a rounded beer belly, the ones that barely passed exams have a high intellect job, etc etc.  Sometimes it’s a surprising evolution during a time in our lives we thought would stay the same, but anyone above twenty knows that nothing ever is.  At the same time the familiarity is there, because no matter how much we’ve moved on, pieces of us stay the same.

And it’s these very same pieces that helps us recognize each other.


Poppa is obviously a nickname for him, but that’s the name Jinta’s known of him for years.  In their old secret fort he’s made a small hideout for himself during the years he’s traveled the globe, and now be sheer chance Jinta’s revisits their old place to find an old friend living there.  Call him the first of the group he reconnects with if you will.  He readily accepts Jinta’s story and happily accompanies him on his quest to discover Menma’s wish and to reconnect with his old friends along the way.  During these times we see that, indeed, the friction that exists in this show is not reserved for Jinta towards his old friends alone, but things are less than civil between most of them, especially between Anaru and Tsuruko.  As it stands, it proves beyond a doubt that Menma’s death has had profound impacts on everyone.  They may have the time to use Nokemon as a path to reconnect, but the scars run deeper than anyone may have ever imagined.

Let’s not even get into why Yukiatsu has smell fetish…

I make fun of Pokemon a lot, especially those who seem so addicted to it.  I see people play them in public transport, inside movie houses and heck even during lectures.  It’s part game part drug addiction.  That would have been my initial impression of it’s AnoHana incarnation if I didn’t know any better.  Here though it is much less a game as it is a link between friends.  Jinta theorized that it could be Menma’s wish, even if it sounds shallow.  It’s easy to dismiss the premise of the episode as mere time wasted on gaming, but I’ve always said that in this electronic era, gaming brings people together.  The flashback shows a group of friends playing their handhelds together, having a blast, and trading their game data like friends should.  Even if gaming is idle time, it is still a vehicle that reminds us of our communal activities together as kids, having fun as the days go by.  It may be boring to some, but it is nostalgia to others.  I grew up in this era partly and I can still remember what it was like having a blast with friends playing Counterstrike after school.  Those were our days, days you can’t simply dismiss.

Even if it wasn’t Menma’s wish, in the end it allowed Jinta to reconnect both with Poppa and Anaru, and to that extent as they all exclaim the Pokemon mantra, it was still time well spent.

The wounds of the past do run deep just before the gaming session.  Time supposedly heals all wounds, but apparently not enough time has elapsed for this.  Anaru, like Jinta, carries her own scars of jealousy towards Menma.  As a kid she was jealous of her, and one can easily conclude this to be the reason as to why she had chosen to remake herself to the image similar to that of her friends.  Straight hair, contact lenses, fashionable, the very definition of someone aspiring to be the cream of the social crop.  But, as we see, this wasn’t enough.  She did it as a reaction to Menma, in order to beat her out for Jinta’s affection. but what happened after she died?  She could have easily tried to fill in the gap in his heart after she died, but she didn’t.  Menma was gone but she still couldn’t do a thing about her feelings for Jinta.  The reason?

Guilt.  This and, perhaps, an unfulfilled rivalry with Menma.  Like Jinta she feels guilt for the way she thought of him, liking Menma as a friend but also hating her for her closeness to Jinta.  She likely feels, like Jinta, a great sense of responsibility for what had happened to her.  Anaru’s feelings of jealousy are still unresolved all these years since Menma died.  She disliked her, saw her as a rival for Jinta, and probably believed she needed to beat her.  How then can she beat her if she is already dead, and how can she make up for these feelings if she is no longer around?  Guilt, like Jinta, is heavy baggage.

As for Yukiatsu… well… that’s almost obviously a result of ridiculous emotional suppression.  He has, very likely, had a long and deep seated crush of Menma which was destroyed by her death.  Everyone showed so far seems to have had their own defense mechanisms.  Jinta is repressing the event, Anaru is projecting somewhat into Jinta and Poppa is most likely already using humor to live with it.  Yukiatsu is, well, displacing.  By displacing, I mean he’s privately performing an unconscious desire in the form of smelling Menma’s blouse.  That’s not exactly a very healthy coping mechanism, though Jinta and Anaru aren’t exactly that much more mature than him.  His displacement is often considered the worse form of a neurotic response, not to mention flat out creepy.  Some believe that he will be the last character to find some sort of redemption and forgiveness.  Whether or not this is true remains to be seen.

This show is a show about forgiveness, redemption, and moving on.  The road is tough, coming from someone who is traveling the road myself.  I would like to see how far these friends can go to finally come to terms with their past, to move on, and to finally let Menma go with a smile.  I speculated that this would come in the form of all of them seeing her one last time as Jinta sees her, as she finally moves on.  If this is the case, well, better bring a bath towel.


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