June 11, 2011

Ano Hana Ep9: Just Beyond The River’s Edge

Posted in AnoHana tagged , , , at 6:30 pm by meotwister5

Of course none of us can really comprehend or even experience the death of another human being.  To die is to die, a state that is the absence of life, a one way trip to an existence or non-existence that is exclusive only to those who go through it.  A lot of people nonetheless would like the make that crossing to the other bank that, once crossed, can’t be returned from.  It is ultimately unknown to all of us except until the time we must also go through it.  It is inevitable for everyone, some earlier than others.  Watching this series it makes me wonder if Jinta has ever tried to think about death as something more than simply no longer “being there”.

With this episode I think he is starting to understand.

They can barely contain their surprise and much less their elation/guilt.  As Menma starts moving things around as incorrigible proof that she is there and able to interact with the world around her, they begin to slowly accept the fact that indeed Jinta isn’t out of his mind, and that she really is here.  What they can’t really deal with however, is how she only appears to Jinta.  With the slight exception of Poppo, everyone else feels pangs of jealousy that she only appears to Jinta.  Both Yukiatsu and Anaru still have their issues they are still dealing with, and Menma’s confirmed presence presents both an opportunity to be with her and an opportunity to reconcile.  They again restart their attempts to create a fireworks show for Menma despite the initial opposition.

More than that, Jinta’s slow realization that Menma will really be gone manifests itself here as he constantly interacts with and worries about  Menma like nothing had ever changed.  With the scene at the riverside under the bridge, looking onwards to a place beyond his reach, he has also started to realize that life doesn’t last forever, and in this case perhaps neither does death.  Menma now belongs to a plane he cannot follow at the moment, and although a plane that everyone will have to go through some day, it perhaps passes through his mind if he could ever follow even now.

I’d say that Jinta’s observations on the river/creek further reinforces the irony that while Jinta seems to be the one most active in finding a way for Menma to fulfill her wish, he is also the one most invested and likely to be most affected when he finally succeeds, in that he is the one who tries the hardest to succeed but has the most to lose when he does. This really strengthens the notion that Menma’s appearance to Jinta and so far only to him was due to reasons greater than mere chance or mere closeness; he is by far the one in need most of closure and the need to move on. He now knows that his actions on behalf of Menma may as well have been classified as his own attempts to get back the days he spent with her, to relive the days so to speak (no pun intended), but now he knows that by doing so he will finally lose her to the afterlife. He perhaps now knows that his actions weren’t as noble as he thought; he was ultimately doing it for his own benefit as well.

But now he understands the end result of his actions, that he was both selfless and selfish, but in the end as Sackett said things don’t last forever even for the dead. Everyone will have to cross that river some day, it’s just that Menma had to do it earlier than they did. Whether or not they’d meet again on the other said, as a group of friends, at the end of human mortality pretty much depends on whether you believe in an afterlife.

The similarities to the scene with the River Styx in Greek is actually sort of uncanny if not scary.

The suggestion that he may follow in her footsteps across the river of death is possible. He may, if he so chooses, follow her beyond the living into death. The thing is everything here and now has been about living beyond the specter of death and not about joining it. To me, having Jinta die defeats the purpose of a person’s attempt not be be shackled to the past and live on beyond the day when time seemed to have stood still. At most I see that event as Jinta’s brush with death, to help him gain perspective about what living and dying really means, and how death is ultimately unique to the one who dies and is nothing anyone can really feel until it happens.

In any case Jinta has now been forced to come to terms with what he has just seen on that bridge.  He now has, to some extent, a first hand experience after envisioning Menma finally leaving their lives.  Menma is actually stuck in limbo between life and true death.

Two episodes left to the end, it makes me wonder if the fireworks display may also be for Menma’s mother.  Clearly this event they’re planning is both for Menma’s and their own benefits, but perhaps it may be that should her mother see it, it will be a catharsis for her as well.   So far the only character with no signs of reaching her own resolution is Menma’s mother, and by extension Menma’s brother.  Maybe two episodes might be a tad bit short, but she has clearly been affected by the event just as much as Menma’s friends has, if not more.  As I had said before I cannot speak about a mother’s pain on losing her daughter, but we have seen that she has been frozen in that day just as much as everyone else has.  She needs to find her own release just as everyone else will have theirs.

The fireworks could do just that.

Two more episodes to go.  Two episodes to get their final plan going, to finally put to rest not only their hearts but also Menma.


1 Comment »

  1. If Jintan does follow her, I don’t think it will be a literal choice (i.e. suicide). I think it would be more along the lines of illness, and sort of giving up on life. Maybe his mother’s illness is hereditary? Maybe the nosebleeds and fainting weren’t coincidental.

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