Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day – Complete Series Premium Edition
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Publisher: NIS America
Genre: Drama/Slice of Life/Tragedy/Supernatural
Runtime: 255 Minutes (2 Blu-ray discs, 2 DVDs)
Release Date: 07/03/2012
Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day is a touching and also tear-inducing drama with a light supernatural flavor that is more about exploring regret, trying for redemption, accepting loss, and eventually finding the strength to move on. While there is an ensemble cast, the main focus is on Jinta, a high-school aged shut-in who seems to have some deep troubles as he’s being haunted, in an amusingly cute way, by a childhood friend they nicknamed Menma. It’s her death that spurred the split up between the group of friends and turned Jinta from their fearless leader into a social shut-in.
They’ve all been changed by it in different ways. The second-in-command of their Super Peace Busters group, Yukiatsu, has become something of an elitist and looks down on Jinta’s status as a shut-in and for the high school he chose to go to. Anaru has gone from being a huge gaming geek, to hiding behind the facade of being one of the cool girls, going along with whatever her new friends do. Poppo has become something of a world-traveler despite his young age, working enough to save up for a trip and taking off, a far cry from his role as the follower of the group. Tsuruko seems the least changed, always the quiet one, but she seems even more scheming than she was before. The one changed the least, is the girl they lost, Menma, who other than appearing as a more adult version of herself to only Jinta, has not changed much at all.
She’s looking to fulfill her wish, but she can’t seem to remember what that wish is, and Jinta tries to help her, slowly working to bring the group together and digging into the open wound that is Menma’s death. It’s a bumpy road with ups and downs, some dark comedy and light, but it touches on so many great themes in a way most can relate to which makes the journey even harder by the end. Aside from the characters trying to finally come to grips with the death of their childhood friend years later, there are romantic undercurrents as well as trying to come to grips with the fact that school is ending and you have the rest of your life rushing at you. The characters feel like high school students with real relationships going on. The adults seem almost clueless about what their kids are doing at first, but you realize that Jinta’s father especially, knows not only exactly what’s going on, but is trying to guide Jinta’s recovery in the only way he knows how.
The events surrounding that day slowly trickle out throughout the show, revealing why the characters behave in the ways that they do, as well as the emotional and romantic undercurrents that run throughout. My only criticism is that they save so much to reveal in the last episode that it feels a bit crammed, while the rest of the series leaves a subtle impact emotionally as you watch, the final episode delivers it like a jackhammer. It’s not to say it’s a bad thing, not at all. Given the circumstances in the show I’m not sure it could happen any other way as it might lessen the impact of those moments. The final episode will leave most people in tears, but not in a bad way, more like the feeling of relief, that things can get better, and that maybe things we’ve lost aren’t gone from us forever.
NIS America has put this in a great art covered slip case. There are two slim cases holding the 2 DVDs and Blu-Ray discs, 1 of each in each case, however there’s no reason you couldn’t swap them for ease of portability so you only have to take either the Blu-Rays or the DVDs if you’re popping over to a friend’s house to watch. The two slim cases slide in over the artbook that comes with it. The artbook has brief episode synopsis as well as a scrapbook with some hilarious notes and a section detailing each shirt Jinta wears throughout the show. The boy has an impressive collection of t-shirts. I wouldn’t recommend reading the artbook first as there are some pretty big episode spoilers in there, but it’s definitely worth a look after as the art inside is fantastic. There are few extras on the discs themselves, a clean credit scene from the first episode, the teasers for the next episodes as they don’t run after the regular episodes, and trailers. These are also subtitled only. I did like the fact that the teasers are separate. Most people when they’re watching on a DVD or Blu-Ray are just going from one episode to the next anyway, so the teaser is just another thing to skip when you want to get right into the next episode.
Overall the video quality on the Blu-Ray and the DVD discs is fantastic and the sound is excellent as well. The listed retail is $69.99 but I’ve seen it online as low as $52. That’s $13-$18 a disc with 5-6 episodes on each, not including the case or the really well done 38-page hardcover artbook which isn’t too bad at all for anime and it’s in a really nice case you can display. I’ve actually got it propped up next to my TV at home right now. I definitely recommend this show if you’re into anime drama with or without a hint of the supernatural. My wife and I devoured it in two days, which would have been one if we didn’t have to work and sleep and we can put down a bad show and walk away. This was happily not one of those bad shows.