Are you a fan of bittersweet endings? Well, get ready for a tearjerker. Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai, otherwise known as Ano Hana, is a beautifully poignant anime directed by Tatsuya Nagai.
The plot of Ano Hana follows five childhood friends who have grown apart as a result of a tragic accident that occurred many years ago. Filled with regret and guilt, the old leader of the group, Jintan, stops attending school and effectively shuts himself inside his house. Then, he begins to see a ghost – Menma, the girl who died in the accident. She reveals that before she died, she had a final unfulfilled wish, and that she can’t move on until that wish is granted.
Menma’s appearance and Jintan’s determination to grant her wish force him to return to the outside world once more, come to terms with her death, and confront the guilt and regret residing within his heart. The group of five friends reunites, and in order to fulfill their shared goal of granting Menma’s final wish, they must acknowledge their own demons, bitter grudges, and past resentments, and resolve the self-blame and regret they have towards Menma’s death. Dark secrets are revealed, but the group manages to grow closer through the many trials and obstacles surrounding Menma’s final wish.
As time passes, Jintan realizes that if Menma’s wish is fulfilled, she’ll leave the world for good. He struggles with coming to terms with saying goodbye to her a second time, and feels guilty for secretly hoping that the group never discovers and fulfills her wish.
All in all, Ano Hana traces the heartwarming story of childhood friends embarking on a journey of reconciliation, lost love, and friendship.
Ano Hana is currently being adapted into a manga, and a visual novel based on the anime is currently slated for release in Japan on August 30, 2012.
Ano Hana is definitely one of my favorite anime, and is extremely memorable with its beautiful animations, poignant music, and heartwarming storyline. For those who love slice-of-life anime with a bit of romance and tragedy mixed in, add it to the to-watch list!