Home > Anohana, Episode Reviews > Anohana Episode 3 – Seeing is Believing

Anohana Episode 3 – Seeing is Believing

Now that Anohana has spent its first two episodes establishing its setting and giving proper introductions to all the characters, the show can start really piling on drama. And so it does, offering a bewildering number of new developments over the course of this episode which manage to give all six of the main cast their due.

The real joy to be found in this episode, however, is in the gift of subtlety. Oddly enough, the more visual a medium, the more the temptation is there to tell, and not show. (In part, this is because the only way to express the inner world of a character is to hear his voice.) Anohana, among all the other things it gets right, is masterful at quiet characterization.

Jinta can’t quite make up his mind if he wants his father to rebuke him for not going to school. He’s at an age and point in his life where he would probably take offense either way

Last episode left me worried that Anohana might condone escape into childish fantasy rather than mature development; this episode does its part to dispel that. Menma, seeking to get Jinta getting out and about, urges him to go to school, as Anjou also did. This is obviously far harder than playing video games with close friends, and Jinta wars with himself on the long, hot walk in. With his internal monologue reduced to only simple, one word complaints, he’s about to give up when he runs into Anjou.

Anjou wants him to go to class for its own sake, but her feelings for him (and his for her) ironically confuse the issue. When one of Anjou’s “friends” starts teasing that Jinta only came because he’s hot for Anjou, Jinta gets mad enough to stalk off, and Anjou can’t find the words to convince him to do otherwise. Neither is quite willing to be truthful to themselves, much less each other—and certainly not to the horrid collection of people that makes up a high school.

There’s just something in Haruna’s tone that makes it clear she delights in demeaning not just Jinta, but Anjou too

This isn’t the only time we see how the two dance around each other. Heading a meeting called by Poppo, Anjou deliberately dresses in Menma-like clothes and changes her hairstyle to match. It’s her way, which she only half admits to herself, to get Jinta to look at her. It’s successful enough to scare a confused Jinta away so he doesn’t give away his feelings, which only aggravates her further.

Poppo himself, by contrast, is completely incapable of hiding anything, which is why he’s not at all suspicious when he sees a ghostly figure resembling Menma wandering the woods one night. Convinced he’s seen Menma too (although Menma confirms to Jinta she wasn’t anywhere nearby), he calls for an official ghost hunt … and barbeque. He’s just as eager to see everyone come back together as Menma is, and making a ghost Menma a part of that reunion, in his view, would be grand.

Jinta’s view of Anjou, eyes both looking and not looking at all her best features, is one of the best visual representations of a guy’s shamed interest in a girl I’ve seen

Tsurumi and Matsuyuki, by contrast, get a far darker portrayal, even though both are seemingly supportive. Tsurumi follows Matsuyuki meekly when he goes to buy feminine clothes for a girl other than her, and acts polite at the party in spite of her previous argument with Anjou. But her resentment at the former incident is smoldering beneath the surface, and she withholds from Anjou the friendly support it’s obvious she needs.

Matsuyuki, by contrast, is openly “helpful”—showing up to save the barbeque with all the fixings that everyone else forgot to bring. Yet he, too, claims to have seen Menma nearby, and after he gets most everyone to to leave and check his claim, he boasts to Jinta that the latter isn’t the only one who can see her.

Tsurumi must really like Matsuyuki to put up with some of the crap he pulls, particularly given how little crap she takes from anyone else

With Poppo, it’s obvious he’s being deceived, which leaves Matsuyuki, already shown to be a liar, as the most likely deceiver. Even now, despite having all the outward success that Jinta lacks, Matsuyuki is jealous of Jinta’s former role as leader and object of Menma’s affection, and is doing everything he can to show Jinta up.

Juggling all these plot threads takes skill in itself, yet this is also the episode where we finally learn that Jinta’s mom died soon after Menma did, and that she too was an irreplaceable part of his life (likely further contributing to Jinta’s mental breakdown). In a testimony to economy in storytelling, this is all conveyed in sequence less than a minute long.

Jinta isn’t just upset by his mother’s illness, he’s angry, and angry at her. Her “abandonment” of him, coming so close after Menma’s death, just wasn’t something he could take

With what everyone will find at the riverbed still an open question (and I think it’s obvious that whatever Matsuyuki has planned, he’ll have thought that far ahead), but in some ways the specific plot developments are beside the point. Even when the plot is at an utter standstill, this show manages to cram an absurd level of depth and expression to its characters. That, as much as dramatic events and pretty animation, is what pulls viewers into this story. If you’ve yet to take a look at this series, I can’t encourage you enough to see it for yourself.

You can watch this episode here.

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  1. June 27, 2011 at 11:37 pm

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