Home > Anohana, Episode Reviews > Anohana Episode 5 – The Hole in Our Hearts

Anohana Episode 5 – The Hole in Our Hearts

Anohana is one of those brilliant shows where seemingly nothing happens in an episode, and yet so much is going on beneath the surface that it’s impossible to capture it all in writing. Episodes five and six have such strong thematic and narrative ties and it’s difficult to separate them, but there’s enough in each episode to justify separate posts for each.

Matsuyuki, readers will recall, did not end episode four looking particularly good, but the show is far too sympathetic to its characters to prolong his misery for very long. Instead, his situation becomes emblematic of the fate of every one of the cast, left adrift in a world without Menma. This episode might have him recover a bit too quickly, but if it does, it’s only because there’s so much ground to cover with the rest of the cast.

Matsuyuki tried to give Menma a hairpin as a sign of his love, just after Jinta denied liking her. It’s the most vulnerable anyone in the cast has voluntarily gotten

Matsuyuki’s crossdressing and general Menma obsession, as it happens, derives from the same feelings of guilt that both Anjou and Jinta have about Menma’s death. If Jinta feels guilty for rejecting Menma and Anjou guilty for prompting the rejection, Matsuyuki feels guilty for confessing his love to Menma after the fact. Like the others, he takes his words as the ultimate cause of Menma’s accident; unlike Anjou and Jinta, he’s deprived of access to he one he loves, to apologize.

Thus, Matsuyuki created a Menma to which he could apologize; what infuriated him the most about Jinta’s claim to see Menma was Matsuyuki’s deep-seated belief that Menma should appear first to him, the one “responsible” for her death. Although at this point I’m beginning to suspect that everyone probably thinks of him or herself as responsible for Menma’s death, Matsuyuki’s claim to responsibility is the most tenuous yet—and at the same time it seems to be the strongest held.

Matsuyuki knows full well that his actions aren’t healthy. It’s a compulsion he’s desperate to overcome, but can’t find a way to stop

Jinta, aided by Menma, manages to calm down Matsuyuki by offering some words of counsel, including information that only Matsuyuki and Menma should have known. That, alongside the catharsis of actually being caught, seems to “cure” Matsuyuki of his more errant behavior. However resentful he might still be of Jinta, he’s not going to try to fight his old rival anymore.

Oddly enough, the most likely candidate to pick up that mantle is Tsurumi, who clearly has some Menma obsessions of her own. Like Anjou, she’s in love with someone who is in love with Menma (at least, she acts like she’s carrying a torch for Matsuyuki). Unlike Anjou, she was never as open in her admiration for Menma; she has no lingering feelings of guilt to mollify her frustration at being ignored.

After Matsuyuki threw away the hairpin he offered to Menma, Tsurumi found it and kept it for her own use. Given her criticism of Matsuyuki for not being able to let go, this is all the more ironic

Also unlike Anjou, the object of her obsession has never treated her as a romantic interest. She’s incredibly close to Matsuyuki precisely because he feels “safe” around her; by contrast, Anjou and Jinta can only interact in the most awkward of ways, because the feelings they have are so strong. While this leaves Tsurumi with a bunch of blackmail material, it doesn’t get her any closer to his heart. Watching that play out is a tragedy in itself.

The other tragedy is that Matsuyuki’s childhood confession to Menma, rejected though it was, was the only honest expression of feeling in the group’s entire history. Jinta never admitted his feelings to Menma, and insulted her to cover them up. Tsurumi isn’t any closer to establishing her feelings in Matsuyuki. Anjou and Jinta are growing in their attraction for one another, but neither is quite willing to admit it. Matsuyuki says to Anjou that the two of them were left behind, but really, who in this story isn’t?

Matsuyuki manages to regain his reputation as the cool competent one after saving Anjou from date rape when an outing goes bad. As I said above, I’m not certain what I feel about Matsuyuki’s deeper psychological issues getting swept aside so swiftly

Even Poppo is feeling excluded: Despite his own efforts to bring the group back together and his immediate belief in Menma’s existence, he still hasn’t seen her yet, and he desperately wants to. Again, I suspect he also has some lingering guilt related to Menma’s death; even if he doesn’t, he’s only grown more and more invested in Menma’s existence since Jinta revealed it to him.

And so this episode ends the way the prior episode began, with Menma in tears—not because someone is trying to block her desires, but because someone is trying to fulfill them. As Poppo moves from asking to pleading to begging Menma to identify what she needs for her spirit to move on, or just to provide some hint of her presence, she breaks down in frustration. She wants to show herself, and she knows her absence is causing people pain. Her inability to do anything about Poppo’s distress pains her immensely.

Poppo becomes increasingly frantic when he realizes that Menma is in the room with him. He desperately wants to reconnect with his old friend, and seems to think that it’s somehow his fault that he can’t

Menma’s concern about causing others distress, Tsurumi’s tense relationship with Matsuyuki, Anjou’s poor choice of friends and activities and how it relates to Jinta—all this will play a part in the next episode. Anohana’s continuously developing narrative is a remarkably difficult thing to cover on an episode by episode basis. But it’s also one of the things that makes this show worth coming back to every week.

You can watch this episode here.

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