Home > Anohana, Episode Reviews > Anohana Episode 10 – Left Behind

Anohana Episode 10 – Left Behind

This episode covers the final day before the fireworks and the fateful launch itself, and once again Anohana shows a mastery of developing several plot threads while keeping seemingly everything in stasis. Of course, the rocket launch and fireworks display wasn’t Menma’s wish and she stays around after it happens—that shouldn’t surprise anyone. What is surprising is which people seem stuck in the past and which are ready to face the future.

It’s Menma’s family who seem to get the most out of the fireworks, perhaps because they don’t know about the ghostly Menma trying to move on from this world. Her younger brother Satoshi shows up to help with the launch, and her mother finally begins to accept support from (and her obligations to) the rest of her family. For the past ten years Irene has walled herself in a fortress of her own grief. There’s some hope that through the actions of Jinta and the rest, she’s finally been forced outside of it.

Menma’s father and brother both have been shut out of Irene’s life. Now, just perhaps, she’s willing to let them back in

None of that applies to anyone else. Anjou continues her mournful pining for Jinta, wishing for Menma to leave while knowing, even after that, that Jinta won’t have eyes for her. Strangely, it’s only thanks to Menma’s return that Anjou and Jinta have spent as much time together as they have. With Menma around, Jinta has eyes only for her. Without her around, Jinta descends into seclusion, and shy, introverted Anjou can’t find the strength to break through.

Tsurumi is only getting angrier as she finds that even the objectively pathetic Anjou has it better than her. Not only has Matsuyuki never had the slightest degree of romantic interest toward her, but he finds Anjou the more suitable replacement. Anjou at least managed to attract some interest from Jinta, and qualifies as someone’s second choice. Tsurumi doesn’t even get those consolations.

Tsurumi is actually angry enough to divulge Matsuyuki’s crossdressing habits to other students, although it seems she’ll have trouble getting people to believe her

Poppo’s sense of overwhelming guilt is showing itself more overtly. After certain hints this episode, I’m now certain that he watched Menma die, and did nothing out of a sense of helplessness or fear. His energy and drive now was matched by his passivity then, when he was the one who just tagged along, happy to just be included in a group of his peers.

Matsuyuki’s frustrations are unchanged, but they lead to more and more reckless and irresponsible behavior. To crossdressing and talking to his own private Menma, he adds his continued manipulations of Anjou; this leads to disrupting Menma’s going away party with a forced reenactment of the conversation that broke apart their childhood days forever. This time, Jinta admits his love for Menma, which seems to send just about everyone save Poppo into deeper levels of despair.

Matsuyuki still has his Menma in the closet. Maybe seeing the real Menma off would help him let go of this one too—but maybe it wouldn’t

All of them are seeking salvation by helping Menma to reach her final end; none of them, it can be argued, are doing it for her sake. I think that’s what makes Jinta’s actions this episode so interesting. Alone among them he wants to see Menma stay; since he can directly interact with her, he alone can enjoy Menma’s presence for the rest of his life, if she does. So he asks her to stay, and she gently demurs.

Menma knows it’s her responsibility to move on, and so Jinta is torn between his own desires and Menma’s. He constantly tells himself that he can, that he should stop the fireworks display, but he doesn’t. He labors on it right until then end, and only when it is too late does he voice an objection to stop it.

When Jinta is about to crack, Matsuyuki “encourages” him by noting this is what Menma wants. Matsuyuki’s intentions are self-serving, but the point is that such an argument actually works on Jinta

Is this because of his own lingering hesitation, his hikikomori tendencies keeping him from expressing his feelings? That’s possible, but I don’t think it’s the case. Rather, he’s willing to put aside his own desires to do right by the one he loves, even when the results will wound him gravely. It’s another sign of how, despite being the worst off of the group socially, he might be the most mature of all of them.

Of course, the fireworks display had nothing to do with Menma’s final wish, which increasingly seems to be centered on Jinta himself. We don’t know what Menma was planning on the day of her death, and apparently Menma herself will need a kick start to remember. But she’ll still be around for the finale, where Anohana will find some way to deliver the message that will help each character find a way forward.

Menma’s “oops” expression as she realizes that launching the fireworks didn’t send her off would be endearing if not for the toxic fallout that is about to come from the failure

The trick will be finding a way to do so that doesn’t seem trite, overwrought, or unrealistic. The show needs a solution that respects the characters as they are, even as it points out how they can become better. I have some hopes that Anohana will find that balance in the finale—everything about the show has exemplified its devotion to realistic and subtle characterization. But this is a show that will stand or fall by that end.

The main theme of Anohana has been about being captured by the past: past loves and past failures both. Sooner or later, however, one must embrace the future. Those who can’t or won’t do this will find themselves eternally left behind. As Menma’s mother (and everyone else) has demonstrated over the course of this series, that’s not a healthy place to be.

You can watch this episode here.

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