…your childhood friends, that is. Picking up from the end of the first episode, Jinta and Poppa get to talking about Menma and Jinta lets it slip that he’s seeing hallucinations of her. Poppo is still as enthusiastic as ever about, well, everything, and he accepts the idea right away. He even suggests that maybe her wish was to acquire a rare ‘Nokemon’ and the two start looking for a way to give the idea a try. Which works perfectly in helping them reconnect with each other and with Naruko. And meanwhile a little more light is shed on Tsurumi and Yukiatsu though these two still remain fairly mysterious compared to the others.
Thankfully she didn’t go to Kyubey with her request.
I like what he’s done with the place. Lots of nice tapestries for an old, abandoned shack.
Poppo apparently lives in the group’s old hangout, but only while he’s in Japan. He’s dropped out of school and works here and there to support his travels around the world and he’s as enthusiastic about life as he ever was as a kid, even though he’s grown from the smallest of the bunch to the biggest. Though for all the times he calls Jinta “sugoi” he still hasn’t approached critical Canaan levels of SUGOI. Naruko then gets a good bit of screentime, and this is her episode in a way. When she mentions dropping off Jinta’s homework to her friends they start making fun of Jinta and talk about how terrible it is that Naruko has to even come into contact with a hikkikomori like him. Her response was very interesting though because she says, mostly to herself, that she feels gloomy and depressed like him a lot lately too. And when one of her friends suggests that the creepy shut-in is having erotic fantasies about her now she blushes in the first sign that she still has feelings for him. All their noise causes Tsuruko nearby to slam down her things and storm out, and for the first time we have a scene where we can find out a bit more about her when Naruko runs after her with the left behind notebook. She has the same arrogant attitude that Yukiatsu briefly showed in not wanting to be seen talking to someone from Naruko’s non-elite high school. But she also seems to be putting up as much of a front with her elite status as Naruko is with her fashionable friends. Tsuruko clearly has keen insight on the people around her, saying that Naruko is still influenced by the people she hangs out with, but she also has a moment where she shows that she’s as hurt as Naruko over what happened ten years ago. Yukiatsu, apparently, is also still easily upset by what happened but brings up Menma anyway.
Naruko has a brief flashback afterwards. She remembers wanting to be like Menma, jealous of her, but also that she both liked and hated her. Her insecurity over her looks then might play into how she hangs out with the fashion crowd now, but before too much reflecting she runs off to her job. Jinta then stops by to ask her for the Nokemon game that they used to play, with a bit of tsun-tsun during the transaction. But that wasn’t the first or last time her feelings for Jinta start re-emerging.
The cinematogrophy here isn’t Honey and Clover or a SHAFT work but shots like this aren’t bad and certainly make the show a lot more interesting. I thought this gave a reflective (pun unavoidable) feeling to Naruko’s words, especially since she was mostly talking to herself rather than her friends.
Both of them still seem hurt from what happened, and they both try to cover it up but in different ways. But it’s not just the people they surround themselves with. It’s not far below the surface but where Naruko snaps, Tsuruko seems despondent. Possibly over Yukiatsu still being in love with Menma and not her.
The next day Menma finds her way back to Jinta just as Poppo stops by for a visit. Another shot here where the style is at least a bit unconventional, though I wouldn’t mind the director getting a little more artsy.
The next day Poppo is heading to Jinta’s when he runs into Yukiatsu. The two haven’t seen each other in some time but Poppo is eager as always to talk. Yukiatsu treats him coolly but not as harsh as Jinta, though when Poppo tells him the Jinta is seeing Menma’s ghost or a hallucination he breaks his cool. A remark about it “being too late” is about all Poppo gets from his old friend. Just before Poppo shows up Menma appears to Jinta again, but she’s wrapped in a bath towel like she just took a hot bath. Jinta of course is a bit flustered at seeing her like that. Honestly I think it was a nice balance between three competing demands on the staff’s part. They want to play up her ghost nature for drama and be serious about it. But it’s also realistic for Jinta to react that way and it potentially lends something to his mind being the one giving her a presence in the world. And it also can’t hurt to play to the male viewers a little either. I think this was a masterful balancing of the three. It never veered into fanservice exactly but had just a hint of it, while it also added to the psychology involving Jinta. And it showed that you can’t have a series, especially one with a high schooler cast, without bringing dirty thoughts into it every now and then. Okay, now that I’ve written a paragraph on what some would denounce as fanservice…
Jinta, Menma, and Poppo then go over to Naruko’s house to get her help in acquiring the rare Nokemon since it involves a trade. She’s terribly, and understandably, embarrassed when Poppo refers to her by her old nickname Anaru but lets it go once talk of fulfilling Menma’s wish comes up. Despite her current appearance she still keeps all her old video games and manga it seems. Like old times the three friends, and now Menma once Jinta tells her to stop hiding, get to playing games and reading manga, hanging out in Naruko’s room together for hours.
I don’t know what it is, but the look on Naruko’s face when she does the housework she loathes always makes me laugh.
Seeing them together like this was really heartwarming. It was also kind of funny how much they were getting into their Pokemon knockoff too.
NOT CREEPY AT ALL, YUKIATSU, NOT CREEPY AT ALL!
After hours of playing Jinta and Naurko finally obtain the two Nokemon they need to trade to get the special one they think Menma might want. Which is, appropriately enough, the “Friendship King.” Poppo and Menma have fallen asleep so they don’t see the double high fives that Naruko and Jinta give each other, nor their blushing and awkwardness when they keep their hands together for a moment too long. Naruko is playing pretty classic tsundere with Jinta but it’s clear how much she still likes him. Her blushing and reactions were so sweet, I DDDDAAAAAAWWWWW’d several times. Naruko then asks for something in return for her help, perhaps in an effort to get to spend more time with him. But she also cares about him aside from her own romantic feelings and asks him to start coming to school again. But before he can answer Poppo wakes up and joins them in cheering their success. During their walk home that night Menma says that the rare Nokemon must not have been her wish. But she’s so happy lately that Jinta can’t help feeling infected by her cheer as well.
DDDDDDAAAAAAWWWWWW! I hope by the end of the series these two will become a couple.
They’re connected by the red thread of destiny gray cable of Nokemon!
LOVE that ED sequence.
Final Thoughts: AnoHana seems to be taking a two-at-a-time approach to introducing the characters and I think that pacing is working quite well. As much as I’d like to know more about Yukiatsu and Tsuruko at this point I’m sure that they will be explored in more detail in the next episode or two. Two an episode is probably a good pace considering the single season nature of the show while still giving enough attention to each. Though I wish the show was a full 26 episodes since I think it could dig into the drama and the characters more with that amount of time.
- Naruko is shown to be embarrassed by her old nickname but oddly enough her mother doesn’t even remark or tease her about it. I guess she’s used to it by now, though I’m not quite sure why Poppo still calls her Anaru. He’s certainly a carefree guy it seems but you’d think he’d feel a bit awkward instead of just blurting it out.
- With each of the (living) main characters showing their emotional scars in some way, I have to wonder about Poppo. He dropped out of school, sure, but of all of them he seems to have dealt with things the best. At least in terms of psychology. Dropping out of school to travel the world might be fun but it’s not the best of life decisions. And by the way, what kind of cheap transportation is he getting to be able to travel all those places on only his part-time income?
- I loved the ED sequence. The song was great last episode but now it’s even better paired up with this animation. Though I wonder if the animation will change for different episode since this one focused solely on the girls. Maybe there will be one once the show gets more to Poppo and Yukiatsu’s stories. I continue to love the OP sequence to death. Both OP and ED are my favorites of the season.