Going around trying to grant Menma’s wish has stirred up old memories and festering traumas before, but it seems that that was only scratching the surface. The train of thought in several of the characters that was put in motion by recent even continues on and everything comes to a head at once during this episode. And the show delivered on expressing all these high emotions at once. Melodrama done right.
A return visit to Menma’s house sets the tone for the episode. This time the entire group shows up to ask about the fireworks issue. Poppo assumes that Menma’s mother would be on their side, and that it was her father that refused to let Jinta’s dad’s friend build the rocket. Tsuruko seems to be the first to notice her instability and tenseness. As soon as Jinta brings the matter up she starts crying, grabs Tsuruko’s wrist roughly, and begins accusing them of using this as a way to have fun. She seems to resent them for having grown up after Menma died and doesn’t think that anyone but her is taking her daughter’s death seriously.
The Shadow Tsuruko knows!
I was half expecting her to change to a Higurashi face.
Everyone in the group has issues that started with Menma’s death but only her mom seems to actually be stuck in the past.
The group goes to the local temple to talk over what just happened. Yukiatsu again tells everyone that they should just forget it, that it’s hurting Menma’s parents, that Jinta is forcing his pain onto others. The scene fades with a nice voiceover by Naruko as she speaks to Jinta and Poppo in the clubhouse later that evening as she reflects on Yukiatsu being the one who felt hurt at that moment. Jinta himself thinks that he should stop getting everyone involved. Without Menma there is no more “us” according to him, and since he’s the only one who can see Memna then he should be the only one taking up the burden. The matter is left unresolved as the scene changes to Jinta working his part-time jobs. At the games store that evening he’s talking to Naruko about how he’s not sleeping so that he can work more. She speaks almost to herself about him pushing himself so hard to grant Menma’s wish when he falls off the ladder he was on. She helps him recover in the break room but when he goes right back out she reaches her breaking point too. Everything comes out about how she was a little bit happy when Jinta said that he didn’t like Menma all those years ago, and how she felt when Jinta went chasing after her, as he was doing in another way now. She basically confesses her feelings and breaks down in tears, but he leaves to get back to work. But the conversation puts an important thought into Jinta’s mind: that if he keeps helping Menma then she will disappear. At home that night he himself breaks into tears in front of Menma, trying to excuse it as remembering the ending to A Dog of Flanders. Afterwards he has quite a cool scene where he reviews in his head how Menma’s memory is hurting everyone, but doesn’t yet know what to do about it.
I like the unintended effect here. As Jinta gets closer and more dedicated to reaching his goal, the more it reminds Naruko of how her love has been one-sided. Definitely gives the situation a realistic level of complexity.
Naruko breaks down. Love the facial expression here, they really did a good job showing the mix of emotions in her.
Poor Naruko. Still stuck in the middle, though at least now her feelings are out in the open. That sort of change might be a chance to move forward with Jinta.
I loved, loved, loved this scene. THIS is more the kind of style I’d like to see for introspective scenes.
The next day Jinta goes with his father to visit his mother’s grave. It’s apparently either her birthday or the anniversary of her death. His dad seems to have picked up on all the part-time work he’s been doing, but it’s not awkward, really, just a warm moment between them. Meanwhile, Menma is bored and starts wandering around when she comes across Poppo working at one of his jobs and talking to someone over the phone about the group not getting along. Menma is suddenly a lot more worried and motivated. She rustles some papers while running out of the shop, and then it appears that she’s started to become more active. Tsuruko calls Yukiatsu about receiving a silent call from Jinta’s house even though he and his dad are out, and just then Yukiatsu’s home phone rings as well. At night Jinta is back at the games store and at the end of his shift Menma’s brother, Satoshi stops in. They talk in a park for awhile, Satoshi frustrated with his mother never going outside much and seeming to ignore her surviving child. He’s another factor in the equation now, but we’re not yet certain of what his role will be. Jinta does seem to mention some idea to him before they part though. Then we have one hell of a final scene. Jinta heads to the clubhouse to return Naruko’s handkerchief and try to talk to her when he finds the whole group there. They question him about the calls and when Jinta responds to Yukiatsu’s mocking about the calls being from Menma things break down quickly. Yukiatsu lunges at Jinta and grabs him by the neck. Poppo breaks it up and Menma arrives, which just triggers more anger from Yukiatsu, and even Naruko and Tsuruko are angry with him and tell him to stop playing around about Menma. Yukiatsu just about punches him but sobs and begs him not to keep bringing her memory up to him. But Menma comes through in the biggest way yet. She knocks over her diary. They notice that there was no wind to do so, and then Poppo picks it up…and it’s opened to a page describing the events of the day along with Menma’s wish that they stay friends. It’s in her handwriting. And everyone is left shocked and frozen in place.
Another moment of well-done facial expression. Yukiatsu’s look of fear when he gets his silent call.
If Naruko has the running visual connection with shots of her in reflecting glass, the Honma children seem to be shown in moonlight or white and blue-white tones a lot.
Yukiatsu’s eyes have gone Contractor. Now he’s lost it, he knows he can kill…
Yeesh, lately I think I’m feeling sorry for Yukiatsu the most.
Final Thoughts: – The nameplate on the Honma residence stood out to me this episode when I noticed Menma’s mother’s name: Irene. It seems to be in Cyrillic and after asking around on Twitter I had that confirmed. I never really thought about her before since blond hair and blue eyes have appeared in plenty of supposedly Japanese characters in anime, but I guess it turns out that Menma’s mother is from Russia or one of the former Soviet Union countries like Ukraine. It’s an interesting side note, though I don’t think it matters otherwise.
- I was surprised, and I enjoyed, how quickly the characters snapped at each other this episode. It was good drama and also showed the degree of stress that dredging up these old memories is placing upon them. I really didn’t expect Tsuruko to get that angry, though it seems to be a sort of sympathetic effect. Naruko had it too. As Yukiatsu became more agitated Tsuruko finally lost her cool because she knew it was hurting him. Naruko became more hostile about the whole Menma business after she got hurt by still being stuck in the love-friendship triangle even after all these years. One character seems to trigger the other and it had them all at Jinta’s throat before Menma’s intervention.
- Poppo would probably stay by Jinta’s side to the end. He was the only one who wasn’t angry at him or arguing during the final scene. But it’s good that Menma is getting more actively involved since it’s going to take more than Jinta’s word and Poppo’s support to see the group through all the strong emotions that have suddenly been brought to the surface unresolved.