Of the anime sets I've reviewed from NIS America, anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day Ė Complete Series Premium Edition is one of the few I would describe as "mature." It deals with a major, oddly relevant, issue and weaves a fun, thoughtful -- if overly fantastical -- story around it. The characters are well written, and I canít see anyone coming away from the series and not relating to someone, or the larger issues looming in the background.
anohana centers on a group of childhood friends calling themselves the "Super Peace Busters." After their friend, Meiko, dies in a car accident, the group slowly drifts apart. Each member of the group reacts to Meikoís death in their own way, either by completely repressing their feelings, finding another outlet or, in the case of Jinta, completely withdrawing from society.
Ten years after Meikoís death, the ghost of a much older Meiko visits Jinta. He initially writes Meikoís ghost off as a manifestation of his stress, but eventually discovers the ghost really is Meiko. She tells Jinta she hasnít moved on yet, and can only do so if a wish is granted. The only problem is Meiko doesnít remember what her wish is, prompting Jinta to reunite with his friends in order to figure out what Meiko wants.
Getting everyone back together isnít an easy task. None of Meikoís friends have dealt with Meikoís death in an appropriate way. Some have retained tenuous relationships, but for the most part, they donít like each other. Jinta tossing Meikoís name around only makes things worse for the group.
anohana does a great job of building up each of its six main characters and showing why they originally got along. Episodes constantly shift between flashbacks and present day. Thereís a noticeable difference between the two periods, eliminating any confusion sometimes associated with flashbacks. Flashbacks also add a bit of levity to what is an otherwise bittersweet series.
The eleven-episode story does a great job of showing why Meikoís death, and its aftermath, was so disruptive to the tight knit group. As the group tries to unravel the mystery behind Meikoís final wish, they are able to finally deal with her death in a mature way, finally gaining some measure of closure.
The series also mixes in a few subplots, which both work and donít work. The series also employed an odd sense of humor, which is a bit dark considering the seriesí overarching story. Neither ruins the series, but some moments may feel a bit out of place for some viewers. The show also tries a little too hard to pull at the heartstrings towards the end. It seemed unnecessary, especially since the rest of the series does such a good job at getting there without the extra boost.
Though not a visually stunning series to watch, anohana is best viewed on Blu-ray, so if you have the option, I recommend it. The series also ships with DVD copies, so youíre covered either way.
anohanaís supplementary book is one of the more complete Iíve seen out of NIS America. Most focus on one or two elements, such as episode recaps or character profiles, but "The Super Peace Buster Chronicle," manages to squeeze in loads of information. There are character profiles, a scrapbook featuring stills from "Super Peace Bustersí" happier days, an episode guide, character sketches (one of my personal favorite additions), and a gallery showcasing Jintaís t-shirt collection throughout the series. This last part even offers translations/ meanings behind the shirts. Itís a nice touch and rounds out the entire package nicely.
On disc extras are light. Thereís a collection of teasers and commercials, as well as a clean opening.
anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day isnít the happiest of anime, but it still manages to tell a good, relatable story. Even with the inclusion of a ghost, the series is grounded in something more than, "characters go on an adventure."