Time to break out the tissues.
I watched the AnoHana series about a year ago and was surprised that it hadn’t been turned into a live-action yet considering it’s exactly the kind of angsty youth story Japan loves. AnoHana was a hit back in 2011 and even got a sort-of movie sequel in 2013, so it was only a matter of time before there was a live-action adaption. I was a little worried about the fact that AnoHana would be a special instead of a full-fledged drama series, because while the series is short, clocking in at only eleven episodes, trying to squeeze that into two hours is no easy feat. Surprisingly, Fuji TV came through and managed to capture all the feels and tears of the original.
So if you’re not familiar with the story, AnoHana follows a group of childhood friends that called themselves the Super Peace Busters, but grew apart after the traumatic death of Menma (Hamabe Minami), the happy go lucky member of their group. The main character Jintan( Murakami Nijiro) has become a shut-in, but is forced out into the world again when Menma’s ghost appears before him. As he’s the only one that can see her, Jintan tries to grant Menma’s wish so she can pass on, but of course, Menma has no idea what her wish is. Along the way, Jintan reconnects with the other members of the Super Peace Busters, Anaru (Matsui Airi), Poppo (Takahata Yuta), Yukiatsu (Shison Jun), and Tsuruko (Iitoyo Marie). While they’ve adjusted to life much better than Jintan, they’re all haunted, in one way or another, by Menma’s death and have yet to move on from that day.
And more tears.
These poor actors must have had red eyes for days.
Ok, AnoHana’s a cry fest, but in a story about death, broken friendships, and first love, tears are mandatory. I could have done without Jintan’s narration telling us things we already knew and the somewhat out of place confession scenes, but overall, the flow of the story was good. None of the characters are as fleshed out as they are in the original except for Jintan and Menma, but that doesn’t keep you from sympathizing with their grief and hoping they find a way to overcome it.
But Best Girl Anaru needed more screentime. I’m kind of bitter about the fact that her story and development were sidelined.
Murakami Nijiro was a good pick for Jintan, looks and acting wise. He really nailed all of the social awkwardness expected of his character without being over the top about it. Menma’s child actress Tani Kanon was a much better fit than her teenage counterpart Hamabe Minami. I looked her up and was surprised to see she was the haughty Hinata from Zenkai Girl.
She’s as adorable as ever.
It’s hard to live up to such a memorable anime, but I think the AnoHana SP did well considering the time constraints. Despite all the weeping, the overall message is uplifting, so even if melodrama isn’t your thing I think AnoHana is worth a try.