NIS has made a name for itself by putting out some great
anime shows in high quality packages, but they've topped themselves
is arguably their best series yet, anohana:
The Flower We Saw That Day. A
simple story that becomes unexpectedly
deep, this sad yet touching story will have even the most jaded anime
holding back the tears in the last episode.
It's a wonderful show and the type of drama that I wish was more
One summer a group of six young children form the Super
Peace Busters. Lead by the most
charismatic one of their circle, Jintan, they are a group dedicated to
for peace. They find an old shed that
they use for their clubhouse and have a wonderful time climbing trees,
bugs, and basically doing what kids do to have fun.
Years later they're all in high school. They've
drifted apart and though they still
live in the same area, don't talk to each other. That
is until the semi-recluse Jintan gets
interrupted by Menma while playing a video game. He
takes no notice of her incessant questions
about what he's doing and makes dinner without even talking to her. Ignoring Menma as Jintan sets the table for
he and his father, he doesn't even set a place for the bright and happy
He's not being rude though. He's just questioning his sanity
because Menma died at the end of that wonderful summer years ago. She drowned while running after Jintan who
had just said something mean to her. No
else can see or hear Menma, and she's grown just as her friends have
she still has a child-like innocence about her). Jintan
finally asks the ghost what she wants
and she tell him that there was a secret wish that she had before she
she can't remember what it was. Jintan
figures that if he can grant her wish, Menma will pass on to heaven.
He slowly starts contacting his old pals, and discovers that
they've changed a lot. Anaru who used to
be shy and quite hangs out with the popular girls now.
Poppo the comical one dropped out of school
and does manual labor, saving up his money for travel while Tsuruko and
Yukiatsu have gone on to the college prep high school and have both
aloof and cold.
There's a lot of strife when they first get together again,
but eventually they all decide to help Jintan (whether he's making it
not) grant Menma's last wish, though spending time with their childhood
brings up some painful memories for every would rather forget, though
them have ever come close to doing that.
This is a touching show that starts out deceptively
simple. While the revelation in the
first episode that Menma is dead is surprising, there are a few gags
the fact that Jintan can see her while no one else can.
The show isn't a comedy though and as the
series progresses and viewers get to know the five main characters it
clear that all of their lives were deeply affected by Menma's death and
while it may seem that they've changed dramatically, inside they really
This tale of loss and how people deal with it has the
perfect mixture of sadness and joy. The
show isn't a downer, though there are some very sad parts.
There's just enough humor and light to keep
the show not only enjoyable but in a certain way, fun.
It's an intelligent drama that really tugs at
the heartstrings, especially at the end, but not in a sappy or
way. It's one of those rare shows that
makes you happy, even while you're holding back the tears.
I really like the way NIS America handles their Premium
Edition releases. This time the 11-episode
show is presented both on DVD and Blu-ray, each format taking up two
discs. The discs come in a pair of
double thinpak cases. These are housed,
not on top of each other, but side by side in a beautiful sturdy board
that's nearly 8 in X 11 in. The case is
attractively illustrated with characters from the show.
In a nice touch that shows a fine attention
to detail, the UPC code in hidden inconspicuously on the side of the
that the artwork isn't marred. Included
with the two DVDs is a very nice hardcover art book.
Scroll down to the extras section for more
details on that.
This release arrives with the original Japanese soundtrack
in lossless LPCM stereo. It sounded very
good, with full range and some nice separation.
There are optional English subtitles, but there is not a dub
which is fine with me. I prefer watching
anime in Japanese since that was the way it was created to be seen.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic image looks very good. The
colors are strong and solid and they're
accurately reproduced and come through clearly.
The level of detail is very good and the lines are tight. Digitally it also looked very good with
aliasing, which often plagues anime, being nonexistent.
The discs themselves include a clean closing and a series of
episode previews that appeared online originally. There
are also some commercials used to
promote the show. The best extra isn't
found on the discs however. That award
to the very nice hardcover book that is included with the set. This attractive full-color book includes
large images along with a synopsis from each episode, some images from
scrapbook, story board sketches and more.
It's printed on high quality glossy paper, and is really very
This is an excellent show and one of the top anime series
that I've seen in years. Though only
11-episodes in length, the program puts enough character development
in for a show 4 times as long. Sweet,
touching, and more than a little tear-jerking, anohana: The Flower We Saw That
Day comes very Highly Recommendation.