Two Eyelashes - Musings on AnoHana

It's been only a few days since I finished watching AnoHana, so I think it's a good time to try to be objective (and spoiler-free) about this anime. I'm pretty neutral about this, slightly on the negative side.

The main characters as they look in modern times.

The premise of this anime was pretty interesting; it was essentially a slice-of-life coming-of-age story. However, with weak characterization and weak plot development, it ultimately fell quite short of living up to my expectations. Despite numerous attempts throughout the episodes to introduce new plot twists, it ended up going down the same road that had been predicted since ep01. More importantly, it became a chore to watch each successive episode, with the last one almost causing me to fall asleep.
(As usual, the headings won't have any ratings. I'm trying a new system, so there will be a tentative rating at the very end.)

This scene never happened, although it would have been nice.

This was very common and as well-done as can be expected of today's productions (keep in mind that the failure of [C] is an exception). The character designs were of the average models, with very little "quirks". One of the girls, Anjou Naruko (Anaru), had a strange ponytail style, but it wasn't really too much to think about (at the very least, it wasn't of the level of Shiki). The colouring was sharp and crisp, and the little details in various scenes (like the Girl Haven that was Anaru's room) were pretty interesting.

This reminds me of some random One Piece art.

Ten years ago, the group had consisted of 6 friends who were so close that they had nicknames for each other and called their group the Super Peace Busters. The untimely death of a member caused the group to drift apart, with each going their own separate way down life. Yadomi Jinta, pretty much a NEET, is visited by the ghost of Honma Meiko (Menma) in order to fulfil her wish, thus bringing the group together. This concludes the end of the summary, which is what the entire anime is about. It was completely believable how a group of friends could drift apart after such a traumatic incident occurred. The anime chose to inject other reasons why the group had separated, perhaps to make it more believable, but it got pretty hectic by the end, when the entire story had been laid out. Due to shortcomings of the story-telling, the premise was pretty muddled in its entirety (as in, the little details added in were more confusing than interesting), but strong at the core (wish fulfilment!).

I kind of wish the characters looked like this...

Story Presentation
The story-telling was horrendous. Things that should have happened much, much earlier in the episodes didn't, with the only explanations being that they didn't happen before just because. There were some plot lines that were introduced and then dropped just as quickly, as if they were only meant to be used as a convenient plot device from the beginning. The pacing was acceptable, although it was weak that there was only one serious plot point that continued to the end. Moreover, even with several twists and turns (supposedly), the story kept ending up back on the path that it had begun on, as if the other things (a lot of which had been forced and repetitive to begin with) hadn't mattered at all. To its credit, by the end, the story had returned to the original setting and ended cleanly. However, by then, it was really difficult to care after such an extra mess had been made.

The characters as they look now and then.

The characterization had potential but it fell through in favour of story development (which didn't go so well). The characters were all given traits relatively unique to them, creating a well-rounded group, but then they broke out of their roles whenever the situation called for it. In several scenes, certain lines that were uttered by  Tsurumi Chiriko (Tsuruko) should have really been spoken by Anaru instead. With absolutely no real build-up, characters broke down on cue to create an emotional scene - and then picked themselves back up again without so much as batting an eye. Characters were put into certain situations to further the plot - and then, once the scene had finished, there was generally no further discussion or development. Characters also kept regressing, saying one thing in one scene to end on a positive note and then having a breakdown in the next scene without remembering their resolve from prior. It was incredibly clear that the characters lived for the story. It wouldn't have been so terrible were this story not blatantly the kind that really thrives on characters.

This is why there should have been less crying.

Final Words
I was interested in the anime because of personal similarities, so I was a little biased going in. The first episode rid me of any misconceptions - the setting was thoroughly created by the end of those 20 minutes - and I kept going because I really wanted to see the characters rise up through it all. It became increasingly clear that the characters were not the focus and so I turned my attention to the story - and found a weak tossed salad of constant cliches and forced emotions. Not having any characters to sympathize with really destroyed the story, especially when it eventually did return to the coming-of-age aspect. To be honest, I finished this mostly because of my need to finish things.

Menma, Queen of Strange Positions.

Scoring - [4.5/10]

(Tentative scoring because I'm just getting the hang of rating things.)
It started off well and I did have hopes for it. Overall, I just hated too much about it for it to be above neutrality. By the end, I was just glad to move on, with a slight distaste left in my mouth.