Love and Other Things: Representations of Relationships in Anohana

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There are as many ways to love as there are ways that love affects us. There is no correct way for people to act while in love, nor is there a way we can expect them to act if they lose it. Anohana explores the ways in which individuals living with the traumatic premature loss of a loved one learn to deal with their locked-up feelings and the way they can learn to love each other again.

Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day is a Japanese animation that aired in mid-2011. The story features Menma, the grown-up ghost of a child who died years ago, haunting her friend Jinta for reasons the characters cannot explain. The group of six friends disbanded after Menma died as a young child when they were playing together in the woods, and it seems that Jinta is the only one who can see and hear her apparition. The 11 episodes aim to figure out what Menma’s unfinished wish is in order to send her back to heaven, forcing the six friends to work together again, albeit unwillingly, for the first time in years.
The circumstances of the show force every character to confront their relationships with others and with themselves. From romantic affection to familial bonds, as well as platonic notions of love and loss, Anohana brilliantly highlights the complex ways an excessive amount of love with no outlet can eventually turn into a painful seed that roots itself into all of your relationships. What I love most about the show, though, is the ways in which it forces the audience to confront their own notions of love and loss as well. With an ending that is guaranteed to make you cry, everyone should watch Anohana at least once.