Quick Summary: During their childhood, a tragic accident took the life of Menma, cause the five remaining children to drift apart and virtually go their separate ways. Years pass, and the story focuses in on Jinta, who has himself become a bit of a NEET. He is reclusive, hardly leaves the house, and doesn’t attend school. One day, the spirit of Menma (only grown up to be the same age of the rest of her friends) appears before Jinta and asks him to grant her wish so she can happily move on. Jinta believes himself to be hallucinating, but overtime Menma becomes a part of his life and gradually (and often reluctantly) he begins to reconnect with his lost friends. The whole group deals with the death of Menma differently, each of them reacting differently to Jinta’s story of Menmas request, causing old wounds to open and old friendships to tie together once again.
I was shown this show by a friend of mine while we passed the time during graveyard shift. I was surprised that through only 11 episodes I became so involved with the show and it get the feelings stirring. It’s animated by the same group who did SAO, only this came out much earlier (I believe US release was 2012?). I’m not sure why there are shorter episodes than normal, but somehow it works.
Menma is sweet and innocent, as though she aged her body but not her mind or personality. Though she almost comes off as Moe, they do a good job at not taking her cute innocence too far to make it a shtick. It makes sense in her character because she passed away as a child. Her emotions go up and down depending on what her friends are doing (the ones who can’t see her, which of course makes her sad) and trying to motivate Jinta. Overall she has a happy bubbly personality though that makes it so you can’t help but fall in love with her and hope that her wish comes true so she may move on.
The rest of the characters fall into a bit of an archetype as well, though again not so heavily that it is distracting or used as a gimmick. Jinta is kind of the leader who is antisocial but kind at heart, then you have the popular girl who has a flaring temper, the quiet girl in glasses, the comic relief guy who tries to make everyone get along, and then the stubborn guy who clashes with the leader-Jinta. Again, though I can see these stylized types of characters which appear often in anime with young social groups, they are done really well. I think it is because the story also focuses on other aspects of the characters besides physical features and obvious personality traits. Through the show you learn a little bit about them as children and how Menma’s death affect them as they grew older. They clash as you would expect old friends to do when you bring up bad memories, but you can also still sense the lingering sense of loyalty and maybe even the wanting of getting back together but pride/sadness/time make it hard to do so.
The simple happy emotions in the flashback scenes when they are children are delightful and show how close they just were. On the flip side when the bad memories show up, it pangs you right in the heart to see young kids so sad. The wonderful connection between these remaining five friends just gets the feelers stirring, and with Menma’s joyous smiles, pleading tears, and simple wish of having her friends be friends again, you become quickly invested in the show. You see young teens going through loss, you see Menma’s family dealing with the loss (past and present), and the awkwardness that all entails. Death is awkward, sad, tricky business that people don’t really know how to talk about or deal with. In the show, they characters are forced too, which helps with some of the healing they haven’t had.
That’s just one bloggers opinion though. The animation is more simple with bright colors, and the music is nice in the background without being too distracting. This is one I would happily watch again, cheering Menma on all the way. It’s not exactly the happiest of tales, but sometimes those are the shows that really stick with you.
Here is the opening credits for your viewing pleasure: