In contrast to the last anime I wrote about, Anohana handles themes of love and separation on a much deeper level. Its serious tone is foiled by unbelievably quirky characters, beautiful settings, and catchy anime openings, all while still maintaining the storyline’s somber state.
To see for yourself, take a closer look:
Jinta Yadomi, renowned shut-in and video game enthusiast, finds himself one day approached by a ghost of his childhood past. What at first he thinks is just the summer heat, turns out to be a phantom of his dear friend Menma, an adorable little girl who died an untimely death years ago. After days of avoidance and then finally some long-overdue discussion, Jinta and Menma conclude her spirit remains on earth because of some wish that has yet to be fulfilled. While Menma can’t quite remember the wish herself, she knows it can only come to fruition when Jinta and the other individuals she used to spend her days with group together in an unstoppable pursuit. The proposal isn’t as easy as it sounds though. Jinta and his friends haven’t talked in years, and while all pretend they no longer hold regrets associated with Menma’s death, each come to learn this is far, far from the truth.
The story is one in which you’ll cry your eyes out, but it’s promised you’ll obtain nuggets of wisdom along the way. When watching the show, I picked up on the important themes of loss and grief, but it wasn’t until after fully completing the series that I stumbled upon a message much more relatable than I ever could’ve imagined.
In Anohana Jinta struggles with the guilt of Menma’s death, yes, but even more so with the attempt of getting his adolescent buddies to comply with him. You see, it’s very hard for them to take Yadomi and his concerns seriously, as he’s the only one who can supposedly see Menma. To Jinta, the girl is just as real as she’d been years ago, but his friends have a tough time believing him until they can see the power at work themselves.
On a similar note, it’s no easier being a Christian. You’ll get ridiculed for believing in something other-earthly and talked about behind your back. You’ll experience fraud and have to endure fakes until the force you speak of becomes visible to others. How does this happen? You may ask. Well let’s take a look at Jinta and his friend’s eventual acceptance of the matter to find out!
One of the first times Jinta finds himself around someone who can’t see Menma is when Naruko Anjou, his once second best friend, stops by to drop off some homework Jinta was supposed to complete over the summer. Menma, unaware she is only visible to Jinta, smothers Anjou with a hug. Anjou doesn’t realize what is happening, only that her shoulders feel heavy and Yadomi is acting more unusual than ever. Menma does the same thing when encountering her old pal Poppo, yet he is more apt to accept the apparition than Anjou was.
Such is the case in the real world. Some individuals are going to be more skeptical than others, but when it comes time for the Holy Spirit to approach them, all will feel a tug at their heart just the same. Jinta helps this feeling transform into something greater by repeatedly telling his friends what they can only come to know on their own. This consistency, as well as the combination of visible pleasures Menma brings him eventually lead to their acceptance and reception of the one and only truth.
One of the most physical ways in which Menma demonstrates her existence to her friends is through the notes and letters she writes them towards the end of the series. She knows this is the most personal way in which they can each experience her love, so she uses this medium to pour truth into every word she writes.
So it is with evangelism. One of the most effective ways you can reach people with the Good News is by encouraging them to open the most intimate thing God left for us –His Word. Not everyone’s hearts will immediately be softened, but it’s the joy in their faces when the transformation does occur that makes it all worth it in the end. As I bring this article to a close, I’d like to urge us all to be a little more like Jinta –to tell others what’s right, to point out the visible evidence, and to motivate individuals to take a closer look at the letters left for them. Jinta’s the kind of evangelist someone like his Menma and our Reigning Savior would be proud of, so take note of his example the next time you try to support your belief in something that can’t be seen.