「超平和バスターズ」 (Chou Heiwa Basutaazu)
“Super Peace Busters”
I want to say long names correlate with quality, but that wouldn’t really be true. Luckily, I can say Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai will most likely pave the way (wow that’s a mouthful).
The story centers around six childhood friends, one of which is Honma Meiko “Menma” (Kayano Ai), a childish girl who is slowly revealed to have died in a sudden unexplained event. The trauma changes the group forever, as the episode eventually details, and every member of the “Super Peace Busters” splits off into their own pathways in life. Yadomi Jinta “Jintan” (Irino Miyu) goes from hero to zero, and judging by some neighbors and his friends, it is deeply implied Meiko’s death is closely related to him, perhaps even indirectly caused. Anjo Naruko “Anaru” (Tomatsu Haruka) transformed from geeky to hot and popular, with subtle implications of feelings for Jinta, but simultaneous hatred for his decisions. Matsuyuki Atsumu “Yukiatsu” (Sakurai Takahiro) and Tsurumi Chiriko “Tsuruiko” (Hayami Saori) have stuck together, but differ in opinion over the matter of Meiko. Yukiatsu considerably has lingering feelings, and dare I say “liked” Meiko, as shown from his easily provoked anger (also jelly of Jinta since he was a kid), whereas Tsuruiko appears to have moved on, a fitting opposite. Using Meiko’s mysterious reappearance temporarily attributed to summertime stress, a plan is set into motion to grant her wish, bring the group back together, and perhaps finally allow Jinta to gain redemption. Despite calling her a hallucination, Meiko seems to bear physical influence in the environment, but I don’t think it will really matter if left unexplained. Hisakawa Tetsudo “Poppo” (Kondou Takayuki) is cheerful despite Meiko’s death, fitting of his bubbly personality, and it’s very likely that he will be the first ally Jinta gathers.
Since veteran screenwriter Okada Mari only seems to be as good as the director (Toradora, Fractale, Musuko, GOSICK, Hanasaku Iroha – this woman has exploded in popularity), I think the majority of the credit goes to Toradora director Nagai Tatsuyuki, who has apparently come to an extreme improvement over the years. It’s hard to describe just how fantastic the episode was done except to actually watch it play out, but it was packed with just the necessary amount of flashbacks and some really well conveyed emotion to grant the viewer a considerable understanding of these otherwise complete strangers. Every scene comes to life with expressively animated characters, and yet maintains a balance of delicacy with subtlety. The music, the narrative, and the screenplay are orchestrated together to create some spectacular somber scenes that effortlessly wrench out sentiment from this cold heart since Clannad ever could. Seriously, I was completely enthralled by the story’s building momentum of emotions that I lost track of time.
The show rivals Hanasaku Iroha (also a must-watch) in terms of an original character-driven story, but with a vague outline drawn and half the time-slot to do it. The premise is reminiscent of 20th Century Boys, which I marathoned but found a little mediocre, but that’s besides the point. It’s a shame that I haven’t seen such an engaging original anime right off the bat in a really long time, so I sincerely hope this doesn’t end up sucking. There’s a genuine lack of writers at this level in the anime industry, and I’m starting to think that’s a natural result of where the money actually lies (that’s a fault on viewers, mind you). Thankfully, the show is off to an amazing start, and with some small tearjerkers already, it’s a bit exciting to see just how dark this story could get. Equipped with solid animation by A-1 Pictures, a fitting voice cast, and an attractive soundtrack (OP/ED included), the whole package ends up blindingly perfect. With such a strong beginning, it feels like this may turn out to be one of the best shows of the year, if not an instant classic (really not an understatement, watch this show!).
This season is turning out to be amazing~
Divine: The most famous song of Sapporo’s all-female pop rock band, “secret base ~What You Gave Me~”, was covered as Kyou no 5 no 2’s ending theme as well, but suits Anohana much better. For those who have never heard of ZONE, I’ve included the PV for their song below, which was released in 2001. A lot of people know the lyrics, myself included.