Blu-Ray Review: Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day – The Complete Series

After being made available on Netflix UK Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day now makes its way to Blu-ray in the UK courtesy of MVM Entertainment. What can one expect from this series, and in turn the Blu-Ray release of the series? Let’s take a look and find out.

Synopsis:

“Jintan? I have a wish I want you to grant for me!”

Jinta Yadomi and his group of childhood friends had become estranged after a tragic incident split them apart. Now in their high school years, an unexpected surprise forces each of them to confront their guilt over what happened that day. They must overcome the burdens of their past, and come to terms with years of shame, hard feelings, and heartaches.

Our View:

Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day is one of few animated projects that manages to deliver the emotional trauma of understanding ones mindset of past events and recovering from loss; but more so than that it will make you cry from the sheer impact of the story and the hardships that the characters are experiencing. In some aspects this is a love story, but in other aspects it is about understanding the past, fixing broken bonds and saying goodbye to a friend that was tragically taken away.

Animated by A-1 Pictures, and crafted by director Tatsuyuki Nagai, screenwriter Mari Okada, and character designer Masayoshi Tanaka, Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day follows the story of Jinta Yadomi as he attempts to overcome his “Summer Beast” which sees the spirit of Menma, a girl he was friends with as a child, haunting Jinta – nicknamed Jintan – by declaring that he should help achieve her wish. That wish is unknown and for Jinta seeing, hearing and interacting with Menma brings back the painful memories of the past.

Several years prior Jinta and Menma were close friends and along with Naruko Anjo (Anaru), Atsumu Matsuyuki (Yukiatsu), Chiriko Tsurumi (Tsuruko) and Tetsudo Hisakawa (Poppo) they formed the Super Peace Busters which saw them hang out at a clubhouse in the mountains outside of town. However during one eventful summer Anaru asks Jinta if he likes Menma, to which he storms out in embarrassment of potentially being rejected or hurting the one he cares for. In doing this Menma chases after Jinta but in doing so causes her own death by being swept away in the river. Since this fateful day the Super Peace Busters have been disbanded and each member has felt responsible for Menma’s death.

For first time viewers this backstory is drip-fed throughout the series with additional details being provided when Jinta begins reaching out to his former friends for help on achieving Menma’s wish. Ever since Menma’s death, and in turn his own mother’s death, Jinta has felt isolated and alone, but upon engaging with past friends to help the spirit of menma it opens paradox box of issues and concerns that were left unanswered. Notable being the belief that Menma’s spirit is real, but more so the painful memories it brings along with it.

As such different episodes focus on a different persons issue or understanding of the issue with Jinta’s story of uncovering Menma’s wish being the forefront of the story. For instance two episodes focus on Atsumu Matsuyuki’s obsession with Menma, of which even sees him dress up as her in order to persuade the others that he too can see her, while another episode focuses on Naruko Anjo’s own feelings for both Jinta and Menma; with Naruko being in love with Jinta since they were young children. These individual stories overlap and intertwine and makes achieving Menma’s wish even more difficult; a wish that was actually meant to help Jinta rather than Menma.

They say “time heals all wounds” but within Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day it does not seem to be the case and as such the spirit of Menma steps in to help heal the bonds between the Super Peace Busters that have been separated all this time since her own death. It’s a hidden story within a story but more so than that it is one emotional tale that becomes more invigorating and emotional with each passing episode.

Extras:

For this particular Blu-Ray release it seems that MVM Entertainment have authored the discs themselves, most likely because they could not get the disc masters authored by Hanabee in Australia, and as such the number of bonus features available and the presentation used isn’t up to the standards one would expect.

Firstly the only bonus features included in this Blu-Ray release are ‘Next Episode Previews’ for each of the relevant episodes within this set. This may sound like a strange inclusion but the series did not feature the traditional next episode preview segments as these were instead shown online rather than at the end of the episode. Each episode does feature a “tease” of what is expected in the next episode during the ending song; but it does not provide any context.

It is disappointing that this Blu-Ray set does not feature textless opening and ending songs as these alone would bring a tear to your eye but this is not the only inconvenient truth. Additional disappointments, or oversights, is the overly simplistic menu design and Disc Two saying “Disc One” on the menu. Another oversight is that each episode only has one chapter marking; which is set at the halfway point. Put simply it is a very simplistic Blu-Ray release that does not do the series justice, which is a real shame.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50, BD 25
Region: B
Running Time: 2:19:09 (Disc 1), 1:56:43 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: LPCM 2.0 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day is an anime series that brings a lot of emotional drama to the screen but it is clearly, and cleverly, presented to us in a way that can be watched multiple-times with each viewing offering a different type of experience. For instance the first viewing will see you question the events of the story and the characters that inhabit it, while future viewings will see you understand the fundamentals and adapt to the situation of each episode. Regardless the ending still delivers the impact it set out to, which is one emotional send-off for a character that is already dead, but in our eyes very much alive.

For me the story is an emotional one that requires that mindset, otherwise the experience or understanding of the story can waiver. That story being Jinta adhering to the spirit of Menma while trying to overcome his own delusions and lifestyle concerns. This story soon spirals into involving past-friends and sees them attempt to work together for the sake of Menma; all the while having their own personal agendas and ideals of what is currently taking place within their group. Each character has a story to tell, and each believes they are doing the right thing – but while time has moved on, everyone’s hearts have stopped since the die Menma died, even if they do not admit. It’s a beautifully crafted story that blends insanely well with the artistic style and soundtrack that is presented.

Sadly despite the positive emotional vibes from the series, which surprisingly is amazing to watch in either English or Japanese audio formats, this Blu-Ray release from MVM Entertainment raises some questions. The visual, audio and subtitle presentation is exactly the same as any Aniplex related release – with LPCM audio for both audio tracks and white subtitles being used throughout – but the disc menu presentation, chapter markings and bonus features are bare bones and simplistic at best. The disc menu, albeit colourful and useful, looks simple and features artwork not in tone of the series itself while the lack of chapter markings makes skipping the (albeit superb) opening song impossible without using Fast-Forward. Additionally the second disc menu says that it is disc one, a simple mistake but not something you would expect from a premium product.

Overally Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day is an emotionally heartfelt story that is presented to the best of its ability in this Blu-Ray release and while the audio, visual and subtitle presentation is just as superb as the story within the series itself the product quality isn’t up to the standards one would expect. A great series, let down by a few flaws within its production – but we would suggest ignoring these issues so that you can experience an emotional tale of friendship and love.

Score: review-stars-4

Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day – The Complete Series will be available on Blu-Ray from the 27th January 2020 via MVM Entertainment. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day – The Complete Series is also available to Stream on Netflix UK for subscribers.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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