AnoHana (Episode 2): Menma the Hero

Another episode of Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai and I don’t think I’ll ever memorize the title. The episode continues where the previous left off. Jinta reunites with one of his childhood friend, Poppo. He seems to be of a different kind since he almost instantly gets along well with Jinta and completely believes what he says. It is revealed that Poppo has dropped-out of high school but instead travels the world and uses their secret base when he’s in Japan. Poppo is also completely cooperative and very much willing to grant Menma’s wish, he then suggested that her wish could be finding a rare Nokemon, obviously a pun on Pokemon, which can only be obtained when trading with another player.

Anaru blushing

Then we see Anaru hanging out with her friends and teasing and discussing about her having to deal with the hikikomori Jinta. Then an Oodai student (it’s hinted that it’s a high-class school) gets irritated by the girls. Anaru recognize the girl as Tsuruko, another member of the the Super Peace Busters. Tsuruko left her notebook on the table and Anaru tries to chase her down the street to return it to her. But Tsuruko, so full of herself simply shoves off Anaru’s effort of kindness to her and boldly states that she’d be embarassed if anyone saw her talking to a girl from Mido High, and that’s referring to her. Menma arrives just in time to stop the girls from fighting, but of course she can’t, they can’t see her.  The scene starts to heat up when Tsuruko starts throwing insults at Anaru, and ends up revealing how Anaru wants to be like Menma. We see here that she blames herself for everything that happened. If she didn’t spur them before and ask if Jinta likes Menma, perhaps that terrible thing wouldn’t happen. Then her cellphone rings or alarmed then she ran off. It is then revealed that she works for a video game store. And on the store, she found Jinta lurking, searching for the elusive Nokemon Gold game. She seemed dumbfounded knowing that he’s searching for a game created 5 years ago. After wandering for so long, Menma decided to go home to Jinta’s place. There she found him asleep whilst playing Nokemon and felt relieved and reassured.

The next day, Poppo bumped in with Yukiatsu, another childhood friend who’s creepy enough to smell Menma’s clothes. He’s interested with what Poppo knows about Menma. Then, on Jinta’s house, Jinta woke up with seeing Menma fresh from a bath, covered by only a piece of towel, another great fanservice! Poppo comes visiting and informs Jinta that the Nokemon he’s looking for can only be acquired by trading with a friend by connecting their consoles with a cable. Which means they have to find another person with the same game. So they set out and visit Anaru’s house and explains vaguely what everything’s about. Anaru dug up her collection of video games and found the said game. After a bit of hacking and slashing through the game, they eventually got what they were looking for. It is revealed but not explicitly said that Anaru has secret feelings for Jinta up until now. In the end, the Nokemon wasn’t Menma’s wish after all. But the good part is, Jinta became friends again with two of his childhood friends, Poppo and Anjou.

I really love tsundere characters! The way they blush and shyly reveal their soft side yet denies it strongly and firmly. Anaru is a perfect example of a tsundere character, well aside from Eri of School Rumble and Rin of Fate/Stay Night. Well, this episode seem to highlight Anaru, her emotions, her secrets and her changes. Although I’m seeing a trend in the series that deals with the characters changes, or the lack of. They always say, “You haven’t changed.” The plot still is intriguing but seems a bit shallow just for a quest of a rare Nokemon, but since it’s Anaru, I guess it’s okay. Well, there’s nothing quite noting in this episode except the magic sleep mask that Jinta’s father is wearing. Take a look below on how the sleep mask blinks, or is it dependent on the mood of the wearer?

Sleep Mask closed eyes
Sleep Mask open eyes

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai (Episode 1)

Another new anime with an absurdly long title. Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai (あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない, lit. “We still don’t know the name of the flower we saw that day”) or Anohana for short, is an anime series airing at Fuji TV on its noitaminA block at around 1:15 in the morning. The series is directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai, the person who also directed the second season of Honey and Clover and Toradora.

Episode 1 entitled, “Super Peace Busters,” opens with our protagonist Jinta playing videogames at home while being distracted by a girl with a silver hair in a way that I’m sure every boy out there would totally nosebleed. This scene depicts how the girl is attached to Jinta she even calls him with a pet name Jintan, which also shows how Jinta is pestered with her around but seems to ignore it. There was a point where he considers her as an embodiment of his stress, proving how debilitating it is just to be with her, plus the sexual urges the comes with it. The girl’s name isn’t revealed until a flashback from years ago in which she was called Menma. Menma is portrayed as a typical “airhead” girl with cute mannerisms and speech, while Jinta is portrayed as a typical “pessimistic-protagonist-who-detached-himself-to-the-world-due-to-a-tragic-circumstance-that-happened-in-the-past” kind of character. It was revealed that both of them are childhood friends, along with four others, they called themselves the “Super Peace Busters.” Jinta was the de-facto leader of the group, an optimistic kid with a bright outlook in life, which contrasts his current attitude. And as the time went by, triggered by a certain event, the group broke up and went on their separate ways. It was implied that the “event” was Menma’s death which dealed a terrible loss for everyone. Jinta’s relationship with his friends changed. He secluded himself away from everybody and interacts with them only when necessary, a hikikomori. With the spirit of Menma (he’s the only one who can see her) accompanying and pestering him, he aims to help her make her wish come true which she doesn’t remember, the possible twist for the series. The only thing that she remembers is that everyone must be present for it to come true.

As a pilot episode, we are given the general feel of the series, with each of the characters being introduced one by one highlighting their relationship with the protagonist. A slow-paced melancholic drama mixed with a sprinkle of fantasy, this series is promising and should be watched out for. But I doubt that it would hit big-time like the other animes in its genre like Kanon and Clannad. The background art is very good, which sets the mood for the scenes, though the character animation would be considered sub-par in comparison to other titles. The plot seems very typical, though it may keep you hooked in some ways or another. There’s a bit of fanservice (Anaru!), but it’s not ecchi or anything even for its late-night telecast. If this continues on, I think it can be a quite good watch this season, I better keep an eye on this series.

Machete TV Adaptation: I’m Sure Machete Will Marry the Villain in the End!

Once again, GMA 7 presents to us another of their movie-to-TV adaptation, this time it's Machete. The current TV adaptation will star Starstruck's Aljur Abrenica as Machete, previously played by Cesar Montano and Gardo Versoza from the films. I'm not sure if they can pull it off, they seem to have a history of pathetic plots and much more pathetic twists. GMA usually have great and grandoise concepts, but most of the time, the execution of these concepts suck. For example, Grazilda presents a wonderful concept, a story told based on the point of view of Grazilda, the step-sister of Cinderella, on how she experienced hardships that Cinderella experienced before. But as the story goes, Grazilda turned into the pathetic and usual twist, the heroine is the chosen one to be the savior of all those in Fantasia.

And based on the previous patterns showed by GMA's "creative" writers, I'm sure that as the story goes, Machete will marry the woman that is not his leading lady. Although based on the initial plot, there is no female villain, let's just call this woman that Machete will marry as "villain." This character will join the love triangle of Machete and the leading lady, and will be the jealous and possessive type. The marriage will be provoked by blackmail from the villain, by killing the leading lady in exchange for marriage. Like in Abrenica's previous teledramas, Ilumina and The Last Prince, he married the villain in the story. In Ilumina, he married the villain due to the events that started from him being brainwashed to setting the leading lady free. In the Last Prince, he also married the villain because he was also blackmailed by the villain in exchange for the life of the leading lady and his kingdom. Oh, and don't forget about Grazilda. In the climax of the season, the leading man nearly married a fake Grazilda because she changed her appearance to resemble the heroine. Sounds like the Last Prince, right? And also, in both of the stories, Aljur was always weeping like a girl, showing how pathetic the hero character is. How could you marry a person you don't want to marry, and weep later leading to a polygamous relationship? Well, we were expecting a hero that's ready to face death together with his loved one rather than choose the cowardly option of saving the girl and hurting her more in the end.

These plots could work if we live in the 80's and 90's where heroines are martyrs and are usually swapped from birth, coincindentally with the villain character. But these plots during this time period are mostly over-used. Also it also portrays a bad example for the young audiences. It just shows the viewers how easy it is to marry someone and to break it off swiftly. Also most teledramas' plots portrays too many illegitimate children in the stories that shows that it's okay to impregnate someone who's not your legal wife. I'm not a GMA hater nor an ABS-CBN lover, but these "creative" stories on local media is driving me crazy. Forget about the trying-hard-special-effects and overpriced actors, what the country needs now is a great story with an artistic way of story-telling, making the viewers engaged to the plot and not with the abs.