Note: All reviews by Blackchain119 are based solely on the anime itself and ignores all related manga; if the story does not hold up in the anime, no matter what length it is, then they failed in their efforts to make an effective, engaging show.
I did not know what to think when I was introduced to this show. The characters, the locale, and the style seemed to be all done before, but that is where it tricks you; it has ordinary looking characters with extraordinary emotional turbulence, ordinary locales with extraordinary meaning, and starts with an ordinary style that blooms into their own and brings an extraordinary amount of personality and power into the story.
Story: Anyone who has lost a loved one knows the emotional anxiety of life after that, and anyone who has lost someone dear to them as a child knows that the pain cuts very deep. So deep it can span the entirety of your lifetime. It might dull in time, but the scar never fully heals. Anohana delivers this message in a sentimentally endearing way, and makes you feel for the lives of the characters. Their losses are just as painful for you as for them in the end.
Characters: While all the characters have great flaws and great virtues, the most engaging character by far is Menma. She is the physical embodiment of stereotypical anime cuteness, but with an untold and profoundly uplifting interior. The heart and soul of the story, and a character that feels like one you would love to have as a friend. While watching this anime, you feel like you could reach out and hug her, and desperately wish it to be true.
Subject Matter: Many anime's try to tell as story with sorrowful content and fail to engage you regardless, but Anohana brings a hard, painful reality on top of a hopeful underlying tone with great success. The hard truths are observed, and while not once giving you any sugar-coating. When things do not go your way, the show makes sure you know it.
Music: Some of the best slow music I have heard in anime since Angel Beats. It has a warm nuance in the instrumental choices, being of gentle guitar and piano with a melancholy lyrical tone.
The Bad (Almost)
Length: The story, being only eleven episodes, had to write in such a way to get all the personalities on record as fast as possible, but because the pacing is so well balanced with the group dynamic it still fully engages the viewer. I would have loved to see more, but was more than happy to get what I did.
Only the pain you feel in the tragic moments... and the overwhelming cost of tissues.
I have seen many anime but few have made me cry. This show makes you go through all five stages of dying in the series, and through each of them you can feel your opinion of it change. You will deny it's effect, hate it for the pain it causes you, wish for the story to end well, be crushed under the weight of the emotion, and finally accept that while not everything is how we wanted it, the story should not end any other way.
"This must be the choice of Steins;Gate!"