Ano Hana – Alternatives, Interpretations, and Theories

AnoHana brings an interesting mystery to the table in this Spring. The existence of a supernatural event and the earthy social problems of a group of friends while giving the pieces of what happened on that day. Menma’s existence is already a strange occurrence that could be explained by logical means. My initial theory was, as the story suggests, that Menma was a manifestation of Jinta’s stress as no one person other than himself could see her. That would mean everything could be explained by Jinta’s unstable mental state caused by her childhood’s friend’s death and the later events in his life. The most logical explanation stands out and is solid as it can, however certain unscientific moments regarding Menma’s interaction with the real world prove otherwise.

The theory that because Menma died in an accident thus she has lingering regrets is the most natural guess to explain her return.  Menma’s wish and the reason why she came back is what remains to be unclear.

The reason for this is that Menma has been absent while of these events happened, therefore she is not aware of any of them. For that matter possibly everything that Jinta has done in recent years after Menma’s death escapes her.  If she was aware of these events she’d be likely to hint at what her wish is.  One of the first theories was that she wanted Jinta to return to school, however Jinta being absent from school is a no-go. Menma adopts this as a way to get him to get back to school in hopes of getting his life on track, yet when Jinta eventually manages to go to school and Menma is still around. Naturally, Menma’s wish isn’t to get him to return to school.  A conclusion drawn is that Menma isn’t aware of any of these events and has no actual connection to her wish, but to something else.  All of this is under the assumption that Menma has no idea why she has come back and she isn’t withholding some information to not leave.  That one, ought to be a possible understandable reason why Menma isn’t eager to go back after reminiscing how well everyone used to get along back then. Now Menma feeling helpless and incapable of helping her friends figure out her wish says the opposite.

The curious detail is that when Menma comes back only Jinta can see her. If Menma’s wish was deeply connected to everyone she’d appear in front of everyone as well so it can be granted. Either to make the story more complicated (unlikely) or because the target is Jinta who is the only one who can see her. Menma’s wish can be connected to everyone in a greater scale however only with Jinta’s help it can granted, the reason why he can see Menma whereas no one else can. This can be seen in the first episodes when all his friends get back together. Is that the wish? That Menma wants everyone to be friends again? Unlikely, at least not a small level since this has already been accomplished in previous episodes. Menma shows signs of being pleased with the positive changes in Jinta’s life but nothing changes concerning her stay on earth. There is something else.

Back to the connection the wish may have with others. Atsumu is obsessed with Menma’s death, however, she did not appear in front of him, which is further proof that Menma is unaware of the current events after she passed away therefore also unaware of the status of her friends.  Only Jinta is selected, back again to only Jinta can grant her wish, which takes us to the conclusion that he is either directly or indirectly associated to granting her wish. Because of that we’d assume that Jinta in the past did not grant this wish. We connect it to an event or a wish in the past he didn’t grant for Menma and as a result Menma comes back years later to get that wish fulfilled. Note. Menma forgetting that wish is a contradiction in getting that wish granted. This contradiction, however, can be explained by a spirit losing his or her memories after death. Menma’s wish happened to be one parts of the memories that got lost (further details left unexplained)

Then there’s also the theory that Menma does not wish to be forgotten and so the reason why she comes back is to be remembered. It sounds plausible, yet if this was her wish then it has already been fulfilled the problem would’ve been solved.

More onto Menma’s wish and the discussion that happened back then. Supposedly when Menma passed away everyone was still together and there were no great signs of discord among them. Ghost Menma’s hazy memories tell her everything is “as it used to be” when she first appeared indicating that when she passed away that the situation wasn’t that serious to guarantee for the massive breakup in their friendship.  As seen the breakup was an after effect due to Menma’s death which affected everyone negatively making them drift apart in different way, Jinta and Atsumu being the extreme cases. Conclusions drawn indicate that Menma’s return is a wish that is rooted in events of the past therefore they should be events Menma ought to be aware of, however, she is unable to recall any of them. And the second conclusion is that her wish was created by the latter events and fixing them would grant her wish. This in some has level has been disproven.

We come back to the name of the show: “We still don’t know the name of the flower we saw that day” and its meaning surely connected to the main focus of the story and highly likely connected to Menma’s wish. The situation was that she wanted to meet with everyone on that day, however she died in an accident before they all could. This also working out in also many other ways. The name of the title mentions “flowers”, “not knowing” and “that day”. If they refer to actual flowers and no metaphor is involved it refers to a special flower they had never seen before. The ‘not knowing’ is explained by how exotic the flower was or it can also be explained by how young they were back then, as not many of them would know the name of the flower.  The reason why it wasn’t addressed again was that they probably forgot about the flower as they grew up. Also perhaps this information was more relevant to Menma than to the others. ‘On that day’ likely refers to the exact day they saw the flower in question, which none of them knew its name at that point in time. The name of the flower was of so much interest that it grabbed someone’s or everybody’s attention, which would mean that the flower symbolized or reminded them of someone, a positive trait they all agreed on, a feature they all shared, which I’d connect it to their group of friends, therefore possibly a trait such as friendship and how of a flower which wouldn’t easily wither would symbolize their strong friendship, to pick provide some alternatives.

Connecting this to Menma and connecting it to the information that an urgent phone call on the day of the tragedy, it should mean that it is highly probable that Menma learned the name of the flower on that day via reading a book or her parents and felt that they everyone had to know it. Menma having everyone come over to break the news should mean that not only Jinta but everyone was also with them when they saw the nameless flower. This could work another way as also Jinta and Menma saw the flower then it was decided by one (or both) that the flower’s significance was enough that everyone should know it.  The missing piece is why would Menma die if they were meeting at their secret place and not outside where she had her accident? To answer this, the accident had to happen because Menma was rushing off to the meeting.  That assumes Menma was alone and it was no one’s fault and later everyone found her (one at the time) when they were passing through the woods.  The other more fitting theory is that Menma was not alone but with someone when she was rushing to the meeting place and a discussion took place before they met up with everyone. The other one is that everyone did meet up at the meeting place, however, because there was an argument regarding a difficult topic regarding their friendship, love, or that the possibility that everyone would split up because they were going to different school – to provide some examples. They caused enough of an uproar that Menma stormed out of the place violently.

Connecting it again to the nameless flower. The discussion might have been connected to the flower after all in some way as an analogy to their group.  Then there’s the possibility that the flower’s name possibly did not come up after all or if it did the name wasn’t revealed and only Menma alone understood its real significance. Assuming Menma was alone when the accident happened then the discussion moments before caused her to look for the flower in question, to confirm or to prove an unsettled matter, this also possibly related to the flower. Finally going with the theory that Menma wasn’t alone when the accident happened and the other person was involved, not necessarily directly, in the accident, proves that the accident was due to the discussion in which Menma tried to find or to prove the significance of the flower in question. Case in point. Same as flowers, friendship ought to be cultivated. Menma’s wish isn’t necessarily that everyone remembers her but that they all remember the meaning of the mysterious flower which symbolized their real friendship that has been lost in the past years after the accident that separated and changed everyone’s life.

– And that concludes the whole reasoning process concerning Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai’s mystery, providing other alternative solutions, possible scenarios, interpretations, and theories. What is the truth? We’ll find out.


10 thoughts on “Ano Hana – Alternatives, Interpretations, and Theories

  1. Lol You have read too much Umineko. You will try to deny all mystery that you may find in anime.

    I do not even tried to find a reason for her existence really

  2. Maybe Menma’s wish is for Jinta to not call her ugly like he did on that day. I don’t know. Just a guess.

    • I don’t think so. If anything, it’s probably got something to do with the fact that the friends have drifted apart. Menma’s personality comes across as being excessively caring for others and as such, her wish of making everybody come together would make sense.

  3. Great post. I love to guess what is going to happen next. Brain food nom nom nom.

    Anyway… I find it interesting that everyone questions wether Menma is a ghost or a hallucination because she appears to move stuff in real life. If the story is being told from Jinta’s point of view it wouldn’t surprise me that he hallucinated her moving stuff in real life. The wierd thing is that I don’t think that it will be explained before the end of the series. But who knows I’m a pessimist.

    I like your musings about the significance of the name and the flower idea. I think that the flower will end up being a metaphor but it would be cool if there’s an actual flower. How would they fit an actual flower into the story though? I think that she may have appeared in front of only Jinta because she new him as the leader of th group. It’s only natural if you need the group to work together to talk to the leader. Such a great show.

  4. Really like your post. I was looking online for a site to help me better understand the anime and came across here.

    I think all the theories here for Ano Hana are very plausible and I agree with all of them that they are all true. I guess since the show I think has finally ended in episode 11, Menma’s main wish was remembered as she started to fade away saying that Jinta’s mom and Menma made a promise to make Jinta cry.

    I think that the “cry” and “angry” meant more for Jinta to feel feelings of higher emotion or maybe to see him grow up. The mom possibly wanted Jinta and Menma to cry together or experience emotions together to better and further their relationship. These emotions then led down the line to Jinta finally admitting what he needed to tell her and that was “I love you.” Through all these emotions, I believe the mom was like the wise figure in the story and knew that the promise she told Menma would lead to the Super Peace Buster’s (groups) happiness. She was the figure that showed up many times with knowledge but never really appeared physically at the time. (Like elders or gods if you think historically). I kind of like to believe sometimes she knew that everything would happen the way it did.

    Originally, I thought that Menma’s wish was to hear Jinta say “i love you” because the last conversation she had with the group was about Jinta’s and Menma’s love and Menma did not receive conclusion. Though this would fit a nice romance ending for the anime, this anime is more focused on life lessons as this blog concentrates on. I still believe that the main reason why Menma came back was to conclude the love Jinta and Menma had and I am glad that Jinta and Menma were finally at peace knowing and remembering the love that they had for each other forever and possibly till she is reincarnated.

    Anyway thats just my thoughts of the anime. I thought the conclusion was perfect fitting the title. 10/10! Best anime I have ever seen in my opinion. Though I came to this blog to find out other things people learned from it. I really like what Keikakudoori says about the meaning of the title. So many possibilities.

    I was wondering what others thought about Ano Hana and their opinions. Possibly about how Menma died? I know there’s always that scene with the slipper/zori in the stream. I have thought she might have fell off that bridge like it seemed in episode 10 I believe with the splash or the carp. My best guess is that she fell just like Anaru almost did in the beginning episode where Anaru almost fell off the edge into the water. Maybe she fell chasing Jinta? (that would be really sad) When people say “accident” i think car crash. Maybe car crash? lol

    Or maybe what were peoples thoughts of her being reincarnated? Love the idea for Menma to be on Earth again with everyone but I would think it would be when they’re like mid 20’s and she would be a baby? Awkward turnout.

    Anyway I noticed a lot of symbols in the anime and can’t mention them all. The Flower symbol and title I’d like to hear more about from others to see what their take is on the title since I did not quite understand the true meaning. Or if anyone would like to comment on my philosophy of the anime that would be great. I would really like to understand this anime better. Especially those ending questions I had about how Menma really died or what people think of a reincarnating in the future ending. Nonetheless, loved the ending!

    • Also forgot one other important symbol and that was Menma. Menma is the bamboo shoots you put as a condiment in your ramen. (if anyone did not know) I was wondering if anyone knows the cultural or historical significance of the name or symbol “Menma”? What was the symbolic reason to name her Menma? My best guess is that since it is a condiment, Menma makes the Ramen (Super Peace Busters) the perfect bowl. Though I’m sure there is a much deeper meaning that you really have to understand what Menma is to know. All I know is that there were many Ramen scenes to and she really like ramen. I am sure someone who is more knowledgeable with Ramen may have better theories. I always think the character’s name’s symbols are one of the most important things to understand to truly understand a movie or anime.

      • One of the parts of the show that I liked was that even though there was a romantic angle to the story, at its core was focused on life’s lesson which I found the show did better.

        My guess is that Menma did in fact tripped like we saw her in the last ep (and like Anjou almost did before) either the day they had that fight or a few days later. This I’m not completely sure because the several flashbacks omitting the dates in which the events happen. Possibly it was an accident and no one was directly involved. The reason I believe this is that no one personally takes blame for her death that day only that they felt guilty for the feelings they had. The other reason is that the only person who saw Menma’s body (down the river) after the accident was Popo who was too scared and ran away (which came back to haunt him). As it stands it is plausible to believe it was an accident Menma had and no one was responsible for her death. The curious part of the story is that Menma’s friends shouldn’t blame themselves for her death, yet they do. The reason for this I found it to be was that but they blamed themselves because they realized (throughout the show) how selfish they were. That’s one of strongest parts of the show as it shows Menma’s friend realizing that they were selfish and jealous of Menma even after she was gone and only after they met Menma again they were able to publicly accept these feelings and gain forgiveness.

        The “name of the flower” part threw me off as I figured it was connected to Menma’s wish. I think some of the speculations about what happened that day were close, but for what we’ve seen Menma’s wish had to do with Jinta’s mom. The reason was, as the show mentions, that his mom wanted for Jinta to start having emotions again because she realized that because of her sickness Jinta was becoming depressed and alienated, which it became worse with Menma’s death. After Menma passed away Menma’s spirit felt it was time for Menma to return to keep her promise to Jinta’s mom and that’s I believe how the story begins.

        Perhaps Menma will reincarnate in the flower. For what I’ve read online the flower they show in the show is called for-get-me-not which is both fitting and sounds like a logical explanation based on how flowers is a key part of the story. Though as Menma mentions no one can be sure what they’re going to be when they reincarnate again. I guess what the show implies is that Menma, Jinta and all her friends will be able to reunite one day and even if they don’t they will be always be together because they won’t get about Menma they did before.

        Well, AnoHana was a very emotional show, maybe one of the most emotional I’ve seen to date. Personally I liked the execution of the show and it wrapped up the story nicely. Very unique. I doubt we’ll see anything like it very soon. Thanks for reading!

  5. I loved the ending, but it sucks that she died… i cried almost every episode ..

  6. What I think Menma appeared because Popo( I forgot his real name) came back. He stated that he traveled so he left the town. Then when he returned to stay at the secret base Menma app because all 5 (6 if you involved Menma) were staying there, or at least close to each other enough

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