I immensely enjoyed this anime, and I can’t help but slightly analyze all the character relationships, because each and every character is bound to another in a unique way. I might be over-analyzing, but I think there are some points of view that are interesting enough to at least consider and take a look at.

SPOILER WARNING: Don’t read this post unless you’ve seen Ano Hana to the end, otherwise there will be spoilers. You have been warned.

Jinta / Menma

This is probably the relationship that the anime focuses most on. It finds its roots in one of the flashbacks that are often shown during the anime. The six friends are sitting in their secret base, and all of a sudden Jinta is asked by Anaru if he loves Menma. His reaction truly shows that he does, but he denies by saying that no one possibly love someone like her. He abruptly stops in the middle of his sentence, expecting that Menma will start to cry. Instead, she just smiles. After that Jinta runs off.
Later on in the series we find out that Jinta is still in love with Menma. He could have just gone on with his life and found another girl, but instead he still loves Menma, and he can’t forget about her. It takes a while before he can give in to his feelings and confess them to Menma. He needed time to cope with the situation, but in the end he’s ready to admit (both to Menma and himself!) that he really is in love with her.
The opening scene opens up another perspective for me. We see Jinta playing games in his room, and he overhears a conversation by a boy and a girl who are walking outside. The boy talks about the girl’s breasts, and Jinta gets annoyed, mumbling that the boy is a sex-addict. I think this scene can be interpreted in two ways. On the one hand it is possible that Jinta is jealous of the boy, because Jinta knows that he (Jinta) and the girl he loves – Menma – will never be able to talk about things like that. Maybe Jinta might have wanted a relationship like that, where the two lovers can talk freely about anything they want. On the other hand I think Jinta might have really meant what he said, and this could mean that Jinta truly prefers a platonic relationship over a physical one. This would show in the fact that the relationship that Jinta and Menma share is purely platonic. I think both are legitimate interpretations, it just depends on which point of view you support.

Yukiatsu / Menma

Yukiatsu is completely infatuated with Menma, still now. But it is exactly this obsessive behaviour that shows us how much he still likes Menma. He can’t stand the fact that only Jinta can see Menma, and that’s mainly because he realizes that Jinta liked Menma, and he’s afraid that Menma might love Jinta as well. He even goes as far as lying that he can see Menma as well. Whether it is to make the others believe that he and Menma share(d) a special bond (as did Jinta and Menma) or to convince himself of that fact remains a mystery. Yukiatsu obviously suffers from his unrequited love for Menma, even after all those years.

Yukiatsu / Anaru

I thought this to be a rather awkward relationship. In the beginning of the series nothing pointed at the fact that Yukiatsu was interested in Anaru. Then all of a sudden he suggests that they should go out. To me, however, his love towards Anaru might not be all as sincere as he claims it to be. Maybe he sees Anaru as a replacement of Menma, which would make sense since he only asks her out after he realizes that he cannot get Menma. Or maybe he wants to take revenge on Jinta in a way, because he knows that Anaru loves Jinta, and by saying that they are kindred spirits (they both had to deal with unrequited love, Yukiatsu for Menma and Anaru for Jinta) he wants to show Jinta that he after all can get love, while Jinta can’t (or so he believes).

Poppo / Menma

I’m not sure if there is a romantic relationship in any way in this case, but we can’t deny that there is a special bond between these two. Throughout the whole series, Poppo really wanted to see Menma or at least be able to talk to her. I’m glad that by the end of the series we finally got to know what Poppo was feeling guilty about and what he wanted to talk about with Menma.

Tsuruko / Yukiatsu

The first time that I saw them together I actually thought they were a couple (and I’m quite sure that I’m not the only one…). That feeling was reinforced when they went to buy clothes together. So I was surprised when it turned out that they were only friends. However, later on we get to know that Tsuruko has feelings for Yukiatsu, and she feels envious of Anaru and Menma. Even though she is so close to him (she even knows his exact height and weight), she cannot be together with him, because Yukiatsu already likes Menma and Anaru.
I like the ending scene of these two characters, because that scene is free for interpretation. You could either think that they are still only friends, and that Tsuruko has come to learn to live with the fact that Yukiatsu does not love her. But on the other hand it’s also possible that Yukiatsu did respond to her feelings, and that they are a couple now. Actually I’d like to think the former point of view, because of one very minor element actually. They are not sitting next to each other in that train. There is still a cabin aisle between them, metaphorical for the space between them. But that’s my opinion of course.

Anaru / Jinta

Anaru has been in love with Jinta ever since they were children. In fact, she is the one who asks Jinta if he loved Menma (probably to be sure). She still likes Jinta, but instead of noticing her feelings, Jinta behaves cold towards her and only pays attention to his own feelings for Menma. She tried to let Jinta know of her feelings, but it did not turn out well. Instead Yukiatsu comes to her and asks her to go out. She is torn between these two choices: Jinta or Yukiatsu? In the end this conflict is resolved, however, and I found the final scene with Anaru and Jinta heartwarming.

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