Rightly or wrongly I’ve lumped two shows together this season for their melodramatic conceits and their eye-popping character designs for some of their female characters: Hanasaku Iroha, and AnoHana. It’s also unfair because Iroha has more than one eye-popping character design and the other show only has Anaru… but Anaru is Anaru so it’s even steven.
I’m not here to discuss the salacious content of either show, I’ll leave that to the experts. I’m here more to ask a question: what exactly is Menma? What is this character that is so far interactive only to Jinta, but for all intents and purposes a dynamic character whose story is still unfolding in the narrative?
Jinta calls her his hallucination, this ‘spirit of summer’ (a salaciously suggestive term – in keeping with the pornographic gags she has with him), while Poppo and the others seem to think of her as a ghost.
Menma on the other hand, mentions (in episode 03) that she has a ghost, but it seems that this ghost is autonomous of her (and is perhaps what Poppo saw in the forest). Having an online handle prefixed by “ghost” doesn’t make me any kind of expert on the supernatural at all, so I truly am baffled by this Menma character.
It’s a good kind of baffled, as my annoyance is limited to the overt lolicon fapbait character design and porno gags. I am truly intrigued by the metaphysics that govern her and the show, which is an otherwise down-to-earth provincial teen drama. Menma spent time visiting her family in episode 02 and demonstrated some ability to manifest herself physically in some kind of force.
There she observed her mother attend to her shrine in their living room, then in the succeeding episode spend time on Jinta’s mother’s shrine. Death hangs heavy in this show, and is indeed perhaps the most significant factor in Jinta’s withdrawal from society. But enough of that, I want to know about the dead.
Why does Menma manifest the way she does? How distinct is she from ghosts? If she’s this way, what of the other dead? Can they interact with each other? I’ve ruled out Menma as a Jinta-unique phenomenon, because we experience her as viewers, in the third person. She does things independent of Jinta. She’s not just a hallucination limited to one person.
She’s not a ghost, she’s not a figment of Jinta’s imagination, and now the other boys are claiming to have seen her or versions of her. How does all of this work? Sure I can wait until the show explains it to me, but if anyone can do so without throwing spoilers around, it’ll be quite a feat.