Five childhood friends grow apart after the death of Meiko Honma, close playmate of them all. Jinta Yadomi, leader of the group when they were kids, neglects high school and lives as a shut-in when he unexpectedly starts seeing the ghost of Meiko, who can only interact with him and no one else. She has returned to ask Jinta to fulfill the forgotten wish she made as a kid.
It's just kind of a lovely little show. It's only 11 episodes long, so it never feels too dragged out. What interested me the most though was how flawed the characters were in their own ways. There are so many anime out there with sunshiney flawless characters who don't have any worries in the world. But this show features a cast that while really, very likable, still has a lot of emotional troubles brewing underneath the surface.
It's particularly affecting because of the central concept of a childhood friend's early death. How it affected the others, and how it inevitably tore them apart. When the show starts out, these characters haven't been close with each other for what seems like years. It's a stark and really, just sad contrast to how happy they are when they're kids.
But the show succeeds because it isn't just sappy melodrama. There's some really funny moments to be found here, some nice slice of life, and just some very sweet moments near the end. The theme of the series is moving on with one's life and being able to shed one's guilt instead of suffering with it.
I know some people had issues with the very last scene, which they thought of as too melodramatic. I personally had no problem with it, and when I saw people bringing up shows like CLANNAD and KANON as examples of "how to do it right," I couldn't really take some of them seriously. Those shows and other shows by Key are the DEFINITION of sappy melodrama.
But ending aside (which I personally thought was fine) I can't find any complaints with the rest of the show. I appreciate that the issues the characters have are actually relatable, and they feel fairly human. Honestly, the only character I had issues with was Menma herself (the dead girl) because while everyone else had grown up and had their own real problems, she never really felt that developed to me. I guess it's sort of in character to keep her kind of childish, but I find myself emphathizing with characters like Anaru way more because she actually feels like a real person.
I think the only thing I would've asked for was more scenes from their childhood, because for some of the characters, I really wanted to get a better sense of what their childhood selves were like. It would also have served as sort of a relief from some of the heavier personal drama. There's one primary childhood scene that gets revisited over and over again as a major plot point, but it's really not a very happy one. I think exploring their childhood more would've been nice.
But anyways, the show is really very good. I know people have bawled their eyes out watching it. I didn't, but I do really admire how they handle the theme of death and loss and healing. I think anyone who's had a loved one die can relate, just how impossible it seems sometimes to let go. And these characters go through some really satisfying emotional journeys to come to terms with themselves and their feelings.
Here's the opening: