Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai Episode 02: Be Who You Want to Be

Adolescence is a confusing time for many.  A lot of us tried to “find ourselves” during these years, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, and often without even realizing what we were doing.  Often, becoming a unique self draws sneers, criticism, and bullying, particularly in the unkind halls of middle schools and high schools.  The easier thing to do is to follow the crowd, even if it means becoming something that isn’t true to ourselves.

But…is it bad to try to be like someone else?

In episode 2 of AnoHana (by the way, the complete title of this series is beautiful – Wikipedia translates it as We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day), Tsuruko, one of the six childhood friends, berates another of the former clan mates, Anaru, for trying to be like everyone else, particularly like Menma.  Anaru, for her part, admits to herself that she did want to be like her old friend – seemingly out of both jealousy and admiration.

Anaru AnoHana
Pixiv Artist 奇仙(きせん)

But what Tsuruko doesn’t seem to be able to distinguish is the differences between the people that Anaru seeks to imitate.  Tsuruko equates Menma with the group of mean gossips that Anaru is hanging out with.  One was a unique, kind soul – the other is a collection of cookie-cutter “mean girls.”  Big difference.

When I was in high school, I never longed to be one of the popular kids.  My graduating class was fairly small (less than 200) and I was on good terms (if not good friends with) many of the more popular kids, so perhaps that was why I never felt the longing others do.  What I wanted was to retreat into a comfortable group of friends for any occasion, and I drifted from group to group on a daily basis – the brash, fun clique; the cute and smart girls clique (I inserted myself as the guy friend); and the nerdy, sarcastic, and witty clique.

Looking back, it’s hard to say if I was “myself” – after all, I didn’t really know who I was at the time.  But I certainly (intentionally or not) tried to emulate a good friend – our would-be valedictorian.  He was smart and hilarious, and our personalities clicked.  He was also unforgiving, harsh, and stubborn – flawed just as we all are.  Unfortunately, I think I copied his less desirous traits more than his better ones.

Relax, Tsuruko! What would Menma think? (Pixiv Artist 八十重)

In the Christian life, followers of Christ are meant to imitate Him (I Corinthians 11:1).  We are meant to emulate Christ in how we live.  Unfortunately, being “Christian” has attained a connotation (here in the west at least) of being arrogant, stubborn, ignorant, and backwards.  Christ was the very opposite of many of these things – He reached out to the powerless and needy; He condemned those who were arrogant and lorded their authority over others; He hated hypocrisy; He was learned; and He was unafraid to speak of and to do what was right.  In other words – He’s one worth imitating.

Menma, Anaru, and Tsuruko
I imagine this is how things will turn out (Pixiv Artist めろこ)

As we go through life, it’s important that we not only discover who we are, but that we try to become the person we want to be.  To become a better person, we need to look outside ourselves and to others who demonstrate the qualities we’d like to possess.  It’s okay to imitate others, and in fact, it can be a really, really good thing.

Be like Christ.

Be like Menma.

Be everything you want to be.

Be better than you are.

6 thoughts on “Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai Episode 02: Be Who You Want to Be

  1. I was quite similar in high school, as well. While I did have a normal few close friends, I kind of floated amongst different cliques (though without the universal acclaim that Ferris Bueller enjoyed) without really identifying with any of them.

    I think being a first born son had something to do with it. While my brother would often look up to me and try to imitate his 3-year-older brother, I didn’t really have anyone to imitate. So I ended up crafting my ideals around the things I’ve found in books, from the Dragonlance series to the Illuminatus trilogy (with the latter being far more impactful; I used to carry around that book full of highlights like it was my bible – and in many ways, it was).

    There comes a time in the life of a Christian, at the time of conversion, when one stops looking towards their earthly idols and starts looking towards Christ. It’s not like you flip a switch and are instantly perfected, or even have the patterns of your life instantly broken, but it starts there. It is this kind of submission to the ideals of Christ that mark a transformed life.

    I’ve been really pleased with both Ano Hana and Hanasaku Iroha this season. The most recent episode of Nichijou, with it’s wacky humor, really tickled my funny bone as well.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Adam. By the way, I just noticed last week that you’re also at CAA – from a fairly new member to another, welcome! 😛

      And thanks for the comments about transformation. It is a process and occurs over a lifetime.

      AnoHana and Hanasaku Iroha are both turning out to be excellent shows! I’m really enjoying Nichijou as well, though I haven’t seen the latest episode. I gave Mishidora a watch, too, and I liked it, but not enough to insert into my schedule I don’t think.

  2. I am always fascinated by different things people see in an anime, and I have to say I am pleasantly surprised by your take. My original view on AnoHana was one of nostalgia: About reconnecting with friends one lost a long time ago, growing together again (Funny enough, it prompted me to connect with some high school friends whom I am out of touch with since graduating high school). Your take on it is certainly interesting to read.

    I think many of us share your experience — we all can identify at least one person we want to imitate, to be like in the future. And certainly, in a world that promotes “standing out to be unique person”, we often forget the importance of imitating someone we wants to be. So this is a good reminder.

    As Aristotle used to tell Alexander the Great: Act like you want to be. I want to believe Aristotle is giving Alexander the permission to imitate someone he admires.

    1. Thanks for the comments – insightful as always!

      That’s very cool that AnoHana moved you to reconnect with friends. The show is nostalgia driven, but I have to say, I haven’t yet really felt that nostalgic tone I feel I should…perhaps I will as the series progresses. Nonetheless, I’m enjoying AnoHana so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the plot progresses.

  3. Now that I’ve finally finished this series, it’s interesting to go back and read these essays. I didn’t get exactly the same thing out of it, but I still agree with the majority opinion — I just put a slightly different spin on it.

    So what DID I get out of it? Well, I’m holding off on that. I still have at least two more essays to read on “AnoHana” after all. 😉 For now, though, I will say it was definitely worth the watch. On to the next essay! 🙂

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