Lately I’ve been captivated by Ano Hana, not just because of its poignant plotline but also mainly due to the inclusion of the juxtaposition of reality and imaginary. The core of the story is about fulfilling the wish of a deceased friend. To cut the chase, I’m particularly interested in: first, how Jinta deem Menma as his summer beast plus the embodiment of his accumulated stress and trauma, and second, Menma’s ghost appearance not as a child, but as an adolescent.
In addition, I become more engrossed to write something about this topic after repeatedly listening/reading the ending words of its OP song, “…something must be wrong with me.” Is there really something wrong if one claims to have a ghostly experience?
A ghost is various facets of the mind, mainly the consciousness, personality, energy, and soul that remains after the body dies. As a matter of fact, it’s not just simply as a dead or missing person, but a social figure where history and subjectivity make social life.
Likewise, to be haunted by ghost means to be tied to specific historical and social events associated with it. As we can see, this is the core theme of Ano Hana. Menma’s ghost doesn’t only represent the disembodied entity who preoccupies Jinta, but she also materializes the childhood episodes that are stored in the deepest sub consciousness of her friends, by which obviously shaped their behaviour, caused their anxiety, and affected how they socialize. In other words, Menma becomes a living consciousness within her friends’ minds, and pretty much explains why Jinta reckons her as his stress and trauma.
Further, to think how an incorporeal individual like Menma can manifest herself in such a way that she can be seen, heard, and felt by her friends, despite remaining as a substance-less entity, is a subject that not only forms the basis for an astonishing mystery, but also a deep-seated topic for questioning reality.
Numerous theories surfaced over the years as to what a ghost is and how it might function within linear time and space. As we have explored, ghosts can exist without place, but only ever exist in time or history. Arguably, among those who study the phantom phenomenon, Ghost as Energy Theory is the most widely accepted premise about what ghosts are. It hypothesizes that ghosts are a collection of naturally occurring, ambient energy that somehow initiated a mode to manifest itself within our physical realm with the ability to interact within the linear time and space.
If we are going to examine Menma, though she’s not solid enough to become flesh and blood, she still has the ability to attract enough energy to become concrete enough to be seen by Jinta, to move objects, and even to eat a meat. Hence, making her truly nothing more than the shadow of her former or human self—which has the capacity to grow and develop.
Truly, we cannot help but to think of reality in pieces because we are abounded by the thing-ness in human space. However, if we are going to carefully reconsider what we are made of we can see that there’s really nothing about us that is solid in the truest sense of the word. In fact, the atoms that make up our physical bodies are composed largely of empty space, making our apparent solidity only an illusion.