Death is familiar territory for many anime series and some handle the concept better than others. Some make it gruesome, detached, and something to marvel at. Others face it head-on, tackling the real-life repercussions and mental states of the people involved. Both Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day and Orange tackle the concept of death in similar ways and focus on friend groups while they deal with it. But all in all, which series handles the touchy subject better?
Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
Anohana is a coming-of-age anime that focuses on a friend group years after one of its members tragically dies in an accident during their childhood. Meiko "Menma" Honma, the victim, comes back as a ghost to bother her old friend Jinta Yadomi until her wish is finally granted, but she can't remember what it is. From there the story unfolds as Jinta struggles to figure out her wish and bring their old friend group back together.
It handles death as realistically as possible, focusing on the guilt that each friend retains regarding Menma's death. Each one struggles with their own issues they've held onto since they were children. Anohana faces death head-on and doesn't leave out the dirty bits that haunt people for years. While it doesn't focus on the nature of the death itself, it favors the repercussions and draws them out to their full conclusion. On Jinta's journey to fulfill Menma's wish, each friend is able to heal from their wounds and leave the situation better than when they entered it.
Orange takes a different approach to the concept of death. Similar to Anohana, it focuses on characters who struggle with a death in their friend group. But from here it takes another route -- each surviving member of the group writes letters to their past selves to warn them of their friend's suicide. The main story of the anime takes place in the past, where they receive these letters from their future selves. It focuses on one person, in particular, Naho, who receives a letter that warns her about her school's new transfer student, Kakeru.
While Orange takes a more roundabout approach to death, each member of the friend group knows this new student will become their friend and will eventually kill himself over the guilt he feels about his mother's own suicide. Rather than facing the repercussions of his death, as most of the anime stays in the past, it focuses on stopping Kakeru's death and discovering the reasons behind why he killed himself in the first place.
Anohana or Orange: Which Handles Death Better?
While both Anohana and Orange directly handle death and its various effects on the people around it, Anohana ultimately does it better. It focuses on the direct effect of death on friends and less on romance, even though it does have an element of the latter. It shows the real-world separation of friends that comes naturally after death. Only the presence of Menma's ghost helps usher in a time when the friends can reconcile. While Orange tackles the elements the lead to death, Anohana studies death in and of itself and its direct consequences. Both anime are excellent and face a difficult topic with grace and tact, but Anohana conclusively does it better.