After hearing from friends how great this anime was, I finally decided to watch Anohana, and was somewhat disappointed. The first problems that came into my mind as I watched were 1) If the girl can interact with her environment, why doesn't she do that from the beginning to prove her existence? and 2) The first episodes really emphasized the distance that had formed between the friends, but suddenly, they are acting a bit nicer to each other. eg: Tsuruko is a complete b**** towards Anaru when she picks up her notebook for her, but then speaks to her in a somewhat normal tone later on. The second point isn't that significant because it only refers to a few of the first episodes, but the problem stuck in my mind for the whole series, so I felt the need to mention it.
I found myself bored at times, and glued to the screen at others. The pacing is all over the place, with some episodes full of plot progressing content, while other episodes are made up of break downs that take a bit too much time. The conclusion feels rushed and the last half a minute feels very cheesy. The climax wasn't that climactic either. The transition of the main character from hikikomori to normal person feels sudden, but it I'll excuse that, as it could be justified that the effect Menma had on him caused great change.
As usual for A-1 Pictures, the animation is pretty good. Motions are generally smooth, and backgrounds and characters are detailed. There's nothing spectacular that stood out, but the style fits the story and mood.
The opening doesn't fit that well in my opinion, but they probably wanted to give the show a little lighter atmosphere. The ending fits very well on the other hand, and the mood was never been ruined by it (Don't you just hate episodes where something dramatic and sad happens at the end, and then a cheerful j-pop song comes up and ruins it for you?).
Background music wasn't that memorable.
Voice acting was good overall (lots of crying scenes to show off the VA's shouting, screaming, crying, despairing skills).
Most of the characters are fleshed out well, and I got to know them pretty well, save Poppo, who was a basic character for most of the time. There is nothing extremely complex about them, but their thoughts, actions, reactions, and speech are realistic and relatable.
I think I've mentioned quite a few good points about the series, and going over them myself, I ask myself, why did I give it a 6.5/10? That's because of the story. As great as it was to listen and watch Ano Hana, the story just wasn't that interesting (perhaps unique is a better way to put it). There were moments where I felt as sad or angry as a charcter did, but in the end, that's all it really is: a constant prodding of the viewer's emotions. For a large part of the show, the plot feels like a long sob story. Sometimes, I just wanted to hurry up and get over with watching the show. These kids (and that mother) needed psychologists. No matter how I think about the show, I just can't give it anything higher than a 6.5 (At one point, I'd even considered giving it a 5.).
I, myself, want to believe this show is better than I percieve it to be (considering its popularity), but I think my review (or at least my general impression of it) is accurate. Please take into consideration that I just finished watching this today, Feb 10, 2013, so I may come back and reconsider/edit, after rewatching parts of the series and thinking about it some more.