Ao Haru Ride: Catching the Breeze of One’s Youth

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Blue Spring Ride [Ao Haru Ride] revolves around Futaba, a girl who was in love with a boy named Tanaka Kou in middle school. However, before anything can begin, he suddenly transfers schools over summer vacation. In high school, her world is turned around once again when she meets Kou again, this time under the name of Mabuchi Kou.

One thing I find interesting about Blue Spring Ride is that, although quite a few people who read Sakisaka Io’s works like Strobe Edge better, it was her current series that got green lit for an anime and a movie (the Strobe Edge film seems to be a bonus, almost as if producers were gunning for flow on success). But if I think about the themes that are covered in both series, then I think that decision was the right one. Strobe Edge really was all about ‘falling in love’ — that’s what the entire story is centred around. On the other hand, Blue Spring Ride has as its foundation a story about relationships between friends and family. And the strength of this foundation is demonstrated by the anime, which is built almost entirely on it.

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But first, my typical seiyuu aside: Kaji Yuuki shows just why he’s one of the most in-demand voices in the industry today…and it was fantastic to hear the wonderful Hisakawa Aya once again!!

Despite the blurb I’ve posted above, the first part of Blue Spring Ride is actually focused on the theme of friendship. Because her popularity with boys made her a target of bullying by girls during middle school, Futaba had created a false, messy and loud persona so that she could make friends in high school. However, towards the end of her first year, she finds herself unable to keep up with the superficial and spiteful concerns of the friends that she made through that deception. It is at this time that Futaba encounters Kou again, and it is his words that inspire her to start anew in her second year…

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Just what should you do if you and your friend fall in love with the same person?

Watching Futaba, Kou and the small group of friends that forms from this uncertain beginning was something unusual. Numerous issues that arise amongst friends, both small and big, are tackled to some degree, but let me focus on the two that stayed with me the most. The first of these began when, just as Futaba realised that she’d fallen in love with Kou once again, one of her new friends sent her a message saying that she’d also fallen for him. Seeing Futaba struggle to tell Yuuri, and then both of them battling with jealousy and envy directed at each other, in ways that mirror no other series that I’ve read or seen until now, I really felt that this series was one of the stronger shoujo offerings that dealt with this theme. There are differences to how a more shonen (or even josei/seinen) series would probably approach and deal with such a situation, but that’s something I don’t think I’m qualified to talk about at this point in time. In any case, this was certainly one of my favourite parts of the this one cour of Blue Spring Ride.

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“Then I’ll just break down that door!!”

The second thing about this series that really stayed with me has to do with Kou’s reluctance to really open up his heart to his friends, and the frustrations that this brings to Futaba. What sticks in mind most is the climatic scene. After several months of trying, Futaba observes to Kou’s brother that Kou’s double-locked the door to his heart and simply won’t open it; and his brother notes that he’s probably forgotten to make even a doorknob to that door… Flabbergasted, Futaba simply resolves to break her way in, and turns to chase after her wayward and reticent friend…

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“But…just how do I go about doing that?”

I like how they took time to deal with these issues, which really helped distinguish Blue Spring Ride from the typical love triangle dramas that most shoujo manga seems to be made from. Of course, now that this issue of Kou’s has been cleared up, perhaps that’s where the story will head. The love triangle with Yuuri has yet to be resolved. And of course, there’s the blonde that Futaba had an embarrassing run-in with, who has already drawn the attention of even anime-only viewers, especially since he’s voiced by the up-and-coming Matsuoka Yoshitsugu (best known as Sword Art Online’s Kirito). He’s simply not in a position in the industry where he’d be voicing a bit part – believe it or not, such parts are usually given either to unknowns or really veteran seiyuu!

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Certain resolutions…giving way to new complications?

** WARNING ** MANGA SPOILERS FOLLOW **

As a manga reader, I do know what’s coming if they choose to make a second and third season (there are 8 volumes and one chapter left: it needs at least two cours). Must admit, I’m personally not entirely sure I want to see all that drama…but I do think that there are some really important points for discussion in the actions that both Kou and Futaba take from here on out. To me, the manga fandom has unfortunately been unable to tease them out. Should I hope for some anime sequels and trust that the viewers will somehow be more discerning? Or should I just write everything I want to say when the manga ends sometime over the next few months? Well, there should be three chapters left to the manga, which gives me about three months to think about it…so I might just leave it ’til then.

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

2 Responses to Ao Haru Ride: Catching the Breeze of One’s Youth

  1. lunapyon says:

    Will you still make a writeup about this? I’d like to hear your complete thoughts about the manga.

    Like

    • karice says:

      Well…I might have to think about it. I’ve got a whole lot of other posts that I want to write too, so no plans to do one at the moment. But maybe one day?

      Like

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