Ao Haru Ride is quite popular in the world of manga, or should I say rather, one of the highly ranked series when it comes to online reading, but I was out of the world that I haven’t started reading it yet. Upon announcing that the anime adaptation will be released, I got really excited because for quite a long time, I’ve been waiting for a good romantic anime series as far as anyone could tell.
Futaba Yoshioka is our female protagonist, a simple student yet everyone has admired her since junior high days. She met Kou Tanaka, the only boy he only liked, however, he moved away before Futaba could confess how she really felt for him. Now, she enters high school as a “New Futaba” as she becomes unladylike so that everyone wouldn’t feel jealous of her. Unexpectedly, she once again meets Kou, but he is no longer the gentle “Kou Tanaka” she had known in the past and uses the name “Kou Mabuchi” due to certain circumstances. Despite his cold appearance, he still cares for Futaba.
Watching the first scene with the light scheme animation and the silence between the young couple made me feel that another series has been reborn after the melodramatic story of Kimi no Iru Machi. In just a half part of me, I hope this is not the case due to its extensive sentimental scenes which are quite boring in some ways.
In the beginning of the first episode, a flashback is viewed as those ordinary stories of young romance, and it could be bittersweet memories which they still hold on at present times. It sounds emotional, but it creates a realistic feeling among youngsters or anyone who is young at heart. It seems that the first episode would spend much time on their junior high days or anything that is associated with their nostalgia, but it is just a quick glimpse from the past, and everything turns into something different as they reach high school. The animation of the series becomes more dynamic, and character designs, though blended with simplicity, quickly develop with their well-detailed and realistic expression.
Futaba’s grown-up character is quite interesting as she isn’t the type of teenager who is weak when it comes to romance though her memories with the old Tanaka has not yet been forgotten and hoping she could move forward and accepts Tanaka for who he is right now. Apart from that, she can easily decide what is best for her and for others around her. She is rather expressive of her own thought which makes her look strong as a young lady. She would cry emotionally, but she doesn’t let those tears fall onto the ground. Futaba is just a good example of an adolescent in developmental stage as being independent and gives a lot of attention to her love interest, thinks a lot of choices to come out with an appropriate decision for herself and towards the environment she revolves around.
Kou is a cool-type guy at his current state. Despite having a cold appearance, everyone would notice that he still holds strong feelings for Futaba. The fact he clearly stated he also loved Futaba in the past would really hurt her, but looking through his eyes, he seemed so worried of her. He has changed a lot, and the way he treats Futaba is totally cruel, but I also think that both of them are just the same as Futaba has also shifted his character into a not-so-girly cute teenager. This supports the fact that the plot of the series doesn’t only focus on Kou’s sudden character change. However, compared to Futaba, the development of Kou’s character is much annoying, and he might be unlikable throughout.
Production I.G‘s light scheme animation fits well with the mood of the drama. It is made simple and has bright ambiance which is at least close to the feeling of romance. The art makes me remind of Kimi ni Todoke due to the simplicity, the silence of the setting, the character design, and Kou looks like Kazehaya. Well, they are products of the same studio.
I particularly love the opening theme titled Sekai wa Koi ni Ochiteiru by CHiCO with HoneyWorks. It sounds refreshing with the good music video that shows the main leads and what to expect with their roles. Whilst the ending theme titled Blue by Fujifabric has a dramatic tune which is appropriate for an ending song.
Ao Haru Ride is good to watch if you’d love to take a glance at the coming-of-age story of romance. You will definitely fall in love over and over again. A must watch!