Ao Haru Ride is quite popular in the world of manga, or rather should I say, one of the highly ranked series when it comes to online reading but I was out of the world that I have not yet started reading it. Upon announcing that an anime adaptation will be released, I got really excited because for quite a long time, I’ve been waiting for an excellent romantic series as far as anyone could tell.
Futaba Yoshioka is our female protagonist, a simple student yet everyone admired her during her 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 in school wouldn’t feel jealous of her. Unexpectedly, she once again meets Kou, but he is no longer the gentle “Kou Tanaka” she has known in the past, and uses the name “Kou Mabuchi” due to certain circumstances. Despite his cold appearance, he still cares for Futaba. Would their heart unite as one?
Seeing the first scene with its light scheme animation and the sound of silence between the young couple made me feel that another series has just reborn after the melodramatic story of Kimi no Iru Machi. In just a half part of me, I hoped that was not the case due to its extensive sentimental events which are quite boring in some ways.
In the beginning of the first episode, a flashback has been viewed as those ordinary stories of young romance and it could be a bittersweet memories which they still hold on at present times. That sounds really emotional but it creates realistic feeling among youngsters, or anyone who is young at heart. At first, I thought they would spend much time on their junior high days or anything that is associated with their nostalgia, but it was just a quick glance from the past, and everything has just turned into something different as they reached their high school. The animation of the series becomes much colorful and character designs, though blended with simplicity, quickly develop with their well-detailed expressions.
Futaba’s grown up character is quite interesting as she isn’t that 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 decides what is the best for her and for others around her. She is rather expressive with her own thought which makes her look strong as a young lady. She would cry emotionally but she doesn’t let those tears fall on the ground. Futaba is just a good example of 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 appropriate decision for her not to have any regrets not only to herself but also the environment she revolves around.
Kou is just the cool-type guy at his current state. Despite having this cold appearance, everyone would notice that he still holds strong feelings for Futaba. The fact he clearly states he also loved Futaba in the past would really hurt her, but looking at his eyes, he seems 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 being a not-so-girly cute teenager, and this supports the fact that the plot of the series doesn’t only focus on Kou’s sudden character changes. 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 a bright ambiance which is at least close to the feeling of romance. The art style makes me remind of Kimi ni Todoke due to its simplicity, the silence of the settings, the character designs, and look, 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. The instrumental is rather excellent, sounds refreshing with its good 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 somehow appropriate for an ending song.
Ao Haru Ride is good to watch if you’d love to take a glance on the coming-of-age story of romance. You will definitely fall in love over and over again. A must watch!