Fumi Manjoume, an introverted, bookish teenage girl, is beginning her first year of high school at Matsuoka Girls' High School. She enters the school year with her heart broken by a previous relationship. At about the same time, she reconnects with her best friend from ten years ago, Akira Okudaira, who is now attending Fujigatani Girls' Academy as a first-year high school student. As they reconnect, they both deal with their own respective romantic problems, and help each other get through them.
If your requirements for enjoying an anime are fantastical brightly colored settings, perfectly formed and ideal bodies, and over the top comedy chop full of nosebleeds and sparkly heart shaped eyes; then Aoi Hana is not for you. If your only interest in yuri storylines is girl on girl macking and fan service; then Aoi Hana is not for you. Aoi Hana has none of these things. (Well besides the girl on girl macking)
What Aoi Hana attempts to portray is a thoughtful and serious story about a group of teenage girls as they learn about first love and themselves. The main focuses
are the girls Fumi and Akira (affectionately called Aa-chan). Both were close friends when they were very young but in the years they had forgotten about each other since Fumi's family had moved away. The story begins with both girls starting as freshmen at new high schools, Fumi at Matsuoka High and Akira at the nearby and prestigious Fujigaya. The girls are fatefully reunited through a series of chance meetings and the new friends they make at school.
There isn’t anything flashy about this series, much like its lead Fumi, its soft and delicate. The story is much more diverse and real than your standard romance series. While the themes are mostly yuri, it also feels like a slice of life, a comedy, and a heterosexual romance. Aoi Hana is unique in that it is one of the few series I have seen that has dealt with sexuality in a serious manner. Usually yuri romance is set in an unrealistic world where everyone is completely gay without question and in which there are no social consequences. Here the cast struggles to deal with their crushes or unrequited loves for both male and female characters. Things never play out quite the way you might expect them too either. I also felt the story was very mature and classy. There isn’t any exploitive fan service or sexual content added for mere titillation. Though there is intimacy and mature themes everything is handled so tastefully that it really stays true to the themes of the anime.
The only thing that really keeps this series from getting a perfect score from me is the open ending. At this time the manga is still publishing so the only way to have a true ending is to go with an original one. J.C. Staff didn’t do that with this and chose to leave it open. This was probably the right call, even though it is a bit annoying as a viewer. What Aoi Hana really needs is a sequel and hopefully we might get that someday. Though it’s not a bad ending even if this does end up being all that’s made, but it still left me wishing for much more.
As a character, Fumi ultimately proved to be the most interesting and deep. She is a shy, weepy girl who will cry seemingly over everything and nothing. Fumi further stands out as being the only really completely gay character in the show. While many of the characters deal with relationship angst involving both sexes, Fumi is at least confident in her own identity. She is perhaps both the most cowardly yet also the bravest character, having the courage to come out of the closet to her best friend but yet not able to speak her true mind to even her lover. Yet she evolves over the story and while the essence of what makes her such a sweet and likeable character remains to the end, the inner strength she discovers by the end made her so much fun to watch.
Akira is the kind of character that is likeable from the start. She’s the kind of person every girl wants as a friend. In the story she is the anchor that keeps the rest of the cast together. She is in the middle of seemingly every plot line though she doesn’t really have a story of her own. Though she is technically just as much of a main character as Fumi is, I felt that she didn’t get the kind of development she deserved. We get many subtle and perhaps not that subtle hints on her love interests but sadly there is never any payoff.
Yasuko Sugimoto is exactly the kind of girl I hate in anime. She is the tomboyish, athletic, outwardly emotionless, and inexplicably popular character type. I have never understood why this types are so desired by girls in these kinds of shows. Someone like this certainly wouldn’t have been this popular in my high school. But a friend as told me this is not the case in an all girls environment. The simple fact of the matter is that I thoroughly detested her. Though I have to admit that despite me not liking her, she ended up being an interesting character and indispensable to Fumi's growth.
The last of the main cast would be Kyouko Ikumi. She becomes Akira's first friend upon her starting her life at Fujigaya High. While Ikumi is a sympathetic character in a lot of ways given the way she is often treated by Yasuko, she also has a lot of creepy stalker elements. Personality wise she’s a lot like Fumi in that she is very emotional and prone to tears. Though she also appears to be outwardly much stronger emotionally then Fumi, on the inside she really is a bit of a pathetic person.
The supporting cast is also strong. While the cast does seem to get a bit large by the end, the anime does a good job of picking out the most important things to show and leaving the fluff behind. Unusually for a yuri series there are a few male love interests. Though for the most part all of these men are not given much screen time, their impact is felt very strongly and their presence is extremely important to why certain characters are the way they are.
Most will probably look at Aoi Hana's artwork and think it is plain looking. But they would be missing the point I think. The art and animation is perfect for what this anime is trying to accomplish. The colors are soft and reserved and add to the feeling of realism this show has. There aren’t any impossibly short miniskirts or mountainous breasts and all the characters look and feel like regular people which only further adds to the sense of realism.
The music further adds to the atmosphere. Both the OP/EN songs are soft and pleasant and thoroughly enjoyable. The voice acting is stellar. The main cast is voiced almost entirely by new faces who I felt did a great job. There are many familiar veteran seiyuu almost the supporting cast which I thought was an interesting reversal.
For fans of yuri, Aoi Hana is a title that must not be missed. I think it’s a bold and original production in an industry full of the same tired old themes and sequels. Anyone else who is interested in a serious romance and coming of age story should definitely give this a try.
I said it before and I'll say it again: there are just few things on this planet that can be as fabulous tier as I am. Aoi Hana is one kind of anime that comes dangerously close. (NB: close. Nothing is my tier as yet).
This anime has the distinction of NOT being a disgusting fanservice yuri anime. It is pretty good drama and isn't about hot chicks snogging one another or worse, not snogging and just drinking tea all the time. Don't get me wrong, this is no "snore, huh?, wtf, I can't even spell 'soeur'-fest" like Maria-sama ga Miteru nor are the girls candy
coloured whores like in Strawberry Panic.
No, Aoi Hana shows you pretty much how unfabulous it is to be a gay-girl teenager who is so deep in the closet that even the Boogieman is starting to feel claustrophobic.
So the story follows this plain chick Fumi whose big distinctions are her height and her ability to cry at the drop of the hat. Apparently everyone wants a piece of her (reasonably so, she's a nice gal), so she gets into all sorts of lesbian hijinks with her cousin and this older chick in school.
We follow the exploits of Fumi as she goes pimpin' across Kamakura. It really says something when she can just mosey on up to a new school and bag the hottest guy in school. Although the hottest guy is just a butch girl. Yasuko is kind of a more overt pimp, because she's basically got all the girls wanting to get some, especially this hot little number called Kyoko. Who is sadly being chased by this guy (a real guy, btw) who has no idea the girl he's engaged to wants to dine on fine rug gourmet rather than sausage.
Now, be warned of the trollin'--this is no Kannazuki no Miko or anything. One thing you loser fans will have a problem with is the lack of explicitness in this anime. Where are da boobs!? If she's scamming on other girls, why aren't we seeing her panties?? I thought this was going to be about fingersex? Oops, this anime has class, taste and dignity. So be warned, none of that in Aoi Hana.
What we got is a sweet and fabulous little story. The art only really misses getting a 10 because there wasn't enough pink or glitter or pink glitter in it. There were dudes in this but they were pretty much average looking like everyone else. Everyone looks pretty normal. Other than that, it's pretty down to earth and real. The sound is pretty good too, but as for Akira's voice, I wouldn't want to take that to bed, if you know what I mean. She sounds like a little kid, which I guess is the effect they wanted because Akira is pretty much like the most childish character in the show (though she's not immature). I don't even know what I mean. Who'd want to take Akira to bed? Nobody!
And that's another pretty cool aspect of this show. Akira, the second main character, isn't automatically paired off with chick-master Fumi like ALL THOSE OTHER YURI shows where the BFFs suddenly go gay for one another. That is surprisingly very cool of this anime.
For being real: 10 fabs out 10.
Lesbians: 9 fabs out of 10.
Lack of fairy dust: 1 unfab, but since this isn't that kind of show, I guess I can let it slide.
All in all, watch this show, since I have deemed it fabulous.
It's true enough when they say that you never forget your first love. There are those lucky enough that the memory is nothing more than that, just a hazy recollection, a fond vagueness. For some, first loves are pangs, barely perceptible; the heart has forgotten how to beat to that rhythm. And then for some, a first love is as soft and fragile as a little flower.
This is the wealth presented in Aoi Hana, an anime adaptation of Shimura Takako's utterly genius manga series. The development of the manga is akin to watching a book read itself, learning and discovering things, and then reflecting that
in its own progress. The anime does not get to reach this stage, as unfortunately it did not get the audience or attention it needed for another season. But to pass this series up is to deny yourself a great piece of literature in motion.
Manjoume Fumi moves back to her first hometown after ten years. Can you even call it her hometown? Wouldn't the place where she spent most of her life be considered "home"? It seems relative. Home for her is where her heart resides, where her mind wanders, where her bones grow. And it seems that that place has always been Kamakura. At home, there is Okudaira Akira, a best friend and first love.
Aoi Hana covers a few volumes of the manga series; the anime manages to capture the early stirrings of many things to come. It tries to come full circle right where some may say the manga is actually "beginning". Does it work? It really does.
With J.C. Staff's beautiful, clean artwork and a gentle acoustic-driven score, we are taken into the quiet town of Kamakura where even quieter dramas unfold. The minute troubles of everyday life tick away during the days, and the big problems end up as landmark moments in lives as they tend to do. The anime primarily focuses on the rekindled friendship between Fumi and Akira, and it extends to the interactions that these two have with others, including relatives, friends and lovers. Fumi goes to school at Matsuoka while Akira attends Fujigaya; the story unfolds giving us humorous, sweet, bitter moments of teenage lives.
Friendship seems natural and easy. It helps when Fumi is nothing but a sweet, gentle, though firmly resolved young woman. It's easy to love Akira's earnest soul. Here we have a series that suspends our expectations for the protagonists. Do they fall in love? Is this even about their love? In every way, yes. It's always been. Is there romance between them? That's for you to decide, as Aoi Hana respects Fumi and Akira's friendship and overall relationship enough to develop naturally, be it as best friends or as something other.
Throughout the anime, we meet other people whose presence give this show the warmth and life. This is a world populated with good people. That is one of the most important things to note about the characters in this series. Whereas other dramas will proceed to insert the most despicable villains, Aoi Hana has truly decent folk. Their intentions may be selfish, awful, manipulative and downright hurtful at times, and yet we can't ever fail to recognise that their hearts are good. Their flaws, as painful as they may be to themselves and others, can't ever take that away.
Two of the most complicated souls in this anime are Sugimoto Yasuko and Ikumi Kyouko. Sugimoto is a charming upperclassman that Fumi eventually dates; Kyouko is Akira's classmate. While it seems that they come into the story because of our protagonists, their tales are strong enough on their own. There is a parallel running between the two and the Wuthering Heights play which they perform; everything is embers, burning low, hiding somewhere in between polite smiles or bratty scowls. Who are these two girls who understand one another better than anyone else? What is this hopeless love that surrounds them both? Unrequited and mocked, one-sided and unfortunate. And yet there is love.
That is not to say these two overshadow Fumi and Akira in terms of the best characters that the anime offers. Everyone is rendered with respect and careful attention. Even the comic trio, Yassan, Pon-chan and Mogi, are downright lovable. Kyouko's cousin Kou is another individual who appears for brief segments in the series, but his small smiles tell us so much; he accepts his losses with dignity and strong shoulders.
And then we always go back to Fumi and Akira. Fumi, in spite of her crybaby ways, shows promise that someday she'll become a person whose tears show strength, not weakness. Akira's understanding of the people around her reveal that life is just budding for this girl; she has not yet begun maturing and in a way, this makes her the perfect ear and observer for messy situations. There is just a fierce magnificence about her as she takes care of things or sees how they work. If maturity means masking everything, then perhaps Akira's way of life should be given some consideration.
By the end of Aoi Hana, what you will have witnessed is one of the greatest contributions to yuri as well as the genres of slice of life and drama. It has intelligent characters with great depth, a solid story with strong development and not to mention, there's that rather pretty art framing everything. The concern at the end of it is not who gets together or what situations are resolved. At the end of it, we're left to chase after the meaning of a blue flower.
Sometimes love isn't enough. Other times it's more than you ever expect. Sometimes it disappoints us. And then there are moments when it doesn't let us down. But for now, it's a quiet little beat, drumming to a once-forgotten, now-remembered rhythm. Something carried in the wind, caught and preserved between the pages of an old photo album.
If I am asked to describe it in 3 words, I would say:
1. Gentle 2. Kind 3. Friendship
It is about friendship, which lasts. And, which overcomes all the difficulties. What if your bestfriend tells you that she is in love? In love with a girl?... Does it change your friendship? If yes, how? If not, why? It is great to have a friend, who will support you no matter what. And I would like to highlight that the main theme of this anime is friendship between two girls. And hatsukoi (first love), which they experience is beautiful, but the most important is
to see how they support each other. Real friendship between young women is gorgeous and very rare.
Opening song is very gentle and soft. A singer has a unique voice, which 100% fits the story. Ending theme is a nice slow song, which is adorable. Music in this anime is great and enjoyable!
Gentle and shy Fumi-chan and happy and energetic A-chan are like ice and fire. It may seem a bit cliche, as there are many these kind of characters in anime. But in Aoi hana there is no antagonist, the "bad" person, every character is great in it's own unique way.
At first character faces seemed a bit strange to me, but after few episodes, this doesn't matter anymore. A background image does suffer, as it is not detailed enought. But maybe it was done to capture viewers attention on the story and not on the image details.
This anime features classics. Firstly, Wuthering Heights, and if you read this book and love it, you would enjoy this series a lot. As Erica Friedman, the president of Yuricon and ALC Publishing said: "Aoi Hana could easily be compared to a Jane Austen story", and he feels that the story is not "a melodrama or a parody".
Overall, I'm enjoying this series a lot. I have never thought that shoujo ai genre would interest me, however I was wrong. It is a gorgeous story, which should be admired by people, who love slice-of-life anime.
Girls are said to be the most loving beings in existence, something that is true in real life and in anime. So what about girls who love other girls? Well that, my friends, is the definition of yuri anime. From just friends to more than friends, here are 20 of the best yuri anime of all time.
If you ask the general public to name anyone associated with anime, they’re almost certain to name a certain director – Miyazaki Hayao. But for anime fans themselves, the director is a crucial component of anime success that’s too often overlooked.