Futaba Yoshioka used to be an attractive and popular middle-schooler—well liked by the opposite sex, but ostracized by the girls. Nevertheless, she was able to brush all that off, because the only opinion that truly mattered to her was that of Kou Tanaka, a classmate with whom she shared a shelter from rain once, followed by quite a few other precious and significant memories. She even succeeded at making plans to meet with the quiet and innocent boy at the summer festival, but a simple misunderstanding, and Tanaka's subsequent disappearance, left her walking the halls of her school friendless.
Now in high school, Futaba is not your typical adolescent girl. Determined to become a class favorite this time, she avoids all unwanted attention and, instead of acting cute and feminine, only stands out through her tomboyish behavior and disheveled look. But still, her world is soon turned upside down when the only boy she ever liked unexpectedly comes into her life once again—except he goes by the name of Kou Mabuchi now, and it is not his name alone that has gone through a sea change.
Ao Haru Ride is the anime adaptation of the manga series written and illustrated by Io Sakisaka, which was serialized in the shoujo magazine Bessatsu Margaret between 2011 and 2015. It has sold over 5.84 million copies, and released in Germany, France, Italy, Taiwan and Poland. It was adapted into a live action film directed by Takahiro Miki and released on 13 December 2014. The anime is licensed for release in North America with English subtitles by Sentai Filmworks.
“Sometimes people put up walls, not to keep others out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”
It’s nice to see a series like ‘Ao Haru Ride’ surface every now and again. Something that takes a well-known storyline type and adds some unique elements to differ the experience a bit. Nothing revolutionary or mind-blowing (doesn’t need to be), but unique - to a pleasant degree - nonetheless. To put it as simply as possible: a refreshing visit to a familiar kind of storyline.
There’s nothing overly complicated about the core plot; a story of two past lovers (in mutual spirit) reuniting later in
their lives – a second chance. But, it’s the underlying layers and nuances woven throughout the narrative that strengthen and elevate it (a little bit) above the cliché romp it could have been.
Now, that’s not to say that some parts of the show won’t have you thinking “I know where this is going.” or “Really?” But compared to many others storylines of this type (Hollywood movies, novels, etc.) this is quite refreshing in a multitude of ways…
‘Ao Haru Ride’ thankfully helps ease the viewer through the inevitable drama by adding in unique characters with their own individual personalities, great humor (naturally occurring through the characters) and by giving the viewer some room to breathe. It helps negate the stress of the drama somewhat, allowing it to become a plus rather than a minus.
So overall, the plot is rather solid considering the material – don’t expect perfection though.
Production I.G has once again done a great job using their high quality of animation (as they are well known for animating action and effect-heavy anime) to animate something more tame and simple. The animation is cheery, energetic and bright – with a color palette that matches that very well. There were no drops in quality that I could find, and the few scenes with lots of motion were done well too.
The background music compliments the series well – enhancing the current scene or giving a sense of the emotions present during a silent moment. A few of the tracks stand out on their own too, especially the opening track that, while being fun and energetic, is also surprisingly calm. It makes for a lovely lyrical meld of two differing emotions.
On the voice-acting side of things, everything is great. Everyone was well cast and emoted well. I know that seems direct, short and to the point, but that’s really all that needs to be said concerning the seiyū and their performances – they did very well.
Since the only outstanding things about the secondary characters also tie into underlying plot points not mentioned in the synopsis, I won’t talk about anyone other than our main two: Yoshioka and Kou.
First we have Yoshioka, our main character. Yoshioka is an energetic, good-natured, kind and boisterous girl who loves the company of other people and having fun. Her naivety, energy and charm make her a fun character to follow onscreen. She goes through some decent character development as she matures a little and meets new people – the most important of whom is her past love-interest (and second main character), Kou.
Kou is a very complicated character. In the past he was soft-spoken, kind, and dedicated. Now though, he is much more aloof, dry, and tactless – but there are hints abundant that the old Kou is still in there somewhere. Over the course of the series, we find out more about him and what caused this change (which is all I can say without veering into spoiler territory).
Honestly, I enjoyed this series a lot more than I thought I would. I heard good things, but still kept my expectations low as I always do when watching a new show. In its entirety, this anime managed to pleasantly exceed my expectations.
It’s not the best melodrama anime out there, but it’s not a horrible anime in any sense of the word either. What it is, is a rather well done love story that’s definitely worth a watch.
Welcome to the Vanilla cafe. Would you like to pre-order a vanilla pudding with vanilla toppings from our vanilla menu?
Ao Haru Ride is a shoujo romance slice of life manga adaptation of the same name. It follows a story of a curious high-schooler girl wishing to find out what happened to her crush from three years ago and why did he change. It has "generic" and Kimi ni Todoke written all over it just from looking at the cover, and going deeper, it further proves this statement.
Futaba Yoshioka is your average 1st year in high school, who wishes to change herself and find new friends.
She stumbles across her middle school crush, Kou Tanaka, who has changed his name to Kou Mabuchi. Shocked to find his personality completely changed, she starts testing her feelings for him, all in attempt to find out what happened to his old self.
The premise screams vanilla and generic all over the place, and it is just as it looks. It is your average shoujo romance with a double unrelated love triangle introduced later on. There is just nothing driving the romance forward and it uses cheap gimmicks in an attempt to move it further but it is really an uninteresting story once you get familiar with the characters. The main love triangle feels very artificial and is only there to make some progress, and the secondary love triangle isn't explored at all. The plot devices the anime introduce to kickstart an event are quickly forgotten. And, in the end, nothing happens. It is extremely predictable from the very start and not engaging. However, for an anime that is entirely character-driven, plot shortcomings aren't as important as in other shows.
The story follows a group of 5 teenagers. Starting from the worst, we have Murao, a silent and self-centered girl that later is not like that, for some reasons hardly mentioned. She is bland and uninteresting, but is a main piece of the second love triangle, as Kominato has a crush on her, and she has a crush on Kou's brother, Tanaka-sensei. Kominato himself is just a friendly and energetic guy, nothing else to say about him, he's not relevant at all. Yuuri is a shy but sweet girl who is a piece of the main love triangle, but it feels like she is just a plot device thrown in to escalate the plot. She has some sort of characterization and personality though, so she's not a bad character per se, but really underwhelming going against the main duo. Tanaka-sensei, Kou's brother, is an important character in Kou's personal drama and life and manages to have some good characterization in relatively short screen time.
And here we have our main duo, with the main protagonist Futaba going first. Futaba is a rather curious and gentle girl who has a crush on Kou but starts questioning her feelings after meeting him, after she got supposedly dumped by him several years ago, and circles around Kou to find out more about his changed personality. Futaba is not a great character by herself, as she is rather simple and two dimensional at most, but the best part about her is that she makes some great character interactions with Kou and the rest of the squad. There's nothing special about her, but she is the one that moves the story forward entirely by herself.
Kou is the best character in the series, surprisingly because he acts as a pseudo-plot device for Futaba. His personal drama and personality change is done very, very well and is the biggest highlight of the show. He has an "I don't care" mentality and acts like a typical jerk, but for some reason the group constantly tries to get along with him instead of leaving him alone. His story was predictable, but executed well after all, and is the only part of the show that didn't come off as bland and boring. (like the rest of the show)
For a character driven show, only two characters are relevant to the story at all. And that is really bad. At first you would have some sort of hope that you get to see a lot of interesting character interactions and different approaches to romance from different characters and how they react and develop from it but in reality, once you get familiar with the characters (around half of the show), all of them, except for Futaba and Kou (and plot device Yuuri) become completely irrelevant. And that is not how an anime should treat its cast. There was a limit to how much Kou and his story could have carried the rest of the show, and he alone couldn't quite reach the top.
For the comedy, it is simple reactional stuff over and over again. Something happens, characters react and you are supposed to laugh. Basic, but it actually works better here than other shows since you have some sort of attachment to characters and most of the comedy comes from at times funny interactions between Futaba and Kou. There's no fanservice to keep you interested, and although it doesn't ruin the narrative by being there, which is a good thing, the show actually got boring mid-way through so I don't know, maybe they should have had that? There's not so much slice of life to talk about, but Futaba's wish to not be labeled as an outcast once she experiences that in middle school is done quite decently and worth mentioning (along with Yuuri's situation, although she is just ruined later on)
There aren't any obvious writing mistakes, apart from the extreme overuse of wind in dramatic or tense situations, but I would like to mention that the show rather quickly and completely forgets a rather interesting plot device in "making the main cast the class representatives" which could have sparked some more interesting situations to happen. The anime didn't use the potential of some of the introduced elements and instead went along with the most generic and uninspiring way possible - a completely vanilla romance with no backdrops or anything else for you to care about. Didn't like the romance? Tough luck, there's nothing else for you here.
Animation and Sound:
There's nothing so much to talk about the animation, the art looks good but the chibi-looking face expressions were sometimes unnecessary and distracting, and made the show's comedy look like trying too hard.
The soundtrack is worth mentioning as having a few emotional pieces and rather well timed songs. It is easily the best technical aspect of the show, and you should look forward to the official soundtrack release. Another mention is Yuki Kaji in his role of Kou, which was executed outstandingly. I rather have him voicing these kind of characters rather than screamy kids (Eren, Satomi), cause here he can unfold his full potential.
Ao Haru Ride is just an extremely cliched and generic title. The execution is decent, however it could have been better, but there are just no other hooks or interesting elements or setting to keep you interested, and it gets boring half-way through unless you absolutely love the characters. Not everyone's the same though. If you like Shoujo romances, then it's definitely a watch. It is not a bad show, but it is not a good one either. It is right down the middle, and that's why it deserves the rating it gets.
Ao Haru Ride (Blue Spring Ride) in the best sense can describe itself as a shoujo. The concept of a childhood girl developing a crush towards a boy is something that has been done over and over before. It also has a sense of innocence as the young Futaba Yoshioka sees boys as ‘violent’. The only exception is a boy named Kou Tanaka who she sees as gentle. The problem is that a simple misunderstanding leads to a separation between the two as Tanaka transfer from school. Simply put, the experiences that Futaba shared with Tanaka is a treasure. But that treasure right now is
buried away until one day….
Based off the manga of the same name created by Io Sakisaka, the series depicts a show that hits shoujo at its very core. Recognized perhaps for her character designs from the recent movie (HAL) and the manga Strobe Edge, Ao Haru Ride also stands out on its own in a variety of ways. It takes one of the most classic genres and steers it into a direction with honesty, drama, and a show full of charm. The time for Spring is one of those seasons when youth blooms. Ao Haru Ride follows a group of characters that becomes interconnected in a story of young love and growing up.
The story revolves a group of characters during their school days. It’s easy to say that school is a setting for people to grow up and perhaps change themselves. Futaba tries to do exactly that as she makes effort to be less girly. Her actions speaks louder than words too such as when she purposely eats more than appears to be to play down her girly side. The friends she has made essentially can also be seen as the tough crowd as they ostracizes her later on. Nonetheless, Futaba is a genuine kind girl as shown through her relationship with Yuuri, a pretty classmate who is despised by other girls. Other characters joining the story includes the lone wolf Shuuko Murao and the energetic Aya Kominato. Most importantly, Kou returns but now goes by the name “Kou Mabuchi”. This isn’t the only change though. Unlike his gentle self, the new Kou makes a 180 degree personality change with his sarcastic behavior and cold gestures. Really, you’re probably asking yourself what in the world happened, right?
Parts that can make you engaged to the characters is the diversity. Almost every character has a different personality yet they all become part of the story that gets interconnected in some way. A short arc during the show also gets the main characters together to on a camping trip where they must collectively work together to succeed. It takes on development routes as circumstances are bought up between characters as they grow closer. Examples include Kou and Yuuri where the latter seems to feel more towards him than just a friend. Similarly, Shuuko also begins to open up more after confessing her own interests. Regardless, the show connects relationships in a realistic way that can be relatable. Ever wondered how love ever blooms between certain people? Ao Haru Ride pushes the buttons between the characters to both show and tell exactly just that.
Perhaps the most prominent relationship throughout the show is between Kou and Futaba. After all, there’s so much contrast in their characters that a seemingly meaningful relationship between the two just seems to be impossible. There’s a lot of teasing and sarcasm between the duo despite an obvious mutual attraction. Jealousy is also an easy feeling that both characters feel throughout the show during various scenarios. But for what’s worth, their relationship will spark a curious interest. The “will they or won’t they?” will be one of those questions viewers will ask themselves a lot of the time. Their story stabs in the heart at times when moments are broken by misunderstandings or interruptions. Nonetheless, the show has grace and spirit and isn’t afraid to pull out moments that draws them closer together. On the other hand, Kou’s actions often contrasts what he says. In essence, he is one of those guys that isn’t being entirely honest with himself and struggles to be closer with others. This stark contrast to his childhood self is an interesting insight to see as Futaba tries to remember their times together. Speaking of which, Futaba’s feelings also resurfaces as she gets to know the current Kou. While his personality as a friend has changed, she recognizes that he is still the same person she comes to love. With a depth of flashbacks, it’s easy to see how these two can connect together despite being so very different.
No relationship can be without misunderstandings and love triangles. Ao Haru Ride doesn’t break far from that as it follows the cliché. The catch is that Futaba doesn’t wish to hurt others despite of her own feelings. A part of the story depicts her inner struggles to tell a friend about what she feels towards the boy. And if you guess right, that friend also shares the same feelings as the boy he fell for. Awkward moments must be accepted for enjoyment or this show will haunt you like a ticking time bomb. Luckily the show doesn’t play on a viewer’s patience too much. Even when it gets a bit intimidating, the show still is able to manage by with its clever humor and dramatic dialogues. They are often lighthearted with no shock value or profane scenarios. The slight problem sometimes though is the way it tries, especially with its dialogues during conversations. While the drama can get emotional and feel realistic, it has empty thrills and predictable outcomes. Furthermore, there’s little you can feel at times because of the stereotypes. And because Kou and Futaba are the main focus, there’s an obvious lack of characterization on the other characters. We don’t find out too much about other characters besides who they are on the surface and their personalities. In retrospect, they feel less conventional as the love triangle is more of a plot device to draw Kou and Futaba closer together. The collateral damage is the one that’s hurt as they become a cannon fodder; without the actual injury of course.
Besides romance, friendship and family values is also explored. The main girl trio (Futaba, Yuuri, Murao) often interacts in ways that girls should be like. The key difference is that Futaba’s new friends treats her with actual sincerity. I think it’s appreciable to see how they connect with different interests. They also open up with honesty and help each other out when help is needed the most. On the other hand, there is also some family connection between Kou and his brother Yoichi Tanaka. This isn’t much explored in depth but does show that the two shares a connection despite their different personalities. Just realize that it can be dull and the awkward meetings often feels static with little interest. Luckily, this is brightened up by the humor of the show. Playing as a class clown of sorts, Aya Kominato often brightens up the series with his ebullience. A noticeable factor about him is the fact that he doesn’t have much social issues unlike many of the others. His obvious crush on Murao is often seen as a comedy relief as the latter pays little attention to his advances. While this seems amusing, the problematic development between the duo is almost non-existent. Again, the main focus of the show is Futaba and Kou so don’t expect much depth on the others; at least not on the same level as those two childhood birds.
Artwork maintains a youthful appearance throughout the series. The background centralizes on the theme of Spring with the graceful weather, palate framework, and simple yet convincing imagery. The outdoors and weather has distinctiveness with its consistency. Flashbacks are cleverly decorated with aura-like water paint to illustrate youth. However, character designs are moderate. Most characters look stiff and movements are limited. There’s less much focus on how the characters look but rather than the moments they capture. Important scenes have longer focus with a cool down time before a transition. I think the purpose for this is to create new memories and show how characters make of them during those short yet meaningful moments. But nonetheless, studio Production I.G. brings its top notch A-game when it comes to overall animation adaptation.
Soundtrack is surprisingly strong even for a shoujo series such as this. Both the OP and ED songs have colorful imagery and symbolism. The OP song possesses both energy and a girly-like feeling while the ED song depicts more of a montage. OST is well-timed during key moments to bring out the best message of what they are motivated to do. Certain background songs are also played that further heightens memorable moments. This usually applies to scenes when characters’ connections seems to be at their closest almost if they are in their own little world. Character voice mannerism also deserves praise as well as we see a sharp contrast between the former Kou Tanaka and Kou Machibi. Shuuko is also noticeable for her cold mannerism as a lone wolf but slowly adapts to a more sincere girl through her change. On the other hand, Futaba’s voice can be irritating to listen at times with her stereotype.
For a shoujo series, Ao Haru Ride is surprisingly well structured based on its story. It has the look and feel of what a shoujo series should be with its characters, visuals, and other commonly seen tropes. While the show doesn’t characterize everyone at the same level, it’s interesting to see how their lives become interconnected through one and another. And through that, relationship are developed that can be everlasting. The show also does well with its realism and wastes little time to flesh out what it’s trying to do with the premise. Indeed, the show doesn’t stride far from where it begins as we see the relationship development between Futaba and Kou. An issue might arise that makes the audience ask themselves ‘was that it?’ or when the story feels repetitive. Still, with what it has offered up in its sleeves, I can say that Ao Haru Ride is definitely a ride worth taking.
"If you lose something, just build it again." - direct quote from the main character Futaba.
First off let me just say that the fact that I've read the manga already mildly hinders my ability to separate manga from anime...
The story is pretty well done. Of course it has ALL of the shoujo clique's that many shoujo fans will run into.
There's something about the story though that makes it a little more unique than your typical shoujo anime.
I did not really sense any corny-ness with the more serious moments in the anime as I would typical feel in a shoujo.
What I'm trying to say it that,
it felt real.
The situations felt pretty realistic to me & not so unimaginable or silly.
Your basic animation and art style for an Anime.
Of course not all art looks the same but the overall gist of it is your basic anime-shoujo style.
I bumped it up to an 8 because they changed the art to a very oil pastel look for the backgrounds when they would show a flashback. I found that pastel look to be very enjoyable & more interesting than making the flashback fuzzy/blurry.
Bottom line, the Art is cute.
At first the opening/ending/BG music was too cute for me.
You know that point of cute where it's almost obnoxious?
That's how it felt for me...AT FIRST.
But you get to know the characters and story-line more as you watch & you start to notice how WELL the sound really fits the anime.
As serious as it gets sometimes...that's not the theme or message.
It's lighthearted. It's fun.
And the opening is very fitting. The bouncing up & down beat sets up the story because it shows how up & down the characters situations are.
Streaming off from the SOUND comment,
the characters are all just trying to make the best of the situation and the opening represents that really well.
Here's a bit of a warning...
I do not think you will like every part of any one of the characters.
Like books, characters are not always meant to be relatable or liked.
All of the characters CAN be likable IF you accept the side of them that is NOT likable.
That's what the anime is about.
You can have all the unlikable traits you want but if you just (stemming off from what the Anime will eventually show what the characters want...) "open up your heart", you WILL be accepted.
Corny thought? Yes.
But this is the best way I can explain the characters.
Had to give a 7 though because all were very predictable characters.
I said above that I read the manga. The manga is AMAZING. As with any manga-to-anime adaption, the manga is always best.
A cleaner set-up to situations.
Better understanding of characters. (Although the Anime did throw in some really good quotes/one-liners!)
HOWEVER, I still enjoyed the Anime.
I enjoyed actually watching how the characters move. How they interact. Grow. The funny faces/body language they would make.
Very enjoyable...if you have patience.
If you're tired of that stoic shoujo boy then you shouldn't watch this because I doubt you'd be able to stomach how stoic the boy is at first.
I found the Anime to be well made.
It was a decent adaptation from the manga. Included A LOT of major & key things as well as set it up for....wait for it...
THE NEXT SEASON.
Hint hint to non-manga readers, that person we briefly get introduced to in the end is going to be an important person in the next season.
If it gets renewed for the next season. *fingers crossed*
I'm telling you guys...the things that happen WILL make you keep watching :)
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