i would say ao haru ride holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the first manga i've read and anime i've watched. i swear i reread this manga at least once a year.
ao haru ride doesn't have a crazy plot. it's a standard romance manga with really heartwarming moments. tanaka kou and yoshioka futaba were middle school classmates who had feelings for each other. like normal students at that age, they were shy, naive, and innocent. they shared their cute moments such as accidentally making eye contact in the hallway or coincidentally meeting each other under the shrine while it was pouring. nothing had really started when tanaka unexpectedly transferred schools. years later, when they're both in their first year of high school, they end up in the same school once again. however, futaba and kou are drastically different people now. futaba tries her hardest to seem unfeminine and is desperate to make friends even if they're fake. an incident happened with kou back at home and it has changed him to become cold and distant. when futaba finally notices him, it's a heartwarming moment, but it also leaves you heartbroken just as quickly. kou believes they can't go back to how it was before. hence, the start of this heartwarming, youthful story. the journey is like a roller coaster and it plays with your emotions so many times. but in the end, it's all worth it. trust me :)
the art really fits the story line. the art isn't crazy and all over the place. rather, its cute and minimal. i love the way kou was designed. his slightly curly hair to his subtle natural eye bags fit so well with his character. it makes me wish that he was a real person haha.
honestly, character development was what stood out to me the most. from being a follower desperate for friends, futaba has grown to stay true to her self and stand up for others. in the end, she ended up with the most genuine friend group. the development came from the help of many other characters. kou, once cold and apathetic, learns to open up his wall and let others in. other supporting characters have also learned to change their old ways and rely on each other.
like i said, ao haru ride holds a special place in my heart. it is the only romance manga and anime that has made me feel so many emotions. i cry every time (it's probably because an emotional person in general) and i actually connect with the characters. i wish nothing but the best for each character and i don't think i particularly despised a character.
this will probably stay as my all time favorite romance because everything about it screams youth and development. it demonstrates the beauty of being young, but also the tears that come along with it. "ao haru" means youth in Japanese, hence the title "ao haru ride." it really is a youth ride. it's a short moment in our lives that will pass by quickly if we don't cherish it. this manga captures this precious moment in our life and displays everything beautiful about in pictures and words.