Hello everyone!! Welcome to the start of Anniversary Review Week 2016!! This is the first of eight reviews that will come out over the next week, and I am so excited!! I thought last year it went really well so I was really looking forward to doing it again. This year I picked some anime that have come out recently I really liked, a few that I had not seen yet and wanted to check out, and the very anime that made the very first post on Ka-chan Anime Reviews was about. Which is the one that we are doing today!
So without further adieu here is my 29th Anime Review and the first review to kick off Anniversary Review Week 2016, and the one that started it all: Ao Haru Ride.
Ao Haru Ride (or Blue Spring Ride) was a twelve episode anime that originally aired in July 2014 as a part of the Summer 2014 Anime Season and ended in September 2016. There was also an “Episode 0” that aired at the same times the anime’s 8th Episode as well as a 13th Episode which aired in December 2014. The anime was done by Production I.G. and is based off of a manga with the same name written by Io Sakisaka. Ao Haru Ride also has a live action adaptation as well as light novel versions of the story that are currently being released.
The story follows high school 1st year Futaba Yoshioka who spent her entire middle school life being ostracized by her female classmates because of her popularity with her male classmates. Futaba, however, was only worried about what Kou Tanaka thought of her, a classmate who Futaba once shared a shelter with during a rainstorm. The two share a lot of cute innocent moments before Futaba asks Kou to meet her to hang out a festival, he agrees and they both look forward to it eagerly. After a misunderstanding, Kou does not show up at their meeting spot and disappears from school entirely, thus leaving her with no friends. When she started high school Futaba vowed to not follow the same path and acted like a tomboy so she would not gain any attention. Her world is soon turned upside down when Kou returns to her life, now going by the name Mabuchi, but Futaba soon finds out that he is not the Kou she once knew.
The cast of this show is actually pretty small. We get to meet Kou and Futaba, Kou’s older brother (Yoichi Tanaka) who is also a teacher at the school, and the three new friends they make along the way: Yuri Makita, Shuuko Murao, and Aya Kominato. There’s a few…and I mean few…characters who make smaller appearances as well as some familiar faces for those who have read the manga. Not having a huge cast is not a bad thing because the show is about that small group of five gradually getting over their own problems as well as their friendship growing over the course of the show. They are all likable characters, even Kou who kind of acts like a jerk at the beginning but he does have a good reason to do so. I ended up relating to Futaba a lot and that helped me to enjoy the show even more. The one complaint that I have about the characters is that since there are so few I felt like they could have worked to develop them each more than they did, since they did not have to worry about fleshing out a larger group of people. A small cast is not a bad thing, nor is a large one, the issue is how the show handles the cast that they do give us and in my opinion they could have done a little bit more. Maybe not for Kou and Futaba as much but Yuri, Murao, Kominato, and Kou’s brother could have used a lot more screen time and development in my opinion.
I do want to note that I feel like Kou gets a lot of hate for the way that he acts towards not only his friends but his brother as well over the course of Ao Haru Ride. Sure him being a jerk all of the time gets old after a while, but it is not like he does not have any reason to act that way. I do not want to spoil too much, but Kou has gone through a lot of things since he disappeared from Futaba’s life in middle school. They go into it a little bit in the show, but a lot more in the manga which stinks because you do have to read the manga to see Kou and the rest gradually change into better people. It is something that the anime suffered from, since the early part of the story is centered on Kou basically being a jerk who does not care about anything and Futaba trying to figure out what happened to him as well as trying to get him to open up to her. It is not a bad premise for a story, but it does not get as much of a result in the anime than it does in the manga.
Ao Haru Ride was produced by Production I.G. and overall the animation was really pretty to watch. The colors were bright and airy for the most part and it was fun to watch. There were also parts where the animation seemed to have a comedic look to it during the more lighthearted moments which I thought was very nice. Kind of odd for a serious show like this one, but still fun to see in my opinion. The soundtrack for the show was okay. The music fit the situations, no weird music played during the serious scenes, and the ending song, “Blue” by Fujifabric, was okay. I do have to say that the opening, “Sekai wa Koi ni Ochiteiru” by CHiCo with HoneyWorks was amazing. The song was catchy and upbeat and the images it showed helped to set the scene for the show very nicely. It easily landed itself a spot on my iPod.
When I first heard about the Ao Haru Ride back in July 2014 I was so upset about it that it helped drive me to create this very site. I was upset because at that point in the manga it was so infuriating and Kou and Futaba were being dumb and doing dumb things that I constantly debated with finishing it. I was worried that the anime would reach this point in the manga and I would be forced to go through it again. Thankfully, the anime stopped well before any of that started and covered the early parts of the manga that I vaguely remembered. That brought up an issue though for this review because it is a review for the anime, not the manga. So I cannot bring forward my frustrations for the manga as an issue I have with the show because the show does have those problems, since they did not get that far. Nor can I praise the ending for the manga (because I loved it) and say the show ended well, because it did not exactly do that. The ending was kind of open ended and was one of those “Go read the manga” endings that I know so many people love. It made this review harder than I thought it would be.
Nevertheless, I award Ao Haru Ride with a B. It is not the most perfect comedy-drama-romance anime out there, but it is not a half bad one either. The story is interesting and the characters are likable (well save for Kou maybe). It does lack a little in the soundtrack department and the characters could have been fleshed out more than they were, but each one of them had a motivation and were working towards it to better themselves. Which I think is a pretty good lesson to be learned: You have to do what you want to do, and what makes you happy. The problems I had with the manga do not apply here, so I cannot rank the show lower for them. I feel like this is a good ranking though because the show is good and is one that you should maybe give a try if you love shoujo.
That is all that I have for my 29th Anime Review as well as the first post for Anniversary Review Week. I cannot wait until tomorrow and I hope that you come back for another review then as well. But for now, what do you guys think? Have you seen Ao Haru Ride? What did you think of it? Any feelings on the manga? Let me know in the comments down below!! And if there is an anime out there that you think I should give a try you can leave that down there as well!!
See you tomorrow!!
After Note: I want to do a Q&A for the blog’s 2nd Anniversary on 7/19/16. You can ask any question, it does not necessarily have to be anime related, and I will answer them then. You can either leave it down in the comments on this post, tweet it to me, or email me. My email and twitter are in the sidebar to the right. Any question would be greatly appreciated.