Ao Haru Ride is a simple story about a young girl named Yoshioka Futaba (Uchida Maaya) who falls in love with a boy named Tanaka Kou (Kaji Yuuki). Circumstances come up in Kou’s family that results in unresolved feelings between the two and years later, they bump into each other again in their first year of high school. Kou has a new surname (Mabuchi) and with it, he’s changed in to a completely different person. Futaba has also changed and in desperate attempts to make new friends, she’s forced herself to become as “ungirly” as possible. Upon their first meeting, Futaba realizes that Kou is no longer the person she fell in love with. He’s apathetic, somewhat rude and doesn’t have that liveliness about him anymore. However, she still can’t seem to get him off her mind and the two slowly start making their way back in to each other’s’ lives. Along the way, Futaba realizes she doesn’t have to pretend to be someone else to make new friends.
In a nutshell, the story is exactly what it seems to be. It’s a romance between a girl and a boy in high school and their journey through their adolescent years. I would rate it more on the drama and romance department rather than comedy, but there are lighthearted moments between Futaba and Kou that stand out. I don’t want to spoil it for non-manga viewers, but the story so far has been quite true to its source material. There should be more frames dedicated to the young Futaba and Kou that explain why she likes him but I think that’s the only piece that’s missing. I don’t think it’s any secret, but Kou used to be kind, quiet and he made a few gestures for her that obviously, made Futaba fall in love. However, the story is really built upon their relationship now and how Futaba and Kou slowly start to fall in love again with who they are today. This first episode was probably more serious and down than you’d expect but the remaining episodes will be more upbeat and lively as Futaba and Kou go through changes. Most importantly, I like how a lot of their issues are normal everyday relatable teen issues and not forced drama for the sake of drama. You’ll see later on, but the story doesn’t beat around the bush about issues or leave you hanging. If there’s a problem, you’ll see it resolved without dragging on and on…
Asides from the story, my favorite aspects from this premiere has to be the music and the animation. It’s so beautifully drawn and everything from their facial expressions to the backgrounds is so detailed. It is exactly how I’d envision a romantic comedy to be animated and even though there are a lot of still shots, I love how each shot has such soft colors and really screams romance. And the music – oh dear, don’t get me started. I have so much love for this soundtrack and these inserts. It kills me (like J-drama and K-dramas kill me) whenever there’s a moment and the music starts rolling… I know I’m just going to cry buckets if the emotional cues are all there. So many feels! This is one OST that I’ll save for those rainy days and I can’t wait to see what else Production I.G has up their sleeves.
My only small complaint about this show (don’t kill me!) just has to be Kaji Yuuki playing the role for Kou. He’s not doing a bad job by any means, but my imagination tells me that Kou should’ve been played by someone more mature with a deep voice. Kaji Yuuki sounds much too lazy and tired than being apathetic and “cool” – which is the type of person I expect Kou to be. Nonetheless, I can’t wait to see Kou in action more. He has the bad boy vibe in the manga that I’m sure most girls would swoon over (myself included!) so I’d like to see how that translates onto the screen. From Futaba’s POV, she’s someone that I can relate to since I’ve also tried to mask my personality to fit in and I’d like to see how other people deal with peer pressure at a young age. Being in love… is another story though. I’ve always been a fan of the bad-boy type but whether Kou breaks that stereotype or lives up to it, we’ll have to see.
P.S. Divine wanted me to point out how he thought the character designs looked really similar to Kimi ni Todoke. Especially Kou’s.
Bottom Line: @RCCherrie – #AoHaruRide was everything I thought it’d be =) with insert songs too! Beautiful animation and straight from the manga #aoha_anime
ED: 「ブルー」 (Blue) by フジファブリック (Fujifabric)