First Impressions – Ao Haru Ride


Another chance for spring to come in Summer?

spring14-kara Hmm, well I don’t know what to expect from this, other than I heard that it’s a good shoujo manga. I’m used to the good shoujo manga being turned into live action dramas or just drama CDs, so this should be good. …Actually, I’m pretty sure that Ao Haru Ride is getting a live action movie adaptation or something too so in this case, we’re lucky to have both.


spring14-highw Live action movies I can take or leave (usually I leave, but I did watch – unsubbed! – the Maria-sama ga Miteru movie). So what I’ve got in front of me is just the anime, and no manga. So what did I think of another entrant into the “Couple Who Likes Each Other, But Can’t Seem To Get Together” sweepstakes?

High School UnDebut

Ao Haru Ride-Such a graceful young lady

Showing all her class

Highway: What do you do when your life isn’t going the way you want it to in Middle School? You change it up for High School. And while usually that means, for girls, trying to be cuter, or prettier, or more adult, for Futaba it means going the other way. I think it’s at least a justifiable reaction to the social pressures that she could be facing. Hiding in plain sight, making herself look bad by overeating, being graceless and indelicate. And all to avoid being a ‘cute’ girl who gets the spotlight on her.

Ao Haru Ride-Some friends

Some friends they are

Karakuri: Ah yes, the unusually hostile female classmates who are all jealous of girls who are cuter than them. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen this situation play out in real life, but this happens a lot in the shoujo genre, I guess. Poor Futaba. It’s fun to see her trying her best not to be feminine, but at the same time, it’s kind of sad how she came to be this way. Unfortunately too, the friends she did manage to make when she changed her personality don’t seem to be the best. They’re friendly enough and seem capable of joking in the group, which is good. On the other hand though, they didn’t even try to defend Futaba when the bread lady was accusing her of stealing, and immediately assumed the worst. That probably didn’t make Futaba feel any better in that scenario. I wouldn’t quite call them “the worst”, but maybe she should try finding slightly more supportive people to hang around. …I guess saying that means that she shouldn’t hang around Kou either, but he seems to be there when it counts, at least. I do hope that Futaba makes friends with that other girl who’s popular with guys, but not with the females in the class. They would probably make a great friends, since they kind of know what each other went through. Maybe Kou can become more dere as the series goes on.

Ao Haru Ride-Blowing it

Futaba blows it, but this guy was annoying too

Reclaiming the Past?

Ao Haru Ride-Young love Ao Haru Ride-The present not like the past

Tying the past to the present

Highway: The question of the series is will Futaba and Tanaka / Mabuchi Kou get together? To do that, they’ll have to get past their previous attraction, and make a new connection, since Futaba torpedoed the one before both with her exclamation about hating all boys back in Middle School and by turning into a slob for cover. It’s pretty obvious that Kou is put off by her convenient slide into messiness, but just going back to cute is not going to win him back, and what cost would that have on her social standing? We haven’t really seen what the bad side of the catty girls would be, although we did have that episode of zero support and assumed thievery. I was surprised that Futaba didn’t even speak up and say “I paid the other woman, please ask her.” I do wonder what it would take for Kou to be interested in her, tho.


Those pastels! This really was shoujo, wasn’t it. A lot of the scenery reminded me of Kimi ni Todoke, but really, that’s not a bad thing. The first episode had a rather nice atmosphere. …Though hopefully Ao Haru Ride isn’t like Kimi ni Todoke in terms of how long it takes for the main couple to get together (or really, make any progress at all past a certain point). The characters are kind of typical for shoujo, but that’s not a bad thing either. Futaba is a pretty adorable heroine so far, and having Maaya Uchida as her seiyuu seems like a good fit for her character so far. Hearing Yuki Kaji in an actual shoujo anime is great too, but kind of weird at the same time. He’s in a lot of otoge, but in anime, I’m used to him being in action themed shows where his character’s arms are in constant peril. It should be interesting to see where this relationship goes. …Provided that it goes anywhere. Shoujo sometimes tends to run around in circles for chapters/episodes on end.


I enjoyed this first episode, but just like Kara I’m hoping it’s not like Kimi ni Todoke (a show that I couldn’t even finish the first cour of) because of the lack of a couple. But this one seems to be a lot more uncertain about what kind of couple they could even be, which could work for the show even if it’s not going to have a couple. I described it earlier as two people who already like each other, but I’m not really sure that’s the truth, because right now, Kou doesn’t particularly like Futaba. And it doesn’t look like a quick fix either. This might end up being the kind of show I like, just because of that.


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4 Responses to “First Impressions – Ao Haru Ride”

  1. Joojoobees says:

    Finally a show tackles a problem most high schoolers are facing: being too cute.

    I really like the classic shoujo watercolor style. The flashback scenes looked great.

    That bread seller was a BITCH. I hope the rest of the show revolves around making her life a permanent hell.

    • Highway says:

      Yeah, that naked contempt when she was forced to apologize was definitely something you don’t see everyday in anime.

      I don’t know if it’s ‘too cute’, but Futaba is definitely going for ‘not cute’. The problem is that there’s no real exit for that, and that her ‘friends’ are seeming to be people who hang around her because she’s amusing as a slob.

  2. anaaga says:

    Though I don’t like how the manga is right now (second half of the manga is just !@#$%^&*), I actually did like how Ao Haru Ride. It seems that they’ll animate the first half of the manga only, so I guess I’ll actually enjoy the anime.

    I like how Futaba is different from other shouo characters. Most shoujo characters transformed from the tomboy to cute, with their meeting their childhood friends/current friends who see their tomboy sides and accept it. This time it’s flipped, and Kou rejected the idea of going back to the past (with reasons, of course). It will be fun seeing the new friendship (and DRAMATIC love) between the two blooms

    Though I still can’t accept how they animate Ao Haru Ride when Sasaki Io’s Strobe Edge is her masterpiece. Definitely one of the best shoujo manga I’ve ever read in my entire life, and I think it should be animated too *pray for Strobe Edge anime*

    • Karakuri says:

      Funny you talk about a Strobe Edge anime. Apparently that series is being made into a live action adaptation. Because that’s what happens with most shoujo manga, I guess.

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