Ao Haru Ride – 12 [END]

Ao Haru Ride-Sparkly

Futaba really did get prettier through the season

spring14-highwAhhh, the end of the season can bring relief, and it can bring happiness, and sometimes closure. But I doubt we’ll get that last from a show like Ao Haru Ride, right? Let’s see what we actually get!

Futaba’s Breakthrough

Ao Haru Ride-Futaba has something to say

Futaba has something to say to Kou

Futaba finally got Kou to think about himself, and to allow himself to accept happiness into his life. It was nice to have that scene continue this week, something that Ao Haru Ride has done a couple times across episode breaks, with Futaba and Kou continuing to talk at the riverbank. Futaba also has a couple of chances to really make some time with Kou, but ultimately gives them up because there’s a higher reason not to: She shouldn’t go get dinner with Kou because Youichi is at the house and Futaba thinks that he should take this opportunity to reconnect with his brother.

Ao Haru Ride-A very symbolic gesture

A very symbolic gesture

Usually, the raison d’etre for this kind of romance show is the big scene between the two romantic leads. But this episode was stolen by the scene of the three men eating together for the first time in a long time. Kou starting to open up to his brother and father, explaining the guilt that he felt at being able to experience things that his mother couldn’t. And their father, who had divorced their mother for whatever reasons, yet obviously still loves her quite a lot, stating that she hadn’t been that kind of petty person. The permission that Futaba gave Kou to start to open up confirmed by those words, starting to rebuild the bridge between Kou, Youichi, and their father. And even further, the understanding by his father that there are still too many emotions wrapped up in his name, not pushing the issue about changing it.

Ao Haru Ride-Shuuko gets ambushed

Shuuko gets ambushed by Youichi

The remainder of the episode was kind of a wrapup of the series, and a setup for possible future series. Getting the study group together so that they all pull up their grades (embarrassingly having Kou beat all the rest of them in ranking, but all of them making the top scores board which is an achievement itself). A run-in with the guy that Futaba felt up in the library, because shoujo. An encounter between Shuuko and Youichi, who is glad that she’s made good enough friends that they’d call her by her given name, and Aya who is jealous of the attention that Shuuko wants to give to Youichi. And more solidifying of this group of 5 friends as Kou accepts his fate to be with them.

Series Impressions

Ao Haru Ride-Finally he smiles at her

She finally got a genuine smile out of Kou

I thought that Ao Haru Ride did almost everything right for the kind of series it is. Of course, when you’re talking shoujo, you’re talking about frustration for the people who want to see the couple get together, but I thought the relationship between Kou and Futaba was developed nicely throughout the series, without having to go through a lot of “Almost” situations where one or the other would confess but have something get in the way. I think Futaba would have confessed had she not had her stomach growl, but that was really the only time that it was going to come up. Because of that, the show didn’t feel like it was teasing the audience as much as some shows do. That made it much more pleasant for me to watch.

Ao Haru Ride-Finally under the same sky

Are they finally under the same sky?

The other thing that it handled really well was the reasons for the distance between Kou, Futaba, Youichi, and everyone else. The plot line of the divorce and subsequent death of Kou’s mother being the reason for Kou’s self-isolation was well-developed and felt natural when revealed. So too did the reconciliation between Kou and his father, who had been waiting for the time that Kou would reopen his heart to his family. I also really liked the character design of Kou’s mother and father. We didn’t see a lot of them, but they were just ordinary people. A little shabby, a little worn down, but still very real people. The positivity of his mother, even when she knows that there’s not much hope for her, is admirable. And Kou’s father, waiting patiently for his son to work out his feelings and welcoming him when he does. Very well done.

Ao Haru Ride-Both catch him this time

This time they both catch him

The show had a really good look, fairly plain characters, nice coloring. They threw in just enough off-model Futaba (and Yuuri and Kou at times) to keep it interesting and set the mood, but not overstay its welcome. One of the primary characteristics of the show is “cute” (that’s in a good way). So much of the show is so cute: Futaba, Yuuri, Futaba x Kou, Yuuri crushing on Kou, the OP. Sometimes it threatened a cute overload, but it never did too much.

Ao Haru Ride-The whole group

Everyone having fun together

The whole cast was very good, with a full slate of very seasoned voice actors. Yuki Kaji, Maaya Uchida, Ai Kayano, Mikako Komatsu, Daisuke Hirakawa, KENN, from top to bottom it was a who’s who of current stars. The OP and ED and main insert song were all nice to listen to, with the OP fitting the series perfectly (seriously, watch the PV). Maybe the incidental music leaned a little bit too much on Chelsy’s I Will, but it was able to fit in to multiple situations.

Faces of Futaba – Part 2

I promised more of these, so here they are! Show ▼

header-spring14-highwOverall, I thought the show covered a good part of the story. Getting from the beginning to where Kou has finally accepted that he can have friends, and everyone is getting along well, that’s a good amount of this kind of story. They did hint at future complications with things like the other guy who always shows up in shoujo stories, and of course the threat of a love triangle was always present with Yuuri also being in love with Kou. But this season really was about Futaba and Kou and her efforts to open him up from where he’d gone after the tragedy of his mother’s death after the pain of his parents divorce. And it handled that very well, without too much frustration or wheel spinning. I’d definitely like to see more of this show, so we’ll see if there’s more forthcoming, or I’ll have to read the manga.


Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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3 Responses to “Ao Haru Ride – 12 [END]”

  1. JPNIgor says:

    Aaah, I’ll surely miss this series. Hopefully there will be a second run.

    The best part of this series is that, even though any of the characters got together by the end, I didn’t get frustrated because there was closure on another subject, which would be Kou’s family. The whole season I wanted to know why the hell Kou was the way he was and it’s really nice to know the reason and to see him working towards it by the end. I really wanted to see Kou in his less “I can’t be happy” mood…

    That OP, man. Seriously, there can’t be a song that fits better, specially the second part. The PV of the song is so beautiful too.

    • Highway says:

      Yes, this series handled being shoujo and slow to develop very well by focusing us on different aspects, not just the “will they, won’t they” of Futaba and Kou. And even though you know that Kou and Futaba will get together eventually, they didn’t have to do the misunderstanding dance that is so frustrating in other shows (*coff* Kimi ni Todoke).

  2. Foshizzel says:

    Loved this series and now I plan on reading the manga! I didn’t care all that much for Kou, but after the reveal oh why he hates school and is cold to most people due to the loss of his mother I sorta felt a connection to him because I went through something similar with my dad; however he recovered and is doing fine.

    Anyway I need more Yuuri cause she was so damn cute <3

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