Ao Haru Ride – 11

Ao Haru Ride-I'm outta here

I’mma blow this joint…

spring14-highwPerspective can change a lot. Seeing a different perspective can enlighten our opinions. And sometimes getting another person’s perspective can free us from the rut that we’re in.

Tragedy in the Past

Ao Haru Ride-Mom in happier times

Mom in happier times

We get Kou’s perspective of his mother’s illness, and it wasn’t a particularly fun one. Death from cancer is pretty bad, and Kou has regrets about putting off his mother to study because he wanted to help her by being successful, not spending time with her because he wanted to not be a burden and to support her. And in the end, he’s haunted by Youichi’s words – “Take care of Mom for me” and feels it’s a personal failure that he couldn’t. Or more that he tried to take care of her one way, and something much worse snuck in behind him to take her away from him.

Ao Haru Ride-The crew is not giving up

The gang is not going to give up

However, I thought it was still nice to see that Kou and his mom had a very nice relationship, and that his regrets aren’t over being a bad kid. But with the specter of his mom’s death hanging over him because he feels like he should have realized it sooner, he has lost all taste for studying, because it dredges up the memory of him doing the “wrong” thing. Speaking of realized it sooner, so should Mom, by the way, but there are definitely some very aggressive cancers that you just cannot do anything about, and one that hits someone near 40, like this one probably did, is going to be one of the aggressive ones. But that means he’s not in the mood for studying with the rest of the group, even if they are sincerely trying to help him pull his grades up. He even snookers them and bails on the study session (how did they not get shushed for being so loud in the library?). BTW, who thought that the guy that Futaba crashed into (and felt up) in the library was going to become Shoujo Cliche Other Guy #1 for Futaba? Perhaps farther in the manga he does become a rival to Kou, but I think this anime series is locked down pretty hard on Futaba and Kou.

Replacing What Was Lost

Ao Haru Ride-Breaking down the door

Futaba breaking down the door

As much emotion as there was on the screen for the first half of the episode, it didn’t really come out of the screen for me. What hit me more was the second half, when Futaba shows her resolve in wanting to break through the door to Kou’s heart. From the jokey tattle-tale style talk with Youichi, to her silent pounding on Kou’s chest as she realizes she can’t feel as bad as he does, but wants to help him, Futaba, described as a storm by both Youichi and Kou, finally batters down the door that Kou’s built. And I really liked her realization that she and the others have already made an impression on Kou, that the reason he’s scared to care more is because they’re already there. She’d hinted at that before, but hammered it home enough this time to get to Kou.

Ao Haru Ride-A strong embrace

Finally getting close

But the other insight she shares that I think makes the difference is that when you’ve lost one big thing, you don’t need to replace it with a big thing. Especially if there’s not ever going to be something like that again. But you can replace that hole in your life with little things, and get enough of them to feel complete again. So even if Futaba and Yuuri and Aya and Shuuko and even Youichi aren’t his mom, maybe the sum of them is something close. And even more than that, it’s that getting permission: Futaba telling him that it’s ok to let people in. Maybe Kou’s internal voice repeating it was a little heavyhanded, but the message is there and true. Sometimes people lose sight of that like Kou did. His mom, Youichi, his dad, noone will blame him now for moving on and reentering life. And he says he can’t restart like Futaba did, but that’s almost what he has to do.

Faces of Futaba – Part 1

Early on in the series, I noticed that they do these funny off-model faces for Futaba, so I thought I’d collect them to post sometime. Here’s Part 1, and Part 2 will be in the finale post. I think it’s funny that they do this in a mostly serious show. 🙂

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Finally the breakthrough for Kou. This isn’t necessarily the start of their romance, but Futaba’s confession that she wants to understand him with all her heart may be the truest declaration of her feelings yet. And hopefully we’ll see how Kou reacts to the others and how he will change in the future, because even though there’s only one more episode, I can always hope for more (and hope for no Shoujo Shenanigans!).


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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2 Responses to “Ao Haru Ride – 11”

  1. JPNIgor says:

    So good. And it’s ending TT.TT

    Seeing Kou’s perspective, I can kind of understand him better. But some of his attitudes are still kind of nonsense from my viewpoint. Though I like the fact that a lot of characters are unpredictable, which makes it seem more real. I really did not expect Kou to agree with Futaba that replacing one precious things with many other less precious things is enough.

    I saw a comment on the site I watch saying that two characters that appears on the next arc were introduced this episode, which gives me hope for a second season. If there wasn’t a second season, they could just skip those scenes, they wouldn’t feel that they were missing. One of them is the library guy and the other one would be a girl who walks across Kou when he is going to or coming out of the hospital on the flashback, I’m not really sure. I kind of suspected of her because they gave such a weird highlight on her she just didn’t seem like part of the scenery.

    Speaking about scenery, I loved how when Futaba went to wherever to pick up Kou, the people there, even though they didn’t have faces, they had such great visuals, whoever made the backgrounds dedicated a lot of time on them.

    • Highway says:

      Yeah, that girl as flashback Kou was walking out of the hospital was definitely something more important, since they focused the shot on her, not on Kou walking across the screen. I wouldn’t put too much meaning on it, because the studio and production staff probably do want to do another series, but a business case needs to be made out of it. Both scenes served a bit of purpose, especially Futaba being mortified at grabbing that guy’s junk and running away.

      I think the key to Kou’s acceptance of what Futaba says is that he has desperately wanted to join them, to fully integrate into that group of friends, but has held himself back, especially with studying, because of his past. So when he feels like he’s been given permission, that’s what opens him up.

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