Sunday, October 12, 2014

Anime: Ao Haru Ride (2014)

I can't tell you how excited I am to post this. I had a particularly challenging work week so I needed desperately to escape with some anime. I did a general queue search and came across this title and description. Looked unassuming and could potentially be interesting. From the first episode the opening scenes with the water color background caught my eye. It was dreamy and innocent. By the time the first episode was over, I NEEDED to watch more. Just when I decided I could stop at episode nine and save the last three for another day, I made the mistake of surfing images and was enticed to continue. I finished all 12 episodes in one late evening/early morning sitting. 

What makes this title so outstanding is that there aren't any annoying and unlikable characters. Really! I frequently give up on romance/shoujo titles the moment two-face, back-stabbing characters are introduced or worse, when the lead female protagonist is abnormally clueless and dimwitted.
Immediately in the opening we learn Yoshioka Futaba has loved Tanaka Kou and that he probably loved her back. However, circumstances led them to where they are today and they are re-acquainted with each other again and so we follow Futaba's journey to reach Kou. What's nice to see is the consistent cute physical contact our two main leads have with each other. The presence of this element is not any different than other shoujo stories but the pacing is well-timed and I don't feel it's the sole page-turning reason to continue. Superficial topics of school life exist here but it's not overblown or excessively emphasized. There are real relatable situations and emotions.  

With a total of 12 episodes, it is shorter than the average title. Usually when I finish watching animes, I find it hard to read the manga from beginning to end. This time however, I started from the beginning and didn't skip a thing. The anime follows the manga pretty closely with very little deviation. I loved this one so much, I plan to purchase this for my collection.

5 out of 5 stars

*Update 10-16-14* 

I have been going over the manga on my second pass and wanted to analyze the supporting characters a bit more. I really like Kou's friend Kominato. He offers sound advice as an observer and will bluntly call out Kou on his poor decisions. 

Murao in Futaba's camp is another supportive friend with sharp observation and the voice of reason. Intelligent supporting characters are slim pickings from what I've come across but this manga really shines all the way around.

It is somewhat disappointing that there are only 12 episodes of the anime at this point. I would like to see more development of these supporting characters in the anime. 

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