- Genre: Romance, Drama
- Genre: Romance, Drama
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: Production I.G.
With love comes a window of opportunity to pursue it. What happens when you wait too long, and you suddenly find that window has closed? Romance can often be unfortunate like that, but other times luck is in your favor. What happens when that window opens up again? This can especially be quite the predicament when it’s not your romantic interest you’ve drifted further away from, but from who you used to be.
That’s the challenge that confronts Futaba Yoshioka as she encounters her middle school crush Kou Tanaka attending her high school. Kou is more reserved and tentative to acknowledge the past, while Futaba herself has grown more tom-boyish and aloof to gain popularity.
Before we start, I have a big, important announcement to make. I’m not always the best at choosing the right words so hopefully I make this clear. I just want to make sure you all know that…
Today is April Fool’s!
Sorry, but I do enjoy some of the hijinks that come with today but am always disappointed I can never think of anything all that clever to do myself. So now that that’s out of my system you can be at ease knowing that there’s nothing up my sleeve (nothing too sharp at least). So, trust me when I say you won’t have to worry about joy buzzers, or whoopie cushions, or me secretly being Irina’s evil twin taking over while she’s out at the movies!
My anime conversation radar is really impeccable, as it was at the coffee shop a few weeks ago (actually closer to a month ago – I don’t go to coffee shops now!) where these girls were discussing some of their favourites. I might have eavesdropped a little on their conversation (this is becoming a concerning trend of how I get my blog ideas).
One of them was very enthusiastic about Blue Spring Ride and how it was so sweet with a totally relatable protagonist. I had only vague memories of the title that I somehow missed back when it aired. Given that it comes from Production I.G. I decided to check out this series and see how it compares to Haikyuu!! which the studio released the same year.
Ao Haru Ride is a tease, and I am a little bitter because of that. The opening scene to this show is absolutely gorgeous, making a strong impression with unique water colouring and minimalistic backgrounds. Regardless of how the story goes, this show will make a fine addition to my screenshot collection. This very stylized design is unfortunately only featured during the flashback scenes. While there are still some nice-looking scenes, the overall look is rather ordinary. The animation and designs exist as serviceable but if they did put in the extra effort to follow through with a stylistic approach this anime would much more stand out amongst other shojo content.
This show is guaranteed to bring you right back to your high school days and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. The footsie romance between Futaba and Kou comes across as a typical and ordinary teen relationship. Futaba might be an immensely relatable gal, but maybe she needs a book with the names of a few spirits to make her life a bit more interesting. Despite my Natsume references growing less subtle, Futaba really needed something to distinguish her character a bit more.
Usually I lack interest in the live-action version of manga/anime, but I’m kinda curious about it for this series seems that it would be more suited for real people representing these characters. Futaba does have a lovable derpy side that would be charming seen recreated with an actress instead of what here comes across as strange attempts at standard anime comic relief. I was initially interested in Futaba’s intentional lack of feminine charm and how her excessive munching and aversion to male attention would separate her from the standard shojo protagonist. It feels kind of crummy recognizing that that aspect of her character is effectively erased by episode 4 and the rest of the plot becomes more or less a will they/won’t they affair. The show handles the drama well introducing many different obstacles and personal hang-ups to overcome but the inability to have a sense of stable character growth left me kind of empty to a degree.
I don’t want to be too harsh on this show, you might think up until this point that I did not have a good time. I think this show is perfect for its intended demographic of teen girls, a demographic I am not. Yet, I think it’s perfectly splendid for those that it’s catering towards. Some people are no-nonsense kind of people (I will never understand those people) but in terms of a simple girl meets boy romance it’s not bad at all.
What the show is best at is capturing the mystic of trying to understand people as you are still even discovering herself. The way Futaba grapples with trying to decipher who Kou is now, how he compares to the Kou of the past, and whether she is pining after the idea of Kou from her past recollection him or genuine enjoy the matured and jaded version she deals with now captures the challenge of dating in our youth. I was not one particularly into being flirty with boys at that age, but I’d imagine it was almost like the world’s hardest guessing game. I’m far from being a mind reader so I guess I really can empathize with Futaba and Kou and the rest of the gang’s struggle to fully understand how others feel about one another.
I’m glad there is a show out there teaching young girls how to navigate the hardships of forming relationships without being over dramatic or becoming too enveloped in fiction. After discovering that this was one of the best-selling manga series in Japan, I would imagine there’d be something more to it backing the hype. A popular romance series doesn’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel, but I’m left struggling to come up with what makes this one stand out. I guess I would have to say that the best way to describe it would be as cliché, but sincere. Every by the books, romance plot beat you can think of is here and I’m sure you wouldn’t have to search hard to find better examples throughout the genre. Yet, I don’t think it comes across as trend chasing or being derivative. Blue Spring Ride is its own thing and is just trying to tell a story that people can relate with. I think it does very well in that regard.
Favourite character: Murao, I don’t know if I was more jealous of her steely demeanour or her pretty hair but she’s definitely my favourite.
What this anime taught me:“If you lose something, just build it again.” I don’t wish to lose it in the first place but Futaba gives some sound advice.
The drunk mind speaks the sober heart
Suggested drink: Diamond Blue
- Every time anyone mentions bread – take a sip
- Every time Futaba makes a silly face – take a sip
- Every time anyone misses their ride – call a taxi
- Every time there’s a flashback – take tons of screenshots
- Every time someone smells someone else – take a sniff
- Every time Kou teases Futaba – take a sip
- Every time someone rest their head on someone – take a sip
- Every time someone’s secret is exposed – gasp
- Every time someone is a bad student – write their name 60 times on a chalkboard
- Every time a scene ends anticlimactically – write a better ending on Wattpad