Ao Haru Ride (アオハライド Aoharaido)
Ao Haru Ride (アオハライド Aoharaido)
I'm excited for this anime! Kind of reminds me of Wandering Son (for its use of water color), My Little Monster (for its close group of friends, and half-tsundere male and female leads), and also Kimi ni Todoke (for its little cute/chibi charm). Also kind of reminds me of One Week Friends from the previous season. Maybe like Fushimiya from One Week Friends Futaba will re-think what it means to have friends, and along the way make new friends, while rethinking her personality and attitude toward others (including Mabuchi and other boys and girls).
So it looks like both the female lead (Futaba) and male lead (Mabuchi) both changed themselves after going into high school. Futaba is trying to be like Chie from Persona 4, xD. The results were rather cute. <3
It was cool that they included those scenes where Futaba's 'friends' criticize her for not being "feminine" enough. Then in the climactic school shop scene, when Futaba buys all those buns, and is stopped by the lady thinking that Futaba is stealing.. When her friends arrive on the scene, they right away accuse her of stealing!
At this point it is being made pretty clear that both Futaba and Mabuchi's personalities are somewhat fabricated. In a way they are both coping with what happened between them 3 years ago. Mabuchi is trying to be cold to deal with Futaba saying she hates all boys. And Futaba is trying to be cheery and Chie-like in order to get over being stood up. But since it's a romance, we all know that it was a misunderstanding, and that these two are meant for each other, and we will probably spend the rest of season seeing them spin in circles rooting for them to 'go out already'.
The eyes were really cute. They did a lot with Futaba's eyes, not just when they are huge and round, but the chibi/cute eyes had a lot of variety too! Which is really interesting because Mabuchi, on the other hand, covers his eyes when he gets embarrassed! While Futaba just blushes.
Ep2 hit me right in the feelings! It feels like we have a new beginning now that Futaba has a better understanding of her personality, and what she wants out of friendship. I'm enjoying the little chibi moments, they're placed pretty evenly throughout each episode. Also I really like how the first minute showed another scene from Futaba and Kou's middle school years playing together. Haha, the smell of shampoo and sweat, eh? If only smellovision took off. xD
So now that Futaba is friends with Makita, we were also introduced to two other characters, a blonde haired boy and a long-black haired girl who wants to forget everything about her classmates =(. Nobody really wants to be alone, the importance of trust and emotional connection, woo! The small epilogue between Futaba, Asami and Chie felt a little too sentimental, but the whole point was to arrive at some life lesson. Futaba will hopefully now be more authentic with herself, and because of that hopefully make more authentic connections with others.
It will be interesting if we ever get any insight into what happened to Kou during those years between middle school and high school that caused his personality to change into the way it is now. I mean there was that moment when Tanaka-sensei smiled ear to ear after hearing that Futaba went to middle school with Kou, maybe he knows something? Kou's interactions with Futaba seem pretty natural. It's just the right amount of detached, but also caring without falling into typical tsundere tropes. For example the hug scene felt really natural and almost improvised. "I just did what I felt" xD.
Just watched ep4+5: We have a two episode 'summer camp' type arc as the 5 class reps/event reps from each class do some quality bonding! This anime has an interesting balance between comedy, silent moments and cute moments. It reminds me a lot of Kimi ni Todoke, except this anime is more to-the-point (partly because of the shorter runtime), so there is less spinning around in circles. With Kimi ni Todoke, you can spend the entire 30+ episodes yelling at the screen telling Sawako and Kazehaya to GO OUT ALREADY DAMMIT. But with Blue Spring Ride, the relationship between Futaba and Mabuchi is more complicated. It's not clear if Futaba is still searching for the old Kou, and whether Mabuchi's new half-baked/disinterested personality changes things. So I find myself not sure whether to root for them or not.
With Kimi ni Todoke, it ended up feeling like everything revolved around Sawako and Kazehaya. For now, Blue Spring Ride is doing a good enough job of keeping the side characters interesting. You have Maoru who likes a teacher. Yuuri who acts cute/vulnerable, but has a more 'evil' side? (the muffin). In a way, the 5 of the main characters kind of start off as 'loners'. But they are slowly opening up to each other and creating new memories with each other. Like the eventful trek through the forest and watching the sunset together. That was a nice wrap up to the pseudo-summer camp events xD.
On the whole these 2 eps did a good job of exploring the 'chemistry' between the characters, not just Futaba and Mabuchi, but all5 of the 'main' characters. It's not clear exactly who is a 'good' person or who would be a 'good friend' with who (just like in REAL life! xD). For example even though Futaba and Yuuri seem to be getting along really well> They threw in that curve ball with Yuuri liking Mabuchi, and there is that 'evil' side of Yuuri. Or with blonde hair guy, he seems friendly and energetic with everyone, but there was enough tension in the forest to make us think twice about him. Also Maoru.. she seems very cold, but has a soft spot for Tanaka-sensei, who knows what'll happen with that? *shrug*
Just watched eps 8+9: The story is sort of turning into a typical romance. So we have 2 love triangles (1. blonde-hair dude, Murao and Tanaka-sensei; 2. Futaba, Yuri and Mabuchi). It was interesting to get to see a more detached side of Mabuchi, how he hangs out with "friends-only-in-name" and doesn't like to get attached.
I don't think they explained yet why Mabuchi didn't show up for his date with Futaba on that Christmas eve, they just showed Mabuchi apologizing to Futaba. But whatever happened, I guess Mabuchi has since then tried to teach himself to not get attached, not care (about school about others), so he won't feel hurt when something bad happens to the thing he gets attached to. But at the same time Mabuchi has shown that he has a decent set of morals, and cares about his friends, like how he protected Futaba when she followed him into a more dangerous part of town. The scene on the hillside evening was nice.
I can't help feeling some of the story is being melodramatic. There was less of the cutesy/moe animations in these last 2 episodes, as the story delved deeper into into its love triangles and sentimental moments between characters. So it feels like the series has lost some of its charm, but it's still fairly pleasant to watch even though the love triangle development can feel a little typical.