Blue Spring Ride

Alt title: Ao Haru Ride

TV (12 eps)
4.2 out of 5 from 16,276 votes
Rank #710

At the end of her first year of high school, the main heroine, Futaba suddenly has a chance encounter with her first love, Tanaka Kou. Three years ago, he transferred schools before she was able to say how she felt about him. After meeting each other again, Futaba realizes that he has gone through many changes. He acts more cool and even had his last name changed to Mabuchi. Gradually the two rekindle their love while piecing together what had happened in the time that they were apart.

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This was originally a recap on the finale (containing spoilers) as well as the following final impressions. You can read the post on my website found here. Ao Haru Ride. Hello and welcome to my Ao Haru Ride review. There won’t be any spoilers contained herein, which doesn’t really matter anyway, considering that this is easily the most predictable series I’ve seen this year. It’s especially predictable if you’ve seen a few romantic-type comedies based in the shoujo genre. Don’t mistake predictable for bad, mind you. It’s just as the series meanders along, it never really surprised me, delivered anything unexpected or made me think or feel anything new. But I enjoyed it. So, what did Ao Haru Ride deliver and what did the cast of characters make me feel? Some of that, but first a very brief synopsis and some production notes. Ao Haru Ride, literally Blue Spring Ride, was billed as a shoujo romantic comedy, but it’s a pretty basic light coming-of-age in high school tale. The series begins with us following high school student Yoshioka Futaba as she makes her way through her first year in high school. We immediately get some insight into the main character, her past and various motivations. Futaba fulfills awkward main character role well. It doesn’t take long for Futaba’s world to be shaken, when she’s reunited with a boy from her past. This lighter version of a long lost love is the catalyst for Futaba — and through her, the story — to progress over course the series. She contends with her feelings for the dreamy Kou, while dealing with real friendship for the first time, and generally being a high school girl. It’s all pretty basic, and generally hinges on how much you like the characters and the writing. Thankfully, the characters and writing aren’t terrible. The show looked and sounded just fine. When researching the show before the season started, I did look over the manga and its website. The character designs in the anime are toned down versions of the slightly exaggerated shoujo-style ones in the manga, but are fairly faithful for the most part. Especially faithful in regards to the males, who are rendered stunningly attractive. Kou and Bro are blessed genetically. Characters designs, as well as all the backgrounds, various locales, and the animation itself are pretty, but fairly mediocre. The series — animated by Production I.G. — doesn’t look bad, just not very memorable. It suffices however, and luckily for Ride, it doesn’t need to look stunning (although Kou is pretty stunning) to tell its story. I would say the same for the audio contained in the series. The opening is lively and colorful, but I usually skip it, as I do all opening and endings. I feel that OPs and EDs are pointless for the most part, unless it comes to spoiling events that haven’t happened. They’re really good at spoiling shit — and selling merchandise. Regardless, I can’t give an honest opinion about those. The score and background music were pretty good however. The shot that made my female readership climb. The voice acting is fine, and for the most part slightly above average. Uchidas Maaya does Futaba’s voice and with her being the main character, gets plenty of opportunities to show a wide range of emotion, and show it well in my opinion. Anything less, and it could have been difficult actually caring what happens her as much as I did. So, why did I care about Futaba and through her, Kou and the rest of her friends? Well, the reason I enjoyed the series overall, is the same reason I enjoy the shoujo genre of fiction — sometimes. To me, shoujo doesn’t necessarily mean “girly” stories, but more “stories with feelings.” Because god fucking forbid, you put some actual feelings into a show like Akame ga Kill! Feelings in shounen-like series tend to be a set of grunts, determined looks, fist pumps and super exaggerated expressions. I like Akame ga Kill!, but as a mature adult, I need feelings sometimes. It’s not that I don’t have any feelings myself and want to see them up close or anything, I just — nevermind. Swoon. So, if you get my drift, Ao Haru Ride is a fine example of what I enjoy about the shoujo genre. It’s a simple story, and one with an affable main character to root for. I won’t get into too many specifics, as it wouldn’t be needed. If you’ve seen coming of age high school shows before, you’re already in Ride‘s personal space and will feel completely comfortable watching this. Instead, here are a few things I liked and a few I didn’t like. As I already said, I enjoyed Futaba quite a bit. She’s the “every man” character done very well, and honestly, she could have easily been a male character. The group that does come together fairly early in the series has a nice chemistry, and there are a few small and reoccurring gags that help with the lighter sides of things. Hand warmer to face, my favorite screenshot of the Summer. I did not like high school in real life and I don’t like watching characters in high school in anime. If an anime doesn’t take place in high school, it’s immediately better in my book. Every New Year’s my resolution is to stop watching anime that takes place in high school, but I always break it. I have a reoccurring gag myself with a friend. When one of us tries to describe an anime we’ve just watched, the other says, “you just described 90% of all anime,” regardless of what they described. You can use that if you wish, it’s fun. So, because it’s in high school, I found it difficult, but not impossibru (lol) to connect to the teenage feels. My only main gripe with the series, as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, is Ride’s predictability issues. Kou, the returning figure in Futaba’s life, is one of the most obvious characters I’ve ever seen. And the best looking. “It’s so tough being as good looking as I am.” Seriously, isn’t he dreamy? Not just physically mind you. He’s distant, but reachable by way of some treacherous waters, he’s cruel at times, but just challenging enough to make teenage girls wonder why he’s so cruel. Surely, Futaba can tame the distant-staring eyes and murky-watered heart residing just inside those firm teenage pectoral muscles? You get what I’m saying right? Kou is perfection, which I found stupid. Even when he’s an asshole and distant, he’s perfect. Girls, lol. In addition to Kou, all the characters act and do things you’d expect, with very few exceptions. Hmm… I’m going to stop right there and finish this. I apologize for all the nonsense, which I’ve just re-read, but will not edit out. Ok, with its enjoyable, familiar main character — who I really did enjoy — and for the general enjoyment I took from the series, I’ll give Ao Haru Ride a very solid 3 out of 5 on my Kitsune Scale™ If you haven’t read my finales before, a three is a very good score. A four is slotted for great shows, with five for the rare series that I think is outstanding. All my opinions of course. On my, “would I recommend this series,” scale, I would say, yes. That’s if you’ve read this review and it sounds good, then watch it. On my, “did I ever think about dropping this scale,” the answer is, no. This was really easy to watch. Well, I wanted a well-rounded Summer 2014 season and knew I wanted a shoujo anime to recap and review. Thankfully this coincided with the release of Ride. Although my second choice was Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun which people seem to like, and its been on my want to watch list. Anyway, thanks all, and if you have any comments or shoujo series to recommend, please let me know! Thanks all and take care.

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