“Sometimes people put up walls, not to keep others out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”— Futaba Yoshioka
Gimme the tsundere. I mean, not in real life–I don’t think my poor life could take it. But in anime? Heck yeah! Gimme that tsundere angst.
Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride) follows Futaba Yoshioka, a 17-year-old high school student struggling to fit in. Due to a history of attracting boys and making girls jealous, she begins acting brash (e.g. overeating) to avoid being ostracized. Futaba doesn’t mind, as there isn’t a boy she’s interested in anyway: her heart was stolen long ago by Kou Tanaka, whom abruptly moved away to Nagasaki in middle school. However, things begin to change when Kou moves back and is disappointed when she learns he’s become cold, rude and sneaky. However, Futaba and Kou have to work together when they apply for the class representative positions, and the two must navigate their feelings for each other, both old and new.
Review: / 5
Who doesn’t swoon at the idea of a rekindled lost love? Who doesn’t want that sweet angst? We could build a bridge out of the amount of high-school romance anime shows and reunite two long-distance lovers, and this one performs admirably in that mix. It carries all of the standard tropes centering a coming-of-age story about teenagers discovering who they are and coping with the tension between social expectations and internal truths. While the show’s themes are not revolutionary or complex, its underlying layers an nuances throughout the narrative elevate it from the standard. Futaba’s willingness to sacrifice her personality and image in order to survive her school experience is painfully authentic, endearing and relatable. Her relationship with Yuuri Makita, and the girls’ struggle between balancing their friendship and mutual feelings for Kou is handled sensitively. As is Kou’s rejection of his past self while navigating his trauma, guilt and grief.
Perhaps the greatest quality of the show is to demonstrate the fluidity of the human spirit: we are capable of such change, such boundless opportunities. The capacity for growth, personal evolution and continual self-discovery. However, with this malleability comes anxiety: will those who loved us before love us now? Blue Spring Ride‘s answer is maybe. In the case of Futaba and Kou, it’s a yes, but one that takes careful evaluation and self-reflection on and from both parties. Because of this, their relationship, when it finally does come to fruition, is tenderly realistic and true to their characters.
Did I mention the animation is beautiful? And that there’s also fluff with the angst?
Well here’s the proof.
Futaba’s confession “I like you. I came here to get rejected properly. To end this, so I can move forward. To make me convinced of this broken heart, I want to get rejected properly” is a perfect example of her accepting Kou’s change, and marks her own development to act honestly. She has several moments of surprisingly astute insight. Her relationship with Kou informs and strengthens her own opinion. Whilst he goes about it in a classic tsundere way, his character allows for her own to grow. Here are some of my key Futaba quotes:
- If what you lost was too big and you can’t replace it with something else, you don’t have to replace it with just one thing, right? If you get ten small things or a hundred small things, all together it will be enough of a reason for you to keep going!
- When you said that we were scary, that means deep down, you had started to care about us! The thought of losing someone again… That’s the scary part, right?
- No one’s going to criticize you if you get excited for something, or you laugh with all your heart! And if someone does, I’ll beat them up!
- But I think it’s natural that not everything you try will go well, right? So, I’m gonna start again from scratch.
And here are some more gifs to go along with those quotes:
Okay, but let’s take a closer look at that.. for science purposes, obviously.
ALL ABOARD THE FEELS TRAIN, CHOO-CHOO!
I’m just using gifs here, but you can feel the emotion without needing an explanation or words. This is powerful animation and some of the best I’ve seen in a shoujo. There’s something profoundly moving to me about this scene, such intimacy and tenderness. This breathtakingly honest moment was my favorite in the series.
Oftentimes, I did find this show predictable and admittedly there were several times where I just thought: really?… For some, the plot may be too vanilla, too lack-luster and boring. The side characters fell a little flat. Even Yuuri’s interest in Kou (while relatable) was executed on superficial terms. The love triangle was used as more of a plot device to develop Futaba’s character, really. Additionally, there are some instances where Kou’s actions and words borderline on abuse, and where his character slips into a cliche which propagates female guilt and helplessness. The scene where he pins Futaba down to explain she must be conscious of possible assault is one of those times. It’s a scene which appears frequently in anime and media, but that doesn’t make it very accurate or helpful as a social commentary. That’s a personal thing for me, but not something I knock off many points for. Compared to others who follow this trope and plot, it surpasses and surprises with its refreshing character development of its main duo.
Ultimately, I enjoyed this anime. It’s like a white t-shirt: fitting and comfortable without being excessive or revolutionary. It’s a better version of Wolf Girl, black Prince and gives off Orange feels (perhaps because the lead couple look so similar??)
What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!
Watch on, Annime-niacs,