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BLUE SPRING RIDE Review: A Pleasant Romance Story

Amongst all the clamor and support for unique and revolutionary shows, Ao Haru Ride, or Blue Spring Ride, takes a familiar setup and delivers without becoming banal. The show could be dismissed as little more than another romance. However, the work based off the manga by Io Sakisaka can also be appreciated for its handling of its romance and its overall quality regardless of the absence of innovation.

The show’s romance is enjoyably told and one of its honest selling points. Despite a level of weakness in its characters, the show is able to properly handle their interactions. Ao Haru Ride stands as an example of a show that can assemble a collective whole from tried and true parts to produce an enjoyable and excellent product.

Story

The basic premise of the story follows the point of view of Futaba Yoshioka, a high school girl who has since transformed herself from a conventionally attractive appearance to a sloppier and less mannered version of herself. This change is due to the bullying she faced in middle school because of the attention her appearance garnered.

The story proper begins when she begins to change again as a result of meeting her middle school crush in high school, Kou Mabuchi. As a story, Ao Haru Ride mostly documents the changes in Futaba in a person and in her relationship with Kou, with little left for the other characters in the show. For what the show does choose to discourse through its narrative, however, it does so well. Realizations and understandings between Futaba and Kou come at a fine pace.

Ao Haru Ride delivers its narrative principally through Futaba. It is focused in that regard. Much of the show is understood at her pace and the audience understands the events of Ao Haru Ride from her understanding as much as their own. It uses that fact well in controlling the drama and pace of many events in the story.

Despite the level of attention placed on the show’s main couple, the show handles the entire cast’s interactions and relationships fairly well, which is understandably important for any character-driven narrative. Friendships and closeness develops subtly and comes to fruition almost suddenly, less the result of a momentous event and more from the cast’s constant implicit and explicit interaction. Ao Haru Ride seems to capture the human element in its relationships’ formations quite well.

Source: zerochan.net

Source: zerochan.net

Characters

The nature of Ao Haru Ride is that the characters are crux of the show. Five characters share Ao Haru Ride’s focus.  The show also has a few supporting characters, with the teacher Tanaka being the most important and noteworthy. But it is the show’s main cast, namely the coupling of Futaba and Kou, that captures much of the show’s focus.

In some ways, this execution comes across as an excellent move. Even in its short run, the pacing and development for Futaba’s and Kou’s relationship is attention grabbing. Ao Haru Ride is able to display a ton of the pair’s interactions and begin to characterize and develop them as well. A romance show’s romance actually being enjoyable is certainly a good sign.

Of course, the great amount of focus dedicated to the budding couple does take away some from some of the other principal characters. Outside of the early episodes, Makita Yuuri, introduced early as Yoshioka’s best friend, receives little in the way of characterization or development.

The same is doubly true for the last two members of the main cast, the cold Shuuko Murao and the friendly Aya Kominato. Little is known about Aya even after the entire show, other than a few details like an unexplored infatuation with Shuuko and a fierce loyalty to his friends. Shuuko sadly suffers the same fate.

The lack of characterization and development of much of the cast likely stems from the nature of the source work and length of adaptation as much as the choice to focus heavily on two characters. The result is a more than acceptable mix of good and bad. If the other characters were sacrificed somewhat in favor of a more polished relationship between the main two characters, it is the lesser of two evils.

Art

Ao Haru Ride’s character designs are effectively simple and yet visually appealing. Moreover, character hair and hair color are all left safely in the realm of possibility. This serves as an instrument to cement the narrative’s immersion and place more emphasis on the characters’ relationships. The show’s relative laid back atmosphere is supported by its use of light and cool colors. Little is ever sharply accentuated on the screen as the narrative is allowed unravel almost purely through the characters that drive it.

The animation is consistently good throughout. Of course, little is required in the way of sharp movement, but the subtle motions of everyday mundane life are conveyed smoothly. Key moments in the show are presented with an almost subdued panache. None of the events ever come across as larger than life, but the impact for those involved is conveyed properly. The art of Ao Haru Ride does well in its role to support the narrative.

Overall

Ao Haru Ride is perhaps a simple yet deceptively delightful romance show. It manages to take rather unassuming characters, but still craft entertaining and realistic interactions between them. Although the individual characterizations for much of the cast may be week, the development they receive in their relationships with each other is still quite entertaining.

The story manages to be attention grabbing without doing much more than simply handling itself properly and executing well. Of course, both the art and music are able to stand in support of the show’s main and proper selling points, such as romance. Ao Haru Ride might not be a new and exciting package, but it is undeniably a quality one.

3 out of 5 stars

3 out of 5 stars

 

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Categories: Anime Reviews

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5 Comments on “BLUE SPRING RIDE Review: A Pleasant Romance Story”

  1. 01/20/2015 at 5:32 PM #

    I tried to watch it, because I began liking various romance anime, but the first episode of Ao Haru Ride had all the things that I disliked about romance anime and nothing to redeem it >.< Perhaps I should give it another try.

  2. 01/20/2015 at 5:35 PM #

    To be fair, it certainly isn’t a perfect piece, but it also might be worth another go! What in particular turned you off about the show early on?

  3. 01/20/2015 at 5:43 PM #

    I watched it some time ago, but what I do remember is that I didn’t find it entertaining or interesting that the main girl tried to make herself unattractive. It made her seem too desperate and pathetic. Nor did I find it entertaining or interesting that the guy became somewhat a jerk after a time, but helped her, but he wasn’t nice- like wishy-washy. Which is weird because I enjoyed Ookami Shoujo to Kuroi Ouji, which has similar characters I think.

  4. 01/20/2015 at 5:53 PM #

    Hmm, I think if that’s a fair summary of your dislikes of the show, then I do believe that the latter episodes are better on that standpoint.

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