Aoi Hana begins with a chance reunion between two childhood friends, Okudaira Akira (A-chan) and Manjoume Fumi. Attending two different high schools in the district, the two girls are quick to form a group of friends between the two schools. Fumi has just recently came out of a rather emotional illicit relationship, and was soon courted by her sempai, Sugimoto. Aoi Hana tells of the drama between Fumi and Sugimoto as well as the touching friendship of A-chan and Fumi.
In essence, Aoi Hana is an anime about love. I quite enjoyed the anime’s treatment of the lesbian relationship between Fumi and Sugimoto. It is a rather understated but complex illustration of the delicate drama. Further, the romance is a really realistic portrayal of relationships, confessions, and broken hearts. Weaved into this difficult drama is Fumi’s friendship with A-chan, which is just beautiful.
As a yuri anime, Aoi Hana is really quite successful and different from yuri anime in the past. It is really refreshing to see that lesbianism is not simply written off as a given premise of the world and all girls are simply gay for each other. Instead, the anime touches a bit on the “coming out” aspect of a homosexual relationship, both with Fumi and Sugimoto. Further, there is clearly a large participation of men in this yuri drama. In fact, with Sugimoto, I personally felt like for her relationship with Fumi is a phase she is going through. Contrast her feelings with Fumi, we see that Fumi seems to be much more serious about her love.
The major characters in Aoi Hana are all extremely well developed and multi-dimensional. I really love A-chan and she is by far my favorite character in Aoi Hana. Her candid and caring nature really shines, especially compared to the shy Fumi. Fumi is also quite a lovable character, especially as she grows and matures through her relationship. I hated Sugimoto sempai. On the surface, she just seems like the typical oujo-sama figure in an all girl’s high school. However, as her relationship with Fumi develops, we see her immature arrogant nature and her selfish role in the relationship. Anyway, Aoi Hana really delves deep into the characters, and I appreciated that I can love and hate these girls.
Aoi Hana, of course, has its weaknesses. I have mixed feelings about the pacing of the series. Although the pacing felt appropriate, and I was always very into each episode, the series felt slow between episodes. Of course, once the drama begin picking up by the middle of the series, this is no longer an issue. I was also not particularly impressed with the character designs in the anime (one of the reasons I was hesitant about watching this). I like A-chan and Fumi, but Sugimoto, Kyouko, Sugimoto’s family, the teacher are all rather bland and in some cases, not very attractive.
While some of the characters may not be my type, the animation in Aoi Hana is just gorgeous. The watercolor background is stunning and soft. This faded and comfortable look is very apparent in the colored pages of the manga as well. Also, I really like the opening, Aoi Hana by Kukikodan, and ending theme song, Centifolia by Ceui.
Aoi Hana by Kukikodan
Anyway, after finishing Aoi Hana over the weekend, I immediately wanted to write a post on this intricate, subtle, but dramatic story of romance and friendship. Of course, my schedule does not permit, hence I am posting it only now. Because Aoi Hana is a very sophisticated and nice series, there was a lot I wanted to say about this series to highlight this rather underrated anime. In the end, the review still feels a bit lengthy and perhaps haphazard…
By the way, I absolutely love the ending of Aoi Hana. I’m not going to spoil it, but it is the best ending I could hope for. It was so good that my eyes watered a bit…