Episode 2: Page 2
It’s funny how it’s only the second episode but Ao Haru Ride is already making me smile at absolutely everything that happens on screen. Just as my heart starts to beat faster every time I see another chapter released, it looks like the novelty has yet to wear off and despite my prior knowledge to the plot I’m going to be anticipating this show week after week.
The Plot: In this week’s episode we meet, or are at least introduced to, pretty much everyone who’s important in the series, including the self-proclaimed ‘cutesy’ Makita Yuuri, voiced by the adorable Kayano Ai, and the girl whom Futaba’s friends despise for her popularity and ‘fake’ cute personality in front of boys. There must be a very real message that displays the kind of person that I am when I admit that I too felt irritated by her character. I guess there’s just something about the cutesiness that can get on one’s nerves but there’s also something very likeable and admirable about Yuuri in the way that she handles the situation by accepting herself as a loner and telling the girls in this hilariously innocently spiteful manner that the fact that they hate her means they care what she’s doing and…serves them right! It was one of those “you go girl, even though I’m not your biggest fan yet” moments and the truth of it all can be both appreciated and admitted by girls all around the world. We’ve all met those girls you just love to hate, haven’t we? ;)
Back to the plot, Futaba’s still internally reeling from the shock of Kou’s cutting words in the previous week and I do wonder why she doesn’t just call him out on the fact that he seems to be taking some real liberties in what he says to her despite not having seen her in years. Nevertheless, that’s just who he is and that can be appreciated in its own right. But it is what leads her to reaching out to Yuuri, whom she has no issues with anyway, and it’s what destroys her brain-to-mouth filter and causes her to scold her friends for their pettiness and cruelty. And I think that’s admirable in so many ways. In the wise words of Dumbledore, “It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.” While those girls might not have been her real friends, they were, nonetheless, the people she used both as a shield and a weapon and must have had at least some good times with them. While Futaba does end up breaking whatever friendship she had with them, she does gain a new friend in Yuuri, and thus the story progresses~
The Characters/Episode Highlights:
– So, with the introduction of Makita Yuuri, we’ve opened up the series to a whole new list of possibilities, just from her character alone. She’s a sweet girl, there’s no doubt about that, and saccharine in a way that could give you cavities. And I admire her honesty in admitting that she wants boys to think she’s cute and acts that way because she doesn’t know how else to act around them; it’s what makes Futaba realise that she acts the way she does in order to make girls like her. While it’s played off quite offhandedly, it’s still a deep message to send and resonated distinctly with me.
– Onto the good stuff, though, one of the reasons I loved this episode was because it featured THAT SCENE and for those of you who have read the manga, you know the anticipation and the butterflies and the glee and I’m sure that for those who’ve now watched the episode, garnered similar feelings of giddiness. Of course I’m talking about the scene where Futaba’s upset and hiding after the confrontation with her friends and Kou just so happens to lean out of a ground-floor window and sees her. Not only is the entire initial exchange painful for Futaba, but it shows a kind of self-awareness and an ability to admit she was wrong and apologise for blaming him for what’s happened. The best part is, of course, when she’s all teary-eyed but is cornered by other students coming from all sides and has nowhere to hide her face until Kou just reaches out and casually pulls her face into his chest, obscuring her crying face from view. There was…internal incoherent squealing to be had because that whole motion was just so smooth without any hesitation and just made my heart race. I know it sounds utterly insane and ridiculous but the placement of their bodies with her outside and his nonchalance as he leans out the window was just very…*sigh* It’s hard to describe in words so I’ll just let the magic of screenshots do it justice. If you’ve noticed that there are a lot of screenshots of Kou’s face, well, look at him. He’s gorgeous. My inner high school self approves.
The Verdict: From the amount of flailing and fangirling above I don’t think we even need this paragraph anymore. I love this series to pieces and while the heaviness and the angst and the feels will undoubtedly put some people off, I can’t help but watch as I find the intensity quite beautiful in its own right. And, as always, there’s just something about seeing a beloved manga being animated, and animated well that makes one’s day. <3