Ao Haru Ride: Episode 04

Episode 4: Page 4

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Every week I fall more and more in love with this show and while my love for the manga is deep and fierce, there’s something about the animation of certain scenes that just make me melt and this series has a multitude of them.

The Plot

It’s time for the class representatives’ overnight camp and the day starts off horrible for Futaba when she arrives at Kou’s door and he opens it, sending her into a tizzy with his bare upper half. Such an innocent little girl, haha! After they’ve headed off to the station, though, Futaba realises that she’s left her bag at Kou’s place and the two rush back, shouting at each other the entire time, and then run back to the station, with Futaba yelling at him to go faster while he’s cursing her for making him carry her bag. It’s a series of unfortunate events as the train pulls up just as they’ve reached but by hook or by crook – or rather, by yanking Kou all the way down the stairs much to his disgruntlement – they manage to make it onto the train. That’s of course when they realise they’ve gotten on the wrong train and are going in the opposite direction of the meeting point! In the end the bus has to leave without them and they’re left to make their way to the overnight stay by themselves.

So they’ve finally reached the workshop and both of them have to write a formal apology and submit it by the end of the day much to their chagrin. But their instructor isn’t the only one upset with them as Kominato starts it out by scolding the two of them for embarrassing the both of them, and when Murao tells Kou off for reflecting badly on Tanaka-sensei. Pretty soon the mood gets super tense and Futaba’s hastily trying to calm everyone down. She’s grateful that Makita at least is her usual sugary self. That’s of course until Kominato takes her cupcake without asking and she turns onto a warpath of passive aggression. I can totally relate, Makita, my dear, I understand your ire.

The trip just seems to get worse and worse for Futaba, who’s really doing her best, but she can’t even figure out what to write for their assignment titled why this trip is important. When they’re asked to read out their manifesto, though, Kou saves the day once again by rattling off what comes to mind with ease. That evening, a disheartened and tired Futaba sits alone in the empty cafeteria when Kou wanders over. She bemoans the fact that no matter how much she tries she just can’t move forward and can’t seem to grasp the concept of friendship and what this trip is supposed to be about. He reassures her, though, that the fact that she’s feeling this way means that she really is trying whereas the words that come out of his mouth are mostly ‘half-baked’ and meaningless. They share a tender moment together – which I’ll speak about below because I have SO MUCH to say about it – before he kind of ruins it all by getting annoyed at the fact that she’s hypocritically still trying to look for the boy he used to be, which stops her from being able to move on like she says she wants to.

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The next day and the group seems to fall apart even more but Futaba realises, as she always does, that Kou is right about her and the fact that she keeps going round and round in a circle and inhibiting herself. As always, though, she strives to continue doing her best and to stop looking backwards to things that she can’t reach anymore. And while her relationship with Kou isn’t where she wants it to be, at least she’s trying to move it into the direction where she believes it could be.

The Characters/Episode Highlights

I loved the part at the beginning when Kou and Futaba were running back and forth to the station, and then when Futaba yanked Kou down the stairs into the train in her frantic desperation to catch it! Kou’s face made me laugh so hard and Futaba was just so hilarious and relatable in her need to be on time.

Another really intriguing scene for me was when Makita stumbled across Murao and Tanaka-sensei in a questionable situation. We learn about Murao’s feelings for Tanaka-sensei, exposing a very vulnerable and sensitive side to her that we haven’t seen before. While Tanaka is very adamant about maintaining a student-teacher distance between them, Murao is surprisingly forceful in a very gentle kind of way and I actually do feel for her when he sternly tells her to go back to the others. She walks away but finds Makita standing behind the wall, not bothering to hide the fact that she overheard and she showed such compassion and understanding even though Murao quickly walked away, panicked but proud.

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However, my favourite part of this whole episode was, undoubtedly, the moment Futaba and Kou shared late at night. It was so incredibly breathtaking and beautiful but cloying at the same time. The tactile nature of their relationship during these quiet moments really speaks of such thick and voluminous history with one another and I can understand why Futaba just wants to pick up where they left off. This is what could have been had he not moved away and had their middle school romance been allowed to flourish. It’s so meaningful and symbolic too, as Futaba has begun to turn his way again but always seems to be looking at him from behind. The moment he turns to face her, though, there’s this real spark before he extinguishes it by turning away though. It really says so much about the two of them; Futaba is always the one chasing and Kou is always just out of reach. When he asked her very honestly whether she liked him, her first reaction was that she didn’t know. She doesn’t know him enough to be able to say she loves him and her honesty in that shouldn’t have been thrown back in her face the way he did. Still, he’s clearly got his own demons to battle but his feelings for Futaba are hinted quite strongly in this exchange, much as he wants to deny them.

The Verdict

This show is so full of feels and drama and it’s as beautiful as it is painful to watch sometimes with such thick tension, so much bitterness and hurt from both their perspectives. This was a wonderful episode in terms of the sheer amount of subdued drama. It’s tasteful and lovely and I’m really enjoying the way the story is progressing.

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