Episode 6: Page 6
This was very much a typical Ao Haru Ride episode, with enough hopeful drama, gorgeous angst, and the beautiful subtleties of Kou and Futaba‘s relationship.
Futaba is still semi-reeling from the shock of Yuuri’s confession of her crush on Kou and she doesn’t really know how she feels about it. At times she allows herself to acknowledge how cute and sweet Yuuri is, and watches in a mixture of trepidation and fascination as Yuuri gushes over Kou, blushing excitedly and watching her clutch at her heart like a lovesick teenage girl. I’m sure there’s a part of Futaba that’s happy for Yuuri, but she’s also treading into dangerous territory of their friendship ending up like her previous friendships with other girls; acting a certain way in order to keep everyone happy without taking into account her own feelings. It’s this blind and almost unintentional altruism and lack of self-preservation that’s really interesting to watch, especially as we see Futaba‘s character develop. At the beginning of the day Futaba reassures Yuuri – albeit as an automated response – that no, she doesn’t have any romantic feelings for Kou, and that the reason she didn’t respond to her message was that she just fell asleep too soon, which Yuuri understandably feels a lot of relief over. Still, at school, though, as much as Yuuri says hello to her “Mabuchi-kun” and greets him with as much happiness, doing her best to convey her feelings for him, he doesn’t quite respond to her with anything other than politeness, whereas he finds it easy to tease Futaba and lightheartedly bully her and touch her in front of other people. While Yuuri openly laughs at the interaction between the two, though, she shares her feelings of anxiety about what Kou feels for Futaba with Murao, and the two sort of understand each other about the difficulties of being in love with people and not knowing where the boys’ feelings lie.
At the end of the day Futaba and Kou have to stay behind to write a piece each about the team-building camp and Futaba begins to feel anxious not only because she feels guilty about Yuuri, but also because she’s beginning to realise that there’s something between her and Kou and something she can’t stop herself from feeling. She can’t help but want to look at him and spend time with him and the utter wonder with which she looks at him sometimes is quite breathtaking. As they’re about to leave, though, she realises that she has to put a stop to these feelings and tries to happily tell him to go on ahead and that she’ll hand in the forms. I really like how they depicted her walking down the halls by herself with these dark colours that reflected her conflicted emotions but how everything began to brighten when she looked up and actually found Kou waiting for her by the lockers even though she’d implied that he could just leave. And that only makes it harder for her to keep her feelings at bay. Her guilt increases tenfold whenever she thinks of Yuuri and her own feelings that are coming to light and as much as she tries to deny it she can’t help it. At the end, when they reach the station, she lets him get on the train but hastily tells him that she’s left something behind as she tells herself in a moment of serendipity that if Kou doesn’t get off, she’ll forget about all her feelings for him, but if he does, she’ll allow them to blossom and finally acknowledge him. It’s a really tense moment while she waits and closes her eyes, repeating her promise again and again until the train starts to move and she silently begs him to get off and stay with her.
I really love the suspended moment where the train is gone and she’s standing there with her eyes closed, believing herself to be alone on the platform only to open her eyes and find him there, casually waiting for her and ready to go back to the school to get whatever it was she’d forgotten. It really made my heart beat a little faster and the awe at which she looked at him was just beautiful. There was just so much chemistry between them in that moment and even after she blankly confesses that she hadn’t actually forgotten anything and he scolds her for being such an airhead, he can sort of see the fragile state she’s in and asks her in that not-concerned voice of his whether she’s not feeling well and it’s the quiet concern he has for her in every episode that is just so lush and rich to watch.
The Characters/Episode Highlights
I thought it was a very beautiful episode and very real in the way that it tackled the fickleness of a teenager’s feelings. The small smirk that Murao gave Kou really indicated that she just knew something about him in regards to Futaba, and I like how she’s this sort of neutral party while still being friends with all of them. I also enjoyed how much closer Kominato and Kou have gotten and how they’re really such boys with each other – it was a far cry from the tension between them and it shows how Kou’s loosened up a little as well. As for the relationship between Yuuri and Futaba, well, they really do care for one another and love one another as friends but throwing a boy into the mix like this tested that but not in the way that they’d be enemies once they found out, which I thought was a good way to handle this whole dynamic.
My favourite scene was, of course, the train station part, which just so happened to include an insert song by Chelsy, 「I Will」which I thought was a really lovely song and transposed the atmosphere of the scene very well. Also, I am really enjoying Kaji Yuuki’s voice as Kou. While at the start I wasn’t too sure, it’s really grown on me and the deep, raspy, dulcet tones of his voice just really fit Kou and his character and appearance perfectly, in my opinion.
I thought it was a really lovely episode with its quiet drama and deep, perfectly pitched emotion and the art is also a lot better compared to last week, which I believe is because of the number of intimate scenes between Futaba and Kou and the need to convey their feelings across. Everything from the lighting to the music to the general feel of the episode was done beautifully.