Nadeshiko-chan here and I’ll be reviewing Ao Haru Ride by Sakisaka Io on this fine winter day. The ongoing series begins with the heroine, Yoshioka Futaba, in middle school; she’s a timid, cute, and feminine girl who dislikes boys, since she finds them loud and obnoxious. Her only exception Tanaka Kou, a gentle and rather quiet boy, that also has feelings for her. They decide to go to the festival together, but because of a series of misunderstand and mishaps, he stands her up. She wants to confront him, work things out, but when she goes to school she finds out his transferred and she left without closure. Then she begins gaining the attention of other boys because of her cute, girly attitude, causing her female “friends” to ostracize her.
The story then skips to her in high school, working to reset her image: She's become a tomboy and makes her large appetite known in order to keep boys away. She has very shallow relationships with her new “friends” that only like her because even though she’s cute, she’s too boyish to pose a threat to them. Towards the end of her 1st year, she reunites with Tanaka, but he isn't the same; first of all he goes under the name of Mabuchi Kou now and his masculine, sarcastic. He tells her that he felt the same way as she did when they were younger, but that they can’t go back and she agrees, just happy to have closure. Her feelings for the past him are done, but she soon starts developing feelings for the present him, for Mabuchi Kou. Also, after she meets him, she befriends Yuuri Makita, who’s ostracized by the girls because she’s cute and popular among boys, like Futaba was in middle school. Though their friendship takes some time to develop, they soon become true friends that care about each other. Around that time, they become a trio with Shuuko Murao, the cool “lone wolf” of their class. Though its hard to tell whether she likes them at all at first, it soon becomes apparent that she cares about them and she steadily opens up to them. Anyway, as Futaba stops worrying about what others think, her feelings for Kou grow and her concern for him leads her to helping him deal with his family issues. After which, he also begins to fall for her once again, the only problem is he isn't very honest with his feelings and someone from his past keeps distracting him. I’ll end it at that, I don’t want to spoil too much.
Now the characters: I originally didn't like Futaba as a heroine, trying to change herself just to make “friends”, but then I realized that it must have been traumatic for her after being abandoned by all those who she thought were her friends. And after awhile I realized she was rather honest, always doing her best and putting in all her power when she’s determined about something. She’s got a lot of spunk and is working on another one of her major character faults: avoiding a problem instead of facing it head on. As you read you might notice this bad habit of hers and see moments where she’s able to over come it. Then there’s the male lead Kou, dishonest and distant Kou, keeping himself away from the rest of group. Originally Futaba simply reminded him of his happier days before his family turmoil, but he starts to developing feelings for the present Futaba as well. These feelings become more apparent after she helps him deal with some his family issues, but he doesn’t feel it’s the appropriate time to act on his feelings. Overall he is very kind and looks out for her, he simply can’t be honest with his feelings. But the series is ongoing, so things might change.