Review: Aoi Hana’s plot is utterly generic; it’s a coming of age and love story among high school girls. The yuri theme draws my attention at first but when I really get into the show, I realize that the anime’s real charm comes from the unique production style, carefree pacing and well written characters.
Fumi, a dependent and crybaby girl, is back to her home town after ten years to attend Matsuoka Girl’s high school. She runs into Akira or A-chan, her childhood friend and their friendship is quickly reestablished. At school, Fumi falls for a third year and head of basketball club, Sugimoto. Despite Fumi’s shy personality, she and Sugimoto starts dating soon after that. As they get closer to each other, Fumi slowly learns that Sugimoto is far from perfection like her image may have suggested. She appears strong and dependable at school but she is spoiled and moody at home and she also has trouble accepting the fact that her true love is beyond her reach. Due to Sugimoto’s instability, her relationship with Fumi does not last very long. Heart broken, Fumi eventually learns one of the most important lessons in life about letting go and moving on and she finally sees things she has never seen before.
It seems like the whole show focuses on Fumi, Sugimoto and Ikumi. There were times when I was afraid that A-chan was completely forgotten. Throughout the show, A-chan is the least colorful character. She scarcely changes or affected by the situations around her and she remains just the way she has always been until the end. My guess is that A-chan is supposed to be a strong and reliable character compared to Fumi so she will always be by Fumi’s side and gives Fumi support when she needs. I believe the show’s ending confirms my idea because when Fumi finally settles from all the problems with Sugimoto, Fumi finally sees that A-chan has always been there with her and A-chan is actually her first and true love. Nevertheless, I still wish to see more of A-chan’s character.
The only thing that might turn several people away from the show is its deliberately slow pacing. The show appears to stop and linger quite often to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the town. All the key situations and important moments are slowly, quietly and subtly resolved as if the creators are afraid that they might disturb the tranquil stillness of the show. I think it is a matter of taste whether you like this style or not. Personally, I like it. After watching several action/fantasy/shonen anime consecutively for a while, I find watching Aoi Hana to be a nice and relaxing break from all the rush and stress of other anime.
Not only does this anime stand out in its leisurely way of storytelling, the animation is also created to follow the same trend. Only soft and light colors are used in both the characters and the background creating a very lazy, sleepy and peaceful atmosphere. The lighting is also very beautiful. It is such a delight to observe the way the light shines through the tree leaves and falls on the people underneath. The background of the anime is drawn with emphasis on serene stillness rather than detailed movements. At times it almost looks like the whole series is a stage play with beautifully drawn backgrounds.
From the way the characters and the scenery are portrayed and the amount of attention put in to small details of daily activities, the creators obviously try to make the show look as realistic as possible. But to me, Aoi Hana gives quite dreamy and fantastic feeling. I think the show focuses on life but not everything in life. That it’s about love lives of high school girls is probably more accurate since the anime eliminates all other complexities and obstacles we usually find in real life. Looking back, I realize that every character is generally good in nature. They have no problems about jobs, family, health or money. The town which serves as the setting for the anime is exceptionally beautiful and peaceful. What I’m saying is that these characters have nothing else to worry about but their own problems concerning love and internal conflicts. As a result, Aoi Hana is not that realistic but instead has a surreal component hidden inside. I state this point simply as an observation.
Conclusion: clearly, Aoi Hana is not made for everyone and the anime seems to be too absorbed in enjoying the scenery to care about that. For me, Aoi Hana is the anime which bravely chooses to be just the way it wants to be. I wholeheartedly recommend this show to you but I am not sure how you will feel about it, really.
Title: Aoi Hana (Sweet Blue Flowers)
Genre: romance, drama
Released date: July 2, 2009 – September 10, 2009
Director: Kenichi Kasai
Animated by: J.C.Staff