Ao Haru Ride Ep. 5: The proper context

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Last week, some people were like, “Yo, it’s cool that you’re blogging this shoujo.” Yeah well, I don’t want to give you guys the wrong idea. It’s… it’s not like I like this show or anything. Seriously, though, if you like this show, you probably don’t want to read this post. I’m not joking.

— “I’m going to improve our team’s vibe! So I can unite our feelings.” Man, my feelings are my own, lady. Hands off.

— So the kids have to play some sort of scavenger hunt. This is quite an elaborate setup just to teach a bunch of class representatives how to lead and work together as a team. Maybe class representatives in Japanese schools have a ton more responsibilities or something, but I doubt it. I mean, most workplaces don’t have teamwork training retreats this elaborate, and co-workers generally have to be together for 8-plus hours a day, five or six days a week. And yes, I’m sure these kids spend a good chunk of their lives at school as well, but most of that time is learning time.

— Is it just me, or is it really, really irresponsible to take the kids’ cellphones away then have them wander around the woods aimlessly? Seriously, though. First, you expect them to know how to read a map. I’m not saying all kids are too stupid to read a map, but there’s bound to be at least one group out of the whole bunch to get confused. Second, if they get lost, how can they call for help? Do you just magically assume that the teachers will be able to find them?

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— What a convenient-looking river.

— Man, I hate crybabies. This shit isn’t cute. It’s just pathetic. You wanna know what’s scary? Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.

— Wow, Yuri’s fallen in love with him already. One act. Seriously, one good act out of the countless times he’s been a short, ill-tempered asshole.

— “Kou… he really is amazing. He completely calmed Yuri down.” Yeah, by being a cute bishie. That’s some real talent right there.

— Meanwhile, Futaba must have sprained her ankle trying to cross the river. Lemme guess… Kou’s going to pick her up and carry her the rest of the way at one point?

— Yes, yes he is. Fucking shoujos.

— Uguu, if you insist…

— “But… it’s like he’s saying he wants me to be there.” That is what he’s saying, dumbass.

— In the end, through the power of teamwork, our four manage to find… a streetlamp. Fucking sweet, son. Yes, they came in dead last, if you are curious.

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— “Today got complicated, but it was fun, wasn’t it?” That’s easy for her to say. She got a piggy-back ride for a significant portion of it. Plus — and maybe this is because I’m just not an outdoorsy kind of person — but I don’t really see what’s so fun about getting lost in the woods for hours and hours on end.

— “I’ve been by myself for a long time, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t lonely.” Uh, I think that’s the definition of lonely.

— Yuri and Futaba share a moment in the middle of the night, but it’s honestly putting me to sleep. Ever since Yuri and Futaba became friends, there’s nothing remotely interesting about Yuri anymore. There’s nothing to explore, nothing to contemplate, nothing to discuss. She’s just a good friend who will never abandon Futaba. Ain’t nothing wrong with a good friend, but that doesn’t make for a good story. This might be cool to see at the end of the series, i.e. as a way to wrap things up and put a neat, little bow on their friendship. But in the fifth episode of the series, when I’m hungry for some real plot, this bores me to tears. You can argue that their friendship is realistic, but I’m not disputing that. But y’know what? Storytelling isn’t always about realism. You can argue, too, that you have friends like that in the real world. But so what? We’re not here to watch you and your friends come to life in an anime. I’m here to hopefully watch an interesting story. Unfortunately, I’m not getting one, and that sucks.

— I feel ya, Shuko, Must be obnoxious to listen to those two giggle all night when you’re trying to fall asleep after a long, hard day.

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— Later that night — seriously, how much later can it be? — Futaba spots Kou out on a walk. I guess he can’t sleep. I guess she can’t sleep either. They both just spent the whole day hiking, and yet, they’re not dead tired. Well, Futaba didn’t spend the whole day hiking, if you know what I mean. But still, it’s hilarious how these two keep having magical, one-on-one moments in the middle of the night.

— “I can’t tell if you’re nice or not,” says Futaba. “I can’t tell if you’re incompetent or capable,” says Kou. Nice or mean, it’s like whatever. He has to admit he can be a jerk at times. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be nice or mean. It could just be nice or neutral, because all she says is “nice or not.” The not could mean anything. On the other hand, Kou basically says he can’t tell if Futaba’s a dumbass or not. That’s pretty mean, man. Despite this, however, she just stares at him with those wide, shoujo eyes. Seriously, what’s going through your head right now, girl? U-uguu? You think I’m capable?

I was wrong; what’s going through her head is much worse: “The time between night and day… That’s what we are.” Yo, he just admitted that you seem like a dumbass half the time. Instead of standing up for yourself, however, it’s like, “Yay, we’re the same! Imagine me and you, I do. I think we’re like day and night, it’s only right. I’m dumb and you are mean to me. Please hold me tight. We’re happy together!”

— Then he throws his jacket on her. ‘Cause he cares. He cares so much that he just chucks it at her head. Tee-hee, do you think he’s being nice or not here?

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— Futaba asks, “But won’t you be cold, Kou?” He just goes, “Just do it.” Dammit, woman, just fucking listen to me! I just know what’s best for you, okay?!

— In the end, the two of them invite the rest of the group to come out and look at the sunset. Oh boy, more team-bonding!

— “I don’t think I’ll ever forget watching the sunrise with everyone like this.” Shit, and all I’m doing is writing a blog post. Darn…

— According to Aya, “People should save the stoic act for when they get all old!” He’s not necessarily wrong; I just find it funny. Kou is stoic because he has had to grow up and experience a lot of pain and turmoil. Unless Aya comes from a broken family too, he can’t really talk. I’m not saying Kou’s in the right, either. My stance hasn’t changed. I still think he needs therapy to talk out his issues instead of taking it out on the people around him, especially his brother who’s desperately trying to connect with the guy. I just think it’s funny. People will tell you straight to your face that you’re too young to be this serious in life, but they don’t actually know anything about you. Maybe we should stop telling people what to do until we actually get to know them.

— Kou then retorts that he doesn’t think Aya will ever mature: “I don’t think you’ll ever change, even when you do grow old.” The group then proceeds to have a nice, hearty laugh. Haha, that’s so funny, Kou, you jokester. No, I get it. They think Kou’s just ribbing Aya. Still, there’s some honesty to what Kou’s saying, too.

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Obviously, I don’t love Ao Haru Ride. So why do I keep watching it? Because it’s almost twisted in a way. Kou’s saying all these hurtful things because he himself is coming from a place of hurt, but because people are conditioned to be so goddamn positive and optimistic all the time, his blatant cries for help are going right over their heads. It’s like a thought experiment. What would happen if you take a broken person, and drop him or her right into a happy-go-lucky shoujo environment? Y’know, before things get all melodramatic and shit. Watching these characters interact with Kou, the results are fucking hilarious. Kou literally calls Futaba a dumbass, and she takes it as some special bond between them: “We’re night and day!” Kou then says Aya is incapable of maturing, and the rest of group giggles over it. Sure, what he says could be taken as jokes… in the proper context. But what’s the proper context here? Kou comes from a broken family, doesn’t get along with his brother, and constantly pushes people away from him. That’s the proper context.

— “I’m starting to learn things about Kou. He hates celery. He likes cats. His teasing is only superficial.” Bahahahaha. You know nothing, Futaba Snow. I know this sounds crazy, but there’s teasing, then there’s “I can’t tell if you’re incompetent or capable.”

— “I know him now.” Because he likes cats and hates celery? You don’t even know why he’s changed. You don’t even know what happened to him and his family. You don’t even know that he and his brother are having trouble connecting. You don’t know anything but the superficial shit. Hey, I know my girlfriend likes the color pink. OH BABY, IT’S TRUE LOVE. MARRY ME!


10 Replies to “Ao Haru Ride Ep. 5: The proper context”

  1. It is really funny, when you think about it like that. It’s almost satire. It would be excellent satire if the writers were that clever. I find it kind of weird how there are so many YA novels aimed at teenage girls in the west that deal with stuff like depression, suicide, and rape, and yet the things aimed at teenage girls in Japan are so innocent and sparkly that you’d think they were written by a Mormon. There are so many shoujo manga and animes out there, and yet they’re largely indistinguishable from each other. They’re just about romance, with the occasional light drama thrown in. I don’t remember ever reading something that would be called “shoujo” that dealt with any serious problems, aside from bullying.

    1. Dude, you don’t have really read many shoujos in your life, right?

      Versailles no Bara, Magic Knights of Rayearth, Glass Mask, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Candy Candy, Fruits Basket, Karekano, Life all have pretty dense stuff in they stories. I can even include Sailor Moon if you remember that all of the Sailors died in front of Sailor Moon in the last saga of manga, it seems serious enough for you? One of the first mangas with HIV in the plot was a Shoujo called “Nemureru Mori no Bian”. And I cannot forget Stepping on Roses with the villain so sicked that he wanted to force the protagonist to marry him even after he discovered that she was his long-lost biological sister.

      I know very well that the most famous plot of shoujo is the high-school pure romance, but to say all shoujo are indistinguishable from each other is equivalent to say that the mangas style battle shonen are all the same since the main plot of these stories are all very similar.

  2. Out of curiosity, have you ever considered starting a Harem Hill equivalent for Shoujo Romances? (Or even moe cute girls doing cute things shows.)

    Back to Ao Haru Ride:

    I am looking forward to your reactions when the inevitable Shoujo cliche Love Rival (who is yet to come) competes for the Female MC kicks in.

    Yes, the show seems to be going for a Kou X Futaba ship, even as problematic as it is. When the traditional Shoujo Romance conflict of a love rival (who happens to be more polite, more caring, etc) for Futaba kicks in….

    1. Out of curiosity, have you ever considered starting a Harem Hill equivalent for Shoujo Romances?

      Nah, no more Harem Hill-esque features.

  3. .Kou may be rude but you make him sound like an completly asshole. I don’t know if you read the manga or not but I think I think they translate it bad in the anime or they changed the lines in the anime because in the manga Kou says ” I can’t tell if you are lazy or got guts”. And when he gives his parka to her and when she says ” aren’t you cold” he actually says ”it’s fine” so it’s a bad translation. If you don’t believe you can read the manga. I’m just speechless how much you hate Kou.

    1. The adaptation is allowed to stand on its own. What happens in the manga has no bearing on my interpretation of the adaptation.

      I’m just speechless how much you hate Kou.

      You sure have written plenty of words here, though.

  4. Even if it wasn’t a bad translation I think you are hating too much on him. Yes he is rude but he isn’t an asshole you make out him to be. The character will develop into more mature character so you need to chill out. If he he didn’t care about her he wouldn’t worry about her feet and wait with her until her mom showed up.

    1. If he he didn’t care about her he wouldn’t worry about her feet and wait with her until her mom showed up.

      Being an asshole and caring for someone are not mutually exclusive things.

      The character will develop into more mature character so you need to chill out.

      Well, you’re being pretty rude too. You need to chill out over one person’s interpretation of an adaptation of a manga that you seem to enjoy.

  5. Random point here, but

    So the kids have to play some sort of scavenger hunt. This is quite an elaborate setup just to teach a bunch of class representatives how to lead and work together as a team.


    Is it just me, or is it really, really irresponsible to take the kids’ cellphones away then have them wander around the woods aimlessly?

    In the non-Japan Asian country I come from, this isn’t exactly uncommon.

    More relevant to the post, I hadn’t realised you disliked Ao Haru Ride so much. Your ep 1 post sounded pretty neutral.

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