Reviews: Aoi Hana
Great Heart but Not All There
I love romance type manga and anime though I haven't seen much of this specific genre (Yuri). The anime tries to be subdued and it does this very well. The problem with this series is that I never made a connection with the plot it's just too ephemeral, and way the show shifts focus from the two main characters, to a different set of characters and back to the two main characters later made it hard for me to connect. It seems like the last few episodes were disconnected from the middle section of the plot. With a romance series the plots generally are not what I care about (they can be very similar). I care about the characters, who are great but there is not enough depth for me to want more episodes. I loved the overall idea of two old friends reconnecting and how a person falls in love, but it just didn't feel focused enough plot-wise for me. It is good but I feel that the show could have been better if the plot was a little less scattered with more episode for each section of the plot or maybe slightly trimming the amount of plot especially when you consider the short length of the anime. I would recommended this mainly to big fans of romance not something I would recommend to a new viewer.
Words almost fail me to explain how much I love this series. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I'm gay myself and can relate to the things most characters of this series go through. Perhaps it's also because of my crush on Akira, who drags all the other characters along by sheer enthusiasm (and looks just so darn cute in her adorably dorky pajamas). The series is not totally devoid of typical girls love tropes, but it's all handled very well. The manga luckily is not quite as choppy as Shimura's other work, like Hourou Musuko, although Shimura still tends to drop plot lines, only to suddenly pick them up several chapters (or even volumes) later. The anime tells the same story in a somewhat more straightforward manner, which tends to work out very well aside from one thing: for people who did not read the manga it is not that clear why Akira cares so much for Fumi, who appears to be rather whiny and mopey for most of the show. The viewer has to wait until the last episode to find out why the girls have such a deep connection, but once it gets there it sure makes for a very sweet moment—even though it diverges quite a bit from the manga, which is still ongoing. The series gains extra points for taking place in Kamakura, which gets even more attention in the anime, where some of the town's landmarks are reproduced with painstaking precision. I went to Kamakura when I visited Japan a while ago and actually saw a lot of the locations from the manga and anime, which I can recommend to anyone. The anime also has one of the most beautiful openings I know, in a rare mix of romantic, cheerful and melancholic. I only wish the anime had been a bit longer; with most series lasting at least 12 episodes, it's a bit strange this one only has 11. EDIT: Over the course of the last few chapters, my opinion about the series has changed somewhat. It seems that the author is steering this manga into yet another instance of Bait And Switch Lesbians, which is especially prevalent in the case of Kyouko. She is suddenly shown to still have feelings for her fiance Kou after all, marking her feelings for Yasuko as "just another phase". Shame on you, Shimura!