US Distributor: Nozomi Entertainment
Production Studio: J.C. Staff
Was this provided by the publisher? Yes
More Info: Anime News Network
A mature tale of young romance and friendship.
Aoi Hana: Sweet Blue Flowers is a tale of the deep bonds that form between us. It’s a story about young love, and the ability to claim it in the face of adversity. Rather than take the easy route, though, it’s also a series that is able to invert the norm to create something truly special.
The series revolves around Fumi Manjome. Fumi’s a tall, intelligent girl, who’s sadly doomed to the life of a doormat. She’s shy to a fault, and prone to crying when things get to be too much. Fumi’s fortunes begin to change, though, when fate brings her back to her old home town. It’s here that Fumi is reunited with childhood friend Akira Okudaira.
Akira is energetic, forceful, and a bit of a blabbermouth. Basically, she’s the polar opposite of Fumi. Still, Akira has a heart of gold, and makes it her mission to become a source of support for her introverted friend.
At its heart, though, Aoi Hana is a tale of young romance. Viewers experience the highs and lows of the pursuit of love through Fumi. A disastrous fling with her cousin leads Fumi into a haze of self-doubt, from which there seems to be no escape. Fate has its own way of working, though, and redemption finally comes to Fumi thorugh Yasuko Sugimoto: a tomboyish beauty who seems to have eyes for Fumi. Is she really the one, though?
It’s an emotional, beautifully constructed story that’s firmly grounded in the realities of today. The way characters react to Yasuko and Fumi’s budding relationship is skillfully handled, as is the changing nature of the relationships of the cast. If there were any drawbacks, it would be that the series seemed to too quickly. Viewers never get the opportunity to see where the uncertain paths of the future may inevitably lead.
What makes Aoi Hana truly exceptional, though, is its characters. Akira’s reactions in particular are amazing. The questions she asks herself, and those she raises with others make up some of the best dialogue I’ve seen in any girls’ love show. Her insistence on seeking knowledge on how to be a better friend, and how to be more supportive of Fumi and Sugimoto’s relationship is truly touching.
While Aoi Hana only ran for eleven episodes, it was able to tell a complete and refreshingly complex tale in the time it was granted. The mature treatment of the subject matter really shines in the easing, almost airy pace of the show. The watercolor backdrops and delicate character designs provide a wonderful accent to the narrative, and invite viewers to submerge themselves in the experience.
What’s truly impressive, though, is that Aoi Hana is a rare series that humanizes a gay relationship. Rather than use the characters as a source of comedic fodder or a convenient group to browbeat, the characters are seen as people who find love, no matter where it blooms. It’s a series that embraces the joys of falling in love, warts and all.
Those looking for a thoughtful, mature drama will find few that can do it better than Aoi Hana.