Alternative titles: Aoharaido, Ao Haru Ride
Manga Adaptation – Production I.G.
Streaming on Crunchyroll
In middle school, Futaba Yoshioka was asked out on a date by her crush Kou Tanaka, but after overhearing an outburst by her, she gets stood up. Shortly after, Kou leaves due to family problems and the two lose contact. Three years later, the two happen to be at the same high school, but their personalities have changed radically.
Marlin’s verdict: Down to Earth
I’m a fan of diabetes-inducingly saccharine shoujo shows, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something said for works that are a bit more grounded. The characters in Blue Spring Ride are the exact kind of kid’s I’d actually expect to find in a high school. Futaba starts out as a sweet if slightly misandrogynistic girl, but her experience being stood up and being treated unfairly for her looks makes her hide her true self. Eventually she wears a mask designed to keep her from standing out. The anime does a great job of showing us just how hollow the fruits of her new personality are. When being confronted with theft charges, her supposed friends turn on her immediately. Kou’s transformation from his more innocent youth seems directly related to a broken home. He firmly establishes upon reconnecting with Futaba that he does not accept the name Tanaka any longer. There’s a lot of bitterness in his personality now, but he isn’t completely jaded. It’s proof that he at least cares a little that he prevents Futaba from being falsely charged at the lunch line.
Both of them are different people now, that much has been clearly established, but it doesn’t mean they have to lose the connection they once had completely. Therein lies the hope of this show’s plot. I imagine that these first few episodes will establish our main cast, as Futaba casts away her facade and tries to get genuine friends. It looks to be a slow burn on the romance, but if they play it right, I would be perfectly fine with that. There aren’t enough stories about the change that happens to children of divorce. It’d be interesting to see if Blue Spring Ride can pull that off in a way that can make Kou’s personality believable without becoming too melodramatic.
If there was one thing that struck me immediately, it’s that this shows art is a dead ringer for my old favorite Kimi ni Todoke. The beautiful pastels were an absolute treat. Every character has conventional hairstyles, but are given enough separation to actually feel like their own character. They even use the classic hugeface chibification that was one of my favorite sight gags of KnT. It’s clear that Production I.G. is putting a lot of care into this show, which has me excited in hoping the story can back that up.
Life’s verdict: Promising
First love is something shoujo manga loves to romanticize and right out of the door Blue Spring Ride pushes that angle. Young innocent shoujo romance has just never been my cup of tea. So I suppose it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I actually kind of liked this one. Instead of watching our characters spending their time trying to muster the courage to confess things happen a bit faster. Our heroine gets asked out, stood up and then reunited years later all in the first episode. The thing I really appreciated was the way they skip the innocent will they won’t they phase that makes up the meat of most shoujo manga I’ve seen. There were a few good moments where the characters felt authentic in way that I don’t expect from shoujo manga. Make no mistake, Blue Spring Ride is very much a shoujo manga, but it’s different enough to feel fresh to me.