Blue Spring Ride
In middle school, Futaba fell in love for the first time. Ko was a shy boy who liked her as well, but neither admitted how they felt before he moved away. Now in high school, Futaba changed herself to fit in better among the class, even if her friendships are shallow. Then she encountered someone who reminded her of that first love, only to find it was Ko himself that had returned, but much changed from the boy she once knew.
Even as Futaba tries to move on, her heart hasn't forgotten him. Time changed them both, yet deep inside much remains the same. Will they finally get a chance at the love they missed before?
At first I worried about this one. It opens in a way too reserved and mushy, so for a few episodes I was most concerned I'd get bored, but I never did. Blue Spring Ride (anyone's guess what's inferred by the title) is a purebred shoujo romance which is a nice watch if your okay with the tame approach.
The placement of the story is an odd feature. The beginning is past tense, with the current situation resuming the relationship between Futaba and Ko. Emotionally they remain drawn to each other, but realize their former relationship was an immature love. Their time apart was (relatively) short, but things changed since then. Growing up means rapid changes in yourself, and those around you - an interesting topic to tackle as the basis of the story.
While I dreaded the early shallow "trying to fit in with friends" sub plot, Blue Spring Ride takes a realistic approach to human relationships. When Futaba splits with her former friends, it becomes awkward yet civil, as they're honest that she simply didn't fit with them. There's also an unusual situation where a student has a crush on a teacher. He's candid that he can't return her feelings. He doesn't outright reject her either, and she's respectful of the distance they have to keep. Even with the potential for drama, this anime doesn't blow up for the sake of it. It shows confidence that some things are interesting enough on their own without fits of angst used as a crutch.
Blue Spring Ride has weak animation, but as a romance that's a minor nitpick. The designs make the show attractive even if things don't move so well (doubtful you'll notice). The soundtrack compliments the anime well to further drive emotion. Kind of a weird thing to compliment an anime for, but I really like Futaba's hair :p
As a guy, perhaps I had trouble empathizing with Futaba, but one part hooked me. In one scene Futaba is overwhelmed with uncertainty, and as Ko gets on a train she doesn't follow, thinking to herself "If he gets off, I'll love him". I've had similar experiences, where I couldn't decide so I left it to chance to decide for me; even if I really wanted a particular outcome. Small insightful things like that add to the show.
While Blue Spring Ride doesn't use crazy gimmicks to draw you in, as a simple romance it doesn't need them. Everything comes together well, even if the pace is slow. It has a gentle touch in all things, which works well in a romance context. As a story in progress, it's hard to say where it's going, but I'm confident it will do fine. As it stands, it's a good watch.
Ko: Maybe it looks easy for me because I don't care. The way it makes you fustrated is proof you want to do something.
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