Year: 2004 – 2013
Length: 8 volumes
Genre: Romance, Drama, Slice of Life, School Life, Yuri
In short you could say Aoi Hana is the story of the reunion of two childhood friends, Fumi and Akira and how the two of them manage to go through all the problems high school girls encounter during their school life; Having one-sided feelings, getting together with someone, breaking up, and since this is a yuri we’ll also witness how Fumi manages to come out to her friends.
I almost make it sound as if this manga is only focusing on Fumi and Akira, which it is not. Despite the struggles our two main characters have to go through, there is a lot more going on in their circle of friends, especially when it comes to having one-sided feelings for someone.
I would even say, the two main themes in this manga are on the one hand, how some characters handle their sexuality and how their friends and family react to that and on the other hand how some characters handle their one-sided feelings. I think aside from Fumi and Akira, the characters that intrigued me the most are definitely Yasuko and Kyouko, who both struggled so much in order to be with the person they love, yet they had to realize that their love alone woulnd’t be enough to make miracles happen. However it’s partly because of the fact that those two characters really interested me, that the ending of Aoi Hana disappointed me so much, but more about that later.
From the very beginning, I’ve been having an on-off relationship with this manga. When I first started reading this some years ago, I got really into the story, but there weren’t that many chapters out at that time, so I stopped reading and forgot about it for quite a long while. I picked it up again, but I had almost forgotten what happened in the last few chapters, so I had to go through them again. I think I went through this kind of process numerous times until I finally read the last chapter and it’s always the same:
When I finally start reading Aoi Hana again after a longer period of waiting for new chapters to come out, rereading the last few chapters bores me even though I barely remember their content. It’s not like Aoi Hana was that exciting to begin with, it’s a realistic slice of life that’s just showing the more of less ordinary life of some high school girls, but at times, it just gets boring, at least in my opinion.
I don’t want to go into detail with each and every important character since this would probably take forever and would most likely not be that interesting to most of you, so let me focus on the two main characters and just give you this picture:
Fumi Manjoume: Even though many years had already passed, when Fumi finally returns to the town she grew up in, she hasn’t really changed much except the fact that she’s grown into a rather tall girl. She’s still very shy and even now a crybaby.
In the beginning she hasn’t really been my favorite character because she really trends to act a little strange I would say, but out of all the characters in Aoi Hana, Fumi is definitely the one who “grew” the most. And even though she’s still pretty quick to cry, she developed into a character that I highly enjoyed reading about.
Akira or Ah-chan has always been something like a body guard for Fumi, who kept her out of danger and rescued her whenever she was in trouble. And even now, she is still Fumi’s closest friend and always gives her advice when her friend needs it, even when it comes to situations that she herself hasn’t even experienced yet.
Throughout the story more and more characters are introduced, some with just minor importance and some that really contribute to the story, who had their own problems to deal with and who kept surprising me again and again like Kyouko for example. But we also had some characters that I just couldn’t get used to and that I still can only barely remember at all, like Haruka. Still, to be honest, even though there were so many different important characters, the only ones that I really cared for throughout the whole manga were Fumi and Akira. And it’s not just because they’re the main characters, it’s more like other characters bored me at times and I even caught myself skipping some pages just because I didn’t find some characters’ struggles very interesting, at least compared to Fumi and Akira’s story. In fact, every time I reread the story I didn’t even bother reading much about any other characters than the two protagonists.
There is so much going on in this aspect; There’s a grown up yuri couple, again a lot of one-sided feelings and crushes going on, numerous students of an all-girls school going nuts over a more masculine looking girl and of course Fumi and Akira’s slowly developing relationship as the main story line.
So yeah, I think that’s pretty much yuri action going on there, but keep in mind that this is mostly portrayed very innocently even though Fumi would surely like to take things to the next level with Akira. Still nothing really happens and I was kind of disappointed. It’s not like I was waiting for some smutty sex to happen in this one, but Fumi surely tried to make her move on Akira and I would have liked to see them taking that step together or at least something that suggests us to believe that they did it, but that’s just my opinion.
About the ending: (Don’t read this, if you haven’t finished Aoi Hana yet)
I remember when I first read this manga, I was totally drawn in by it and couldn’t get enough of it. But now, after reading the last few chapters, it just didn’t feel the same way and I was particularly disappointed by the last chapter. All the way the story focused on Fumi and Akira and their relationship has always been the most important theme. And even though it was almost clear from the beginning that those two would most likely end up together, especially how their final “reunion” went by was just…. I would say rushed and unspectacular. I just didn’t go like “OH MY GOD YES!! THEY FINALLY GOT TOGETHER!”, like I would have loved it to be, it rather just happened and that’s it. So one could say, the way things ended is more realistic than an overly romantic and cheesy get together but for a manga that’s been going on for years, this ending is just not satisfying in the least. I mean are they really together now? And what happened to all the other characters?
So yeah, this really didn’t feel like the proper end to a story like this, so I’m hoping to at least find an extra chapter or something like that soon.
Oh and as a side note, I already assumed that Kyouko and her fiancé Kou would eventually get married, even though she wasn’t and probably still is not in love with him. And to be honest, I thought this marriage was kind of weird to begin with, Kou loves Kyouko, but the latter surely still has a thing for Yasuko or at least that’s how it seemed every time the two of them met again. So a marriage like this is just… well weird (and to be honest the yuri fan in me rather wants to see Kyouko and Yasuko together even though I already knew that this was highly unlikely to happen).
Total Enjoyment: 7/10
If I had to describe this manga with one word, it would be “realistic”. There’s no unnecessary drama, love doesn’t make miracles happen like in many other manga and the characters mostly act like normal people and not like… well manga characters. In general it all feels like this could actually happen in real life and that’s kind of rare in manga and anime. So maybe the ending of Aoi Hana wasn’t all that bad because it just remained being realistic, so we didn’t get something like a “grand finale” but rather an unspectacular and realistic one.
So as mentioned above, this manga both amazed and bored me at times, but I still enjoyed it even though I really did skip some parts.