Ao Haru Ride is one ride you probably don’t want to catch unless you want to cringe your way through another bland high school love story.
In the seventh grade, Futaba and Tanaka get stuck out in the rain one time and he lends her his gym shirt so she can dry her hair. This is apparently a perfectly reasonable circumstance in which instantaneous love can strike two people who are practically strangers — and it does, so when a later misunderstanding results in Tanaka overhearing Futaba declare her hatred for all boys (except Tanaka), he stands her up on their first date and he transfers away the next day without saying anything to anyone.
Fast forward to the tenth grade and the unfortunate teen couple reunite, clear up the misunderstanding and then realize the’ve both changed, so their love can’t work anymore. But Futaba foolishly still has feelings for him of course, otherwise there wouldn’t be a story here at all.
To its detriment, Ao Haru Ride delivers its plot almost completely straight with what little comedic relief it does have ultimately falling flat. When coupled with the fact that Tanaka has matured into a jerk most people would dismiss in a heartbeat, the show’s story falls apart. It doesn’t make any sense, even in a “love hurts” kind of way.
There are ever so slight glimmers of hope in the mention of a newly separated family that may have dissuaded Tanaka from relationships, or the bullying that Futaba received for being a shy attractive girl that caused her to minimize her femininity, but it’s not enough.
Most importantly, Ao Haru Ride doesn’t present a strong enough reason to make you care about this particular couple’s love story over the hundreds of others that have been animated before.
Ao Haru Ride is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Check out this header post for more Summer 2014 anime previews and for more on why I’m taking a stab at them in the first place.