Girl meets boy, girl arranges a date with boy, boy disappears and reappears three years later. This is the driving plot point of Ao Haru Ride, Vols. 1-2 by Io Sakisaka. The girl in question is named Futaba Yoshioka. She has layered brown hair with round brown eyes. She claims to hate boys, but feels that Kou Tanaka is the exception to this rule. Tanaka looks like every girl’s fantasy manga boyfriend. He has black hair with strands that wistfully lay across his forehead. He has those soft brown eyes that are meant to entrance and steal your heart away. Futaba and Kou plan to meet at a shrine during a festival. Futaba shows up, but Kou is nowhere in sight. She later discovers he has transferred schools.

Three years pass. Futaba is now a high school student. She runs into Kou at the shrine where they were supposed to meet. She is excited to see him, but realizes he is not the same person. He has changed his name to Mabuchi, and become very standoffish. Futaba has changed as well since middle school. She has become more of a tomboy, and has tried to make herself unattractive to boys. She finds out Kou did not show up at the festival due to family troubles. The pair find themselves in the same class at the same high school.

In Volume 2, the story shifts to personal growth for our lead protagonists. With Kou’s encouragement, Futaba signs up as a student representative and goes on a leadership retreat. Bowing to pressure from the other students, Kou becomes a representative as well. During the trip they learn about friendship, and cooperating with each other as a group. This marks a turning point for Futaba, because she had closed herself off from others. She gets a chance to step out of her comfort zone, and open herself up to new opportunities and people.

The female students are drawn to be very cute and naïve . The boys look like they could be part of a pop group. I found one sequence to be very impressive. Kou and Futaba are alone together in a classroom. They are side by side with their heads down on their desks. They gaze across into each other’s eyes. Then their hands start to come together. That scene amped up the romantic tension. Io Sakisaka was able to capture, with no words, that romance between the two is far from over.

Ao Haru Ride is a shojo title that will be great addition to any library collection, and will probably be in high demand. It has all the elements of a classic romance that will enthrall teens. My one big nitpick about the title is I wish a character guide was included. It was hard for me to tell who is who, and I needed a reminder of how each side character played into the story.

Ao Haru Ride, Vols. 1-2
by Io Sakisaka
Vol. 1 ISBN: 9781974702657
Vol. 2 ISBN: 9781974702664
Viz Media, 2011
Publisher Age Rating: T for teens

  • Tanya

    | She/Her

    Tanya work as a librarian at a maximum security prison in Northern California. She runs a weekly book club which changes themes and genres on a quarterly basis. Her favorite book club moment was watching her book club members perform a play in front of an audience and getting a warm ovation. Tanya is a long-time lover of Manga and animes. Her favorites include anything by Clamp, Fullmetal Alchemist, Wolf Children, Pandora Hearts and Dawn of the Arcana. In her spare time enjoys trying out new recipes from Pinterest.

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