Posted by psgels on 10 September 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Aoi Hana



At the start of this year I wasn’t exactly the biggest fan of romance, but damn. 2009 has surely proved to be an excellent year for this genre. The year already started out with gems as Clannad’s After Story and Genji Monogatari, then it continued with the truly excellent Ristorante Paradiso and Cross Game, and if that wasn’t enough the Summer season only continued this trend of awesomeness with Spice and Wolf II and, of course, Aoi Hana.

At first sight, Aoi Hana may seem like your average lesbian series with lots of girls who cheesily fall in love with each other, but this series quickly proves those suspicions wrong when it subverts just about every cliché in the romance genre imaginable. FOR ONCE, romantic relationships are portrayed realistically, rather than those overly romanticized relationship you see in most average romances. For once, you see childhood friends who really behave like childhood friends, rather than the creators using the childhood friendship as a cheap plot device to get the lead couple in love with each other. For once, the two lead characters don’t end up falling in love with each other, and instead the main romance plays out between one of the lead character, and a side-character. And really: for once in a gay show we see actual straight romances. In fact, there’s only one lesbian in the entire series (Fumi, one of the lead characters). The rest is either straight or bi.

On top of that, this series is incredibly well told. there’s a huge amount of subtlety within the relationship of the most important characters in this series: the way they behave, feel and interact with each other is really done with a superb attention to detail. The series is only eleven episodes long, and yet the personality of each character can’t just be explained in one sentence. There’s absolutely nothing that’s shallow in this series.

The animation for this series also really stands out among the best in the romance genre. It’s very subtle, and portrays very accurately how all of the different characters move. But it’s especially the scenes in which people are touching each other, whether holding hands or messing with each other’s hair, in which the animation really makes those movements feel so incredibly real.

I feel hard-pressed to pick up any flaws for this series. Obviously, you don’t want to watch this series if you dislike a slow-paced series, but it really is a must-watch for any fan of the shoujo-ai genre in the way that it so realistically portrays lesbian relationships. There are a few scenes here and there that could have used a bit more build-up (like Kyouko’s fiancee, or the ending), but those moments are few and far in between. Aoi Hana really is one of my top picks of the past Summer Season.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 8/10

20 Responses

  1. mei says:

    the OST itself is a real gem

  2. terrorist says:

    Such a great way to end this :S J.C. Staff did it again.

  3. omo says:

    I didn’t think the relationships were particularly realistic, nor are the yuri aspects at all similar to RL lesbian romances, nor was the whole childhood friend thing you said applies considering the implication it has for Fumi. Furthermore it’s typical of yuri anime to have very few characters that would be considered as full-blown lesbians. Usually just one. In all those regards I think Aoi Hana doesn’t break out anything unusual.

    All that said the way they do all the relationships in the show are very entertaining and touchingly cute, so it was consistently fun to watch. Even the strange friction between the four Sugimoto sisters…

  4. Chris K says:

    Yes, I loved watching this series but I have a problem with them cutting it off at 11 episodes.

    Because while watching Fumi and Akira renew their friendship, and watching Fumi mature was fine, the series left everything hanging.

    What I mean by this is that the Fumi confession to Akira is a red herring, it was cute and honest, but I know that Akira’s not a lesbian, and the obvious hookup is Akira/Kou and Fumi/some new girl who’s more self aware than Yasuko, plus I would have liked a little more back story on the secondary characters like Akira’s brother and Fumi’s friends.

  5. kaei says:

    Actually, I think the jury’s still out on where Kyouko falls on the Kinsey scale — there’s been no evidence to suggest that she’s sexually or romantically interested in Kou or any males at all (but there’s no evidence to say she’s not.) At this current point in the story I actually consider both Kyouko and Fumi to be “lesbian.” If only the story would just conveniently pair them together, huh.

    @omo: I don’t know if the relationships in this show were “realistic” in the sense that you can find such relationships — fiances like Kyouko and Kou, childhood friends rekindling a long-forgotten relationship, 2 younger sisters falling in love with an older sister’s boyfriend — in many places in real life (I personally don’t know anyone like that). For me, though, the show was definitely realistic in how it portrayed human interactions, realistic in the way that it was utterly believable, and utterly human, and “if I knew people like that in real life, I’d totally believe they’d act like that.” I bought everything that happened — no one did anything gratuitous or stupid to further a plot point (as it so happens in many soap operas), and so many of Fumi’s foibles — not being able to speak up, falling in love easily, depending on and needing human connection — are things I can relate with in my gut. Also I feel like the Sugimoto/Fumi courtship was pretty realistic, remembering what went on in my (all girls, Catholic) high-school, so maybe whether or not something feels realistic is whether or not you can conceive of it happening. Aoi Hana for me is entirely conceivable.

  6. kaei says:

    Actually, I think the jury’s still out on where Kyouko falls on the Kinsey scale — there’s been no evidence to suggest that she’s sexually or romantically interested in Kou or any males at all (but there’s no evidence to say she’s not.) At this current point in the story I actually consider both Kyouko and Fumi to be “lesbian.” If only the story would just conveniently pair them together, huh.

    @omo: I don’t know if the relationships in this show were “realistic” in the sense that you can find such relationships — fiances like Kyouko and Kou, childhood friends rekindling a long-forgotten relationship, 2 younger sisters falling in love with an older sister’s boyfriend — in many places in real life (I personally don’t know anyone like that). For me, though, the show was definitely realistic in how it portrayed human interactions, realistic in the way that it was utterly believable, and utterly human, and “if I knew people like that in real life, I’d totally believe they’d act like that.” I bought everything that happened — no one did anything gratuitous or stupid to further a plot point (as it so happens in many soap operas), and so many of Fumi’s foibles — not being able to speak up, falling in love easily, depending on and needing human connection — are things I can relate with in my gut. Also I feel like the Sugimoto/Fumi courtship was pretty realistic, remembering what went on in my (all girls, Catholic) high-school, so maybe whether or not something feels realistic is whether or not you can conceive of it happening. Aoi Hana for me is entirely conceivable.

  7. supertauren says:

    the only problem with this series is how every single school girl besides i guess ai were gushing over yasuko. it made it feel as if both those schools were full of lesbians which was a bit awkward. not that there’s anything wrong with lesbians, but having two schools only have lesbians is a bit much. besides that though everything else was pretty good. you’re right about how most of this series wasn’t really cliche.

    i wish they had more closure between fumi and her ex but that’s just me, it was still nicely done.

  8. specracer says:

    I most comment on the high quality of the both the character designs and the backgrounds, but more so the backgrounds. If you have read the manga then you know what I mean. In the manga the vast majority of the scenes have a completely blank backgrounds with the characters talking. When this came out I was really surprised at how amazing the background art was. The characters in the manga are almost as vague as the background sometimes making it hard to pick out different characters. But this anime had none of those problems. I completely agree with your score.

  9. windy says:

    As a yuri anime, personally, I prefer , by far,” Maria-sama ga miteru”, never could have finished ” Aoi hana”, even considering its short length, and the chrter – design, even if it sticks perfectly well to the original manga ( which I disliked), I don’t like it even one bit, and the storyline wasn’t really out of ordinary or entertaing for me, it often got on my nerves, but well, maybe I should finish it till the end.

  10. Denizen says:

    I’m glad this show was done well, it bodes well for a theoretical Hourou Musuko anime in the future, which I would love to see.

  11. Reltair says:

    Aoi Hana is an excellent series with its realistic portrayal of relationships. I still need to finish it sometime. Not feeling like watching it at the moment because yuri just simply doesn’t interest me.

  12. yurikitty says:

    As someone who hasn’t watched an anime in almost 30 years (wow, did I just feel ancient there!) and was only recently introduced to yuri, I must say that this was one of my favorite shows ever. The subtle, realistic way in which they portrayed Fumi’s development in dealing with and coming to terms with her sexuality was beautiful and as close to real life as I have ever seen — and I should know. The last 6 minutes of the series had me in tears, especially with that gorgeous background music driving the action; it brought back memories of a past love in a way I thought I would never see portrayed so well in a yuri format. After being introduced to yuri through the likes of Strawbery Panic and Steel Angel Kirumi 2 (I mean, really?), I was about ready to abandon the genre as prurient fanboy drivel. This series saved it for me. If this is the future of yuri, I am looking very forward to my renewed relationship with anime. I even found the words to both the opening and ending songs in the show and learned them by heart even though I don’t speak a word of Japanese. Does that make me otaku? ;-)

  13. windy says:

    I just watched it through to the end, and after a second thought, I rather liked it. I liked the review you made of this series psgels, that’s what made me really watch it. The realism of this series definitely stands out just as much as the music does( I think the background music and the opening are the 2 things I preferred here. And the final ep leaves a pleasant athmosphere to us. I still don’t think this is the best of its genre but it’s definitely worth watching!

  14. AlexS says:

    “I wasn’t exactly the biggest fan of romance”

    I noticed that you have not yet reviewed Koi Kaze, which remains for me an all time favorite of romance anime (specially considering it’s only a dozen episodes).

  15. Perrin4869 says:

    Yes, this was a very nice anime, all the episodes were entertaining, I loved the characters, and the art, from the backgrounds all the way to the character design was really good.

    My favorite romance I think would be Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora, though I watched it when I was 17, so I’m not sure what my opinion about it would be if I watched it now…

  16. dickens says:

    It was an okay series. I can’t say I noticed much subtlety, and personally I found the series a bit melodramatic in the typical high school romance conflict kind of way. I didn’t find the characters very compelling either. The relationships don’t feel particularly meaningful, but I’m guessing that this is just the beginning of a longer story where more developments occur. It was well animated and better than an average series, but nowhere near the level (IMO) of J.C.Staff’s best work, “Honey and Clover”.

  17. aldrich says:

    I think Aoi Hana is got to be the first to break the “built-in-story” of every yuri anime. You know what, you’re right about one thing, the story didn’t revolve around Fumi and Akira, but you were wrong about one thing. At the ending, Fumi realizes that her first love is Akira, right? If that is so, who do u think is Fumi’s next “target”? That’s right. What I’m trying to say, is that the lead characters ended up with each other… its just that the series was “cut”/”finished” in ep 11. I demand for an Aoi Hana 2! lol.

  18. yuri-boy says:

    The animation and plot is almost realistic. Thumbs up. Sweet Blue Flowers is a very interesting yuri anime for me. It made me wonder why no lesbian couple ended up together. Yasuko could have ended up with Youko, or even with Fumi, but what happened was, Yasuko moved away, Youko ends up spending Christmas eve with Kou, and Fumi, possibly falling in love with some other girl better than Yasuko. Until this idea came to me.
    WHAT IF, we thought in the first place that the plot of Aoi Hana is different from that of the other Yuri animes and… WE were wrong?
    As a yuri anime lover, I have seen patterns from all the yuri anime’s I’ve watched. And judging by the intro of the anime when I first watched it, I predicted that the two childhood friends would eventually fall in love with each other and live happily ever after just like most of us would expect… But no. Instead, the story revolved around a main character and a side-character. It was shocking actually and made me think it’s unique, yes… unique at first. Until I finished the series.
    Ever wonder why Yasuko and Fumi didn’t end up together? I think it’s because Yasuko and Fumi’s relationship is a cover… A cover for Akira and Fumi getting closer and eventually falling in love with each other. It was somehow a story that would make Fumi end up with her first love, A-chan… That Fumi’s experience and lesbian relationship with Yasuko was something that would make her REALIZE who she really loves.
    SO, basically, for me, the main characters ended up together. It’s just like all the other yuri animes and just like how it should be. It’s just that the anime had a different approach, and used a side character. It’s a different approach, but the same happy ending. Fumi-chan realizes her love for A-chan. Akira’s mind is too simple(she said it herself.) but once she matures, she would realize why she was always there for Fumi. =)
    Overall, I think the plot is great and I totally agree with your rating. AND…
    Aoi Hana have taught us something… Something that we must keep in mind.
    “Sometimes, the person you truly love… Is the person who stood by you and held your hand your whole life.”

  19. tsotha says:

    It was well animated and better than an average series, but nowhere near the level (IMO) of J.C.Staff’s best work, “Honey and Clover”.

    Am I the only one who didn’t like Honey and Clover? I couldn’t even sustain enough interest to finish it, something that’s very rare for me. Aoi Hana seemed much better.

  20. Firechick says:

    I’m glad I watched Aoi Hana. This is the very first shojo-ai/yuri (but more shojo-ai than yuri) I ever watched, and I was so surprised with how GREAT this show turned out! Definitely in my top 10 anime of 2009! I loved how subtle and beautiful this anime was! I might shamelessly recommend this to friends if I have to!

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • mamamoo
    (Friday, May 27. 2016 05:35 PM)
    I’ve decided to get into manga on whim today after exclusively only watch anime for 6 years. I’m thinking of getting Monster, Berserk, Cardcaptor Sakura and 1 more. I think I want another shoujo manga in there to just keep the balance. Any recommendations? I like complicated\\pyschological dark stuff which sounds a bit contradictory to the shoujo genre but I’m just putting it out there for a recc
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, May 27. 2016 04:11 PM)
    @K-Off, I do have the option to update WordPress but to do so I need psgels FTP password. I could try sending him a message to see if I can get that or if he can do it himself.
  • K-Off
    (Friday, May 27. 2016 03:52 AM)
    @Aidan If the “recent comments” is failing to show up this often, it may be a problem with the plugin or maybe even the theme itself, the site is outdated. If you can do anything on your end you can try.
  • K-Off
    (Friday, May 27. 2016 03:39 AM)
    Okay for now, the Featured Posts box will have only 6 thumbnails in it until the next few reviews, since for some reason I can tag helghast’s OST review but not any of the previous episodes.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, May 27. 2016 03:33 AM)
    Or not. WordPress make up your mind.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, May 27. 2016 03:33 AM)
    Looks like recent comments disappears when we have more than six.
  • K-Off
    (Friday, May 27. 2016 03:30 AM)
    @Aidan I’ll try tagging 6 more to see if it’ll do a similar thing at 9 posts.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, May 27. 2016 03:29 AM)
    Ah crap. Almost forgot.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, May 27. 2016 03:28 AM)
    If you set it to three then the featured Posts category only shows two for some reason.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, May 27. 2016 03:26 AM)
    Weird…

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Bungou Stray Dogs – 08

I have to say more than anything this is Bungou Stray Dogs’ special episode, in a sense that in one hand, the show produces one of its most brilliance ever, but on the other hand, there are still many shortcomings along with the greatness, producing an episode that mostly entertainment but uneven. The introduction of […]

Joker Game - 08 1

Joker Game – 08

Well Joker Game managed to pull a twist I didn’t see coming and what makes it rather amusing is that it did it unintentionally. For you see it took the entire episode for me to figure out that I wasn’t watching the antics of another spy of the D-agency only to figure out that this […]

Flying witch 07b

Flying witch – 07

One of the thing that Flying witch always does it right is how it establish the chemistry between any characters, while at the same time maintain the consistency in their personalities. It feels like if you give them any random characters in any random situation, pretty much the show can hit it off. Last week […]

Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 08 1

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 08

I feel bad for the artists and animators who made the opening and ending for this show as they don’t seem to be getting much use. Not that I am complaining of course as if the choice is between a catchy theme song and more content then content wins every time. Though it is a […]

Kiznaiver - 07 4

Kiznaiver – 07

To some this may be the strongest episode of Kiznaiver to date. However to someone like myself I find myself mixed on what I just witnessed. I have said before that what I like about this series are the aspects which are distinctly Trigger which would be it’s sense of wacky humor and character chemistry. […]

Mayoiga 07b

Mayoiga – 08

Again this week Mayoiga succeed at bringing a big screw-you to us audience. The cliffhanger last week is quickly revealed, and we come to learn that Masaki is not a ghost, nor is she a witch, but simply that… she had visited the Lost Village before. Big surprise! It really is a ridiculous anti-climax, but […]

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – 06

If you haven’t heard by now, the second season of Attack on Titan has been delayed till 2017 because Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is far too awesome for Studio Wit to handle in a single year. I really couldn’t care less about the delay since I already know what’s going to happen in season […]

Bungou Stray Dogs 07d

Bungou Stray Dogs – 07

This week the plot revolving the Azure King was resolved and it raises the conflict of sense of justice between Dazai and Kunikida. Like what I suspected last week, all the new characters are in play in this episode and now I get the hang of Bungou Stray Dogs storytelling now. The new characters will […]

Joker Game - 07 3

Joker Game – 07

You know, I am beginning to wonder just how do those lessons go at the D-Agency. Is it something like “Ok, class. Today I will teach you how to summon dolphins with a whistle. After that we will go over the magic rituals of Aleister Crowley and finally have a refresher on the finer points […]

Latest Reviews

20160513001913_1

Lucid9: Inciting Incident Video Game Review – 85/100

It’s not often I pick a game up without prior knowledge. I abhor the act of pre-ordering and at least do a google search on the title to get a general idea of it’s overall quality. Gone are the day you walk into a game store and buy something purely on a whim or the […]

The Totem Warrior

Chinese Animation Guide – Part 3: Haoliners inputs

This part we explore one Chinese animation studio’s works. I choose Haoliners partly because they are independent studio, and their works are not hard to find. Just established in 2013, Haoliners is an indie studio but gathered more reputation in the last few years in their homeland. My experience with them through those titles below […]

Cover

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress OST Review

This will be the first time in my anime blogging career that I have ever done one of these anime OST review. It should be known that I have a complete bias for Hiroyuki Sawano as he has become one of the biggest composer for anime in recent years in some of my favorite anime […]

Nüwa’s Growth Diary

Chinese Animation Guide – Part 2: Chinese Anime shows

As much as I hated the term Chinese Anime (Anime stands for Japanese animation, strictly speaking), this is the exact term for those shows. Their influence from the Anime was so heavy that apart from the voice cast and some scene settings, you can’t tell those apart from the original anime. With that said, judge from […]

If anyone have been followed animation closely for the last few years, they will notice a recent rise of Chinese animation (call it a wave if you like), both in feature and in series. While it does not have much of an impact in any English speaking world like anime has been, they are really popular in their mainland and some parts of Asian countries. With the success of Kung Fu Panda (half-produced by China) and its power on movies industry (China IS the main market for feature films now), it is worth it to take a look on this current trend and see how they are different from anime.
While my fellow bloggers are the ones who more specialize in Games and Manga, I will be the one who cover World Animation (by that I mean anything animated other than anime and American big studio animation – they got way too much coverage already). Like majority of you guys I am not from China, my Chinese is as good as my Japanese (which is to say NONE), so this is actually goddamn difficult to look for titles, and the information I could find are sacred here on top of that find a suitable sub for it, most of them does not even have an English name, thus the title and the synopsis that I give you here are just a rough translation. So behold. This is our very first attempt to cover the animation of china.

Chinese Animation Guide – Part 1: Computer Animated Wuxia shows

If anyone have been followed animation closely for the last few years, they will notice a recent rise of Chinese animation (call it a wave if you like), both in feature and in series. While it does not have much of an impact in any English speaking world like anime has been, they are really popular […]

asagao to kase-san

K-Off’s Ongoing Manga Recommendations (embedded links)

If you frequent the frontpage of Imgur or r/manga often, you may have seen some of my past manga recommendation lists before, but here’s some ongoing manga that I’ll recommend for now. This is in no particular order of best-worst, I’ve also embedded the links to the scanlations into the images for your convenience. 1. […]

New Manga Spotlight – Konya wa Tsuki ga Kirei Desu ga, Toriaezu Shi ne, Shoujo Fujuubun and Shimanami Tasogare

New Manga Spotlight – Konya wa Tsuki ga Kirei Desu ga, Toriaezu Shi ne, Shoujo Fujuubun and Shimanami Tasogare

Konya wa Tsuki ga Kirei Desu ga, Toriaezu Shi ne Two chapters so far. Ah love, that sweet nectar which all seek to experience. And truly there is nothing more romantic than gathering up your courage, inviting the girl you love up to the roof, taking her by the shoulders and proclaiming with all your […]

kQtrlYU

Langrisser Re:Incarnation Tensei video game review- 35/100 (avoid it like the plague)

To preface, I’d call this the poor man’s Fire Emblem if it wasn’t so damn expensive for its quality, not to mention so difficult to find. Here in New York City outside of lower Manhattan, there’s game stores in Brooklyn, Queens, Flatiron, and Newport, to a total count of 12 game stores in a 20 […]

413420_20160420220647_1

DanganRonpa 2: Goodbye Despair Video Game Review – 90/100

There may be those of you who know this series more by its anime adaption instead of it’s video games and if you haven’t watched the anime of this I highly recommend that you don’t watch it. Instead play the games which have been recently ported to Steam. The reason I say this is that […]