Continuing the string of shows that have taken a while before I felt that I could write about them is the J.C. Staff show – Aoi Hana. This time I feel bad that it’s taken so long because right from the start, the show seemed like a slam dunk in the quality department. And maybe that was one of the problems, it’s easier to know when to dismiss a flawedshow then when to support a near flawless show because you know it’ll stay flawless.
Rating: episode 1 – 9/12 A-
Rating: episode 2 – 10/12 A
Rating: episode 3 – 10.5/12 Strong A
Rating: episode 4 – 10/12 A
Rating: episode 5 – 10.5/12 Strong A
Anticipation Level: 3/5 – Average to Medium
To the potential viewers of this series it should be noted up front that this is a serious yuri school anime. Just saying that will probably turn off a sizable percentage of people and interest another sizable percentage of people. As far as I’m concerned, either response is fine – a person is allowed to think what they want – but know that assumptions can often lead to incorrect conclusions. In the case of Aoi Hana, I’ve read several people that dropped this show when they realized the show was not going to be a fan-service romp. When I watch a new show I try to leave myself in a neutral state to better allow the show to win me over or convince me to drop it. Therefore, I wasn’t expecting anything specific outside of hoping for a cast of likable characters and it’s safe to say I got that.
The story follows two high school girls that were close friends when they were very young until the one moved away and what happens when she returns to town to attend high school after many years away. As you can probably guess, in the first episode they meet by chance, reconnect and renew their close friendship. This is a good thing since starting high school is full of perils and problems and having a good friend is very helpful.
As I’ve mentioned already, there was plenty readily apparent quality features to this show. Frequent readers will probably have read about how nice I think J.C. Staff’s watercolor animation style is. Just last season I was praising J.C. Staff for it’s best and most beautiful iteration of this style so far with Hatsukoi Limited and now they’ve come right back and jacked the quality up even more with Aoi Hana. It’s truly something to see and I really think it is good enough that this show is worth the time just for being able to watch the animation. But that’s not all, even early on I liked the two main characters. They both feel like real characters and display a likable warmth about themselves that draws the viewer in and causes these viewers to start caring about what happens to them. Another feature I liked, and some will dispute, was how unfanservicy the show is. I don’t like how, oftentimes, fan service will be given precedence over the show’s story, to the detriment of the series. So I welcome a show that doesn’t feel like it needs to show off a character’s pantsu to keep viewers interested. And I could hardily forget about the very good voice work being done.
The one area that worried me and what held this post up was the question of how good the story would be and would it feel believable. In comedies it’s not as important for a show’s story to make sense because that’s not the point of the series but for a more serious show, it needs a more believable series. So, I needed to see if they could convince me and after 5 episodes I can say that, yes, they’ve convinced me – the story feels natural and not contrived.
I realize this title isn’t for everyone but as someone that most likely falls outside of target audience, I have found plenty to like about this show and suggest to others to give this show a shot.