Friday, July 10, 2009

Aoi Hana Episode 2: Spring Storm ("Haru no Arashi")

Aoi Hana is shaping up to be one of the best anime series I have ever had the pleasure of watching.

Now that Afterellen has gotten permission from Crunchyroll to begin streaming episode 1 at 11:00 p.m. tonight, as well as permission to stream subsequent episodes as they become available for free, hopefully plenty of AE readers who don't normally watch anime will try it and enjoy it. ^^ (Kind of like how many people who aren't anime fans have enjoyed certain Adult Swim anime series like Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, or movies by Hayao Miyazaki.)

Without further ado, onto the review! ^^

Episode 2 of Aoi Hana covers chapter 2 and most of chapter 3 of the manga, when Fumi's mom invites Akira and Mrs. Okudaira to the Manjoume residence and Fumi begins to remember how Akira always ate the food she didn't like,

Akira and Kyouko join the Fujigaya Drama Club (I love the Takarazuka reference Akira makes! ^^),

and Fumi mistakenly joins the Matsuoka Basketball Club instead of the Literature Club because of Yasuko's otokoyaku charm. :)

And now we have all four of our main players! ^^

Some people have complained that Yasuko doesn't sound boyish enough, but I think Chiemi Ishimatsu does a good job of giving Yasuko a smooth, mature voice, while sounding like a believable teenager. (All of the seiyuu are doing a great job, imo.) The only real change from the manga to the anime that I noticed in this scene is that Yasuko doesn't sparkle in the anime. lol It's fine- sparkles would have come across as pretty cheesy in the anime. ^^;;

After Fumi meets Yasuko, we move on to Akira and Fumi sitting in Fumi's room after school, on the day when Akira and her mom are expected to visit. Mrs. Okudaira calls Akira on her cell phone and says that she can't make it, but another unexpected pair of visitors arrive- Chizu and her fiancee. Unlike the manga, in the anime Chizu's fiancee doesn't enter Fumi's room and introduce himself to her- no loss there. But Fumi breaks down crying anyway, saying that Chizu is cruel, while Akira comforts her.

Akira sleeps over, and Fumi begins to cry as she remembers Chizu, but Akira makes her snap out of it, wondering at how Fumi loves her cousin so much that she's reacting that strongly over Chizu's marriage. (In the manga, Akira wonders about Fumi's love for Chizu after Kyouko recieves a love letter, and pieces the puzzle together a little more by wondering if something happened that "shouldn't have been happening.") But Fumi and Akira have a sweet scene together, as Fumi remembers how she and Akira had always been like that. (Fumi crying over something, and Akira comforting her.)

Awww. ^^ So cute!!!

Later at school, Fumi realizes that Yasuko's in the Basketball Club, not the Lit Club. D'oh! -_-;; But she joins anyway. And not because she loves basketball.

I wonder if this is how all of the Basketball Club members get recruited...

On the day of Chizu's wedding, Fumi fakes being sick so she doesn't have to undergo that ordeal. After Akira calls her, Fumi leaves the house to spend the day with her. ^^

Akira pokes fun at Fumi for mixing up the Basketball and Literature Clubs,

then tells Fumi that Fujigaya's holding its three annual school plays: "The Little Prince" for the elementary school, ""Little Women" for the middle school, and "Wuthering Heights" for the high school.

At school, Fumi tries to tell Yasuko she's leaving the Basketball Club, but Yasuko beats her to the punch by asking her her to come to Fujigaya one day to help out with "Wuthering Heights", in which Yasuko's playing Heathcliff.

At Fujigaya, Kyouko recieves a love letter from a middle schooler in her locker, but tells Akira that she already has someone she likes.

I love the next scene, when Akira wonders why she reflexively assumed Kyouko's in love with a girl. :)

Yasuko, Fumi, and the Matsuoka Drama Club, Pon-chan, Yassan, and Mogi (at their own insistence lol), visit Fujigaya, where they meet up with Fujigaya's Drama Club.

While Fumi, Pon-chan, Yassan, and Mogi tour Fujigaya, Yasuko and Kyouko meet privately,

where Kyouko tells Yasuko that she volunteered be a candidate for the part of Catherine. Yasuko asks her if Kyouko did that because she's playing Heathcliff. :) (If you don't understand the Wuthering Heights references in Aoi Hana, read the damn book! It isn't very long, and disregarding its references in Aoi Hana, it's a must-read classic.) Kyouko replies that she would be happy watching Yasuko as Heathcliff (notice that she didn't directly say "No" :) ), to which Yasuko replies, "Will merely watching satisfy you?"

As Fumi walks by the room where Yasuko and Kyouko are, Kyouko bursts out of it in tears.

This episode is every bit as wonderful as the first!!! ^___^ It covers a surprising amount of ground, managing to truncate bits of the manga without losing anything important. I'm really curious about how much of the manga this series will cover before it ends!! Will the series go as far as, say, volume 3, and then wait another year for Takako Shimura to produce another tankoubon (volume 5- there are 4 volumes as of now) and use that as source material for an ending? Or will the anime have a completely original ending- either in this season or a possible second season? It doesn't especially matter to me, so long as Aoi Hana (in both anime and manga form) gets a good, solid ending.

I won't be posting any more weekly episode reviews. (Although I am submitting a brief recap to Afterellen each week for the "Queer Women on TV" section of their Best. Lesbian. Week. Ever. weekly news report.) I reviewed this week's episode because I wanted to cover Yasuko's entrance.

But when this series wraps up in September, I'll post a review of Aoi Hana as a whole. ^_^

Ratings are all exactly the same as last week's episode.

Oh, and tomorrow I'm heading to Yasumicon in Miami to do a yuri panel for the second year in a row! ^^ I'm sure it'll be a lot of fun. Last year, not many people actually came to my panel until I started playing a clip from Utena. Then a group of curious onlookers crowded by the doorway, and finally, they poured in! (Seriously.) I guess that means Utena's that darn good. But I really hope a lot of people come to the panel this year! ^^ I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. The people in charge of Yasumicon are always lovely to work with.

I'm still not sure which clip of Aoi Hana I should show tomorrow, however, to lure people into watching it. ;)


Anonymous said...

I'm so jealous that you've watched episode 2 already!! I'm still waiting for the subs though I couldn't resist and have actually checked out the raws! :P But I CLEARLY could not catch those "aaaaw" moments that you've mentioned above!!! haha

I wish I could visit you at the panel! *sigh*

Katherine said...

@ yasashiisekai- You're going to *love* those squeal-worthy moments when you see the sub of episode 2! :) I'm looking forward to reading your recap of it!

Anonymous said...

I honestly believe that the anime will end specifically after Fumi and Yasuko have, er, their disagreement. I am sure it will have one of those vague endings as well, where the characters reflect on the events to come.

I would love that this become another Maria-sama and they pick it up and make anime for most of the previously existing content, but it sure is gonna be hard to market anime such as this. It was amazing that Marimite was even made in the first place.

Katherine said...

@ Anonymous- I would *love* for this to become the next Marimite also!! ^^ It would make sense for the anime to end after Fumi and Yasuko's...disagreement, although I could see the end of volume 3 as a good ending point for the season, since it provides more closure on Fumi and Yasuko's disagreement as well as Yasuko's old, uh, issues with the person her sister marries (you know ^^;;), and the (possible) second season could begin with the introduction of the new characters in volume 4. I'm just speculating. I guess we'll just have to wait and see! :)