The longer version:
Happiness. All of my classes this past week were ♥. And as the fudge icing on top of a delectable chocolate cake, the finale for Aoi Hana was freaking brilliant. It maintained the series' sentimental, down-to-earth focus on the small (or not so small) joys and trials of the characters' daily lives, while wrapping up the series in the most satisfactory, romantic way that it could have while remaining faithful- but not slavishly so- to the manga. I couldn't be happier with it! ^^
The hard thing about writing this post is that it won't surprise anybody who has read anything I've ever written about Aoi Hana, particularly my reviews of volumes 1, 2, and 3 of the manga (which the anime covers). ^^; lol But that's a good thing, no? I can't even think of any artistic inconsistencies to complain about. (Blast you, J.C. Staff! *shakes fist in consternation*)
The biggest deviation from the manga came in the final episode, "Fireworks in Winter" (or as I like to think of it, "How Kyouko Saved Christmas") which changed what felt like a mere bridge between storylines in the manga into the emotional peak of the anime.
(Mental Note: On Christmas or Christmas Eve I should do a marathon of yuri anime Christmas episodes.)
Warning: There are spoiler-y images and descriptions below the cut. This is one series finale that I really don't want to spoil for anybody who hasn't seen it.
The final episode borrows a few plot details from volume 4- just enough to provide some necessary closure. (Like Yasuko leading the Matsuoka basketball team to second place in the regional tournament.) Akira decides to throw a party on Christmas Eve (mind you, Christmas Eve has a much more romantic connotation in Japan than it does in most countries :) ), and invites Fumi, Mogi, Yassan, and Pon-chan. Kyouko can't make it because she's spending Christmas Eve with Kou.
Even though Fumi has pretty much gotten over Yasuko, she's still haunted by one thing that Yasuko asked her.
Since Kou never manages to get Kyouko a present she likes, he asks Akira for help. Fumi spots them shopping together while she's shopping for a present for Akira- but she doesn't approach them.
At the Christmas Eve party, Akira recieves a text message from Kyouko, thanking her for choosing Kou's present- it was so remarkably non-terrible, that Kyouko figured it out. lol Akira tells Fumi about it, causing Fumi to feel incredibly relieved.
Since Christmas love is in the air, even Shinobu receives an unexpected confession.
Fumi spends the night at Akira's, but since neither of them can sleep, they sneak out and wind up at the tree where they spent their last day together before Fumi moved from Kamakura.
Fumi and Ah-chan return to their old elementary school building. I love the blink-and-you'll-miss-it "look" Fumi has on her face before she runs into the school, while Ah-chan's afraid to go in. ^^ lol Fumi comes across a spot that she remembers from when she and Ah-chan were together as children. When she sees the place where a patch of blue flowers grew (the same as the dried flower that Ah-chan has in one of her albums), Fumi finally remembers that her first love was...Ah-chan.
Fumi and Ah-chan leave the school while holding hands. Even though the series is ending, we're left assured that Fumi and Ah-chan have come full circle and are facing a new beginning.
Beautiful. As a fan of the manga, I couldn't have asked for better. :)
Overall: Easy A
This is definitely a new favorite of mine! A second season would be great, but even if one were never made, I would be happy with this.