Sunday, June 6, 2010

Manga Review: Aoi Hana volume 5

 My last review of the Aoi Hana manga was almost a year ago. One year after the summer that I went crazy squeeing over the anime adaptation, I'm still in love with this story, whichever form it's in. ^_^

Having left off right after Fumi's confession to Ah-chan, volume 5 picks up with the Fujigaya Drama Club putting on their performance of Mishima Yukio's "Rokumeikan." Ah-chan hasn't rejected Fumi, but she isn't jumping into her arms either. (Although future chapters show promise. ^____^)

Ah-chan does a great job as one of the leads in Rokumeikan after Fumi calms her nerves, and Kyouko also does a fabulous job. (Even better than Sugimoto the previous year.) Fumi also meets Haruka's big sister Orie and, somewhat enviously, picks up on the lovers' vibe between Orie and Hinako-sensei. (I'm really glad to see Orie and Hinako playing a larger role- especially the great advice scene between Fumi and Hinako that will appear in volume 6 when it comes out. But- aughh, I'm getting way ahead of myself!! >__<) Meanwhile, Kyouko's dealing with her family issues and Kou, shockingly, tells her that they should break off their engagement even though (or really, because) he loves her. I'm really interested in seeing what happens to them. (Does Kyouko suddenly want to marry him only because she wants to leave her family? Or is she also developing some feelings for him that he doesn't notice? Since he's always been there for her, and they have that "childhood friends" thing going on like Fumi and Ah-chan....) While taking a painting lesson with Kazusa, Kyouko learns that Yasuko's returning from her study abroad for ten days during summer break. On Haruka's invitiation, Ah-chan, Fumi, Mogii, Pon-chan, and Yassan make plans to go to Haruka's grandfather's ryokan- along with Orie and Hinako. (Whoohoo! ^^)

I still staunchly believe that this is a fantastic series. The characters are as loveable as ever (not just "likeable"- loveable), with new insights and layers being added. The biggest insights in this volume have to do with Kyouko and Chizu's pasts- although I still don't like Chizu. lol Ah-chan, having never been in love with anyone, is walking a tightrope in trying to figure out her own feelings without hurting Fumi. Shimura isn't in any hurry to get them together (and yes, I am convinced that they will, eventually, get together), but the story still doesn't feel like it's moving too slowly. Not when it's this good. And of course, Fumi makes some progress in coming out from learning about Haruka's sister and Hinako. (Seeing someone older who has happily "traveled the same path" can make a big difference.) Chizu's story, on the other hand, serves as a parallel cautionary tale for what could happen if Fumi doesn't stay true to herself. And Yassan, Mogii, and Pon-chan, with their "outsiders' perspective", occasionally provide a nice break from the drama- even though it's freaking excellent drama.

Finally, after the story proper, Shimura provides another "Little Women" segment and a bonus comic.

Another awesome volume. Bring on volume 6!!

Story: A
Art: B+
Overall: Amazing :)

Ooh, if only this would be licensed.


嵐*CJ said...

It's pretty weird that I haven't yet read or watched Aoi Hana, ever. I don't know why, I have read most yuri manga that I can get my hands on, light novels not as much, but I am pretty familiar with the yuri genre. I've seen plenty of positive comments concerning this series, but...I remember reading the first chapter and I didn't continue after that. Maybe I should give Aoi Hana another try, really...

Katherine said...

@ CJ- If you do give the story another try, you might want to start with the anime version. (For some reason, that feels like a slightly better way to get people into the series. What with the pretty OP, and all. ^^;;) But everyone has series that they can't get into- even among titles that are usually acclaimed. (An example for me would be Fruits Basket.)

嵐*CJ said...

@ Katherine
Oh ok, I'll check out the anime first then!! The odd thing is that I've been able to tolerate manga series like...say Gokujo Drops (I really dislike the art and story of it, but I still read/skimmed to the last chapter), I think Aoi Hana deserves better attention from me. LOL

Sheldor said...

I don't know why but whenever I read a review about Aoi Hana I always - without fail - feel like crying. I think just hearing someone else praise and appreciate my favourite manga, it seems I take it very personally.

I loved this volume and chapter 30 is currently my all time favourite. (I’m hoping certain acts in certain future chapters will topple it) I love how honest Shimura is in that chapter, never shying away from the realities of Fumi and Chizu's relationship and presenting us with the heartbreaking truth of Fumi’s life without Ah-chan. I was very moved.

It wasn't actually until the most recent chapters released that I became convinced we're heading for that happy ending. A girl meets girl story that will set your heart aflutter indeed!

Epic review, loved it.

Oh and my series would be Marimite lol.

Katherine said...

@ Sheldor- Indeed- on the "heart aflutter" part. XD I don't really have a favorite chapter. (Each time I read a new one, I'm like "This is the best chapter ever!!" Pretty fickle. lol ^^;) Glad you like the review!