I haven't followed any series' run as long as I've followed Aoi Hana's and I never tired of it, so reviewing this final volume feels a little bittersweet. Some may remember that I hyperventilated on Twitter after I read the news that it would wrap up soon, because I wanted to follow Fumi longer and the situation between her and Akira was very unresolved at the time. I wanted to believe in Shimura Takako's writing, but feared the story might not resolve satisfactorily. I am happy with how this series ended, though.
All of the non-Fumi and Akira couples we know happily remain together. Akira's brother Shinobu and Mogii are still dating, Kyouko and Kou get married, and Orie and Hinako, already married (if not legally), get one of the best, most wonderful scenes in this book, continuing the uptick in yuri manga promoting marriage equality in recent years. Also, I will never complain about seeing a couple I like in wedding dresses.
Earlier in the book, Hinako deals with a student who spreads rumors about Hinako's sexual orientation after Hinako gently rejects her. Thankfully, the rumors ultimately don't do any harm to Hinako's career- perhaps because the rumor-monger is from the student newspaper, which has a bit of a trashy tabloid reputation.
We see Sugimoto again when Akira and Kyouko go on their senior class trip to London. Sugimoto has better realized how shitty her behavior was when she dated and broke up with Fumi, causing her to apologize to Akira. Akira uneasily wonders if her dating Fumi is similar to what Sugimoto did. I don't think so because she is more honest with Fumi than Sugimoto was and has Fumi's interests in mind.
Akira and Fumi's doubts culminate in their breaking up, which I kind of expected when I read volume 7 (reviewed here), although I wasn't sure whether it would last or be a catalyst for figuring things out (especially on Akira's side) and realizing they are both in love and getting together for good.
Since I said I would be happy with Fumi winding up with another girl given enough development of their relationship or her winding up with Akira and I am happy with this volume, it's pointless for me to try to be vague about how things end for Fumi and Akira. ^^;
My sweetie commented that she is glad Fumi and Akira broke up before getting back together because it was good for them to figure themselves out more (again, especially Akira) before trying to build a lasting relationship, and I agree. (Btw if you're looking for a story with a similar theme- two people who get together after it didn't work out because one of them needed to do some growing, you might like Torino Shino's Ohana Holoholo.)
We end this series with Fumi and Akira as young adults, happy together, looking forward to seeing where things go. Two pages in this book (a.k.a. the rose petal pages) indicate that their relationship will turn out to be lasting love.
I would gladly follow more of Fumi's life, but I am happy with where this final volume leaves her.
This volume doesn't contain any bonus stories, but there is an afterword in which Shimura Takako continues her penchant for interacting with her characters with an amusing take on Fumi and Akira. My copy, which I picked up at Kinokuniya, also came with the cute Aoi Hana x Hourou Musuko crossover you see below. I assume the final volume of Hourou Musuko has the other half.
BGM: "Sakura Nagashi" - Utada Hikaru