Ao Haru Ride Volume 3
Io Sakisaka’s Ao Haru Ride volume 3 brings the students back to the school setting (after the retreat of volume 2) and introduces a new conflict. After having her eyes opened to what friendship should mean in volume 1, Futaba is challenged by a passing comment made by new friend Yuri. Yuri likes Kou, it turns out. Futaba doesn’t want to hurt or compete with her friend, particularly since she’s unsure how deep her feelings for Kou go. Can she overcome her fear of losing their friendship and be honest with both Yuri and herself?
There’s a lengthy sequence where Kou and Futaba are together by themselves in a classroom, working on a report as class reps. It’s the setting for interior monologue and chatter about minor incidents that are emotionally significant. This is that kind of manga, where the first stirrings of young love give everything more substance and effect. The art revolves around the characters talking with each other or focuses on faces, either as we see who characters are looking at or their reactions to small incidents or comments.
Futaba, being adolescent, constantly worries about how she’s presenting herself or coming off to others. Now that she’s realized she likes Kou, spending time alone with him just ramps everything up. She thinks to herself,
“When you’re in love, trivial things seem so important. Even though it’s inconvenient, worrying about all this stuff… it’s more fun than I expected.”
Although emotions run high, Sakisaka keeps her characters in balance, without exaggerating reactions or events too far. There’s a small gem of a bonus story included as well, about the reserved Shoko and her view for her future. (The publisher provided a review copy.)