Ao Haru Ride (Blue Spring Ride) Movie Recap
TBH, I have to do a re-watch before I fully recap this one. Lots of things are going on in this movie; familial problems, social belongingness, unrequited love, friendly rivalries, guilt complex, love triangles, so on and so forth.
Over all, it was okay. It’s just that I find the earlier parts of the movie too draggy and momentum only picked up after the accidental kiss. Also, the male lead’s character is too “spineless” for my taste. Well, those were my only regrets. 🙂
Futaba Yoshioka (Tsubasa Honda) puts friendship above love. She yearns for social acceptance from other girls and acts unladylike on purpose just to fit in. In middle school, she met and developed a crush on the charming Kou Tanaka (Masahiro Higashide). They shared brief, romantic memories and even planned to go to the summer festival together. However, without any reasons at all, Kou didn’t come and transferred schools the next sem.
Four years passed and Kou suddenly returns, not as “Kou Tanaka”, but Kou Mabushi. His parents got divorced and it’s basically the reason why he failed to fulfill his promise of coming to the summer festival. However, it seems it’s not only his family name that’s changed but his personality as well. Unlike his smiling and kind demeanor during middle school, he has now become crude and distant.
One day, a lunch lady wrongly accuses Futaba of not paying for her food. Futaba insists that she did pay up but lunch lady isn’t hearing her. Even Futaba’s “friends” are doubtful of her claim. Oddly, the only one who dared defend her is Kou. After it’s settled, Futaba thanks Kuo for sticking up for her. But he just bluntly tells her not to make a big deal out of it, saying that if she gets happy with such trivial things then she’ll be making cheap friendships. But to Fatuba, even if it’s only pretense, it’s still better than being alone.
Yuri Makita (Izumi Fujimoto), who witnesses the misunderstanding says sorry to Futaba. Even though she saw what really happened, she kept her silence. Yuri is a lot like Futaba in middle school. She’s often left alone just because other girls get jealous of her popularity among boys. And since Futaba feels her plight, she stands up for Yuri, which causes a severe rift with her fake friends.
Futaba finds herself ousted from the social circle once again. She then vents her despair to Kou. But she knows too well that she has no one to blame but herself. When he left, she has no one. Her eagerness to belong made her deceive herself, consequently building fragile friendships. Some schoolmates happen to pass by while she’s having her moment, so Kou pulls her for a semi-hug just to hide her from their view. He then tells her to stop overreacting. Everything’s not over and besides, she has not even started anything yet.
Next, Tanaka-sensie asks for five student representatives who will attend the leadership camp. Fatuba takes this as something to start with, so she volunteers. She’s joined by Yuri, Shuko Murao (Yua Shinkawa), Aya Kominato (Ryo Yoshizawa) and the unwilling Kou.
Unfortunately, Futaba is the only one who is up to the task. One time, she’s having trouble carrying firewood all by herself when one schoolmate Toma Kikuchi (Yudai Chiba) helps her out. And because no one in Futaba’s group bothered to help, they fail the group report. We’ll have more of Kikuchi’s presence later on.
Futaba fell asleep whilst doing the revision of the group report. Kou sees her napping and laughs at her messy handwriting. He then tenderly stares at her. At this point, we get to see his true feelings towards Futaba. Kyaaah!
Futaba wakes up, their group report sorted out. Somehow she knows Kou completed the assignment so she looks for him. She finds him staring at the sunrise. Murao, Kominato, and Yuri then joins in and this marks the beginning of a new and genuine friendship. Days after the leadership camp, the five of them eventually grow closer to each other.
Yuri notices the closeness between Futaba and Kou and decides to have a talk with Futaba about it. In truth, she loves Kou and she’s rather worried that it’ll affect her friendship with Futaba. But Futaba swears she doesn’t like Kou and only sees him as an old classmate and a past crush.
Though Futaba says she doesn’t like Kou, she finds herself attracted to his bony hands, clean handwriting, and how he barely sees behind his bangs. Okay that’s a little creepy. Tehehe! She even notices the same gestures he had back in middle school. Kou then frankly probes if she likes him. She replies a straightforward “no”, simply because he’s not the same Kou she knew. Kou is irritated by her answer and tells her not to look for the old him. It gets annoying and she’s a loser for holding on to that memory.
But true feelings are hard to contain and Futaba realizes she’s indeed in love with the old, as well as, the new Kou. She had to eat her own words and apologize to Yuri. Yuri is disappointed but still, friendship proves greater than the love rivalry and they agreed that who ever Kou chooses, they will remain as friends.
Since Futaba is already sure of her feelings, she wants to know more about him. However, he takes her curiosity as stepping into his boundaries. They argue and because of this, Kou distances himself not only from Futaba but the rest of the group.
To reconcile with Kou, Futaba goes to his house. But to her surprise, Tanaka-sensei is there. Turns out, Tanaka-sensei is Kou’s older brother. He gladly relays the truth behind Kou’s sudden change. When their parents divorced, Kou went with their Mom to Nagasaki. But sadly, Mom got sick and died of cancer. Kou endured the traumatic experience alone. Tanaka-sensei couldn’t handle Mom getting sick so he pushed everything to Kou. However, Kou didn’t take Mom’s death well and blamed himself for not doing enough.
Futaba then looks for Kou. Somehow, she always finds him. He then bares all. When he left for Nagasaki, he promised to take care of Mom and studied hard to become a doctor. Ironically, he didn’t realize Mom is already sick. He saw her body become weaker and weaker by the day and he can’t do something about it. Anyways, it’s okay if she doesn’t understand.
Indeed, she doesn’t. But she’s willing. She tells him to stop isolating himself because he has become someone important to the people around him. She even promises to beat up any person who hinders his happiness, even if it’s his Mom. Kou is touched and hugs her. Kyaaah!
On the way home, they see a poster of the upcoming summer festival. Kou revives his long overdue promise of going to the festival together. Just like last time, he tells her to meet up 7pm at Sankaku Park. However, history is fond of repeating itself and in the end, he’s still a no show.
Kou, once again distances, himself. Kominato reveals that Kou is seeing someone from Nagasaki. Because of Kou’s sudden coldness, Kikuchi has all the time to talk and get closer to Futaba. Remember Kikuchi? The one at the leadership camp? Yeah, that one. Seems like he has developed a liking to Futaba.
Meanwhile Yui Narumi (Mitsuki Takahata), Kou’s classmate in Nagasaki comes to visit him during the school fair. She’s the one Kou has been seeing lately. Futaba gets jealous of Yui and in return, Kou is jealous of Kikuchi. This is a ring of jealous highschoolers!
Kikuchi is part of a band and he invites Futaba to watch their concert. Kou follows Futaba there and I don’t really get why though, but he whispers something in her ears. Since they’re at a concert, she can’t hear him properly. Coincidentally, Kominato accidentally trips and pushed Kou, resulting to an accidental kiss. This got to be one of funniest accidental kiss ever! Haha! Futaba angrily walks away and thankfully Kou trails behind. Futaba is fuming that the kiss was meaningless and neither of them meant it. So Kou kisses her again, this time deliberately.
Kou clarifies that Yui is just a friend. And the night he cancelled on their date was actually the wake of Yui’s dad. Like him, her parents are divorced as well. Though he doesn’t have any romantic feelings towards Yui, he understands her the most. Futaba now understands. Sometimes, there are just spaces she can’t cross, referring to both Kou’s and Yui’s identical situation.
Tanaka-sensei calls and tells Kou that Yui is taken into custody by the police. Turns out, She run away from home and her Mom didn’t accept responsibility for her. At the police station, Yui hugs Kou. Futaba sees the scene. She’s hurt obviously. Just when things start to clear up, Kou’s resolved is getting shaky again. Argg! Kou’s indecisive attitude is getting annoying!
Kou is absent for days and his friends start to worry. Well, he’s been taking care of Yui that’s why. Out of her concern for Kou, Futaba begs Yui to let him go. But Yui is too selfish to grant him that.
Futaba expresses her love to Kou but the guy remains silent. She smiles. She already knows he can’t return her feelings. In fact, she’s anticipating his rejection. All she ask now is for him to properly turn her down and after this, she’ll be able to embrace the heart break and move on. Kou is angry at himself but because he’s one shabby fellow, he didn’t try to stop her.
Futaba is determined to move forward and settles on being more feminine to find herself a nice guy. But even then, she isn’t really doing a fine job in moving on. Kikuchi tells her stop trying too hard because he likes her for the way she is now. She’s shocked at his unexpected confession. And since he’s determined, she gives him a chance to prove his love.
This is one of the saddest scenes in this movie. It’s apparent that Kou loves Futaba but somehow he’s torn between his love for her and his moral duty to help Yui.
Moving on, it’s time for Kominato and the others to take matters on their own hands. So, they devise a plan to patch up the two hardheaded lovers. The plan is to bring Kou to Nagasaki and make him face his monsters. And they convinced Futaba to accompany him in this self-finding journey.
Memories of Mom and his indifferent behavior flashes back and Kou is afraid to go on. Thanks to Futaba’s feisty encouragement, he relents. Together, they retrace Mom and Kou’s daily routines. And this time, somehow, Kou can only remember Mom’s smiling face. They go to the church where Mom frequents. There the priest tells them that Mom doesn’t pray for herself but for Kou. He breaks down seeing Mom’s prayer requests especially the one which says she prays that Kou lives a happy life.
Futaba honestly tells Kikuchi that she can’t forget Kou. However, Kikuchi already knew that she’ll eventually go back to Kou and they part in good terms.
Futaba gets a call from Yui. In voice over, Yui relays that Kou was always aloof and distant when he first came to Nagasaki. Every afternoon, during their art class, he’ll write something on his desk. Futaba goes to Kou’s middle school and personally take a look at the graffiti Yui was talking about. It reads: 7pm, Sankaku Park, Futaba Yoshioka. Yui adds that Kou’s clock stopped at 7pm during that summer festival and it’s up to Futaba to restart it for him. Finally!
Now that everything’s put into place, Kou is ready to forgive himself. He then invites his friends to watch the sunrise together. However, Kominato tells the rest of the gang to let the two lovers reconcile first and let them be for now.
Futaba finds Kou waiting at the hill. He shares a memory of her. It was in middle school and they were playing cops and robbers. Futaba ran to him to let him out but she clumsily fell down. Just by remembering it, his sides hurt. Haha!
Kou: Like you said, I’m a loser for desperately clinging to my memories. I love you. I did then and I do now. Always did.
Futaba: You’re okay with someone like me?
Kou: I don’t know. I’ve never liked anyone but you, so I don’t know.
And like all others, they end the movie with a kiss.