Ao Haru Ride Vol. 2 Review

Title: Ao Haru Ride Vol. 2
Author: Io Sakisaka
Publisher: Viz Media
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 184
Genre: Slice of Life, Romance
Publication Date: December 4, 2018

The Story

Volume two of Ao Haru Ride sees our cast of characters head to a retreat in order to bond and become closer. The retreat is for leaders so, in order to go, they had some become class representatives and become part of the class event committee. When it came time to volunteer, Futaba was the first to do so after some reluctance. When she asked for a male volunteer, Kou offered his services. Seeing the two of them up there, Makita decided to volunteer based off of her budding friendship with Futaba. Murao, who is normally a loner, decided to volunteer which surprised everyone. As soon as she did, Kominato jumped at the chance to be on the committee.

Thanks to Kou’s laziness, Kou and Futaba boarded the wrong train to the retreat and ended up being late. Afterward, it seemed as if the five of them couldn’t exist together as they all had some sort of gripe with one another. Of course, Kou and Futaba have that awkward relationship with one another but Kou and Murao also went to odds with one another during lunch. It seemed like Makita, Futaba, and Kominato would co-exist until Makita said she was done eating and Kominato stole her cupcake, assuming she wasn’t going to eat it!

In order to promote unity, they held a scavenger hunt which saw Kominato using his instincts to get from checkpoint to checkpoint. This made Futaba feel even less like a leader. When they got the final clue, they realized they should have listened to Futaba about checking their map because they had no idea where they were and how to get to the final place. They ask an elderly woman for directions and she sends them into the forest, in which they get lost. They eventually make it through but it’s that experience together that ends up bringing them closer together. Our volume ends with all of them safely returning but Futaba receives a text message from Makita thanking her for everything… and then saying that she thinks she likes Kou!

The story itself didn’t really feel like it moved forward. Instead, it felt like a bit of a detour in order to work on character development, which was completely fine because the development we got here was pretty great! Still, it’s a bit odd to put a short halt on story progression seven chapters into a new series. The build-up for the development was a bit generic though. Sakisaka went the standard route of providing obstacles and a situation where it seemed impossible but a little emergency ends up pulling them closer together. The only thing with this, though is I don’t think it was a permanent fix and all of them are going to be chummy around each other. While they did work together and got to see each other’s positive side, it wasn’t enough for me to believe that they’re not going to struggle going forward.

That’s a perfect scenario because it is early in the series and it allows for much bigger growth and expansion later on down the road. Some of the best friendships/relationships are built on slow burns and I saw volume two as a way to build the foundation for that slow burn. The end does nudge the story forward by giving Futaba a love rival in the form of her brand-new friend which is sure to make volume three really interesting!

Characters

Futaba is still trying to find her place. She wants to change as a person but the constant ridicule from Kou isn’t helping much. In fact, it was Kou’s words that caused her to stand up and volunteer as the female class representative. You can definitely see Kou having an effect on her decision-making but that’s detrimental for her character because it seems like she’s looking for the answers to be given to her rather than trying to find them on her own. Taking Kou’s advice was something she seemed reluctant to do at first but in the end, she still took his advice and volunteered. It would have been better had she decided to become class representative on her own instead of basing it off of something Kou had told her but it’s still good because there will come a time where she will start making her own decisions and we can sit back and smile when she does.

Kou really hasn’t changed all that much in this volume. He still won’t reveal what happened to him in the three years he and Futaba were apart. He’s still a mixed bag of pleasantry and coldness and I don’t believe that’s going to change for a while. After all, Kou’s past is the biggest hook for this series and it would be a complete and total waste to reveal it now. Keep dangling the carrot in front of the horse until you’re ready to let him bite. He needs to continue to be that major hook for this series.

Kominato got some time to shine this volume and we can definitely see he’s a friendly, outgoing, and energetic person. He doesn’t ignore others out of malice; however, he’s just excited when things go his way… like when he kept finding the checkpoints during the scavenger hunt. He was really happy that his intuition was leading their team forward; however, while that’s great in the fact that he thinks he’s helping his team get to victory, he’s going it in a naïve way where he’s blind to the feelings of those around him. It’s that denseness that makes him a bit of a comic relief character but you can tell his positivity is going to be the only ray of light in this group of dark clouds.

Murao is a loner through and through. She has a very difficult time making friends and why she decided to volunteer is still quite the mystery. Despite her inability to get along in a social environment, she did end up giving advice Makita, saying that she could trust Futaba. This makes Murao as someone who sits back and quietly judges others. Even though she’s a bit sharp-tongued at times, she’s a pretty good judge of character. I can see her more as a silent support-type character that will eventually grow and come out of her shell. I’d like to see what she becomes by the end of this series to see what kind of effect this group has on her.

Final Thoughts

I’m really liking the way the characters are coming into their own in this series. With our main cast set and with the foundation of their development in place, it’s time to move the main story forward and that’s exactly what looks to be happening in the next volume. With Futaba and Makita newly minted as friends, one has to wonder how Makita’s feelings will play a role in their newfound friendship. They did a bit of foreshadowing with the way Makita was teased in their previous year together in high school, which is why Futaba wanted to get closer to her, to begin with. It makes you wonder if any of those rumors ended up being true?

I don’t think we’ll see much of Kou, Murao, and Kominato next volume development-wise. I really think we’ll see this little rivalry between Futaba and Makita take center stage. Either way, the series is pretty good so far and I have to say I’m enjoying it. I was a little hesitant after a generic first volume but it seems to be standing on its own and can only get better from here on out. I am a sucker for romance stories and while Ao Haru Ride isn’t really doing a lot to stand out in the genre, it’s still pleasant enough to where I want to read more of it!

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This item was provided for review by Viz Media

About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.

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