Title: Ao Haru Ride Vol. 6
Author: Io Sakisaka
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Slice of Life, Romance
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Volume six of Ao Haru Ride picks up at the crossdressing café during the school festival. We learn that the mystery woman at the end of the last volume is Yui Narumi, a girl from Kou’s time in middle school. At first, she remains a mystery but we get some details on her later on in the volume. On the Kou x Futaba front, we get some pretty eventful things; however, nothing is very straightforward with them. The volume adds a bit of complexity to the story; however, in the end, Kou just ends up being Kou all over again. Just when you think he’s taking a big step forward, his character ends up taking a few steps back.
Of course, all of this revolves around Narumi. Once we learn about her, who she is, and why she’s there, Kou goes and complicates things to a level which looks to be irreparable. Once again, we are stuck looking at a character who takes things too far for seemingly no reason whatsoever. This time, the rift is huge and it makes you wonder how it can get repaired without it feeling cheap or like a simple plot device.
Then again, the seeds have been planted with Kikuchi and, perhaps, this might spin out into an unexpected twist that was intended all along. The fact is… the story is getting a bit complicated but that’s not a bad thing or a negative. It’s getting complicated in a good way because things are not predictable. It keeps you guessing as to what is going to happen and it generates a high level of interest. The drama in this story isn’t perfect; however, it’s good enough to latch onto and keep you turning the pages.
Narumi is feeling the effects of Kou here in this volume. By that, I mean that Kou seems all gentle and caring at first and then he just starts being short, blunt, and/or cold out the blue for zero reason at all. It almost looked like Narumi had regrets moving to the same city as Kou after the way he talked to her but then things took a really weird turn at the end. This is a hard character to talk about because it spoils so much of the volume but if you read it, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that she seemed content with playing the role of a proxy. It’s odd to say that because Kou was all over the place in terms of his character in this volume.
We went from our typical snarky Kou to happy Kou, to lovestruck Kou, back to cold and uncaring Kou, right back into “What the hell is wrong with you?” Kou. If there is one thing you can’t say about Kou is that he lacks dynamics. Still, this character is simply a mess. To quote the late, great “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, just when you think you have all the answers, they change the questions. That’s the best way I can think of to sum up Kou. At the same time, you kind of have a vague understanding of why he’s doing what he’s doing but at the same time, it’s completely unnecessary. This is why Kou is such a great and trash main character at the same time. It’s great because his multiple mood swings add dynamics and unpredictability to the story but at the same time, he’s trash because what he does makes zero sense.
Futaba didn’t get much development but you can’t help but feel sorry for her. She’s so conflicted over her crush on Kou and it’s all because of Kou’s behavior patterns that she keeps second-guessing herself and her decision to confess. Just as she notes in the volume… as soon as they get close, the distance between them widens again and none of it is her fault whatsoever. Kou is to blame every single time and that’s what’s frustrating about this whole relationship. Falling for complicated people like that is just brainless, in my opinion. I, personally, believe people like Kou aren’t worth the time of day. That’s why I’m having a very difficult time believing in Futaba liking someone like him. It’s the same situation between Nino and Momo is Fukumenkei Noise; however, you know why Momo acts the way he does. Kou, on the other hand, you have zero clue.
This was an interesting volume, albeit, a frustrating one. Kou’s character is just one I can’t fully understand and, at times, I have zero idea what Io Sakisaka is intending with him. If this was a way for us to pair Futaba up with Kikuchi, then it makes me question just what the first five volumes of buildup was for. I know it’s painfully obvious that Futaba and Kou will end up together in the end of this series but with Kou’s erratic behavior and how Sakisaka keeps hitting the reset button on their relationship, pairing someone else up with Futaba, sadly, doesn’t seem like a far-fetched idea. At least, not anymore.
Then again, there’s the whole Yuri situation. Even though they’re not love rivals, she’s still offering advice up to Futaba. Despite this, I’m actually happy for Yuri. She got out of that hot mess when the getting out was good. After seeing Kou in this volume, would any of you want to see Yuri end up with someone like that?
I didn’t think so!
Still, the interest for volume seven is generated from Kou’s instability. You kind of want to see how he’s going to reconcile with Futaba but on the other hand, part of me just wants to see Kou get destroyed for the way he’s acted so far. I think the one to do that should be Narumi. It would be out of left field for her to just tee off on Kou and I think that would be glorious!
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This item was provided for review by Viz Media