Title: Ao Haru Ride Vol. 8
Author: Io Sakisaka
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Slice of Life, Romance
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Volume eight of Ao Haru Ride was pretty short as it only contained three chapters but you do get a bonus chapter at the end of a one-shot called A Familiar Face.
Here, volume eight opens up with Futaba confessing her feelings for Kou, which is where the previous volume left us off at; however, things take a bit of an unexpected turn when Futaba flat out wants to be rejected so that she can have closure. Kou does just that and a rift between the two of them begins to form. Kou ends up doing a lot of thinking and finally begins to realize things on his end when it comes to his own feelings both about Futaba and his life in regard to his mother’s passing.
Meanwhile, Kikuchi is trying his hardest to get into Futaba’s heart but it’s not really a forceful thing. He’s still really embarrassed, timid, and shy around Futaba but he works up the courage to confess to her but he isn’t instantly accepted. In fact, he even gives Futaba the breathing room to think things through. This ends up working as Kikuchi is slowly getting into Futaba’s mind in a good way. Futaba even comes to realize something that I’ve been saying all along… that Kou’s flip-flopping of personalities isn’t worth chasing… especially when there is someone right in front of her that genuinely cares about her and likes her just the way she is!
This leads to an interesting development between Kou and Futaba and it gives us not one but two huge cliffhangers at the end of the volume, one for Kou and one for Futaba. The results of which will happen next volume!
Kou and Futaba take center stage here for character development which Kikuchi comes in at a close second behind the two of them. Kou, as aforementioned, begins to realize and sort through his feelings in many different aspects. He realizes what he needs to become and has second thoughts about rejecting Futaba… but the real question is whether or not Kou is too late.
That is accented by Futaba’s change in character. She said she was a tomboy because she wanted all of the girls to like her… now she doesn’t need to be that and wants to be more feminine but all of those years being a tomboy stuck with her. She became the person she was pretending to be. She wonders if being feminine will have the same effect. This change in her personality also causes her to double down on Kou’s rejection. She reflects on why she liked Kou to begin with and can’t come up with an answer that can truly satisfy her. This leads to her reaffirming her belief that it’s time to move on from Kou which is a huge step for her.
There is only one problem with this: none of it is believable. All of this just seems like impulsive movements and I’m not buying Futaba moving on for one second. The way the dialogue is written… right down to the crossed T’s and dotted I’s… all of it points to this being temporary. It seems like Futaba is about to use Kikuchi to fill a void left by Kou and that this isn’t true love. She’s only doing it for experimentation to see if she can truly move past Kou. That makes this next character development even more heartbreaking…
Kikuchi is about as genuine as they come. In fact, he reminds me a lot of my own character from A.R. Dragonfly, Takumi. Both Kikuchi and Takumi are kind, gentle souls who have warm personalities that people just feel comfortable being around. They’re nice, respectful people but Kikuchi has one up on Takumi in the fact that he’s a lot bolder. Takumi is pretty timid when it comes to love but Kikuchi has the ability to put his foot down and go for what he wants… all while remaining humble and warm. Because of this, it’s pretty heartbreaking to realize that Futaba’s sudden interest in him is nothing more than impulsive. If Kikuchi is used as nothing more than an experiment and the two of them end up going out, it’s going to be a heart-wrenching disaster to see him get rejected… even if it’s not written in such a way!
I really enjoyed this volume as I think things are progressing in the right direction; however, I truly believe that this direction is temporary. I compared this series to Anonymous Noise many times but I can see the similarities ending here. In Anonymous Noise, you get 17 volumes before you find out (in the 18th and final volume) whether or not Nino picks Yuzu or Momo. Here, in Ao Haru Ride, you’re about to see those results in the next volume. As I said in the Characters section, even though we may see Futaba end up with (arguably) best boy, we all know that it’s not going to last… especially with Kou’s sudden change in feelings.
While I’m enjoying the direction of the story, I think it’s becoming way too predictable. It’s pretty obvious that Futaba and Kou are going to end up together in the end while Kikuchi is left out in the dust… much like it’s becoming more and more clear that Yuzu won’t get picked in Anonymous Noise even though he should be the one to end up with Nino. I’m hoping that Ao Haru Ride can pull off a massive swerve and have Futaba and Kikuchi stay together but that’s kind of wishing against a basic romance story formula. The guy who is always the best choice seems to lose in the end and I have a strong gut feeling that Kikuchi will be joining the list pretty soon.
Follow me on Twitter @JJPiedraTOH
You can also check out other The Outerhaven reviews on your favorite social media networks:
This item was provided for review by VIZ Media