Title: Ao Haru Ride Vol. 9 Author: Io Sakisaka Publisher: Viz Media Language: English Format: Paperback Pages: 184 Genre: Slice of Life, Romance Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Volume nine of Ao Haru Ride takes the gas pedal and rams that thing through the floor when it comes to relationships! In a side relationship, Makita agrees to go out with Uchimiya! I’m happy they gave Makita someone… especially after the way she had been introduced into this series.
The rest of the volume was centered around Kou, Kikuchi, and Futaba. When we left off, Futaba assumed that Narumi and Kou had started dating. As we all expecting, that was just a huge misunderstanding. In fact, Narumi was calling Kou out to take a longshot but Kou had no intention of dating here. With Futaba not knowing that AND seeing the two together on the day where Kou was supposed to make things clear, it pushed Futaba to make a decision… but not right then and there.
Kikuchi did everything he could to get close to Futaba. He worked at it until he got to a level where he couldn’t wait any longer. He ends up dropping the question and here I am expecting Futaba to flat out reject him. Imagine my shock when she agreed… BUT… you can just tell from the facial expressions and her dialogue that she’s only doing this to try and suppress her feelings for Kou. It’s painfully obvious that she still likes him which makes things really awkward for Kikuchi.
The volume ends with Kou realizing he lost the battle… for now.
I often called Kikuchi the best boy but there was something off about him. He was always friendly but here, there were a few scenes where he seemed really protective of Futaba… and not in a good way. Almost like he was offended when he saw Kou show up to return her sewing kit. There are other times where he looked a bit devious more than caring and that’s throwing up some red flags. Maybe he’s not as sweet and innocent after all?
First off, congrats to Makita and Uchimiya! As I said, it’s so good to see Makita get someone in her life that cares for her. Makita has been a fun character… even if she’s in the background just a little too much. After failing to get Kou for herself, she landed on someone that she can be happy with. Uchimiya’s not a bad dude, either so it should all work out okay.
Also like I mentioned, Kikuchi is giving off some creeper vibes. He’s all smiles and warm with his words but just the way he was drawn sometimes, it just seems like there are a few extra layers under the skin that haven’t been peeled back yet. My guess is that we will see those come out over time and it might lead Futaba to rethink her decision.. even though it already looks like she may be regretting it right out of the gate.
Speaking of Futaba… conflict will be the word to describe her in this volume. Right after she assumed the worst between Kou and Narumi, it was pretty obvious she was going to go for Kikuchi. Her emotions were in complete and total conflict this entire time and I wonder what would have happened if she only knew that Kou had no intentions of dating Narumi at all? She probably would have turned Kikuchi down and then what would have happened to him? The funny thing is, once Futaba learns the truth about Kou and Narumi, that may still happen in a much different form!
Lastly, Kou… Shuko was right when she said that he got what he deserved. Kou’s personality was all over the place and now that Futaba and Kikuchi are dating, he only now realizes what an idiot he has been. I just can’t buy that at all. His personality and character development have been all over the place since day one. He went from the sweet boy she remembered from when they were younger to a cold-hearted douchebag to one you’re supposed to have sympathy for because of his mother, to rebounding back to those sweet days, to reverting back to being cold-hearted, to secretly trying to deal with Narumi instead of just being honest, to flirty, back to uncaring, and so forth. I don’t understand how anyone thinks this is solid character development? Honestly, even though it’s obvious Kou and Futaba will end up, I still want to root for Kikuchi because Kou is an idiot and deserves to rot away in his own self-pity. At least Kikuchi acted like he gave a damn about Futaba.
This was one hell of a wild ride! I may be wrong in my assumptions about Kikuchi but if I am, then he really is the perfect guy for Futaba. Sadly, we all know it’s not going to happen. Kou is the obvious end game… and with four volumes left, the journey to that end game has been set up. We just need to walk the path to get there. This is still better than Anonymous Noise because at least Kikuchi is actually getting a chance… unlike Yuzu who got absolutely nothing from NIno. I know I keep comparing those two series in my reviews but they really are so similar. The setting and characters may be different, the supporting cast is certainly unique, but a lot of the story elements are there in both. It also didn’t help that Anonymous Noise ended while Ao Haru Ride was publishing here in the U.S. which caused me to read them side-by-side.
In any event… enjoy the KikuFuta ship for a little bit. I guarantee you that it’s not going to last.