Title: Ao Haru Ride Vol. 10
Author: Io Sakisaka
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Slice of Life, Romance
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
Volume ten of Ao Haru Ride is simple and straightforward from a story perspective but a bit more complicated from a character perspective. The story is simple… everyone is heading on a class trip as Futaba and Kikuchi’s relationship begins to deepen even more. There aren’t really any huge events on this class trip which is a bit surprising as most stories involving one have major, pivotal events that can change the course of the manga. Io Sakisaka stays the course on this one but that doesn’t mean nothing truly happens.
Futaba is trying to sneak out to go meet Kikuchi after hours and gets caught by Kou. Because Kou can’t hold back his feelings any longer, he snags Futaba and brings her to a linen closet to talk but Futaba says she can’t stay and needs to go. That’s when the teachers find them but Kou takes the fall allowing Futaba to meet up with Kikuchi. Kou does get some closure on one aspect of his life on this trip, though, but there is still the issue of the feelings he has for Futaba and how he can’t let them go. On the flip side, he knows that he can’t do much about them because he was the one who put himself into that position to begin with.
All-in-all, this volume fleshed out the tensions between Kou and Futaba all while building Futaba and Kikuchi’s relationship! However, that’s not the only relationship that had some focus placed on it! Still, the story was pretty entertaining for being straightforward but what this volume really focused on was the complexity of the characters themselves.
The one thing I like is that all of the characters are painfully aware that Kou still likes Futaba… even Futaba herself; however, she seems to really be enjoying her time with Kikuchi. It seems more and more that Futaba really meant it when she wanted to try and move on from Kou. Honestly, even though I can see where this story is headed from a mile away, I feel the current pairing is the right one. Kikuchi is nice, honest, albeit a quick to get heated over jealousy, but it’s all because he truly loves Futaba. I had a feeling there was a malicious side to Kikuchi but it seems more and more that I was incorrect with that.
Kou, on the other hand, had been playing the personal game of hot and cold this entire series. His character development had been a complete and total mess and I can’t really understand how a reader is supposed to connect with someone like him? His mother issues don’t seem deep enough to warrant being cold and calloused one moment, then sweet and innocent the next, only to back to being heartless and uncaring, etc. etc. Kou has flipped between those two personalities so many times that I, as a reader, don’t actually care what happens to him. In fact, Futaba ending up with Kikuchi and sticking it to Kou in that regard was probably the best thing to ever happen in this series!
But, that’s just my opinion. Sadly, with the way things are being built… it’s SUPER OBVIOUS that Kikuchi and Futaba are going to, somehow, separate and Futaba will end up with Kou. It’s almost the same story that was in Anonymous Noise… a manga that I’ve compared Ao Haru Ride to a lot. Nino ends up with Momo despite Yuzu being the obvious best boy. The only difference here is Futaba actually gets to date the best boy. I guess it’s less frustrating in that way but still frustrating nevertheless. At this point, I would like to be like “I hope they prove me wrong!” but there is no way with the amount of build-up given in this volume that Sakisaka is going to NOT pull off the relationship switch. It’s not a matter of if… it’s a matter of when. With three volumes left, it has to be soon.
Speaking of relationships… poor Kominato. He’s trying so hard for Shuuko but it’s just not happening. Makes you wonder if they’ll end up together in the end? I’m sure they will but it’s just Kominato having to break through her shell which is pretty thick, as you could imagine. Still, I’m interested to see where that ends up!
Another really solid volume! The relationship aspect was the main focal point here and it was refreshing to see a school trip arc not end up with any super major story-altering events happening… yet. The school trip isn’t officially over and it may continue on in Volume 11 so there is still time for that typical trope to rear its ugly head. Maybe the trip ends with Futaba breaking up with Kikuchi? Although, after Futaba gave him his gift, I don’t see how it could happen other than Kikuchi’s jealousy getting the better of him… especially after he spied Futaba and Kou in the same group from a distance.
Regardless, I think jealousy will be the downfall. It’s the one negative about his character that has been put in the spotlight time and time again. Because as such, it’s a bit obvious that it is going to be used as the catalyst or the main reason for their inevitable separation. Although I do hate the predictive nature of the series, it’s overshadowed by the good writing and great character development which makes this series a joy to continue reading!
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