Title: Ao Haru Ride Vol. 11 Author: Io Sakisaka Publisher: Viz Media Language: English Format: Paperback Pages: 184 Genre: Slice of Life, Romance Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Volume eleven of Ao Haru Ride brings us to the end of the class trip arc. There, they have a free day so Kou wants to skip out on everything to take a tour around his hometown. Futaba catches him sneaking out and decides to accompany him on this trip. There, they visit where Kou lived, his school, and even his mother’s grave. On the way back, Futaba falls asleep on the bus and Kou tries to close the window as it was getting too cold. It was in that moment where he realized that things needed to be corrected once and for all.
When they get back, Futaba has her backpack stolen by a thief. Nothing of importance was in it except for her half of the charm between her and Kikuchi. Futaba chases down the thief and catches him but he ends up scaring her away. Kou ends up finding her and getting the backpack back but Futaba has developed a fever.
Once the trip is over, everyone returns home and even though Kikuchi knows what happened between Kou and Futaba on the trip, Futaba still needs to find a way to say it properly to him. Each time she tries, Kikuchi tries to avoid the subject but Futaba finally gets it out of her system. Meanwhile, after realizing his true feelings, Kou pays a visit to Narumi in order to end things once and for all with her.
I think it is pretty obvious where the story is heading at this point. Futaba admitted that she’s no completely over Kou. Kou knows that she has feelings for Futaba. It’s only a matter of time before Futaba breaks it off with Kikuchi and ends up with Kou. Io Sakisaka hasn’t exactly made it a trade secret that this would be the pair the story would end on… despite my gripes with Kou as a character. Then again, I appreciate the lack of surprise as it makes it very clear how the manga is going to end. I mean, it could be worse. Kikuchi and Futaba could have gotten pregnant together, had plans to get married, and Kou could have been hit by a car, and put into a coma for five years.
The biggest developments here were given to Kou, Futaba, and Kikuchi.
Kou and Futaba are pretty obvious. They simply realize that they still have feelings for one another and that those feelings never really disappeared. Because they realize this, they are beginning to question if things are fine the way they are. Futaba claims that Kikuchi’s declaration of making her forget about Kou hasn’t exactly worked out. Kikuchi realizes this as well and as a result, he’s getting scared on the inside. He can just feel the breakup coming at any moment but he doesn’t really want to lose Futaba. Kikuchi made that clear when he declared that he wouldn’t lose to Kou. Kikuchi even summed up my feelings in one line of dialogue when he said that the difference between the two of them was that Kou wavered the entire time, Kikuchi did not.
Despite Kikuchi’s efforts, though, Kou and Futaba will end up together. I predicted it long ago but that prediction doesn’t even need to be made. It’s becoming painfully obvious that Futaba x Kou is the true endgame here for the series and with two volumes remaining, I’m pretty sure we will see the breakup and the pairing next volume and the epilogue in volume 13.
Of course, these weren’t the only ones to get development. There was some slight development between Kominato and Murao. They keep dancing around Kominato asking her out to the point where I just want to scream “ASK HER ALREADY!” At least he kind of, sort of, told her how he felt. I’m more than sure Murao knows but she’s probably just the type not to really accept anyone’s feelings. Then again, who knows?
This was another great volume of Ao Haru Ride. It’s pretty clear that things are getting set up for the grand finale, the bulk of which I’m thinking happens next volume… unless there will be no major, drawn-out epilogue, then Volume 12 could end up with the breakup between Kikuchi and Futaba and Volume 13 will see Kou and Futaba get together and then go into a small epilogue. It could really go either way but with the way things are going, I’m leaning more on the former rather than the latter in this case.
Most of the time, I like making predictions on how the story will go but with a clear direction being displayed here, I only get to make predictions on how the story will end. Still, reflecting back on everything, this has been a really enjoyable series thus far, and even with a predictable ending, it is still paramount to cap off the previous volumes’ worth of build-up. I’m excited to see how things finish in this series! It only reminds me that I’ve only seen four episodes of the anime and that I need to finish it. I just didn’t want to watch the whole thing and end up getting spoiled ahead of time, haha! I’m sure that once this manga wraps up, I’ll make every effort to finish the anime to see how well it adapts the material!