If you are not familiar with Aoi Hana check out my review of Volume 1 of the Aoi Hana manga (or if you want the story through Volume 3, check the Aoi Hana category on the sidebar. Today we’re just going to talk anime.
Crunchyroll launched this anime with no fanfare – in fact, with barely even a blip on the radar. No press release, no time to build anticipation. But, there it was, with 6 hours to go before it launched on Japanese TV at some gawdforsaken hour, a simulcast in CR was announced to be shown one hour later. You can still catch that first episode, of course.
Rumors about this production were pretty rampant. The voice cast is newcomers to the field, maybe Ikuhara Kunihiko (of Revolutionary Girl Utena fame) might be animating the opening sequence. In fact, he did and it’s quite lovely and although they are relatively new names to the seiyuu world, the skill and professionalism of the voice actresses was top notch.
So, the clock ran down and there we were watching what was certainly the most anticipated Yuri anime of 2009 to date.
Right off the bat, the opening sequence was lovely. Spoilery, maybe, but lovely. The ending sequence uses some of the watercolor art from the manga as a background and was, in its own way, just as nice. The songs were totally suitable.
As I said, the voice cast was excellent. Some people have complained that Fumi’s voice is too high, but as usual, they are forgetting that by Japanese standards, a high-pitched girly voice is *more* attractive, not less. And despite the delusion we as fans have, there really is no sign that Japanese anime companies give a rat’s ass about what we want. Especially as it is still Japanese fans who shell out the yen for what they want, while foreign fans are much more reluctant to do so.
I found the art appealing, and felt that the tone of the manga was captured perfectly. I have no complaints about the anime itself.
There were a number of issues with the subtitles. Although I had no problems, many people have written in here and other places to note that subtitles did not always work. At least one person commented that it’s a known bug. This is unacceptable, really, for a company trying to rethink their business model and be *the* portal for anime to the western audience. In some cases, simply right-clicking and “enabling” subtitles worked to fix this. In other cases, refreshing the page did. In yet others nothing seemed to work.
On the positive side, it appears that there was no subscription embargo for the simulcast, although there were IP limitations. CR has posted a list of the countries in which the series can be legally viewed in their Aoi Hana forums – consider posting intelligently there to counter the “eww Yuri” posts. For my part, less than $7/month is less than one sandwich and chips and I think it’s a ridiculously low price to pay for legal streaming anime, subbed, that I want to see, right after it was on Japanese TV. I’m more than happy to pay the price.
My main thought about all this is that we finally have a “Yuri” anime we can show people as a stereotypical Yuri series, in the same way that Gravitation has stood as a gateway “Yaoi” anime for so many years. This story has many of the most typical Yuri tropes, but is not a parody or a melodrama. It is a good story, but undeniably about a young woman who likes women. The characters are strong, are likable and are the kind of people you’d want over for lunch.
Yesterday I was able to watch a simulcast of Aoi Hana, eat ice cream and watch fireworks. It was just about the most perfect day ever. ^_^
Art – 9
Characters – 9
Story – 8
Yuri – 7 (Ultimately, not in episode 1, however)
Service – 1
Overall – 9
This is a great way to continue the odd-numbered year Yuri effect. We can look forward to this, then autumn will bring even more good things for us with El Cazador and Sasameikoto.