Aoi Hana (青い花) is, IMHO, a story about strength. Fumi may be gentle and quiet and a crybaby, but she is doing her best to be herself. It takes a lot of strength to do that at any age, but especially, especially in high school.
In Volume 4, the second year has begun for Fumi and Ah-chan and already the question of the school play is in the topic of conversation at both schools. When the play title was unveiled I have to admit, I did a double-take because, sure, Mishima Yukio is a classic Japanese writer, but I didn’t really think anything he wrote would be suitable for a high school play. Rokumeikan is a story of a clash of cultures, genders and expectations, so it’s actually a pretty great choice.
The Fujigaya Drama Club gains a new member, a loud, slightly scatterbrained first-year, Haruka, whose older sister is the friend of a teacher who is rumored to have a female lover. Ah-chan dies a few deaths as the gossip-mongers in her class go on about how it all grosses them out. Ah-chan’s seatmate, a tall girl who reminds her a lot of Fumi, saves her from having to swallow more bile. Ryouko and Ah-chan become friendly – Ryouko is even drawn into the Drama Club when her recitation of Rokumeikan for the Library Club is overheard.
Fumi too, is drawn back to into the Drama Club’s play, but her voice is too soft and her shyness too great, so she backs out – but not before she meets Ryouko, or Haruka.
Haruka lets slip to Fumi that she thinks her sister likes women. Fumi ponders the meaning of this and later that night confesses to Ah-chan that she had a physical relationship with Chizu – and that she wishes she had that same relationship with Ah-chan.
You see what I mean? Where Sasamekikoto is a series about Sumika’s inability to say anything, her weakness in the face of her feelings, Aoi Hana has Fumi facing up to her feelings and admitting them out loud. At any age, that takes a lot of strength.
Art – 8
Characters – 9
Story – 8
Yuri – 5
Service – 1
Overall – 8
This series is definitely on my license wish list for 2010. I’m looking at you, Vertical.