Archive for the Aoi Hana Category


Yuri Anime: Aoi Hana Blu-ray Box Set (青い花 Blu-ray BOX)

January 21st, 2014

Last week, my computer died. Blue Screens of Death and repeated systems failures…it was so nostalgic. I hadn’t had a computer do that since, oh, 2003 or so. I’m pretty sure what finally broke the camel’s back was this BD set. ^_^ The BD software I had came with the computer. It was ass from the get-go and when I put this Blu-ray in, I think it died trying to play it. One OS reinstallation later, and a new bit of BD software and we’re good to go. I learned something important while my computer was dying. When your computer is crashing, you really learn what is important to you. Thankfully, I keep pretty good backups. Let this be a reminder to you to back your computer up. ^_^

The Aoi Hana Blu-ray Box Set (青い花 Blu-ray BOX) is absolutely for super-fans of the series or obsessive videophiles. It has nearly no extras of any kind, just a small pamphlet with character bios and art from the individual disc covers (most of which we received in the pamphlet released as an extra with the English-language box set from RightStuf. )

What you do get is beautiful visuals made even more beautiful. The quality of the light through the leaves as A-chan walks to school, or the way the sun filters through windows is, honestly, mesmerizing.

No new video content is included and as this is a Japanese release only, there are no subtitles. But, after watching the anime so many times and reading and re-reading the first volume, I was able to understand the words without difficulty. It’s not particularly complex dialogue, you have to admit.

Let me take a moment and talk up iDeer. When I was rebuilding my hard drive, I looked for a slim media player that would play DVD/BD and data files. iDeer has a trial, so I was able to take it for a spin. Not only did it play my American BDs and Japanese BDs well, it had no trouble with DVDs or .avis.  They’re having a sale right now and I’m totally behind paying for what I use, so I coughed up a mere $50 for the “lifetime” (hahahahah!) updates. So far, it’s been about a million times better than any previous DVD/BD player software I’ve had. Faster, no cloggy home screens, easy to understand menus. I hate wasting time with tech when all I want to do is watch a thing. If you like futzing, this might be too easy for you. ^_^

So, other than the small technicality that trying to play this set originally killed my computer (which was totally the fault of the software, not the disk) this box set was fantastic. Gorgeous in every way and a lovely addition to my collection.

Ratings:

Art – 10 That’s why you’d get it
Story – 10
Characters – 10
Yuri – 8
Service – 3

Overall – 10

Everything else remains as it has always been, with the addition of the extra lovely art.

Thanks to James W. for making this review possible!

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Yuri Manga: Aoi Hana, Volume 8 (青い花)

October 29th, 2013

And here we are, at the final volume of Aoi Hana (青い花). Wow, have we come a long way.

High school graduation approaches, but before it arrives, the girls of Fujigaya head to London for a class trip. Unbeknownst to Fumi, Akira and Kyouko catch up with Sugimoto-sempai who now lives there with Kawasaki-sempai.

Then graduation comes, and Fumi and Akira are forced to have the conversation that has been building between them for some time. Is there, in fact, a “them” to discuss?

In the meantime, Yamashina-sensei finds that a confidence shared off the record has become general knowledge. The students learn that her lover is female after all.  And in the end, nothing changes. But, it seems likely that she’ll feel less inclined to be honest with the next student who asks. And you just know the rumors will continue.

Graduation passes, and so does time. Everyone is drawn together once again, this time by a happy occasion – Kyoko’s and Kou’s wedding. Time moves on, as Ya-san notes, for all of us.

Yamashina and her lover, Haruka’s sister,  consider holding a wedding ceremony themselves, a scene that made me inexpressibly happy. ^_^

Without spoilers, I will assure you that you the ending does not bring closure. It has the one thing I had hoped for – ambiguity.

Ratings:

Story – 10
Characters – 10
Art – 10
Lesbian Life – 10
Service – 3

Overall – 10

The story began on a day that led to many other days, full of joy, sadness, loneliness, friendship and love. Aoi Hana ends on a day that will lead to more of the same.

Happily Ever After is, as we well know, a process, not a destination. And for Fumi and Akira life is, as well.

This is the third manga series I like that has come to an end in 2013 and for the third time, I find myself left feeling happy, rather than sad. ^_^

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Yuri Anime: Sweet Blue Flowers / Aoi Hana Disk 3 (English)

June 6th, 2013

swbDisk 1  is about beginnings and Disk 2 is about endings.  I’d sum up Disk 3 of Sweet Blue Flowers as somewhere between “what does not kill us makes us stronger” and “time heals all wounds.” Disk 3, is, in fact, about growing up and moving on.

Sugimoto’s sister’s wedding has arrived and with it, the house of cards that Yasuko has built must begin to crumble. When she tries to have it all work one last time, Fumi does something that won my wholehearted admiration when I read it the first time – she tells her to get lost. Not like that, of course, Fumi is kind, but firm, telling Sempai to learn to move on gracefully. Which is what Fumi then does.

To move forward, Fumi turns her thoughts backwards, setting in motion the remaining volumes of the manga. Knowing that very shortly the series will come to an end, I wonder if Fumi and Akira can both move on gracefully – and I absolutely hope they will. The end of the anime reminds me that the friendship between them is a good one. I’d hate to see it end.

I do have one complaint. The translation for Fumi’s lines in this last disk lost her “voice” entirely. She sounded exactly like Akira who sounded like Shinobu. In other words, everyone sounded like a 20 year-old guy. Fumi’s language is very pretty – she’s soft-spoken in voice and words. Akira sounding like Shinobu is one thing – she’s kind of mean to him, but Fumi? It could have been worse, but it could have been better.

This anime  is beautifully animated, well-acted by some newcomers to the voice acting world. It was strongly written and has pretty much set a standard for Yuri anime for many that is going to be very, very hard to beat.

I’m once again thankful to Nozomi/Rightstuf for bringing it over and to all of you for supporting them and buying the series. Now we need anime to roll around through the current non-Yuri phase and pick up something of interest to us once again. ^_^

Ratings:

Art – 9
Story – 10
Characters – 10
Yuri – 8
Service – 3

Overall – 10

Whether we want to move forward or not, this disk reminds us, the rest of the world will not stop for us. ^_^

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Yuri Anime: Sweet Blue Flowers / Aoi Hana Disk 2 (English)

May 24th, 2013

swb Where Disk 1 of Sweet Blue Flowers was full of nostalgia and longing, Disk 2 is a brutally beautiful look at all the different kinds of pain people can inflict upon one another without ever meaning to – or wanting to – do so.

With the backdrop of the school play (and Sugimoto being simply too cool as Heathcliff,) Fumi finds herself unsure of her sempai’s feelings. As the days pass, she is more and more sure that Sugimoto likes someone else. When she discovers the truth and confronts Sugimoto, she finds an uncomfortable truth waiting for her, as well.

If the entire series was just this one disk, it would still be one of my favorites. The life lessons in it are deep and abiding. It’s a love song to young love and to Kamakura and to the springtime of youth. Above all, it is a love song to young girls who find themselves in love with other girls. You are not alone, you are not wrong, you can love and lose and love again. That’s a hell of a chorus and I am glad this series is out there, singing those important words.

I’ll say this once again, because it cannot be said too many times – despite her own words to the contrary, Fumi is an incredibly strong character. As I watched this series over again, I felt honored to be allowed to share in Fumi’s story.

The world could use more Fumis.

Ratings:

Art – 8 (with some lapses toward the last two episodes)
Story – 10
Characters – 10
Yuri – 8
Service – 8  Sugimoto as Heathcliff is pure service. ^_^

Overall – 9

I’m so on pins and needles about the end of the manga. I know what I want it to be, but what will it be? /worry worry/

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Aoi Hana to End in July

May 8th, 2013

Aoi_Hana1ANN is reporting that Shimura Takako’s Yuri manga, Aoi Hana  will be coming to an end in the July issue of Manga Erotics F.

The Aoi Hana manga was picked up for translation by JManga in 2012 and the Sweet Blue Flowers anime was recently released by Nozomi/RightStuf.

8 volumes is a good solid run, so there’ll be no complaints from me. Thank you Shimura-sensei for such a wonderful series!

Thanks also to YNN Correspondent Orange Pekoe who wrote in to let us know the news.

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