Ao Haru Ride, or Youth Ride, follows Futaba, a high school freshman, who reconnects with her first crush. Futaba cannot get over how much Kou Tanaka has changed, and not for the better. He’s changed his name, for one, to Mabuchi, and the kind, shy, nice boy has become cold, aloof, and troubled. Kou is also very insightful and not altogether shy about sharing his hard truths with Futaba.
This story is a typical shojo, complete with some sort of complication not allowing the love interests to get involved right away (even though they both really want to). Since the mangaka intended for this story to be about the trials of youth, not just romance, this story has an added element of Futaba trying to figure out her friendships and what type of person she wants to be. Kou is cold and rude, like many men of shojo, but of course there’s going to be a reason for his transformation that we won’t find out for a few more volumes. Sakisaka is a fantastic illustrator, and this has surely made more readers into fans of her work. The mangaka even notes in one of her letters to the reader how much time she spends on characters, and that characters with shiny hair take the longest because of the amount of detail that goes into them.
VIZ rates this for teens, and the first volume reveals nothing that would make this unsuitable for ages 13 . It is, so far, a sweet, very innocent tale of first loves.
Sara's rating: 7/10
Suitability level: grades 8-12
This review was made possible with an advanced reader copy from the publisher through Edelweiss.
Tags: Rating: 7/10, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Manga, Realistic Fiction, Romance, School Age
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