Aoi Hana – 11 (END)
A good, sweet ending to one of the better romance series I have seen lately.
What I think this final episode reinforces most is how much stronger Fumi gets every day. Sure, she has a relapse of feelings for Sugimoto (a perfectly understandable, human moment), but she does not wallow in despair about it like she might have done at the beginning of the series. Instead, Fumi talks it out with Acchan and moves forward a bit. And when Fumi sees Acchan and Kou in the store together, although she completely misunderstands the situation at first (without knowing why), she does not make a big stink about it or get overly emotional and awkward (aside from a bit of jealousy on her part). Instead, she lets things play out, has fun with Acchan and her friends and then everything is cleared up later when Ikumi texts Acchan. Fumi is even able to have a good laugh at how ridiculous she acted! Speaking of, she even smiles and talks openly with her friends in the opening montage! Fumi may still be a bit stilted at times, but she has grown so much comfortable with everything around her.
Ending the series with Fumi sorting out her feelings works well, too. The show has been teasing Fumi x Acchan so much, and yet I never thought for a moment that Acchan was actually Fumi’s first crush. I fail. (I think I was too busy giving reasons why that relationship just does not work — or, at least how it wouldn’t work if it were pushed hard at the end of the series, haha.) But, yeah, I think the focus on how Fumi’s feelings develop and how people cannot completely control how they feel about people is pretty poignant. Fumi is able to take a look at herself and really know that she still feels strongly for all these people (Sugimoto, her cousin and, later, Acchan), but at the same time, she can move forward and live her life without much regret because she can love so strongly.
That is what the beginning and the end are about, I think. Acchan changing into her winter uniform is symbolic of a change in time — a move forward. And in the ending, Fumi and Acchan walk together, hand in hand, toward the future. It is fitting that the only time Fumi cries in this episode is when she thinks of a memory that makes her truly happy: The time she fell in love with Acchan. Maybe something will come of it, and maybe something will not. But Fumi knows she can walk forward without regret because she has Acchan to support her.
That sense of moving forward is another obvious theme in the finale. Sugimoto moves forward by studying abroad. She breaks free from the cage she had built for herself at home, and will go to a place where she can just be herself, without trying to impress anyone or make anyone fall for her. I do find it interesting that she did not want anyone to know about it, but I think it can be taken as another sign of her growth. She does not want to soak in the attention that studying abroad would bring her. Ikumi moves forward by continuing to study with Kazusa, even after she learns Sugimoto will not be at her home anymore. She still has strong feelings for Sugimoto but is thinking of herself more now. Miwa gives a confession of sorts to Acchan’s brother. And Fumi and Acchan visit the old school building that will be torn down to make way for a new building.
That building could really be representative of the state in which Fumi finds herself. That building has many memories attached to it for many people, just as Fumi has many memories attached to her past loves. But there must come a time when you have to leave things in the past and build something newer and stronger. Fumi will never completely forget the times she shared with those she loved (and still loves); however, she realizes that even if she cannot completely control her feelings, she can nonetheless make an effort to move on build something new and exciting with another person.
Aside from all that fun stuff, I like the Christmas party with Fumi and her friends. It’s just really cute to see them having a good time and sharing memories.
Aoi Hana is one of my favorites of the summer season. It is a consistently solid romance that does justice to the strong feelings of its characters by presenting their lives in mostly understated moments that really serve to heighten the drama when they feel true bursts of emotion. All the little physical and emotional subtleties are wonderful, as well: The way Sugimoto plays with Fumi’s hair, or the way each deals with ending the relationship, or whatever else. Everything develops so naturally and gives off the feeling that each girl really has somewhere to go, even after the conclusion of the series. And the visuals . . . man, oh man, this series is a visual treat every episode. I cannot gush enough about how much I love the backgrounds, the lighting and the whole style of it.
There is much more to the manga after this, or so I am told, and I hope Aoi Hana eventually gets another season. The series really deserves that.