For my next entry into the “12 moments of anime 2009” series I’m choosing Fumi’s confession to Akira that she’s a lesbian from Aoi Hana episode 4.

        First of all, I have to say that I absolutely loved this episode, the range of human emotions and uncertainties displayed by both Fumi and Akira felt true to life and believable. Too often in anime when a main character finally reveals their real feeling it’s takes so long and is done in such an over the top manner that it stretches the limits of believability, but in Aoi Hana it felt true and right.

 

        I felt that the scene where Fumi confesses to Akira that she a lesbian and is in love with Yasuko, and that she and Yasuko are dating was very powerful and poignant. Fumi who is a very sensitive and insecure girl placed a lot of trust and pressure on Akira at that moment. As Fumi said at the beginning of their conversation she really values her friendship with Akira and doesn’t want to ruin it. I could feel the tremendous emotional pressures building on Akira with her childhood friend not only confessing to her that she’s a lesbian but asking her not to find it and her gross, and please don’t hate her.

        You can see how this plays out with Akira by the thought that she places on this situation during her train ride home, while she told Fumi that she doesn’t have a problem with girls liking girls she also wonders if she’s too simple minded, and we also see her uncertainty playing out why she sort of asks Kyoko about this. I also felt that Fumi displayed a tremendous amount courage and vulnerability in this episode. Fumi displays a tremendous level of courage by telling Akira that she a lesbian but she also shows her vulnerability when she practically begs Akira to not find her gross and not to hate her.

          This episode touched on the very human desires of wanting to love, and be loved, and also the very human need to be accepted for who you are by your friends, and the toll that these desires can take on someone when the relationship falls outside of what mainstream society considers normal.

Akira comforting Fumi again 

        This episode begins with the change of seasons (and the change from summer to winter school uniforms) and life seems to be moving on just fine for Fumi and Akira. The two girls seem to be following their normal routine of meeting at the train station and sharing the train ride to school, and both Fumi and Akira seem to be getting along well at school.

Fumi and Akira on the trainFumi at her schoolAkira at her school

Akira's just too damn cute

         Even as life goes on for Fumi and Akira, change is in the air as Fumi must discard older books to make way for newer books triggering a flashback to her and Yasuko’s kiss, and Akira can also sense change because Akira finds out that next year she’ll be on stage next year. One afternoon Fumi and Yasuko see each other on the train platform and they exchange polite glances. When Yasuko boards the train Fumi lets that train drive away without getting on and she watches it head off into the distance. Later, Kyoko finds out from Yasuko’s sister that Yasuko will be going overseas to study after she graduates, and I think she lets it slip to Akira.

throw away the old bookson stage next yearYasuko will be going overseas

        After the train leaves the station, Akira spots Fumi standing there and they decide to stop at a cafe where Fumi tells Akira that she still has some feelings for Yasuko. Akira tells her it’s OK, people just can’t turn off their feelings at will. Later, we see that Yasuko leads her basketball team to second place in the nationals, and we also see that Kyoko sends Yasuko a text congratulating her and wishing her luck in her overseas studies.

you just can't turn them offsecond place in nationalthe text message

       Life moves on, fall gives way to winter, and Christmas Eve approaches and Akira decides to have a Christmas Eve party and she invites Fumi and her three friends to her party. Later, we find out from Akira that Kyoko won’t be attending because she’s spending the day with Kou. Also, Fumi gets a little down because her cousin sends her a picture post card of she and her husband with a message telling Fumi that they’ve moved and she would like Fumi to pay them a visit.

Fumi remembering her loves

        As Christmas approaches, Fumi sees Akira and Kou together while shopping; Akira got a call from Kou asking her to help him pick out a gift for Kyoko. While Fumi watches them together she doesn’t bother to get their attention and lets them continue shopping. Later, in the bath, Fumi thinks to herself that Akira and Kou aren’t dating and she probably wouldn’t mind if they were,  but why did she lack the courage to walk up and say “hi”.

I don't think they're dating

Why did I hide from them

          At Akira’s Christmas Eve party Shinobu stops by her room to say “hi” and Akira gives him grief, and when he leaves the room the other girls joke about flirting with him, and we see that Mogi is blushing  because of this talk. Later, the girls look through some old photo albums from Akira’s childhood and they lots of pictures of Fumi and Akira together. Over at Kou’s place, we see that Kyoko really likes her gift and she manages to get Kou to tell her that he got Akira to help pick it out. Kyoko sends Akira a text thanking her for helping Kou pick out such a nice gift for her, and Akira shows the text to Fumi who gets a laugh out of the whole thing.

the girls xmas party

Mogi is blushingpictures of Akira and Fumithe text from Kyoko

thanks for the nice gift

       As Akira’s family and Fumi are seeing off the other three girls, Mogi runs up to Shinobu and puts a letter in his hand and rushes off with the other girls. Well, Mogi gave Shinobu a confession letter that included asking him out on a date.

Mogi and the letter to Shinobu

        Later, as Fumi and Akira are getting ready for bed, Fumi says she’s impressed that Mogi had the nerve to ask Shinobu out, but Akira doesn’t understand why Mogi likes her brother. Around midnight, neither Fumi or Akira can sleep, so they go for a walk around the snow covered city, they stop at the tree where Fumi cried her eyes out as a kid, and then they head over to visit their old elementary school that will be torn down soon.

this is where you cried

       Akira thinks the school is creepy at night, but Fumi insists on walking around the school’s grounds. Then Fumi gets the answer to the question Yasuko asked her a while ago, “do you remember you’re first love”? Fumi now understands that her very first love was Akira back in elementary school, and tears begin to roll down Fumi’s cheeks as she remembers her love for Akira. Then Akira notices Fumi tears and says she’s sorry if she did anything, But Fumi tells her she remembered something wonderful and they walk back home holding hands. Well, that’s all for this episode and this wonderful series.

Walking back hand in hand

       This episode was a very mellow and unstated episode that was loaded with many powerful feelings, and the whole theme of this episode was that while life goes on, things also change and move forward. It seems that most of the main characters have managed to mature and move forward through life’s trials and tribulations.

         When this series began, Fumi was a sad and hurt person, but as time went by she has managed to mature and more forward with Akira’s help. The symbolism of Fumi not getting on the train when she saw Yasuko boarding the train can be seen as she’s now mature enough to realize that some things in life need to come to an end and you have to let some things just move on without you. In the end, Fumi has really been blessed, she’s had three loves before she was even sixteen years old. Fumi is now a much more mature person for her experiences, and it was really nice to see her shed tears of joy at the end of the episode.

        Yasuko seems to have come to the conclusion that she needs to break with her past and take a change of scenery after graduation. I think that she’s matured to the point where she realizes that if she’s not ready to give up on an impossible love it’s better to separate herself from the situation and work on being a better, more mature person.

        Kyoko has also managed to mature and move forward, she’s no longer being a semi-stalker when it comes to Yasuko, her text message to Yasuko was very touching and shows that she coming to terms with Yasuko not having affections for her.

        Another thing that I thought was really awesome was Mogi going for the win, she really some courage when she handed her confession letter to Shinobu in front of Akira, her parents, and all the other girls. I think that Shinobu’s mother was doing backflips of joy after seeing her son get a confession letter, she’s told him a few times that she’s not worried about Akira, she’s worried about him. I think that Shinobu getting a girlfriend might just break him of his overly protective attitude towards Akira.

        Overall, I feel that this was a very rewarding and enjoyable romance with all the feelings being  potrayed in a understated but powerful manner, and this series never went into the over-the-top mode like so many other anime. A prime example of this was the ending scene between Fumi and Akira, any other show of this type would have had Fumi confessing her love to Akira making for an uncomfortable cliffhanger ending that also puts Akira on the spot. I think that Fumi knows that Akira isn’t gay or at least she not at the point where she knows what she wants, so Fumi will settle for holding hands and being near her friend.

       One small gripe, what’s the deal with only eleven episodes? If they could have given us two extra episodes bringing the total to thirteen we could have gotten a little more character development and back story for the issues of Kyoko and her family relationships, Kou and his mother, and more interaction between Yasuko and her sisters.

       My small gripes aside, Aoi Hana was a tremendous series, enjoyable, believable, loaded with powerful feelings and emotions, a must watch for fans of the yuri romance genre.

Kana chan sweeping the floor

       Being an episodic anime blogger who works full time really limits my ability to sample every new anime that’s released, so after picking my 3-4 series I’ll blog episodically, and chosing the other 10-12 series that I’ll watch but not write about, I generally look towards other bloggers’ opinions to see if I’ll add anything to my watch list.

      Generally, this system had worked quite well for me until now, but with Kanamemo it failed. As the new anime season began, most of the bloggers that did a “first look” post of Kanamemo rated the series as one of the worst of the year, so I didn’t bother with Kanamemo. But, the other day I had some time on my hands and several episodes of Kanamemo on the computer so I watched the first episode and fell in love with the series.

the kanamemo crew

A short description on Kanamemo’s plot and main characters.

Plot–   Kanamemo is the story of thirteen year old middle school student Kana, who up until now had been living with her grandmother because her parents died early in her life. Recently, Kana’s grandmother passed away and after the funeral some moving men show up at her house and start hauling away her grandmother’s furniture.

       Kana not being the smartest person in the world assumes that the movers will soon try to grab her and put her up for sale, so Kana rushes into her room and loads up a small bag with some of her clothes and rushes out of the house. Then Kana proceeds to search for a job that provides room and board, as Kana passes a newspaper delivery office she sees a help wanted sign offering room and board, but she runs away when she sees two of its female employees kissing outside the office.

       Kana then keeps looking for a job but is turned down either because of her age or that she needs to show permission from her parents or guardian. As night approaches, Kana finds herself walking past the newspaper office when she gets slammed into and knocked unconscious by one of the employees returning from her route by bike.

       When Kana wakes up she finds herself inside the office surrounded by its female employees. At first, the office chief offers Kana a job, but withdraws the offer temporally when she finds out that Kana is only thirteen. After hearing about Kana being a orphan with one to look after her, the chief gives Kana the job and just kind of forgets to fill out all the proper paperwork. Soon, Kana spends her days learning her job, attending school, cooking the office meals, and becoming part of the family of misfits who work and live at the newspaper office.

The cast of characters.

Kana-A thirteen year old orphan and middle school student, a very good cook, and  a very sweet but not very smart girl.

Saki-The assistant chief of the office, and the only company manager that we ever see; while she’ only a fifth or sixth grader she is by far the most mature person working in the office.

Yume-Is a college age girl who attends a  patisserie academy, she puts way too much sugar in everything she cooks. Yume and Yuuki are a openly lesbian couple and show their affection for each other in public.

Yuuki-Is a college age girl who also works at the newspaper, but it’s never shown what college, if any, she attends. Yuuki is Yume’s lover and she is very jealous if anyone gets too cozy with Yume.

Haruka-Is a college student who studies bio-fermentation, she is always seen drinking some form of  intoxicating beverage. Haruka is a lesbian who has a weakness for cute girls between the ages of eight and fifteen. She is constantly hitting on Kana and getting smacked around by Saki and Hinata for her advances on Kana.

Hinata-Is a college age girl who has failed her entrance exams for two straight years, she works hard and thinks a lot about money but tends to try and get more money by gambling , playing raffles, and entering contests.

Kanamemo is all about family

For me, Kanamemo is about the value of having a “family” and not being alone.

       Yes, your Honor, the verdict is in and Kanamemo has been found guilty on all charges. Yes, Kanamemo is loaded with silly tropes, a unrealistic plot line, unbelievable characters, and just plain silliness that could never happen in real life but Kanamemo works for me. First and foremost, Kanamemo is about the value having some sort of family that cares for you, looks after you, keeps away the loneliness, and is non-judgemental and supportive. While the newspaper office is populated by a strange cast of weird girls, they form a “family” unit that works for them, and they’re happy with their arrangement. Many critics have been very mocking of the unrealistic nature of Kana’s situation saying that she must have other relatives to care for her, or her grandmother must have had money, or that the state would have sent her to some institution or boarding school for kids in her situation. But, I would rather see Kana being part of a family of misfits than going home alone each night to an empty house or a lonely boarding room at some school (think of Orihime from Bleach at home alone every night).

        Another thing I like about Kanamemo is that while most of the girls attend some sort of school or college the series doesn’t spent much time showing the girls’ attending school, and while the girls work six days a week doing early morning and late evening newspaper delivery that’s still a small part of the show. School and work issues in Kanamemo only function to have the girls interact with themselves as a “family” unit, they greet each other before work, eat their breakfasts and dinners together, take trips to the public bath together, and generally hanging out in the evenings together before bed. Also, the employees of Kanamemo function as a full family in the respect that they do all the things a normal Japanese family would do together, such as, celebrating the Japanese holiday of Obon.

      I guess, in the end, that I’m a sucker for the ‘family is were you make it” types of anime like Eureka 7, Brigadoon, Maison Ikkoku, and Clannad, which place as much value on the closeness of your relationships with your friends as you would with your normal family, in affect your friends and companions become your real family.

Notes about Japanese newspaper delivery. I did a little bit of research on this topic and found that over 90% of Japanese households take a daily paper, and about 35% of households take both a morning and evening paper. Also, since the papers are delivered very early in the morning and late evening it’s one of the jobs that are considered to be compatible with a student’s schedule with over 45% of the delivery employees being students and almost half of all delivery employees being female. A typical Japanese biking/walking delivery route has about 200 delivery points and takes about two hours in good weather to complete. Also, the delivery person is not paid a large amount of salary, I read a little ditty written by a college age newspaper delivery boy and he said he made less than 22,000 per year before the company deducts any fees they may charge for the use of a company dorm or other such living arrangements, and of course, taxes.  

Please wish me luck

        This episode begins on the Sunday of Yasuko’s sister’s wedding with Akira being driven to the ceremony by her brother. While Akira is heading to the wedding, we see that she never told Fumi about it, so after Fumi tries to call Akira she heads off for a walk.

quite being lazy

        While this is going on, we see Yasuko talking to her sister before the wedding, and she also talks with her unrequited love, Kagami. Once Akira arrives at the ceremony she runs into Kyoko and Kou, and soon the group also runs across Yasuko who invites both Kou and Akira’s brother to attend. Well, the wedding goes off without a hitch and Kazusa and Kagami both look great and seem very happy.

thank you of inviting me

the wedding walk

       After the ceremony is over Akira checks her cellphone to find messages from Fumi, and once Akira touches base with Fumi she decides to join Fumi who’s taking a trip to a nearby tourist island. Akira’s brother volunteers to drive Akira to meet Fumi, but before they can leave, Yasuko asks if she can tag along too.

agreeing to meet Fumi

        When Fumi sees that Yasuko has also tagged along she’s not very happy, and she asks Yasuko why she’s here? Yasuko says she wanted to see and talk with her, but Fumi says she doesn’t wish to talk with her. Akira rushes to Fumi and they start walking ahead of Yasuko and Shinobu, and when Yasuko tries to use Akira to get closer to Fumi she’s told by Fumi to not put Akira in a tough spot.

I don't want to talk with you

       As the group is walking in pairs through the village Yasuko explains the whole bloody situation to Shinobu who pretty much keeps is mouth shut and listens quietly. Later, the group decides to check out the local cave and once they’re inside the caves Akira pulls her brother away from Fumi and Yasuko so they can talk alone. Yasuko tries to explain her situation and her feelings to Fumi but Fumi calls Yasuko selfish and a child, and Fumi tells Yasuko that if she has someone she loves then she needs to concentrate on that person. Yasuko asks Fumi what she should do about a unrequited love and Fumi tells her that she should give up gracefully. Fumi then tells Yasuko that she’s given up on her, and that she should grow up. As Fumi is walking off, we hear Yasuko trying to tell Fumi that she’s sorry. Well, that’s all for this episode.

your selfish

fix on the one you lovegive up gracefullyplease grow up

I'm sorry Fumi

       Well, this was one hell of an episode, while many powerful feelings and emotions were revealed it was never done in an over-the-top method. We finally got to the bottom of how Yasuko became how she is now and while all the girls that know her think that she’s a strong person we now understand that it was caused by personal weakness on her part. As Yasuko told Shinobu, she fell for Kagami after he was dating her sister for a long time and in an attempt to imitate her sister she cut her hair, and she also became more manlike in an attempt to act out/get noticed by Kagami and her sisters. It was also quite interesting to watch Yasuko basically tell Shinobu that Kyoko relationship with her is almost a copy of her relationship with Kagami, so Kyoko is almost a copy of her at that age.

       Finally, Yasuko’s relationship with Fumi reached a breaking/ turning point. We can see that Yasuko misses Fumi and still has feelings for her, and she also understands she hurt Fumi, but when she tried to talk with her Fumi she got the laid the hammer down on her by Fumi calling her selfish and childish. Even though Fumi tells Yasuko that she’s given up on her she really left the door open for Yasuko by telling her to concentrate on the one you care for and give up gracefully on a impossible love,  you need to grow up. While many may think that this is the end of Fumi/Yasuko it’s really giving Yasuko a chance for a new beginning if Yasuko can move on from Kagami and really shows she really cares for Fumi. In affect, Fumi’s been burnt once by a just fooling around relationship and she’s telling Yasuko that if you really want me, PROVE IT!

the lonely flowers after the play 

       This episode begins on the day of the big play, Fumi and her friends work the reception desk, and we get a pretty funny scene showing Akira trying to hide from her parents and her brother. Then we see how all the actors get ready for their stage performances by putting on makeup and so forth. The front desk crew notices that some programs of the first play were mixed in with their stuff so Fumi volunteers to run them over to the elementary school kids.

Akira hiding from her parents 

       As Fumi’s heading over to drop off the stuff she runs into Yasuko and they talk about how fate had them cross paths, Fumi tells Yasuko that she’ll watch her from the main audience, and she promises to meet Yasuko right after the pay is over. Then we see Akira spending some time with her family at the school’s cafe.  After Fumi drops off the stuff we see that she heads over to a flower shop to get a bouquet of flowers for Yasuko, but little does she know that many bouquets of flowers have been dropped off by Yasuko’s fans.

Yasuko's and Fumi's chance meeting

       Fumi makes it back to the auditorium by the end of the elementary school play and sits down with her friends. As the middle school play is going on we see the high school students continue to prepare back stage for their performance, and we see that Akira helps Yasuko with her makeup and hair.

Falling asleep during the play

Akira helping Yasuko with her hair 

     The high school play starts, and we’re treated to the acting on stage and the behind the curtain actions like costume and prop changes. While Yasuko’s off stage she has a conversation with Kyoko about her opinion of the Catherine character from the play, Kyoko tells her that she thinks that Catherine’s selfish, and Yasuko tells her that everyone is selfish. Well, Yasuko goes back on stage and finishes up the final scenes of the play, and when it’s over the whole cast gets a standing ovation.

the play begins

Edgar proposed to meI love himin my hearteveryone is selfish

I really do forgive you

        When Fumi’s friends look for her during the curtain call they find her seat empty because Fumi is rushing backstage to give Yasuko the flowers she bought for her. Back in the dressing room Kagami is congratulating all the girls for a job well done, and he gives special praise to Yasuko for her acting job, Yasuko tears up after hearing the praise. Yasuko’s tears cause a stir among the other actors, and we see that Fumi observed the whole scene from the doorway.

Fumi rushing with the flowers

Yasuko's really crying after the play 

       After everything has finished up Fumi and Yasuko sit outside and have a little chat where Yasuko tells Fumi that she saw something strange. Fumi say no, not at all, she’s goes on to say that she realises that Yasuko has another person that she also likes. Yasuko asks her if she wants to know? No, I don’t want to know, but it’s eating me up inside. Yasuko tells Fumi that it’s all in the past now, but I loved them and they loved me, that’s it. Yasuko tells Fumi that starting tomorrow she’ll be running the basketball club so would you like to come and watch me? Yes. Yasuko tells Fumi it’s time to go, she offers Fumi her hand and they get up and leave together.

Its eating me up

I loved them and they loved me

it's time to go home 

      Wow, Ive got to say that I thought this was one hell of an episode, probably the best one of  the series so far. I really loved all the little touches that were included in the episode; Akira trying to dodge her parents and brother was pretty funny, as was her brother complaining about have to wear a suit to the play, and it was also pretty funny how Akira and her mother got into discussing Wuthering Heights while her father and brother didn’t get it. Watching Akira’s mother having to wake her son up after he dozes off during the first two plays was pretty funny too (I have had the exact same thing happen to me in the past when going to see stuff my younger brother and sister were in).

      I also loved how Fumi has started to mature since the beginning of the series. When we first met Fumi in episode one she was very emotionally unstable, shaky, and fairly fragile after being shocked by the news that her cousin who was her first lover was getting married and had to break off her relationship with Fumi. From that first episode to now, Fumi has gained the maturity and self-confidence to tell her best friend that she’s a lesbian and dating Yasuko, and Fumi also showed the courage to tell Yasuko that while she doesn’t want to know about the “other” its eating her up. I think that Fumi can relate very well to Yasuko’s emotional situation; Fumi’s also felt the painful sting of losing a first love. The Fumi from the first episode might have just ran away after seeing Yasuko’s reaction to Kagami’s words but this Fumi is now much stronger.

       I also felt that the little conversation that Yasuko had with Kyoko about Catherine’s character from Wuthering Heights was quite illuminating about both of their natures and maturity levels. While, Kyoko’s answer that Catherine is selfish is quite understandable it highlights her portrayal as being quick to judge a situation with little introspection, and Yasuko response that everyone is selfish shows why they can’t be together. Yasuko needs a more introspective/quiet thinking partner and Fumi’s a much better match for her.

       Well, I look forward to watching future episodes of Aoi Hana to see how Fumi’s and Yasuko’s relationship continues to develop, and I also look forward to seeing maybe a little more development of Kyoko’s back-story.

two girl chatting 

      This episode begins with some girl’s from Akira’s school hanging posters for the upcoming play, and the drama club begins their rehearsals, Fumi tells Akira that she’s feeling uncomfortable with Yasuko’s popularity with other girls. Akira tells her that she’s not the best person to ask for this sort of advice.  Later, when Kyoko and Fumi are walking down the hall, Kyoko asks Fumi if she likes Yasuko.  Fumi stops in her tracks in total silence.  Kyoko says you too? Kyoko says that Yasuko is really special and lots of girls like Yasuko. When rehearsals finish Kyoko tries to talk with Yasuko but she soon rushes to talk to Fumi instead, Yasuko tells Fumi that she’s going to run late so don’t wait for me. As Fumi is leaving the school she runs into Akira who invites her to join Kyoko for tea.

this is so cool

Yasuko walking with Fumisometimes people get worried when they have feelings

      As they’re riding the train, Kyoko observes how Fumi and Akira interact with each other, and I think she’s also checking out the completion/winner. While Fumi is making a phone call outside the tea shop, Akira tells Kyoko that Fumi is a nice girl; Kyoko then makes a comment about Fumi and Yasuko. Kyoko says she had it all wrong and begins to cry, Fumi sees this happening from a distance.

 Akira talking with FumiKyoko looking at FumiFumi really is a nice girl

what the matter KyokoKyoko is about to cry

Fumi watching the whole scene

     Back at home Fumi sends a text to Yasuko, and she calls Fumi back right away. Yasuko can tell something is bothering Fumi and she tells Fumi to ask her about it or she won’t be able to sleep, so Fumi tells Yasuko about Kyoko saying she likes her and about her tears. Yasuko asks Fumi if she remembers her first love. The next morning when Fumi and Akira meet at the train station, Akira notices that Fumi has changed her hair style back to the cute braided pigtail look and that Fumi’s in a much better mood, Fumi tells her that Yasuko called her last night.

 Fumi texting Yasuko

tell me what's bothering you

     At Akira’s school, Kyoko can sense that Akira is uncomfortable discussing Yasuko around her so she tells Akira not to worry, she’s OK, and Akira thinks that she never thought that two people liking each other could cause someone else pain. Later, Yasuko asks Fumi to come along with her to her rehearsal, but Fumi says no. Yasuko asks Fumi if she feels uncomfortable around Kyoko, and does she pity for her. Later, at Akira’s school, Akira observes tons of girls fawning all over Yasuko, and she thinks that Fumi probably didn’t want to see this. When Akira watches Kyoko getting close and being very friendly with Yasuko she snatches her away to help her make some tea, and when they enter a supply room some other girls rush away dropping a picture of Yasuko which Kyoko picks up. After practice Kyoko sends Akira home alone saying that she has something to do.  Kyoko asks Yasuko if she’s just a girl in the crowd just like those other girls. Yasuko tells her that she just treated her like normal, and she tells Kyoko that she’s adorable. Kyoko says like a little sister?  Yasuko tells Kyoko that she’s strong and she will get over this.

feelings causing pain 001feelings causing pain 002this is just too damn cute

Akira watching Kyoko hit on YasukoI'm treating you the way you askedI won't hold it against you

     At Fumi’s house, she’s called downstairs by her mother and is shocked to see that Yasuko has stopped by for a visit. While they chat outside, Yasuko tells Fumi that she wants her to work the front desk during the play, and she figured that would be the only why she could get her to come. Well, Fumi says she’ll come and she tells Yasuko that wasn’t the only way she would have attended. Yasuko now seems very happy, and then they chit chat and make small talk. Later, Fumi calls Akira and tells her everything that happened, and Akira tells Fumi that she should have been straight forward with Yasuko and just told her that flirting with other girls bothers her. Well, that’s all for this episode.

so you'll come to the play for me

I'm glad you'll be coming to the play

         Well, after the first couple of getting to know the characters episodes, Aoi Hana is turning into a very enjoyable and rewarding show to watch. It’s been quite interesting watching Fumi come out of her funk over losing her first lover, and finding a new love interest. When the series first started Fumi was almost always in “life sucks, cry,cry mode” but once she reestablished her friendship with Akira and started dating Yasuko things turned around for her, that’s not to say that Fumi still doesn’t have her share of emotional problems. Fumi still keeps her feelings too close to her chest for her own good, and I find my self agreeing with Akira that Fumi just needs to tell Yasuko what’s on her mind. I would find it quite interesting to see Fumi invite Yasuko over for a “school study” session and watch an emotional and phyiscal eruption of volcanic proportions occur when Fumi finally tells/shows Yasuko how she feels.

       I also love how Akira’s character is developing. When the series first started Akira was portrayed as this genki, overly innocent, and naive girl, but as Aoi Hana is progressing she’s the one character that’s shown the most quiet introspection about herself and her knowledge of other people and interpersonal relationships. A few examples of this are; Akira’s wondering if she being naive about excepting Fumi’s lesbianism and her relationship with Yasuko, Akira trying to figure out to support Fumi and her relationship, Akira realising that two people liking one another can cause pain to a third party, and Akira giving relationship advice to Fumi when she tells her that you should be straight forward with someone like Yasuko. I wouldn’t  relish being in Akira’s position of trying to maintain friendships with both Kyoko and Fumi when she knows that they both love the same person, I think it would be so easy to fall into the trap of siding with one of the girls and losing the other as a friend.

      Now, for my wish list for future episodes. While I like both Yasuko and Kyoko, I feel that their characters need to be fleshed out in much greater detail. Yasuko; #1 we know that she had a crush on the art teacher and was rebuffed,  #2 we also know that she left the private school for some reason, and #3 we know that Yasuko now likes girls and rejected Kyoko and chose Fumi. What I would like answered is did Yasuko’s being rejected lead to her leaving the school, or was it some combination of rejection plus she hated being fawned over by all those girls, and I would also like to know if Yasuko’s rejection lead to her becoming a lesbian. Now, I know some fellow anime fans might say “read the manga”. I have read the manga, but that’s not the point, each media is separate creation so one shouldn’t have to know the manga to have plot points resolved.

      Now, it’s time to talk about Kyoko. What’s the deal with her and Kou? Do her parents really approve of a college guy saying that he’s going to someday marry their daughter, and we know this behavior started back when she was still in middle school. I know that back when I was Kou’s age if I would have showed up at one of my neighbors’ house and pledged marriage and love to their daughter I would have probably been shot regardless or whether or not I’ve been friends with her around the neighborhood for years, you might fool around with her but you’d never let her parents know. Also, I would like to know if Kyoko’s really a lesbian, or if this is just one of those things that sometimes happens, and If Kyoko’s really a lesbian why does she keep up the game with Kou? What, she doesn’t want to hurt is feelings? I wonder what she thinks would happen with Kou’s feelings if she dumped him for another girl before she finds him a replacement girlfriend?

     Well, one thing I know is that the many unanswered questions will keep me watching Aoi Hana, and I look forward to watching Fumi’s and Yasuko’s relationship progress and grow. I feel that as far as anime is concerned, Aoi Hana has been a very thoughtful and realistic portrayal of the issues it’s trying to address.

Fumi and Yasuko's kiss

it's a path of thorns for you

         This episode picks up with a much fuller version of the “kiss” in the library between Fumi and Yasuko which ends with Yasuko telling Fumi that she’s adorable and she wants to walk with her to school in the mornings. The next morning we see Fumi trying a different hairstyle, and we also see that her parents gave her a cellphone. Her mother says that she’ll have to tell her what her boyfriend texts her, Fumi says she has no boyfriend, and her mother says it’s only a matter of time. When Fumi makes it to the train platform she finds both Yasuko and Akira waiting for her, but neither Yasuko or Akira knew that the other was also waiting for Fumi.

Both Akira and Yasuko waiting for Fumi

      During their train ride Yasuko and Akira seem to get along nicely but Fumi seems uncomfortable and quite, and after they say goodbye to Akira, Fumi asks if they can stop commuting together. Well, Yasuko guesses right that Fumi afraid to break a promise to commute with Akira and is afraid of losing contact with her, so Yasuko says the mornings can be for Akira but the ride home is all hers. When Akira gets to school Kyoko says that Kou liked her and that if she wants to she can see him again. Akira says she’s doesn’t know a thing about dating a grown up, but Kyoko says that Kou’s about as far from an adult as possible. While Akira doesn’t say it, she seems a little uncomfortable about, or not ready to date Kyoko’s “fiancee”.

Akira is unsettled about dating Kou

         After school, we see Akira doing some shopping for the drama club while the rest of the club is prepping for the play. Kagami (the advisor) stops by the club for a while, and Kyoko asks to speak with him as he’s walking away. She asks him if he knows Yasuko pretty well, and he asks her what makes her think so? She says she can just tell. We don’t hear her question, but he tells her he’s sorry because he doesn’t know. As Akira is leaving the school with Kyoko she spots Fumi waiting for her, and as Kyoko is walking off she overhears Fumi and Akira mention Yasuko’s name. We then see a flashback of Kyoko’s question to Kagami, “do you know why Yasuko left this school’, he didn’t know the reason or he won’t tell her.

Akira shopping  Kagami stopping by the clubyou know Yasuko pretty well

Kyoko is looking back

        Akira and Fumi head off to a cafe for a talk where Fumi tells Akira that she’ll commute with her in the mornings, Akira says why don’t all three of them commute together, and Fumi says “no”, she enjoys commuting with her. Then Fumi breaks down and tells Akira that she’s in love with Yasuko and they’re dating, she asks Akira not to find it gross and not to hate her.

Akira and Fumi meeting at the cafe

I'm in love with Yasukome and Yasuko are datingplease don't think it's gross

Please don't hate me

         On her train ride home, Akira thinks back over Fumi confession, and she understands why Fumi felt uncomfortable. Akira told Fumi that she didn’t think that girls loving girls was gross but she also thinks that she might just be too simpleminded. The next day, Akira talks with Kyoko, asking if supporting a girl who liked girls would be OK? Fumi also tells Yasuko that she came out about their relationship to Akira and now she’s afraid to face her, and Yasuko tells her that she thinks that she very brave for coming out of the closet. So, Yasuko takes Fumi and the girls from the other day for a visit to Akira’s school. When they arrive, Fumi sees a smiling Akira greeting her, and Yasuko asks where Kagami is?

Maybe I'm just too simpleminded

what about girls liking girls I told Akira about usYou're amasing for coming out

        While Yasuko pays a visit to Kagami’s office, Akira, Fumi, and the other girls stop by for a visit to the school’s cafe. Akira tells Fumi that she doesn’t know how to support her, Fumi tells her just to act normal, Akira says she never thought of that, and both girls get a good laugh out of that and the tension is broken, Fumi and Akira seem back to normal.

The talk in Kagami's officeI want to support youJust act like normal

       After Yasuko and Kagami finish their conversation we see some flashbacks of Yasuko’s days at the school, and we also see that Yasuko and Kagami might have had something more than a normal student-teacher relationship, or maybe Kagami wanted more than a regular relationship, or it could have been Yasuko who wanted more, it’s hard to tell since a lot is left to the imagination. As Yasuko and the drama club work on the play Fumi walks around the school trying to figure out why Yasuko left the school. Fumi questions some students about “the master of the library” (the story that Yasuko been telling Fumi about of a couple of episodes) and some students suggest maybe it referred to a forbidden relationship between a student and a teacher. Later, as everyone is heading home, Fumi tries to ask Yasuko who is “the master of the library’, but she can’t work up the courage to do so. Well, that’s all for this episode.

Yasuko, Kagami in times pastYasuko's drawing of KagamiYasuko and Kagami meeting in the library

this sounds like a forbidden relationship

a question about the libraryI want to ask but I can'twho is the teacher that gave them that name

           First of all, I have to say that I absolutely loved this episode, the range of human emotions and uncertainties displayed by both Fumi and Akira felt true to life and believable. Too often in anime when a main character finally reveals their real feeling it’s takes so long and is done in such an over the top manner that it stretches the limits of believability, but in Aoi Hana it felt true and right.

        I felt that the scene where Fumi confesses to Akira that she a lesbian and is in love with Yasuko, and that she and Yasuko are dating was very powerful and poignant. Fumi who is a very sensitive and insecure girl placed a lot of trust and pressure on Akira at that moment. As Fumi said at the beginning of their conversation she really values her friendship with Akira and doesn’t want to ruin it. I could feel the tremendous emotional pressures building on Akira with her childhood friend not only confessing to her that she’s a lesbian but asking her not to find it and her gross, and please don’t hate her. You can see how this plays out with Akira by the thought that she places on this situation during her train ride home, while she told Fumi that she doesn’t have a problem with girls liking girls she also wonders if she’s too simple minded, and we also see her uncertainty playing out why she sort of asks Kyoko about this. I also felt that Fumi displayed a tremendous amount courage and vulnerability in this episode. Fumi displays a tremendous level of courage by telling Akira that she a lesbian but she also shows her vulnerability when she practically begs Akira to not find her gross and not to hate her.

          This episode touched on very human desires of wanting to love, and be loved, and also the very human need to be accepted for who you are by your friends, and the toll that these desires can take on someone when the relationship falls outside or what mainstream society considers normal. When reviewing anime I’ve always believed in substance and story over style and flash and Aoi Hana has substance to spare this episode has been one of the finest episodes I’ve seen a while, and this series is one of the year’s best.

For another example of a great anime episode where two young characters come to terms with their new found feeling for each other in a belieavble manner please read the review of Naisho no Tsubomi 3.