Once upon a time, as a middle school girl, Futaba Yoshioka could not stand boys. Then, she met Kou Tanaka, and she was immediately smitten with him. Kou moved away before Futaba could really express her feelings to him. Now, she is in high school, and she sees a boy who looks like Kou. But is Kou the same boy she loved in middle school?
As Ao Haru Ride, Vol. 8 (Chapters 28 to 30) opens, Futaba believes that it is time to finally tell Kou how she really feels about him. If he rejects her, she can also have closure. When he does tell her that he can't go out with her, Futaba still does not really have closure. After an argument with a friend, Kou starts to think about the reasons that he has reunited with former junior high classmate, Yui Narumi, who, like Kou, is grieving the loss of a parent. Meanwhile, Toma Kikuchi decides that it is time for him to be upfront with Futaba about his feelings for her.
[This volume includes the bonus story, “A Familiar Face.”]
THE LOWDOWN: The Ao Haru Ride manga is a typical high school shojo romantic drama. That is a good thing for fans of the genre. Lovelorn kids – with an extra bit of tartness and edginess – is what creator Io Sakisaka does well.
Ao Haru Ride Graphic Novel Volume 8 is the first volume in which Kou starts to confront his feelings, especially his grief. Then, Futaba struggles with her independence, as much as she struggles with really breaking away from Kou. This is the way Sakisaka keeps the story from seeming repetitive; she creates an ebb and flow of emotions and in relationships.
Emi Louie-Nishikawa's translation of Ao Haru Ride is usually a good read, especially in Vol. 8. Inori Fukuda Trant's lettering adds an elegant touch that matches Sakisaka's beautiful art, so this series is always eye candy, even when the narrative is not at its strongest.
I READS YOU RECOMMENDS: Fans of shojo high school romance will want to read the Shojo Beat series, Ao Haru Ride.