I care not if people judge me for doing this.
As banal as it sounds, “When there’s a will, there’s a way.” No matter how you think your time for other things isn’t just enough, you will find time to read mangas and books and do blogs right after because that’s where your heart lies.
So anyway, since it’s my blog’s anniversary, I decided to write something just for the sake of celebrating. I recently read Sakisaka Io’s Ao Haru Raido and you guess it right. I am here to puke my feelings since, on a side note, I don’t know where else is proper.
Right. Let’s get to business shall we?
Sakisaka-sensei’s work is an almost-but-not-quite teenage love affair. The male protagonist, Kou, was supposed to have a rendezvous with his junior high puppy love, Yoshioka Futaba. Perhaps to confess or perhaps to attempt to start a friendship with her. Regardless, it was to take their eye contacts along the hallways and garbage talks amidst the harsh pattering of rain to a whole new personal level.
But even his shadow was no-show on that fateful night. In fact, he had gone missing for three years without so much as ‘Goodbye!’ Futaba was left hanging and !surprise when everything seems to be moving forward, suddenly, he appears. This time, though, he feels like a completely different person.
The story revolves around how both of them will try to win each other’s hearts for the second time despite the changes that happened for the past three years.
Oh, we all know teenagers. They’re confusing and wild. God, just read to satisfy your curiosity.
What it has: Unrequited love story(ies), interesing side dishes, love triangles, handsome men, fluff etcetera etcetera
What I like about it: I wouldn’t even comment on the technical aspect (tag: art) since I’m no artist. I only know how to draw mountains and birds and the sun so I see no credibility in my words when I talk about panels and shadings and proportions of body parts.
So I’ll do what I do. I’ll just comment on its story and characters.
What I like about this manga is it’s ability to establish connection to its readers. It’s so relatable that I can go on arguing with my sister why this manga is popular and so deserved its anime adaptation.
It’s high school and it talks about the never-ending “first love never dies” motif. It talks about friendships that are ruined because of love and friendships that are strong(er) in the face of similar love interest. It talks about betrayal and loyalty. It talks about girls and boys drowning in deep shit conversations over something as silly as young love. It talks about ‘friends’ who are pushed aside to give way for their love interests’ love. It even talks about students falling in love with their teachers. It shatters the cliche premise of “love conquers all” and replaces it with the more apt “we conquer all for the sake of love.” It’s so realistic that you find yourself hating it. Hating the story. Hating the characters themselves.
Ao Haru Raido has a lot of annoying characters. However, I daresay that it is this manga’s strongest point and the very reason why I love it. Not love-love but you get my point.
1.) Kou is annoying because he’s the push-pull type of guy. I hate those kinds of men. It’s like they think they own you and they can toss you in the trash bin whenever it’s convenient for them. What’s worse
2.) Futaba is annoying for being so stupid and sticking up with such bastard for a long time. Later, we learn of Kou’s so-called ‘serious scars’ which bled severely during his three years of absence so we consider forgiveness but
3.) There’s annoying Yui who doesn’t want to let Kou go and is using his scars to keep her all to herself when she definitely knows that this method isn’t fair. Then
4.) We get back to getting angry at Kou for allowing himself to get sucked into the third party’s darkness. Oh, speaking of third parties
5.) You might have also hated Kikuchi for being so persistent and for taking advantage of Futaba’s wounded heart after she got rejected by Kou. Of course
6.) We also hate Futaba for using Kikuchi like a sanitary napkin to cover the wound of the shattered pieces of her heart. Don’t tell me
7.) You forgot about the annoying friends of Futaba. Yuuri who kept on her cute/moe act to get boys. Shuuko who kept liking Kou’s brother even when she knew it’s unethical and would get her teacher into trouble. Why does
8.) Kominato (who’s such a great guy) have to waste his time proving himself to Shuuko? He’s blindingly determined that it becomes annoying.
9.) Kou’s brother isn’t any different. Why make a student feel special in the first place when you want to pull away?
10.) Ugh even Futaba’s previous junior high classmate who left Futaba because she thought Futaba liked her crush was annoyingly shallow.
I can enumerate all the characters. I assure you that you will get the same negative feeling.
When you get to the bottom of it, you will realize that these characters merely acted accordingly. Selfish. Juvenile. They will all do everything for the sake of love even if it’s going to hurt other people. Even if it’s to going to hurt the person they love. Right. Because that’s the way it’s supposed to be. You will get cunning and lie. You will act cute. You will take advantage. You will not care about the rules.
This manga reveals human beings’ ugly nature in response to the concept of love. This is why we feel exposed. It destroys our fake and idealistic notion of ‘selfless’ love.
Which makes it awesome.
But what about when Futaba let Kou go? How about Tanaka-sensei who handed over Shuuko to Kominato? What does that say about my previous claims?
Well, this is the point where we set apart the courageous and cowardly. Those who were willing to let go such as Futaba, Tanaka-sensei, Yui and Shuuko are, for the lack of better term, weaklings. They don’t destroy the manga. They just show that in your weakness, you may be able to find new love and, in the case of Tanaka-sensei, let other people have the chance to find better love. We discover the ‘art of moving on.’
And the manga portrays it realistically. It tells you it’s difficult and it takes time. In fact, you’ll slip more than twice. But, hey, you’re still great because you overcame, took that step forward and away from that person who will probably never be able to give you what you want.
If you believe that the mentioned cowardly characters are less annoying (that is, applying the “if you love him, set him free“ or “a smart warrior knows how to retreat” rule), I think you have to ponder things through and get real. That’s not what human beings are. When you love, you get aggressive. You don’t settle for less. You think of devices to turn your love one’s attention towards your way. Even if s/he isn’t ready… the way Kikuchi did. Even if s/he already has a lover…the way Kou did in the last chapter update.
What I’m trying to say is that the less annoying characters (or story turn outs) reflect less of what human beings are.
That’s like… entering a state of nirvana that’s so hard to achieve. Only smart people can do that. Why do you think there are mangas like Koi Suru Boukun or Itazura na Kiss?
Oh well, this is common and true in the face of immature love. Though personally I’ll prefer to avoid this kind of affairs.
4 out 5 stars for being so relatable to its target market and for being able to justify everything that is annoying about it.
And yup. Because I’m a sucker for unrequited love stories.