Type: TV Series
Episode Count: 11
Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 21 Jun 2013
This series is also known as Sweet Blue Flowers.
A pastel yuri drama with the appearance of moving watercolors.
When childhood friends Fumi and Akira are reunited by chance after years of being apart, it sets off a chain of events which lead Fumi down a path of self-discovery.
A girls’ romance in anime can play out in one of several ways depending on the series. Sometimes it’s played as a tease; there are hints of something going on, but it’s used mostly for fanservice. There’s also subtext without the fanservice angle; hints and implications are frequent, but nothing is explicitly stated. Then there’s a portrayal which leaves no question that two girls are in (or pursuing) a relationship, presented in a respectful and honest way. Aoi Hana is a drama focused on emotion, so you won’t find any fanservice or teases here. There is the caveat that Aoi Hana is a fictional drama, so some idealization and melodrama does creep into the character interaction, but the relationships are presented as true to the real world as one can reasonably expect from a television drama.
If the above description does not appeal to you, then Aoi Hana will probably not interest you, as this series is a drama exploring romantic feelings between girls first and foremost. However, if a good yuri drama without fanservice is what you are looking for, Aoi Hana is a perfect fit. The closest thing to this series I have seen previously is Kashimashi, though that series has a whole other aspect to it which is obviously not found in Aoi Hana. The similarities lie in their treatment of the relationships: respectful and honest.
With that lengthy description out of the way, how does the show itself fare? Quite well, in fact. Aoi Hana is an excellent character drama. Fumi and Akira have a good dynamic as the leads, and the supporting cast gets nearly as much screen time. On a related note, while the story is fairly simple and straightforward, there are some unexpected twists and turns which keep things unpredictable for most of the series. While not quite a fault, the ending of the series is very open and lends itself to a continuation, though that never happened. The rest of the story can be found in the original manga, which I have not read. Still, the ending provided in the anime does work, even if it’s a bit nebulous.
I’ve seen many girls’ romances in anime, but Aoi Hana is the first of those I’ve seen to portray one so unfettered. It’s very matter-of-fact and does not go the fanservice route because this is simply not that kind of series. Aoi Hana is a character drama with some lighthearted moments (mostly thanks to Akira), and should be taken for what it is: a no-frills romance. I enjoyed the series quite a bit because of how down-to-earth it is. The artwork is also very pleasant, with a hazy pastel look. For a prime example of yuri done well, look no further than Aoi Hana.